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Monday, October 11, 2010

Caramel Apple Nut Bars

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I did it, I survived! Yesterday's race was grueling...absolutely the hardest thing I've ever done physically and possibly mentally. It was hot and tiring and there were plenty of moments when I wanted to walk, crawl, or just stop, but I pressed on and crossed the finish line at 3:54:14. At that moment I had a hard time reflecting on the accomplishment; I was tired and weak and could only concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other. A few hours later, however, as I type this, I'm feeling pretty pumped (and very, very sore!). This race was a long-time coming. I realized that one year ago, on October 10, 2009, I couldn't run a single mile, thanks to my injury. To have made the strides I did in the past year is something I can't help but be proud of. Where does this leave me now? Time will tell. I'll always be a runner, and when my soreness subsides, I'll start to consider my next feat as a runner. In the meantime, I'll continue to do my other favorite thing: make delicious things like these amazing caramel apple nut bars!

When it comes to pizza, pie, etc., are you a crust guy/girl, or a toppings guy/girl? If you're a crust lover, then these are the bars for you! And if you're the one who normally leaves the crust aside and picks the toppings off, I'm convinced these bars will convert you. Extreme amounts of butter and brown sugar can do that. You can try to healthify this, but I don't recommend it. Live a little! There's whole wheat flour and oats in the crust too, so these have a bit of a healthy balance ;)

While these are titled caramel apple nut bars, the dominating player here is absolutely the crust. Next time I make these, I think I'll double the filling toppings to give them a better chance to play a starring role in this dessert. They were noticeable and necessary, but it was the crust that stole the show. I found these bars irresistible and all self-control went out the window the few days these lasted in our house.

It's not too early to start thinking about Thanksgiving...I think these would make an excellent dessert alongside your pies!

One Year Ago: Chocolate Caramel Oat Bars (ha, funny similarity there!)

Caramel Apple Nut Bars
adapted from The Other Side of Fifty

-1 cup all-purpose flour
-1 cup whole wheat lour
-2 cups old-fashioned oats
-1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
-1 tsp baking soda
-1/2 tsp salt
-1 1/4 cups butter, softened
-1/2 cup caramel topping
-3 tbsp all-purpose flour
-1 medium apple, peeled and chopped
-1/2 cup pecans, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9 x 13 pan and set aside.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine flours, oats, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Add the butter, mixing on low speed until the mixture is crumbly. Press 3 cups of mixture into the bottom of the greased pan. Bake at 350F for 10 minutes.
3. While crust is baking, combine caramel topping with 3 tbsp flour. Remove crust from oven and sprinkle with apples and pecans. Drizzle caramel mixture over the apples and nuts. Top with remaining crust mixture.
4. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack before cutting.