I wanted apple caramel bars with a little bit of an Indonesian flavor. The base and topping are from a recipe that I tweaked from Cook's Illustrated. I had to look around to find a recipe that wasn't simple a shortbread base. I wanted the oatmeal and nuts to complement the apple filling. Macadamia nuts not only have more of a tropical flavor, they also were the nuts I had on hand. Although this was a little sweet for my taste, I thought they were a very tasty bar and would certainly be a hit with kids.
Indonesian Spiced Apple Caramel Bars
Base and Topping
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped dry roasted macadamia nuts (unsalted)
3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks) cut into small pieces
Mix dry ingredients together. Cut butter into the mixture until you have a coarse, mealy texture. Pat two thirds of this into a 9-inch square baking pan lined with parchment paper. (Make sure the parchment paper extends above the edges of the pan so you can lift it out easily after baking.)
Coconut Caramel Sauce
2 star anise
1 3 inch piece of cinnamon
50 grams of palm sugar (gula jawa)
100 grams of light brown sugar
2 TBS water
2/3 cup of coconut cream
In saucepan stir together star anise, cinnamon, sugars and water. Bring to a simmer over medium low heat. Simmer about five minutes. Add coconut cream. The solution will bubble up vigorously. Stir the sauce and lower the heat.
5 medium sized apples (I used 3 Granny Smith and 2 Fuji)
Coconut caramel sauce
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Peel, slice and cut apples into pieces about an inch long and 1/4 inch thick. Sprinkle with spices and pour caramel sauce over to coat.
Assembling and Baking the Bars
Preheat the oven to 375º. Spread apple filling over the prepared base. Sprinkle reserved topping over the filling. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for at least 15 minutes before lifting out of the pan with the parchment paper. Cut into 12 rectangles.
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