Salted Caramel Apple Pie Bars

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For Thanksgiving this year, my dad requested something crunchy, my mom wanted something with cinnamon and my little sister wanted something with apples. To try and please everyone, I decided to try out these Salted Caramel Apple Pie Bars and they turned out amazing! Salted caramel fans – here’s another recipe to go on your “Must Bake” list.

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Personally, I like using Fuji apples for everything. However, if you prefer something a little less sweet, try using one tart apple (Granny Smith) and one sweet apple (Honey Crisp).

Be generous with drizzling on the salted caramel sauce. I kept some of it to use on a chocolate cheesecake the next day, but if I had made more I would’ve put all of it on the bars – it’s really that good!

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Also, please don’t be intimidated by the ingredient list –  a lot of the ingredients are repeats and if you’ve ever made an apple pie before, I personally feel that this is even easier to bake since you don’t have to worry about prepping both crusts.

I used a slightly modified recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction and purchased all of my ingredients from Stater Bros.

Ingredients & Costs:

Shortbread Crust

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted = $1.13
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar = $0.04
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract = $0.10
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt = $0.01
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour = $0.28

Apple Filling

  • 2 large apples, peeled and thinly sliced (1/4 inch thick) = $1.42
  • 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour = $0.04
  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar = $0.02
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon = $0.19

Streusel

  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats = $0.13
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar = $0.04
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon = $0.05
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour = $0.07
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, cold and cubed = $0.56

Salted Caramel Sauce

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar = $0.08
  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut up into small pieces = $0.56
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream = $0.39
  • 1-2 teaspoon salt = $0.02

Grand Total = $5.13

Directions:

Original recipe makes approximately 9-16 bars.

  1. Preheat the oven to 300F degrees. Line an 8-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on all sides. Set aside.
  2. Shortbread crust: stir the melted butter, granulated sugar, vanilla, and salt together in a medium bowl. Add the flour and stir until everything is combined. Press the mixture evenly into the prepared baking pan. Bake for 15 minutes while you prepare the filling and streusel.
  3. Make apple filling: Combine the sliced apples, flour, granulated sugar, and cinnamon together in a large bowl until all of the apples are evenly coated. Pan fry on low for 5 minutes. Set aside.
  4. Make the streusel: Whisk the oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and flour together in a medium bowl. Cut in the chilled butter with a pastry blender or two knives or forks (or even with your hands) until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside.
  5. Remove the crust from the oven, and turn the oven up to 350F degrees. Evenly layer the apples on top of the warm crust. It will look like there are too many apple slices, so layer them tightly and press them down to fit. Sprinkle the apple layer with streusel and bake for 30–35 minutes or until the streusel is golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 20 minutes at room temperature.
  6. Make salted caramel sauce: Heat granulated sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula. Sugar will form clumps and eventually melt into a thick brown, amber-colored liquid as you continuously stir. Once sugar is completely melted, immediately add the butter and stir until it is completely melted, about 2-3 minutes. Very slowly, drizzle in 1/2 cup of heavy cream while whisking. Allow the mixture to boil for 1 minute. It will rise in the pan as it boils. Remove from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon of salt. Allow to cool down before using.
  7. Lift the foil out of the pan using the overhang on the sides and cut into bars. Once cut, pour salted caramel sauce on top. These apple pie bars can be enjoyed warm or cold.

The bars will stay fresh in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 days or frozen up to 3 months – thaw overnight in the fridge, then drizzle with extra salted caramel before serving. Cover the caramel tightly and store for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Warm the caramel up for a few seconds before using in a recipe.

As always, thank you for reading this blog post and let me know if you try out this recipe! 

Happy Baking,

Cindy

Matcha Cupcakes with Azuki Bean Frosting

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I’ve been meaning to bake these cupcakes for sometime now, and I’m so glad I finally did! The Matcha Cupcakes were absolutely delicious and the Azuki Bean Frosting complimented the cupcakes perfectly. If you’re in the mood to try baking something more exotic, but still very easy, this is the recipe for you.

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Basic ingredients such as flour, eggs & butter were all purchased from Stater Bros. The matcha powder and red bean paste were purchased from HMart – but you should be able to find them at any Asian supermarket like 99 Market, Mitsuwa or Marukai.

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I only made a dozen of these cupcakes this time, but I really wish I had made more! My dad actually said they were some of the best cupcakes I’ve ever made and the rest of my family really enjoyed them as well. I’ll definitely be baking up some more in the future – maybe for a family gathering or casual event.

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I also finally got to test out my new 1M Wilton frosting tip, which was pretty exciting! I’ve tried out some other less expensive brands, but finally gave into all the Wilton hype and purchased a few tips online. Best. decision. ever.

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For the cupcakes, I used a modified recipe from the The Little Epicurean and for the frosting, I tweaked the Brown Eyed Baker’s vanilla buttercream frosting.

Ingredients & Costs:

Matcha Cupcakes

  • 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour = $0.49
  • 1 cup granulated sugar = $0.16
  • 1 Tbsp matcha powder = $0.19
  • 1/2 Tbsp baking powder = $0.03
  • 1/2 tsp salt = $0.01
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into cubes, room temperature = $1.13
  • 2 large eggs = $0.62
  • 2/3 cup milk = $0.37

Azuki Bean Frosting

  • 3/4 cup (6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature = $1.69
  • 2 cups powdered sugar = $0.80
  • 4 tbsp red bean paste = $0.20

Grand Total = $5.69

Directions:

Original recipes makes approximately 12 cupcakes

Cupcakes

1. Preheat over to 325 degrees F. Line cupcake pan with cupcake pan with cupcake liners. Set aside.
2.  Whisk flour, sugar, matcha powder, baking powder and salt in the bowl until combined.  Add butter cubes and mix until just coated with the dry ingredients.
3.  In a large measuring cup, whisk together eggs and milk.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry in three additions while the mixer is on medium speed. Mix until all ingredients are incorporated but make sure not to overbeat.
4.  Divide batter among lined cupcake pan, filling a little over 2/3 full.  Bake 18-23 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to wire rack to cool.

Frosting

1. Using the wire whisk attachment of your stand mixer, whip the butter on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, stopping to scrape the bowl once or twice.

2. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the powdered sugar. Once all of the powdered sugar is incorporated, increase the speed to medium-high and add the red bean paste, mixing until incorporated. Whip at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed.

You can store any unused frosting in the refrigerator in an airtight container; let it come to room temperature and then give it a quick whip in the mixer before using. Stores cupcakes in airtight container for up to 4 days.

Thanks for reading this blog post. Feel free to leave comments & questions you may have and I wish you all the best on your next baking adventure!

Happy Baking,

Cindy

Halloween Treats: Pumpkin Spice M&M Cookies

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I can’t believe it’s almost the end of October. Which also means, it’s almost Halloween! Do you have anything planned? Already know what you’re dressing up as? Unfortunately, I won’t be attending any parties this year – instead, I’ll be handing out sweets…what kind of sweets you ask? Pumpkin Spice M&M Cookies! 🙂

I decided to kill two birds with one stone by doing my weekly baking AND using them as sweet treats for the neighborhood trick or treaters. While trying to figure out what to bake, I skimmed over a number of articles for ‘Halloween Treats for Kids’, but everything seemed to be cupcakes or truffles or just something that was too temperamental and would easily get destroyed in kids’ Halloween candy baskets. Finally, I found Martha Stewart’s Chewy Caramel Mystery Cookies and I remembered as a kid, I always loved M&M cookies (probably because of all the sugar & chocolate). So I knew this would be the perfect thing to bake. 

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The secret ingredient is, without a doubt, the vanilla pudding mix. I know, I know. They may not be the healthiest cookies ever, but the preservatives in the pudding mix make these cookies extremely soft with a nice golden brown crunch on the edges.

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To make these cookies, I modified a chocolate chip cookie recipe from Allrecipes by Debbi. This recipe has a 4.5/5 rating and over 7500 reviews, so she must be doing something right! Allrecipes is definitely one of my top go-to websites for basic baking recipes.

If you’re also wondering where I got my ingredients, I picked most of them up from Stater Bros. and the pumpkin spice M&Ms, pudding mix, treat bags, ribbon, and calligraphy pen from Target.

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Ingredients & Costs:

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour = $0.63
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda = $0.01
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder = $0.02
  • 1 cup butter, softened = $2.25
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar = $0.08
  • 1/4 cup white sugar = $0.04
  • 1 (3.4 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix = $0.94
  • 2 eggs = $0.62
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract = $0.30
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cups pumpkin spice M&Ms = $2.60

Grand Total = $7.40

Directions:

Original recipes makes approximately 2 – 2 1/2 dozen cookies

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line cookie sheet with baking paper or aluminum foil. Set aside.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking soda & baking powder together. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream the butter until light and fluffy, then incorporate the brown sugar and white sugar. Beat in the instant pudding mix until blended. Stir in the eggs and vanilla. Blend in the flour mixture. Drop cookies by rounded spoonfuls onto cookie sheets with your hands or with a cookie-dough scooper.
  4. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven. Edges should be slightly golden brown. Press 5 or so M&Ms onto the cookies right after they get out of the oven. Let them cool for at least 10-15 minutes before consuming.

Store cookies in airtight container for up to 6 days.

And that’s it friends! This is such a quick and easy recipe that all kids will definitely love. I mean really, who doesn’t love cookies and candy, right?

If you do attempt baking these cookies, please let me know. I’d love to hear how they turned out!

Happy Baking,

Cindy