These Caramel Apple Pie Bars are the perfect combination of my two-holiday favorites, Apple Pie and Shortbread Cookies! I love nothing more than apple pie around the holidays, but I sometimes find that bar cookies are a better choice for a large crowd, especially if there are other desserts on the table and guests are nibbling.

These bars are super easy, bursting with flavor, and every bit as festive as a whole pie. To get the best apple flavor, I like to mix-and-match a variety of apples, rather than just use one kind. Grab a Granny Smith, McIntosh, Honey Crisp, or whatever apples you can find, I promise you won’t be disappointed. Remember, these are best if chilled in the fridge for a few hours or overnight before serving. If you’re feeling extra indulgent, serve with a scoop of 365 Vanilla Bean Almond Milk Ice Cream.

I learned to cook from my mom and apple pie was one of the first recipes I learned from her over the holidays. When I went off to college she even printed out and put her recipe into a little booklet for me to have while we lived apart. No one goes hungry for pie on her watch! Now, her recipe lives on but in bar cookie form.

I love eating vegan during the holidays for so many reasons. It's fun to fill your table with holiday food that's a little different from the classics. In my opinion, the flavors are brighter and more exciting when you open your table to a variety of vegan dishes. Also, cooking vegan is much more relaxing than cooking, say, a bird! No worries about internal temperatures when it comes to vegetables, plus you can taste as you go.

Caramel Apple Pie Bars

Makes nine squares

Note: Bars will be best if chilled in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight before serving.

Ingredients

For the Shortbread

  • 2 cups 365 all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup vegan margarine (Earth Balance)
  • ½ cup 365 organic cane sugar
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt

For the Apple Filling

  • 5 apples, peeled and thinly sliced
  • ½ cup vegan margarine (Earth Balance)
  • ¾ cup 365 organic brown sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoon 365 ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon 365 pure vanilla extract
  • 365 Vanilla Bean Almond Milk Ice Cream, for serving (optional)

Instructions

  1. To make the shortbread: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease an 8-inch square pan and line with parchment paper long enough to overhang the edges.
  2. In a food processor, pulse flour, margarine, sugar, and salt until crumbly. Reserve 1 cup of dough for topping, and press the remaining dough into the prepared pan. Bake for 18 minutes.
  3. To make the filling: In a medium pot, heat margarine and apples over medium heat. Stir until apples are soft, about 10 minutes. Add brown sugar and increase heat to medium-high heat. Let bubble for about 10 minutes until thick and caramel-like, stirring frequently. Stir in cinnamon and vanilla, then remove from heat and let cool slightly, about 10 minutes.
  4. Pour apple filling over the baked crust. Crumble the reserved shortbread dough over the top, leaving some of the dough in larger clumps, and some of the apple filling peeking through. Bake for 30 minutes. Let cool, then chill in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight to firm up. Once chilled and set, lift the parchment paper to release the bars from the pan and unmold. Using a sharp knife, cut into squares and serve with vegan ice cream. Store in refrigerator.

Make it Gluten-Free: Use gluten-free baking flour.

Nutritionals 

Calories 480 | Total Fat 21.8g | Saturated Fat 5.4g | Sodium 350mg | Total Carbohydrate 71.9g | Dietary Fiber 4g | Total Sugars 46.1g | Protein 3.2g | Calcium 19mg | Iron 2mg | Potassium 181mg |

Recognized for her beloved vegan fast-casual chain byChloe and bubbly, cheerful personality, Chloe Coscarelli originally stepped into the culinary spotlight as the first vegan chef to win the top prize on Food Network’s Cupcake Wars. Since then, she launched a series of beloved restaurants under the name: ByChloe. She then launched Chloe’s Cupcakes in Miami. She now works with Whole Foods 365 brand and has written four bestselling cookbooks and been acknowledged by The New York Times, Zagat, and Forbes in their 30 Under 30 series. You can find her cooking up new recipes and content on her Chef Chloe website.