I really wanted to call these bars Caramel Apple & White Chocolate Peanut Butter Oat Bars
But that was kind of a mouthful.
The bars are a mouthful, too. In the best possible way, I assure you.
So I left the title as Caramel Apple Bars
In my world, caramel + apples just go together
And so does PB + apples
And let’s face it, white chocolate goes with everything for me
If you’re not a white chocolate fan
you’re crazy you can omit the white chocolate chips in this recipe or use another kind of chips like dark or semisweet or peanut butter chips
These bars combine so many of my favorite and just-go-together flavors which is why I was tempted to list each flavor in the title.
While these bars bake, the brown sugar + butter = caramel created
drinkable caramel sauce drippy caramel sauce at the bottom of the bars, both from the butter and brown sugar and from the addition of caramel sauce on top. I never said these were low sugar or low fat
But they are gluten free and vegan as long as you make a couple easy adaptations.
The apples soften and get all juicy and bubbly
And the white chocolate and peanut butter melts
Creating bars that taste like caramel apples
I like these bars better than caramel apples because you don’t have to walk around gnawing on a huge piece of fruit that’s wobbly on a stick with caramel sauce all over your face.
Although there are worse problems to have in life than caramel sauce on your chin.
Like not making any (vegan) peanut butter soft serve ice cream before serving these. <— I forgot
But it would have been fabulous with them. Next time.
Caramel Apple Bars (Gluten-Free, Vegan)
1/2 c applesauce (I used 1 small/medium apple with the peel on that I blended in the Vita)
1/2 c peanut butter
1/4 c butter, softened (or margarine)
2 c oats (whole rolled, not quick cook. See this post at the bottom for a discussion on oats & gluten)
1 c brown sugar, packed
1/2 c white sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon (reduce/increase to taste, if desired)
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 c apples, diced & peeled
3/4 to 1 c white chocolate chips (use vegan white chocolate chips if desired, or regular dark/semisweet chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, etc.)
1/4 c to 1/2 c caramel sauce (I used ice cream topping caramel sauce or use Dark Rum Caramel Sauce. There are many vegan caramel sauce recipes online; google and research them if desired)
Optional: Add raisins, dates, dried fruit, nuts, as desired in 1/4 to 1/3 c quantity
Directions: Combine applesauce, PB, butter in a large mixing bowl and stir to combine them. Then add oats, sugars, cinnamon, and vanilla extract and stir. Then fold in diced apples and white chocolate chips. Spread batter (it will be pretty moist) into a foil-lined and spayed 8 x 8 or 9 x 9 pan. Bake at 350F for 30 minutes. The bars may still look underdone, but that’s ok because they will continue to set up as they cool. They will be bubbling rapidly upon removing them from the oven. Let the bubbling stop (about 5 minutes) and then carefully drizzle the caramel sauce over the top of the bars. Allow bars to to cool very well before slicing. I suggest popping them into the freezer for 15-30 minutes if you’re in a hurry. Store extras on the countertop, refrigerator, or in the freezer for long term storage.
Notes: All measurements are approximate and if you love peanut butter, apples, or caramel, add a bit more. Reduce the sugar amounts if you wish. Omit or change the type of chocolate chips used. Add other spices such as pumpkin pie spice, cardamom, ginger, nutmeg, etc. if desired.
A Visual Guide
Gather your ingredients
Combine applesauce, PB, butter & stir.
Then add the oats, sugars, cinnamon, and vanilla extract and stir.
Add the diced apples & white chocolate chips
Pour mixture into a foil-lined and spayed pan
Bake and allow to stop bubbling.
Then drizzle caramel sauce over the bars.
Allow to cool well before slicing & serving.
The edges on these are actually my favorite part
Chewy with some definite texture as the brown sugar and caramel sauce harden up
The bars are like what I call perfect brownies: chewy edges with soft middles, and dense (not cakey, airy, or light)
I am big on texture and the way it feels when I am chewing it is just as important as taste. Well, almost as important.
I am digging the translucent apples. Tender, warm, oven-softened fruit can be so comforting.
And brown sugar makes everything more caramely and chewier and gives baked goods that want-to-sink-your-teeth-into-it texture, which is always a bonus.
Other bonuses: Gluten Free, Vegan (adaptable), One Bowl, One Pan, No Mixer, Fast Cleanup
Most of all: A hit with the fam
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