I’m going to be honest here. I’m not a fan of oatmeal cookies. I know, right? What on earth is wrong with me? Now don’t get me wrong, just because I’m not a fan, doesn’t mean that if you put one or two in front of me that I would ignore them. Quite the contrary….I’d gobble them up, because that’s what I do. I eat. I love to eat. I guess I’m just saying that I prefer another cookie over oatmeal. Yeah, that’s a better statement.
Not too long ago, my daughter Jessica and her boyfriend Pat went to pick apples. She came home with a huge bag of these humungous apples. That same day, Katie and her boyfriend Ryan went apple picking, and she brought some home…Honestly, we had apples flowing out of the refrigerator… They were perfectly tart, yet sweet, and had that wonderful “snap” when you bit into them. We were eating them like crazy, but still couldn’t put a dent in them, so I made a pie one day…and apple crisp a couple days later….
One morning, I started peeling some apples to make apple pie bars. You know, like an apple pie, but baked in a cookie sheet. As I was peeling, I had one of my “last minute” ideas…
My family loves this type of bar that I make called Oatmeal Caramelitas. You’re probably aware of these bars, they’re a layer bar with an oatmeal base, caramel, chocolate chips, and walnuts in the middle, with an oatmeal-crumble topping. Again, not my favorite because of the oatmeal…but I’ll eat one if I’m craving a sweet.
So, after all of my talk about disliking oatmeal and all, imagine how I surprised myself when I decided to make these oatmeal based apple bars. I don’t know about you, but I get so excited when an idea like that comes to me….I’m sure oatmeal apple bars have been done over and over again…. But I still had that little twinge of excitement, as if I had just invented spaghetti… Super Genius…!
I think that the biggest “worry”, if you even want to call it a worry… was that the oatmeal takes about a half hour from start to finish to bake, and I knew that the apples wouldn’t soften up in that short amount of time. I decided to sauté them in butter and brown sugar (a beautiful marriage, if ever there was…) until they were softened, and then added them to the oatmeal base. It worked out perfectly.
I decided to keep the walnuts, but I scrapped the caramel and chocolate chips, because I had a feeling that it would be way too sweet. After eating them, I still think that the caramel would have made them way too sweet. Now if you love that kind of sweetness, then by all means, drizzle some melted caramels, or your favorite caramel sauce recipe over them.
They were a big hit with everyone…even me…you know, the oatmeal hater… They were super easy to throw together, and the oatmeal and apple filling went together so deliciously. They’re delicious cold, and will last for about a week in the refrigerator. They freeze perfectly too, and only take a little while to thaw.
My favorite was to warm them in the microwave, and serve them with a scoop of maple walnut ice cream, a dollop of whipped cream, and sprinkled with cinnamon.
Of course it was your favorite, Prudy…
It’s not good until it’s brimming with calories, right?
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Spray an 11×7 baking pan with vegetable spray
6 large apples, peeled and sliced thin
½ cup butter
½ cup brown sugar
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
Peel and thinly slice the apples. Melt the butter in a large frying pan, and add the brown sugar, stirring until they’re saucy. Add the apples, cinnamon and salt. Cook on low heat until the apples are softened, and a lovely golden color.
While the apples are cooking…make the oatmeal crumble…
The Oatmeal Crumble
1 cup old fashioned oats
1 cup flour
¾ cup brown sugar
¾ cup unsalted butter, melted
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp baking soda
½ cup walnuts, chopped
…And if you so choose…The Caramel Sauce
16 caramel candies
2 1/2 tablespoons evaporated milk
In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats, flour, brown sugar, butter, salt, and baking soda until well blended. Press half of the mixture into the prepared 11×7 pan, and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven.
When the apples are finished cooking, spread them on top of the baked oatmeal crust. Sprinkle with ½ cup walnuts.
If you decide you’d like the caramel sauce: Melt the caramels with the evaporated milk over a double boiler, or in the microwave. Drizzle over the apple/walnut layer.
Break the remaining crumb mixture up with your hands, and sprinkle on top of the apple/walnut layer.
Bake for 20 minutes. Let cool completely before cutting into bars. Serve as is, or with ice cream or whipped cream…or both!