salted caramel apple pie bars | confections of a dietitian
In most places I’ve lived, October brings gold and red trees, crisp nights, cozy scarves and sweaters and lots of apples. Okinawa, on the other hand, is still in summer mode. The highs have dropped a mere two degrees and the “feels like” temperature is still well into the 100’s (122 degrees yesterday, to be exact). My social media accounts and favorite blogs are all abuzz about pumpkin spice this and fall everything else, making me homesick for anything to remind me that it is, indeed, fall. An overcast and rainy day plus an invitation to a get together with friends this past weekend gave me the perfect excuse to bake something to make it feel like the wonderful season it is.

 salted caramel apple pie bars | confections of a dietitian
Fall in the Midwest is definitely the best time of year; all of the leaves are changing colors, the sun is usually shining and the temperatures are just cool enough for a light jacket. But the best part about fall, by far, are the apples. Growing up, a yearly tradition for my dad’s birthday, which conveniently falls over Colombus day weekend, was to drive to Michigan and go apple picking. We would pick bushels of apples (and sneak a few as a snack among the trees) that would later turn into apple crisps, pies and applesauce. Those memories are some of my favorites from my childhood and as soon as I moved to Washington near a farming area with apple trees galore, I dragged my husband (who was just a boyfriend at the time) to as many apple farms as I could. Sadly, we no longer live near apple trees, but we can get great apples here, so I knew apples would be the perfect choice for my fall baking project.
salted caramel apple pie bars | confections of a dietitian salted caramel apple pie bars | confections of a dietitian
Apple crisp is one of my favorite fall desserts, but I wanted something that was easier to eat, so I decided to make these caramel apple pie bars instead. They are made with a shortbread crust, which mimics the flavor of pie crust so well without all of the fuss of chilling and rolling out the dough. The filling is typical of apple pie filling, both tart and sweet. I used my fancy apple slicer, (it definitely wins the award for the most fun kitchen appliance in our house growing up), but just peeling and slicing your apples works great too! The original recipe recommends using one tart and one sweet apple. I’m not familiar with most of the Japanese varieties available here, so I just guessed and it was delicious. If you’re in America and have a choice of many varieties of apples, feel free to be picky, but any apple that is good for baking should work well.
 salted caramel apple pie bars | confections of a dietitian
The strudel is the perfect topping, adding more sweetness, cinnamon and and the crunch that these bars need. I don’t think I need to say anything about the salted caramel topping except “yum.” I’m of the opinion that adding caramel will make anything taste good, but even if you’re not a caramel fan, do not leave this step out. It takes these bars from good to outstanding. (I may or may not have licked the spoon clean after I was done drizzling.) This recipe makes a lot of salted caramel sauce, but I’m not complaining because it will be excellent drizzled over ice cream or as a dip for apples. These bars are messy to cut and eat, but I don’t think anyone was complaining about having to lick the cinnamon apple caramel goo off of their fingers. My friends agreed that these bars satisfied the taste of fall that we were craving. Now all we need is some cooler weather!
salted caramel apple pie bars | confections of a dietitian