Caramelized Cinnamon Apple Crumb Bars

Happy fall! Officially ringing in the new autumn season with these caramelized cinnamon apple crumb bars. They are simply the perfect, easy fall dessert to kick off the baking season – soft, cinnamon-filled shortbread crust, a gooey brown sugar & apple filling, and a buttery streusel topping. I love eating these warm out of the oven, and then snacking on them all week long. Your kitchen will smell amazing, and they’re bound to get you into the fall spirit!

Cinnamon Apple Crumb Bars

Cinnamon Apple Crumb Bars

caramelized cinnamon apple crumb bars – the details

This is basically an apple pie, in bar form. For all the nights where a pie might sound too intimidating to make, you can throw these bars in the oven and experience the same sort of cozy nostalgia an apple pie would give you.

I like to start cooking the apples on the stovetop first. You’ll caramelize them in a hot skillet with butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Caramelizing the apples in a skillet will ensure they’re extra sweet and sticky once layered into the bars and baked in the oven.

While the apples are cooking down, you’ll start the shortbread crust. I added lots of cinnamon to my basic shortbread recipe, and swapped in brown sugar for extra rich flavor. The dough gets pressed down into a standard baking dish (don’t worry if it seems like all of the dough won’t fit – just keep pressing it and spreading it out until one even layer is formed, corner to corner).

Cinnamon Apple Crumb Bars

Cinnamon Apple Crumb Bars

The last and best part? A simple streusel topping. With more brown sugar and of course, more butter. It’s the final special touch to crumble over the apples, creating a layer of crispy, crumbly goodness right on top to become golden brown when baked.

All in all, there’s lots of flour, brown sugar, and butter prepared in a variety of ways in this recipe, with sweet cinnamon apple flavor running throughout, and a pinch of salt here and there to help brighten up those cozy flavors. It’s a very decadent dessert, one that I love best eaten nice and warm. If you’re eating leftovers, just heat a square in the microwave for 20 seconds or so for the perfect soft & buttery texture.

So get your ovens on and grab all the most beautiful honeycrisp apples you can find to celebrate the official start of fall with these VERY delicious cinnamon apple crumb bars!!

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Caramelized Cinnamon Apple Crumb Bars

Cinnamon Apple Crumb Bars

simple, decadent caramelized cinnamon apple crumb bars with a soft shortbread crust, sweet brown sugar & apple filling, and buttery streusel topping

yield: 12 bars

Ingredients

Scale

Filling

  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 2 lbs thinly sliced honeycrisp apples (about 6 whole apples)
  • ¾ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt

Shortbread Crust

  • ½ lb (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

Streusel Topping

  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup packed brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • 6 tbsp butter, cut into cubes

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease a 9×13” baking dish with butter. Line the dish with a piece of parchment paper, pressing it flush to the bottom and up the sides, allowing about 2 inches of paper to hang over the edge. 
  2. For the filling: Heat a 12” cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the butter and let melt. Add the sliced apples. Saute for about 8 minutes until caramelized, stirring often. Add the brown sugar, water, cinnamon, and salt. Stir well and allow the sugar to melt. Simmer for about 30 seconds and then turn off the heat. 
  3. For the shortbread crust: Add the butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the flour in two batches, mixing to incorporate. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to create an even mixture. 
  4. For the streusel topping: Combine the flour, brown sugar, and salt in a mixing bowl. Toss to combine. Add the cubes of butter. Use your hands (or a pastry cutter) to cut in the butter, rubbing the butter between your fingers until all of the flour is absorbed and the streusel resembles coarse crumbs. 
  5. To assemble: Press the shortbread dough evenly into the bottom of the prepared baking dish to create one thin, even layer. Spread the apple filling (and all of the sauce from the skillet) over top. Crumble the streusel across the apples. 
  6. Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow to cool at room temperature for about 45 minutes. Carefully use the parchment paper to lift the bars out of the baking dish. Cut the bars into 12 squares. Serve warm or at room temperature. 

Cinnamon Apple Crumb Bars

4 thoughts on “Caramelized Cinnamon Apple Crumb Bars

    1. Thanks, Pam! I hope you love them. You definitely can add oats. Maybe add one more tablespoons of butter, too, just to make sure the streusel isn’t too dry. Enjoy!

    1. Absolutely! I would cut them first, then freeze, defrost in the fridge, then microwave them for about 20 seconds to get them nice and warm!

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