Caramel Apple Bars (Yay, it's Fall!)

This is absolutely my favorite time of year.  Favorite.  Cardigans, cool breezes, the smell of leaves and bonfires.  But mostly, I love the food.  Pot Roasts and Football Dips.  But being the baker I am, I adore all the variety of  desserts that I can fill with apple, pumpkin, cinnamon and maple goodness.  I broke into my pumpkin stash early this year and started offering fall goodies at the farmers market as soon as just the hint of cooler weather came my way.  "Cool" being the 70's, but that feels like fall after the hot and humid streak we'd had.

I'm sure I'll be sharing some pumpkin treats later, but now, let's talk about these Caramel Apple Bars.  They're like an apple crisp that you can eat without the fork/spoon.  But perhaps more delicious than apple crisp because of the crust and caramel layer.  And if nothing else, making these makes your house smell A-MA-ZING.  No expensive candle can compare.

Caramel Apple Bars
adapted from The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion

-1 c. brown sugar
-3/4 c. unsalted butter, softened
-1 tsp. apple pie spice
-3/4 tsp. salt
-1/2 tsp. baking soda
-1 c. flour
-1 c. pecan meal
-2 c. old-fashioned oats

-21-28 oz. diced apples (pick a tart variety) or 3-4 cups
-1/2 tsp. salt
-1 tsp. apple pie spice
-1 tsp. vanilla bean paste or vanilla

-10-12 oz caramel candies
-3 Tbsp. milk
(or I used 12 oz Peters Caramel with 2 Tbsp. milk)

-Peel and dice apples.  Add spice, salt and vanilla.  Stir and set aside.

-Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a 9x13 pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil, coat with non-stick cooking spray.

-In bowl of stand mixer, or in a medium size bowl, beat together brown sugar, butter, apple pie spice, salt, and baking soda until blended.  Stir in flour, pecan meal, and oatmeal until the the mixture is combined and crumbly.  Set aside a heaping 1 cup of the crumbs.  Press the remaining crumbs into the bottom of your prepared pan.

-Spread apples over the top of your crust

-In a microwave-safe bowl, add caramels and milk.  Microwave in 30 second intervals until the caramel is smooth and creamy.  Pour evenly over apples.

Add your reserved crumbs.  

Bake the bars 35-40 minutes.  The caramel should be bubbly.  Remove from oven and cool completely.  Cut into bars and enjoy them as that warm fall feeling takes over!

P.S.- As soon as I can figure it out, I'm adding a print option.  Won't that be exciting?!  And don't forget to "Like" Cookie Crazed Mama on Facebook.  I love being "Liked"!

Devilish Brownies

Okay, so I have these brownies.  And they are utterly sinful.  Like the kind of dessert, that after one bite you can virtually hear your thighs warning you to stop.  So I could be an angel and not share these devilish treats with you, but I'd rather repent later and enjoy the moment.  Because you will be blissfully happy as you eat these, and you will be glad I shared, and then, well, you might feel the need to start an all leafy green diet.

Devilish Brownies
adapted from How Sweet Eats

-1 box of your favorite brownies, I use a dark chocolate
-2/3 c. salted peanuts
-1 bag of Reese Cup minis, these are the tiny, unwrapped ones
-15 Dark Chocolate Reese Cup, miniature, wrapped, chopped
-1, 12 oz. bag semi-sweet Chocolate Chips
-1 1/2 c. creamy peanut butter
-1 Tbsp. butter
-2 c. Rice Krispie cereal

Preheat oven to temp on brownie box.  Line a 9x13 pan with parchment paper and spray with non-stick cooking spray.  Prepare brownies according to box instructions.  Pour evenly into pan and bake for 20-22 minutes.  I bake 20 minutes because I like a moister bottom.

While brownies bake, in a small bowl add peanuts, bag of Reese minis, and chopped Reese miniatures.  After brownies have baked, evenly toss the peanut mixture over the top and bake additional 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a sauce pan over medium-low heat, melt chocolate chips, butter, and peanut butter together.  Once smooth, stir in your cereal.  Pour over the top of brownies, and use an offset spatula to smooth evenly.  Immediately refrigerate for at least 2 hours or until the topping has hardened.

Using a sharp knife, cut into 24 bars, and then I usually cut the bars into halves.  These are rich!  And delicious! And I dare you to just eat one little triangle! Mwwah-hahahaha!