Children tend to cherish the fall, dreaming of pumpkin patches, apple orchards, corn mazes, and sugary cider doughnuts after a cruise on a hayride — or at least that’s how we envision things from our childhood.
At some point, nostalgia sets in and we travel deeper into the memory bank to recall Grandma’s apple pie — with apples hand-picked from those same orchards — and the feeling, akin to a warm blanket, it produces.
Now that there’s a chill in the air, grab a jacket and head out to an apple orchard with your little ones. For parents and grandparents, this is an easy way to spend quality time with them. Plus, their helping hands aid you in stocking up on apples for all the fall goodies you plan to make.
Once you have your favorite apples, whether from an orchard or your go-to variety from the grocery store, put them to good use with our spin on handheld caramel apple bars.
We enjoy deconstructing food and building it back up into a familiar, yet creative, finished product. With this dessert, we combined the autumn vibes from apple pie, the cozy fireplace feelings of apple streusel, and the sweet and crunchy contrast of caramel apples you find at your local fall fair. If that wasn’t enough, we ditched the traditional dough and incorporated JOY Sugar Cones into the crust to liven up your taste buds.
What You’ll Need:
2 large apples of your choice (we like Honeycrisp and Pink Lady), peeled and thinly sliced (¼ inch thick)
Combine brown sugar and heavy cream in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar begins to melt.
Add the butter. Once the butter completely melts, bring mixture to a rolling boil.
Reduce heat to low and continue to cook until the sauce thickens, about 8 minutes.
Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
In a blender, or by hand in a gallon-sized plastic bag, crush the JOY Sugar Cones until they become crumbs the size of coffee grounds. Add the melted butter and sugar and stir to combine.
Preheat the oven to 300°. Line the bottom and sides of an 8×8 square baking pan with parchment paper, leaving enough overhang on all sides. Press the mixture into the bottom of the baking pan to form your crust. Bake for 15 minutes.
In a medium-sized bowl, combine the apple slices, flour, granulated sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and the juice from half a lemon. Toss the mixture with a spoon until the apples are evenly coated.
Mix the oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, flour, and diced cold butter in a separate bowl. Use a fork to mix until it forms a pebble-like mixture.
Once you remove the crust from the oven, set the temperature to 350°. Layer the apples onto the crust, pressing down occasionally to make them fit in your pan. Sprinkle the apples with the streusel and bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 30–35 minutes. Allow 20 minutes for your bars to cool in the pan at room temperature, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours (refrigerate overnight for best results).
Using the overhanging parchment paper on the sides, lift the apple bars out of the pan and cut into 16 small bars or 12 large bars.
Drizzle each bar with homemade caramel sauce and serve warm or at room temperature.