Thursday, October 20, 2011

Improv Cooking Challenge-Caramel Apple Crunch Bars

The Improve Cooking Challenge

I am so excited to be part of  Improv Cooking Challenge.  The first challenge requested that we make something combining apples and caramel.  Since I am the Cookie Monster's grandmother and love cookies, particularly bar cookies, that is where my mind went.  I couldn't find a recipe for what I had in mind so adapted a couple of recipes to make Caramel Apple Crunch Bars.

Most recipes I found called for a layer of melted caramels or caramel ice cream topping.  What I wanted was little pockets of caramel scattered through out a cookie bar.  I ended up cutting each caramel into six pieces and scattering the pieces over a cookie base.  I then covered the caramels with chopped apples and nuts and scattered a crunchy topping over them.  This is a little more work, so if you don't want to do that,  melt the caramels with 2 T. of milk in the microwave for a minute or so.  Layer the melted caramels over the apple/nut layer instead of underneath.  You may need to use a whole package of caramels if you do this.  If so, increase the milk to 1/4 c.

These can be cut for bar cookies or cut larger and served as a dessert topped with whipped topping or (better yet) ice cream and caramel sauce.  I made these with toasted walnuts, but I think that they would be wonderful with toasted pecans; and that is what I would used if making these for company.  Of course, the nuts could be left out completely it the need dictates it.

Caramel Apple Nut Bars
25 caramel (about half of a 14 oz. pkg.)
2 c. all-purpose flour
2 c. quick-cooking rolled oats
1 1/2 c. firmly packed brown sugar
1 t. baking soda
1 1/4 c. butter or margarine, melted
4 medium apples, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/2 c. toasted walnuts or pecans

Unwrap caramels and cut each one in half.   Then cut each half into three pieces.  Use wet kitchen shears to do this.  You may have to clean the blades and rewet the shears a couple of times.  Put caramel pieces in a shallow container.  Set aside.  Place flour, oats, brown sugar, and baking soda in a mixer bowl.  Add melted butter or margarine and mix at low speed until crumbly.  Dump 1 cup of mixture into each half of a greased 10x15-1-inch baking pan.  Pat each cup of mixture out to evenly cover half of baking pan.  Reserve remaining mixture for topping.  Bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes.   While base is baking, peel and chop apples.  Set aside.  When base is done remove from oven.  Scatter caramel pieces over the hot  base.  Return to oven for 5 minutes or until caramels begin to soften.  Remove from oven.  Scatter chopped apples evenly over the top of base/caramel layer.  Scatter nuts over apples.  Sprinkle remaining sugar/flour/oat mixture over the top of the apples and nuts.  Press down slightly with hand.  Return pan to oven and bake 20 to 25 minutes longer or until golden brown.  Remove from oven.  Cool in pan on rack for 30 minutes.  Cut into 1 x 1 1/2-inch bars.  Let cool another 30 minutes.  Makes about 48 bars.


  1. Great minds think alike. Mine recipe is very similar. I so wanted to add nuts but my daughter doesn't eat them. It didn't matter. Hubby and I polished the slice off before the kids had even had a chance to know it was baked! I'll try it with nuts next time.

    Anne @ Domesblissity (popping over from Improv Challenge)

  2. It's so nice to see you at this challenge and your Apple Nut bars look so delicious. Reminds me of cake my grandma used to make.

    Bibi @ Frugal Wannabe Cooks (recipe #7)

  3. I LOVE your recipe! Thanks for participating in THE IMPROV COOKING CHALLENGE!! I can't wait to see what you do next month with Pumpkin and Cream Cheese. ---Sheryl---

  4. WOW Loy - you sure are a creative grandma. This recipe looks and sounds wonderful!

  5. These look fabulous! Stopping by from The Challenge. I'm a new follower :)

  6. These sound delicious! I will have to try these some time. Thanks for sharing with us:)

  7. These sound so easy and delicious! Fun being part of the inaugural ICC with you!

    Amy @ A Little Nosh

  8. Love the recipe and your bars look delish!

    If you haven't already, I'd love for you to check out my Improv Cooking Challenge recipe: Caramel Stuffed Apple Cider Cookies.

    Cook Lisa Cook

  9. YUM-O!! Those look delish! Thanks for sharing!

  10. Your bars look delicious! I'm checking out all the recipes in the challenge. I'm #53 the Caramel Apple Scones.

  11. These look absolutely amazing!! I'm adding them to my must make list!! What a great idea for this month's challenge!

  12. Oh yum, these look killer!

  13. This Apple recipe sounds so yummy. Yesterday I bought vanilla ice cream, and top it with baked apples slices and caramel sauce, but your recipe looks so good and can 't wait to make it.

  14. Hi Loy,
    Surprise, I had your blog for The Secret Recipe Club for November. I really enjoy looking through all of your recipes and we just loved these bars, they are awesome! Hope you are having a great day, it is fun cooking with you in the SRC!
    Miz Helen

  15. This recipe received great compliments from family and co-workers. Everyone wants the recipe. Excellent!


I love to read your comments and suggestions. Hope that you enjoyed your visit to Grandma Loy"s Kitchen.

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