While fall doesn’t officially begin for a couple more weeks, many of us use the passing of Labor Day weekend as the unofficial start of the beloved season.  After all, seasonal fall beverages are now available at coffee shops around the country – I enjoyed one myself last weekend :)  Normally at this point in the year, I’m confused because my mind turns to fall but the atmosphere is still all summer.  This year, though, the weather seems to be playing along.  I mean, it may not be sweatshirt weather just yet but I’ve been enjoying the breezy days and the cool foggy mornings.

Any day now we’ll be heading to the apple orchard for our first of many trips this season.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the crops weren’t totally demolished by the drought.  Each year I get overzealous and pick far more apples than we could ever need, but somehow we manage to find a use for them all.  About half are eaten straight, many are used in applesauce, some atop waffles and now, some will always be earmarked for these bars.  The simple crumble dough with oats and a dose of warm fall spices is used for both the base and topping of these bars.  Sandwiched between the two layers is a combination of gooey caramel sauce and tender cooked apples.  If you are a nut lover, sprinkle some chopped walnuts or pecans over the top for additional crunch.  Fall in a bar cookie?  I’ll take it.

Note: This recipe was developed as part of my ongoing contribution to the Go Bold with Butter blog.  Head over to see my posts as well as more great recipes from the other awesome bloggers involved with the project!

  • Yield 16 bars


For the filling:
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
4 large (or 5 medium) apples, peeled and sliced
3 tbsp. sugar
¾ tsp. ground cinnamon
Dash of grated nutmeg
9 oz. caramel candies, unwrapped
2 tbsp. heavy cream

For the dough: 
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
¾ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
12 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ cup chopped nuts, such as pecans or walnuts (optional)


  • 01

    Preheat the oven to 375˚ F.  Line a 9 x 9-inch baking pan with foil or parchment paper.  To make the filling, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Stir in the apple slices, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Cook, stirring occasionally, under the apples are golden brown and caramelized, about 15 minutes.  Remove from the heat.

  • 02

    Meanwhile, prepare the dough.  In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, oats, sugars, baking powder, salt and cinnamon and stir to blend.  Add in the butter pieces and cut into the dry ingredients using a pastry cutter or two knives until the mixture resembles coarse meal.  Add in the egg yolk and vanilla and stir with a fork or knead very briefly just until a crumbly dough comes together.  Transfer about two thirds of the dough mixture to the prepared baking pan and press down into an even layer.  Bake until light golden, about 12-14 minutes.

  • 03

    While the base is baking, combine the caramels and cream in a medium saucepan set over medium heat.  Melt the caramels, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is totally smooth.  Remove from the heat.  Once the base layer is baked, pour the caramel over the top.  Layer with the cooked apple slices.  Crumble the remaining dough over the top of the apple slices.  Sprinkle evenly with the chopped nuts, if using.

  • 04

    Bake about 22-25 minutes or until the top is golden brown.  Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool.  Let cool completely before slicing and serving.