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

Notice the 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.


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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.

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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

Related posts you may enjoy…

Dark Rum Caramel Sauce

Caramelized Cinnamon Sugar Roasted Chickpea “Peanuts”

Raw Vegan Apple Crumble

3 Ingredient Raw Vegan Caramels

And Nut-Butter Stuffed Caramel Bites

An an entire Apple Recipes Compilation Post

With recipe ideas for what to do with all the apples you have on hand this time of year

But I hope you make these bars first

Questions:

1. What flavors and foods remind you of fall?

For me, apples, caramel, seasonal flavored coffee drinks like homemade pumpkin spice lattes (vegan), roasted foods & veggies, warm soups, and firing up the oven and doing more cooking (rather than uncooking/unbaking) and cold salads mean that fall is here.

But sniff, sniff, I don’t want winter and fall means winter is just around the corner.

2. Do you like caramel as much as I do?  Sweet desserts?

Please say yes to both.  Humor me.

I love them both, very much.

And I am of the mindset that there’s nothing too sweet or too rich

Have a great wrap-up to your weekend and a good start to your week!

P.S. Final reminder that the Case of Odwalla Bars Giveaway ends Monday

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