Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Caramel Apple Oatmeal Bars

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie (TWD) recipe was chosen by Becky of Project Domestication: Burnt Sugar Ice Cream. I had already made this recipe a few years ago, so if you'd like to hear my thoughts about it (I loved it), you can read my post here.

What I bring to you today, though, is a recipe that would pair wonderfully with the burnt sugar ice cream. A few weeks ago, a friend of mine was making some caramel apple oatmeal cookies from Cooking Light. I asked her for the recipe, and when she gave it to me she warned me that the dough came out really dry and crumbly. So, before setting out to make them, I read through the reviews on the website to see if this was a common problem and to check for any solutions. Indeed, it seemed like the vast majority of bakers found the dough too dry to work with. There were a few people who added an extra tablespoon or two of butter, but it didn't seem like there was any foolproof fix for this.

So, I decided to go about making my own recipe, using the general concept of a cookie with caramel, apples, and oats. Instead of using dried apples, I figured fresh caramelized apples would be better, and they would definitely add a little moisture to the recipe. So I browned some apples in some butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. As I was getting ready to scoop the cookies onto my baking sheet, my baby started crying, so instead of making individual cookies, I decided to just pour all the batter into a baking pan and make bars instead of cookies :)

These turned out quite well if I do say so myself :) They are definitely much better the next day after the flavors have had a chance to meld. I had a bite fresh out of the oven and was a little disappointed, but when I went to have another bar the next day, I loved them! Although this recipe is loosely adapted from Cooking Light, it's about as close as I ever get to making my own recipe, so I hope you'll give this one a try and let me know how you like it!

Also, don't forget to enter my $100 gift card giveaway while you're here :)

Caramel Apple Oatmeal Bars
from Good Eats 'n Sweet Treats

For the apples:
1.5 tbsp butter (salted or unsalted)
2-2.5 cups diced Fuji apples (about 2 medium to large apples)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp brown sugar

For the bars:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened and at room temperature
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2-1/2 cups oats (quick or old fashioned)
1 cup Kraft caramel bits (you can substitute toffee bits if you'd like)

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Melt 1.5 tablespoons of butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When the foam subsides, toss the diced apples in and cook, turning once, until they are golden brown, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle the apples with 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1 tablespoon of brown sugar and cook them, turning, just until coated, another minute or so. Transfer the apples to a small bowl and let cool while you make the cookie dough.

In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, and salt.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well between each addition. Add the vanilla.

Turn the mixer down to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing just until they are incorporated.

Stir in the oats, caramel bits, and apples. Mix well.

Pour the dough into an ungreased 13 x 9-inch metal baking pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. (If making cookies, bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown.)

Let cool completely before cutting into bars. These taste best when wrapped well and served the following day.


  1. Those bars sound absolutely fabulous - they combine so many of my favorite flavors! I'll definitely give them a try when I remember to pick up some apples :)

  2. You guys are all killing me with all these awesome desserts! They look SO good!

  3. Ooh, those look really good and do sound perfect for the burnt sugar ice cream!

  4. Just the name caramel apple oatmeal bars got my attention. Then when I saw the mouth watering photos and your recipe I knew I was in love. These look so good and I love your twist in making the recipe better and to fit your needs! Thank you, these are going on my list to Must Bake!

  5. It looks like it was a good thing when your baby started to cry because I think these cookies look fabulous as bars!
    You rescued me from missing TWD this week! I'm at the Beau's without my book so I had to google 'Burnt Sugar Ice Cream' for the recipe and thank goodness your blog came up! Thank you soo much!! =)
    I hadn't had any luck making egg-based ice creams either so I followed your lead and added the burnt sugar liquid to the eggs 1 tablespoon at a time and this is the first time I've had success with egg-based ice cream! YAY! Thanks to you! =)

  6. ohhhh my goodness, this looks and sounds delicious. i'm definitely going to have to give these a try.

  7. These look delish! I like how you put your 'stamp' on your dishes. :)


  8. Oh wow caramel apple and oatmeal all in a chewy bar, these sound like my idea of heaven!!

  9. bars > cookies, caramelized apples > dried apples. this is a stellar creation, jaime, and it'd indeed be the perfect compliment to some of that ice cream!

  10. Oh my goodnes, those sound sooooooooo good!!

  11. First time on your blog.
    I was attracted by your scrumptious looking dessert.
    I know of Dorie...however, I don't have her book. Therefore, thank you for sharing this recipe.
    Flavourful wishes,

  12. Squee! I just got a blog shoutout!

    I'm totally going to make your version this weekend. Aaaaand the diet will go out the window. =)

  13. Hello Jaime...I first want to thank you for stopping by and to thank you for your clarification. You were right. I had two windows opened simultaneously...and one of them had the burnt sugar ice cream...for which I had made a note to try soon.
    I now had a chance to read up on your adapted and re-vised bars which just happen to have 2 of my fav ingredients: caramel and apples;o)
    Have a great day...and flavourful wishes,

  14. I wonder how one could resist not eating it if it looks this delicious. Im saving this recipe to try soon :)

  15. Hi, Jaime! Sorry that I've been mia for a while. Hope all has been well with you and your sweet babygirl! :)

    Great job on the recipe! My kiddos would adore these bars and you know what? Bars are better than cookies...honest! :)

    Btw, Hope you have a marvelous Mother's Day!!

  16. These sound delicious, Jaime. And I consider yours to be an original. After all, all recipes for a particulat thing start off with the same basic ingredients and ratios!

  17. Anything with caramel has my attention. These bars look divine!

  18. Oh wow, these look amazing! I love caramel and apples together!

  19. oh my...oh my.....please pass on over here....:)
    Great recipe... :)

  20. These look delicious! I would like a plate of them right now as a matter of fact!

  21. YUUUUUUUUUUM!! I'm bookmarking these immediately!

  22. Love the apple chunks in these bars. Look super tastey :)

  23. Very rich and delicious. Did not add the caramels, because I made the recipe as stated then made a warm homemade caramel sauce to pour over the top. Quite decadent! Would be fantastic with a plain vanilla ice cream.

  24. No Carmel bits at my grocery store or toffee bits for that matter. So I am trying to decide whether to got with a carmel sauce in the bars or do what Cindy suggests....

  25. Anonymous - you could also make your own toffee bits at home :) very simple and cheap as long as you have a digital or candy thermometer

    1 tablespoon water

    4 tablespoons butter, salted or unsalted, cut into pieces

    ½ cup granulated sugar

    2 tablespoons packed light or dark brown sugar

    1/8 teaspoon baking soda

    ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

    Fit a small, heavy-duty saucepan with a candy thermometer, then add the water, butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar, mixing them together. Have the baking soda and vanilla measured and ready.

    Cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring as little as possible. When the mixture reaches 300 degrees, remove the pan from the heat and immediately stir in the baking soda and vanilla. Mix just until combined; don’t overstir.

    Right away, pour the hot toffee mixture on to the baking sheet. Using as little movement as possible, spread the toffee into a thin layer.

    Cool completely, then remove the toffee from the baking sheet and break the toffee up into bits using a kitchen mallet or a rolling pin.

  26. Ahh that sounds good but not as easy as what I did! I used a recipe for carmel from a carmel apple tart I make.. haven't tasted the bars but they look a little dark compared to yours... maybe too much carmel or too close to the center. Next time I won't cook the apples I will just toss them in the hot carmel like in the apple pie recipe. The whole house smells delicious and my daughter and I can't wait to taste these...

  27. Anonymous - great! let me know how you like them :) and if you want to try another caramel sauce recipe, i love this one :)