Caramel apple is a classic fall flavor combo, but let’s be honest: Making caramel can be both frustrating and time-consuming. So, we often leave the caramel production to the professionals at our local orchard or state fair and enjoy these sumptuous flavors together only once or twice a year.
This apple oatmeal cookie bar recipe is about to change everything! A simple hack uses store-bought caramels to cut down on time in the kitchen so the hardest part will be waiting for them to cool before you dig in. (PS: When you’re ready to try your hand again, avoid these caramel-making mistakes!)
Apple Oatmeal Cookie Bar Recipe
This recipe comes to us from Kansas reader Carol Stuber. It makes 20 tasty servings.
For the crust:
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1/4 cup shortening
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup old-fashioned or quick-cooking oats
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans, optional
For the filling:
- 4-1/2 cups coarsely chopped peeled tart apples
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 package (14 ounces) caramels
- 3 tablespoons butter
Step 1: Mix up the crust
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a large bowl using a hand mixer), cream the butter, shortening and brown sugar until light and fluffy. This might take longer than you think! Mix for at least 4 minutes to get everything well combined and to incorporate plenty of air. This will give you a melt-in-your-mouth bar. Then add flour, oats, salt and baking soda and mix well. Measure and set aside 2 cups of this mixture. Press the remaining mixture into an ungreased 13×9-in. baking pan.
Step 2: Add the apples
You’ll need about four large apples for this recipe. For more complex flavor pick two varieties of apple, like Granny Smith and Pink Lady, and use two apples of each. To learn more about varieties and their flavor profiles, read our apple guide. Once you’ve selected your fruit, slice them and then toss with flour until evenly coated. Spoon over the crust in an even layer.
Editor’s Tip: If you love subtle apple flavor in your desserts, try out our quick and easy Cinnamon Nut Bars that call for a secret ingredient: applesauce! You can even make your own applesauce at home.
Step 3: Make the world’s easiest caramel sauce
Here’s our caramel hack! Unwrap all those caramel candies and heat them in a saucepan over low heat with the butter. Then simply drizzle over apples. Caramel apples done! Last, top the caramel and apples with the reserved oat mixture.
Step 4: Bake!
Bake at 400°F for 25 to 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool before cutting into bars.