APPLE, PECAN AND SALTED CARAMEL SQUARES
IngredientsServes 12 large bars or 16 smaller bars
½ cup + ¼ cup (125 ml + 60 ml) melted butter, divided
¼ cup+ 2 tbsp (60 ml + 30 ml) sugar, divided
1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract
¼ tsp (1 ml) salt
1¼ cups + 2 tbsp (310 ml + 30 ml) allpurpose flour, divided
1 cup (250 ml) coarsely chopped toasted pecans, divided
2 to 3 large apples, peeled and thinly sliced, ¼-in (0.5 cm) thick
½ tsp (2.5 ml) finely grated lemon zest
1¼ tsp (6 ml) ground cinnamon, divided
1 pinch ground nutmeg
½ cup (125 ml) old-fashioned oats
⅓ cup (75 ml) packed light brown sugar
¼ cup (60 ml) dried currants
Salted Caramel Sauce, to serve, recipe follows
SALTED CARAMEL SAUCE:
1 cup (250 ml) granulated sugar
6 tbsp (90 ml) room temperature butter, cut into small pieces
½ cup (125 ml) whipping cream
1 tsp (5 ml) salt
- Preheat oven to 300 F (150 C). Line bottom and sides of an 8-in (2 L) square baking pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper, leaving enough overhang on all sides. Set aside.
- To make shortbread crust, in a mixing bowl, stir together ½ cup (125 ml) melted butter with ¼ cup (60 ml) sugar, vanilla and salt. Add 1 cup (250 ml) flour and ½ cup (125 ml) chopped toasted pecans, mix until combined. Press evenly into prepared baking pan. Bake for 15 minutes while preparing apple filling and streusel topping.
- To make apple filling, in a mixing bowl, combine apples, 2 tbsp (30 ml) sugar, 2 tbsp (30 ml) flour, lemon zest, 1 tsp (5 ml) cinnamon and nutmeg. Mix well until apples are evenly coated. Set aside.
- To make streusel topping, in a mixing bowl, mix together oats, brown sugar, ¼ tsp (1 ml) cinnamon, remaining ¼ cup (60 ml) flour and ½ cup (125 ml) chopped pecans. Drizzle in remaining ¼ cup (60 ml) melted butter and mix well until mixture is moist. Set aside.
- Remove crust from oven and increase heat to 350 F (180 C). Evenly layer apples tightly on top of warm crust. Press apples down to fit as it will look like there are too many apples. Sprinkle currants over apples, then top with streusel and bake 30 to 35 minutes or until streusel is golden brown.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool for 20 minutes, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. Lift foil or parchment out of pan and cut into bars (12 large bars or 16 smaller bars). Before serving, drizzle with Salted Caramel Sauce. Serve warm or at room temperature.
- TO MAKE SALTED CARAMEL SAUCE: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat sugar, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until it melts and caramelizes to a thick light to medium brown colour. Immediately add butter, being careful of bubbling and splatter.
- Whisk until completely melted, about 2 to 3 minutes. Whisk while slowly drizzling in cream. Allow to boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in salt. Allow to cool before drizzling onto bars. This recipe can can be made in advance and stored in refrigerator up to 2 weeks. Warm caramel up for a few seconds before drizzling. Makes ¾ cup (175 ml)