Tag Archives: caramel

Apple Crisp Salted Caramel Bars

apple crisp salted caramel bar on table
apple crisp salted caramel bar

Phew. Encapsulating the past year in a blog post requires a level of dedication that someone who just made a four-layer dessert does not possess.

Now that I’m settled in yet another (new) city, I feel ready to declare myself “baaaaaack.” I have my own kitchen with every gadget I could possibly need. (All that’s left is another oven.) I am entering fall, also known as prime baking season. And, most importantly, I am healed, both mentally and physically, from the challenging experiences of the past few years.

Now I just need some more friends to share these bars with…

About those bars: imagine if an apple crisp mixed with salted caramel sauce and then melted into a shortbread cookie base.

I know this recipe looks intense, but it actually comes together pretty quickly. Then again, I have a dishwasher again. I CAN DO ANYTHING.

Shortbread base:
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with parchment paper.
2) Cut butter into 1/2-inch pieces. In a food processor, process the flour, sugar and salt briefly, then add the butter and process until the mixture begins to form small lumps.
3) Sprinkle mixture onto the baking pan and press the mixture evenly onto the bottom.
4) Bake shortbread in middle of oven until golden, about 20 minutes. Let cool completely while preparing other ingredients. Keep the oven at 350 degrees.

Salted caramel sauce:
1 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons salted butter, cut up into 6 pieces
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon salt

1) Follow these directions from Sally’s Baking Addiction.
2) Once the caramel has cooled and thickened, pour it over the cooled shortbread base and spread evenly.

Apple filling: 
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
10 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 cup cornstarch

1) Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add the butter and let it melt, then stir in the apples. Cook for about five minutes to let apples release their liquid.
2) Stir in the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Let cook for another five minutes.
3) Stir in the cornstarch and cook for another minute, until liquid has thickened. Set apples aside to cool, then spread them over the salted caramel shortbread base.

Crisp topping:
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup old-fashioned oats
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 stick (1/2 cup) cold butter, cut into pieces

1) Mix brown sugar, oats, flour and cinnamon in a mixing bowl. Use a pastry cutter or paddle attachment on a stand mixer to combine cold butter into the mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs.
2) Sprinkle crisp crumbs over the apples in the baking dish and press crumbs gently into the pan.
3) Place the baking pan on a center rack in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes, until apples are bubbling and crisp looks, well, crisp.
4) Let the bars cool completely on a cooling rack before slicing. You might even want to refrigerate them for an hour to make sure that they don’t crumble.

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Bananas Foster Cheesecake

Forget banana bread. From now on when I have bananas lying on my counter on the verge of disgusting, they’re going into cheesecake.

I’ve never been impassioned by plain cheesecake, preferring to drown mine in cherry topping or fresh strawberries. The fruit makes the dessert healthy, right? I also enjoy throwing fruit into the cheesecake itself and opting to drown the cheesecake in caramel sauce, apparently.

This recipe is especially wonderful because the cheesecakes are in individual containers–no fighting over who gets the bigger slice.

This recipe comes from Tasting Table. When it arrived in my inbox, I swooned. Audibly.

Bananas Foster Cheesecake:
Cheesecake
8 ounces cream cheese
1 and 1/4 cups banana purée (made from 3 very ripe bananas)
1 teaspoon gelatin
2 tablespoons cold water
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped (or, in a pinch, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Graham cracker, for garnish

Sauce
1 and 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup heavy whipping cream
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons dark rum

1. In a large, heatproof bowl, combine the cream cheese with the banana purée and place the bowl above a saucepan of simmering water. Stir the mixture until the cheese melts. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let it bloom for 1 minute.
2. While the cream cheese and banana mixture melts, use another bowl to combine the cream with the sour cream, sugar and vanilla seeds. Whip until medium peaks form, about 3 minutes. (You could do this by hand, but using a mixer helps a LOT.)
3. Whisk the gelatin into the banana mixture until well-combined. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and add the salt. Whisk in half of the cream mixture, then, using a rubber spatula, fold in the remaining cream mixture.
4. Divide the batter among six glass cups. Gently tap the glasses to settle the filling and whip any excess from the sides. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.
5. To make the sauce, in a medium saucepan, combine the sugar with the water and cook over medium-high heat, without stirring, until dark amber, about 8 minutes. Turn off the heat and carefully whisk in the cream. Whisk in the butter, then the rum. Transfer the caramel to a heatproof container, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
6. To serve, drizzle the cheesecakes with the caramel sauce and garnish with graham cracker.

By the way, there will be leftover caramel sauce. It tastes good on a spoon or on ice cream. How versatile.

Salted Caramel Frosting

I entered these, with my chocolate cupcake base, into The Preservation Society of Chapel Hill’s cupcake competition. While they didn’t win, I heard all good things about the frosting. (Confession: After baking an excessive amount of cupcakes these past few weeks, I couldn’t bear to eat even a crumb.) But I trust my friends’ endorsements. I burned my first attempt, and my second attempt hardened into an unpleasant pile on top of last night’s cupcakes.

So, for goodness’ sake, don’t overcook the brown sugar. Heat it, add the milk, and don’t linger around the stove. If anyone asks, though, you slaved away at the stove all day.

Salted Caramel Frosting:
1/4 C. butter
3/4 C. light brown sugar
1/4 C. evaporated milk
2 1/2 C. confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
dash of salt
sea salt

1) Melt butter in a heavy pot. Slowly add brown sugar, combining quickly.
2) Stir in evaporated milk. Remove from heat.
3) Stir in confectioner’s sugar, vanilla, and salt.
4) Put in Ziploc bag or pastry bag and swirl onto cooled cupcakes.
5) Immediately top each cupcake with a small pinch of sea salt.

Okay, seriously. Last post about cupcakes for a good long while.