These vegan, gluten-free Caramel Apple Pie Bars are pie turned healthier, easier, and portable. Or even top with ice cream and a caramel drizzle for a decadent fall dessert!
There seems to be a trend developing. A trend of starting out with one recipe idea, switching ideas mid-creation, and then telling you all about my thought process. Perhaps fall flavors just make me especially wishy-washy.
These apple pie snack bars were originally meant to be larabar-like date bars. But then a thought came to me that derailed that entire plan. One cold, creamy, banana-based thought that starts with an ‘N’ and ends with -icecream.
Yep, that’s right: nicecream. You know me too well.
Any good dessert is even better with a creamy topping, yes? Whipped cream on pudding–suddenly its a parfait. Ice cream on a brownie–suddenly it’s a sundae. Frosting on cake–suddenly it’s a birthday. A creamy dollop AND a saucy drizzle? Whoa there!
Add ice cream to a slice of apple pie and suddenly it gets a fancy French name upgrade. Plus a warm-meets-cold, crust-meets-creamy delicious dessert contrast. If apple pie can à la mode it’s way to an extra enticing treat, then I think an apple pie bar can too.
So back to the story. The thought of putting ice cream on top of a chewy date-based bar sounded way weird. Do you eat it with your hands? Do you eat it with a fork? Chopsticks? See, it’s just weird and confusing. However, ice cream on top of a soft, crumbly, baked apple pie bar sounded 100% natural. Who doesn’t put ice cream on their granola/breakfast/snack bars?
These Caramel Apple Pie Bars are based on my Chocolate Chip Clif Bar recipe because I love the texture of those bars! But with some seasonal substitutions. Lots of cinnamon, chunks of sweet apple, and a whole apple blended right in. I used dates as the base and primary sweetener for that baked-in caramel flavor, but a little extra drizzle of my Silky Sweet Date Caramel Sauce on top certainly doesn’t hurt. Caramel Apple Pie Bar with a scoop of vanilla nicecream and a generous caramel drizzle, oh so good….
Easier, healthier, apple pie turned portable. Or if you go all out with the ice cream and caramel sauce, it may be more like pie turned messy and melty but so scrumptiously worth it!
Caramel Apple Pie Bars
- 1 cup pitted Medjool dates
- 1 large apple roughly chopped
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- ¼ cup liquid sweetener of choice*
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 cup brown rice cereal
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 1/2 cup vegan protein powder ** I used Sprout Living Original Epic Protein
- 2 tbsps flax meal
- ½ an apple finely diced
- Optional: banana ice cream and caramel sauce for topping
Preheat oven to 325F.
Combine the chopped apple, dates, vanilla extract, lemon juice, and liquid sweetener in a blender. Blend on high until smooth.
Combine the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add the blender mixture. Stir to combine.
Add the diced apple chunks and gently fold them in.
Shape the dough into a long thin rectangle about 3" wide and 1/2" high. Slice into 8 bars. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Bake for 25-30 mins at 325F.
Let them cool for at least 10 minutes before removing from the pan.
Top your bar with banana ice cream and caramel sauce, or enjoy plain. Keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Recipe Notes*You can substitute applesauce here to make them completely date-sweetened. **You can substitute oat flour.
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