Sunday, November 22, 2009

Indonesian Spiced Apple Caramel Bars

My wife has taken up knitting with a small group of ESL teachers a few Sundays a month. This allows me to watch football without too much interference. However, I'm also responsible for providing sustenance for the group. Last week it was savory pies with a butternut squash and leek filling. This week it's apple caramel bars with a coconut cream caramel spiced with star anise and cinnamon. Although I don't make a lot of desserts, I had been wanting to see what caramel sauce would be like if it were made with coconut cream instead of whipping cream. I also wanted to make something with apples for this month's Weekend Wokking. This recipe is for Weekend Wokking hosted by Momgateway.

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.

Apple Filling
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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  1. Coconut caramel sauce sounds so good! It would go well on the apple bars!

  2. Thanks. While I prefer mom's apple pie warm, I found these bars actually tasted better the next day, chilled in the refrigerator. The coconut caramel sauce is quite subtle in its taste, definitely not overpowering.


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