HELLO, dear new internet friends! Welcome to Think. Make. Taste!, which is my internet website child. Fondly referred to as TMT, because typing/saying the whole thing is a wee tiresome. Plus I feel empowered with an acronym.
Anywho, I am SO HAPPY that you are here, have found the barely functioning TMT site, and that you may or may not be reading this right now (let us pretend that you are).
First: Hi! Again! My name is Alyssa Cho, and I am clearly overexcited to meet you. Things I think you might like to know about me are that I really like kitchen experimenting and good food. And coffee, like the rest of my millennial generation. And meaningful things, which according to my boss is also a millennial thing (I'm totally okay with such descriptions). If you are interested in more details on what seized me to think I could attempt running a food site, please check out my wordy (but functional!) about page. I'd actually be super happy if you checked it out, because it is kind of a piece of my soul on the internet.
Now! We are acquainted-ish, so time for some goodies (this will be a regular thing on TMT).
Quick baby story time. I began an instagram account earlier this year as "unrestricted." When working on this site, I think I saw the word too many times, freaked out, and now have TMT ("unrestricted" didn't have the makings for a great acronym, apparently).
Point being, I posted a picture of these to instagram because I was really excited with how they turned out. One of those beautiful moments when a kitchen experiment and good food collides. In this case, it turned out to be salted caramel apple pie bars(!!!). Inspired by some darling galas hanging out in my kitchen. Let us take a moment to marvel at the prettiness that is an apple in season.
Clearly, these bars, or at least the apple part, were destined to be good.
BUT! I must spend a moment on another darling ingredient: cashew butter. It is YUM. And in the dough, caramel sauce, and crumble topping. It adds some serious authenticity of flavor. It brings the WOW that makes these bars something that you consider hoarding instead of sharing. That is all.
Another moment on the caramel, which is made possible by way of cashew butter, and is definitely my favorite part of this whole deal. It is ready in 30 seconds, and needs just you, a bowl, and a microwave. Which is really just too lovely.
It also kind of looks like molten caramel lava over little pillows of crumbly pastry. So that's something.
I kind of love everything going on here. It would be nice to be super eloquent with my first post (again, if you're here and all but we are pretending), but gosh dang it I really just want to share these. There's really not much to explain other than they are a really special way to treat one of fall's most favorite pieces of produce. I mean OF COURSE I have stories I can share too, but I don't want to scare you away so soon.
So when you make these fellas, I would recommend for apples choosing something like gala, pink lady, or honeycrisp (pricey little buggers). If you're feeling sassy, you could go with granny smith. Good to know that there are apple varieties for different moods, yes?
And the caramel, which is good at all times.
And PLEASE please please don't run away because of my amateur photography. Photoshop/Lightroom and I are ever so slowly becoming acquainted. We blame the iPhone for everything.
To be real, I am just grateful that these bars transcend my current photography and editing skills, thank God.
A final disclaimer on these bars, and all the future TMT foodstuffs. The recipes will always be gluten free and dairy free, because I have celiac disease and am allergic to dairy. I don't eat meat (personal choice, not an allergy), so it will likely be vegan friendly, too (again, there is waaaaaayyyyyyy more on this in the about page, if you are super curious). My personal goal is for my self-appointed critics to either not know or not care that these ingredients are missing. Rather, the goal is that we simply enjoy the food, together.
Final side note! Eating these on a pretty dessert plate was 1000% more fun than eating these on a plain plate. Totally a thing.
Okay! I’ve successfully exhausted myself, so without further ado: vegan-friendly & gluten free salted caramel apple pie bars.
And welcome, friends. I can’t wait to get to know you!
salted caramel apple pie bars
vegan & gluten free
prep time: ~30 minutes
cook time: 45-55 minutes
makes: 1 8x8 baking dish
For the bars:
⅔ -¾ cup brown rice flour
⅔ - ¾ cup oat flour (lightly packed down into the measuring cup)*
¼ cup rolled oats*
3.5 T coconut palm sugar
3 T arrowroot starch
1 tsp xanthan gum
¼ tsp sea salt
6 T Earth Balance, chilled*
3.5 T cashew butter*
1.5 T pure maple syrup
For the filling:
2 large apples of choice (I used gala)
Juice from ½ lemon
1 T coconut palm sugar
1 T arrowroot starch
1.5 tsp cinnamon
For the caramel:
¼ cup cashew butter
¼ cup pure maple syrup
2 T Earth Balance
1 tsp vanilla
1-2 tiny pinches sea salt, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and line an 8x8 baking dish with parchment paper.
- Combine the flours, oats, sugar, starch, xanthan gum, and sea salt in a medium mixing bowl.
- Using your hands, incorporate the Earth Balance and cashew butter until you have a dough (British Baking Show style). Add the maple syrup, and continue mixing (using your hands) until thoroughly incorporated.
- Scoop 2/3 of the dough into the prepared baking dish (the remaining 1/3 will be your topping). Using your fingers, press dough into a crust along the bottom of the dish. Place crust into the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until it springs back slightly when touched.
- Increase oven temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Wash and thinly slice the apples, the place in a large mixing bowl. Add lemon juice sugar, cinnamon, and starch. Set aside.
- Add all of the ingredients for the caramel in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 25-30 seconds, then remove and whisk vigorously until it comes together. Microwave another 10-15 seconds if having difficulty.
- Layer 1/2 of the apple mixture onto the prepared and baked crust. Using 1/3 of the caramel, drizzle over the apple layer. Add the rest of the apples, then drizzle with another 1/3 of the caramel.
- Crumble the remaining 1/3 of the dough mixture over the apples, then top with the remaining caramel. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until topping is a light golden brown. Allow to cool at least 30 minutes before cutting, ideally until fully cooled.
- Store in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. I'm sure you could also freeze but COME ON, they'll be eaten :).
*I made my own oat flour by dumping a bag of Trader Joe's gluten free oats in my food processor.
*If necessary, make sure that you are using certified gluten free oats.
*I am certain you could use butter. I am not totally sure about a different butter substitute. Earth Balance is my favorite :)
*If you can't score some, peanut butter or almond butter would be dandy. Or tahini. I will say though that for an authentic caramel flavor, cashew butter is your buddy.