Cardamom is an exotic flavor I fell in love with several years ago. The spice originated in India and gives masala chai tea its distinctive flavor. I have been experimenting with cardamom by using it instead of cinnamon in select recipes. Here I tried it along side cinnamon in these apple crumb bar cookies.
I based this recipe on one found in The All-American Cookie Book by Nancy Baggett.
I chose to use white wheat flour in the crumbs in this recipe since the flavor blends well with the oats and the flour is a little healthier than all-purpose flour. (Admittedly the butter and heavy cream prevent this recipe from ever being healthy!) I am a big fan of white wheat flour since it is whole grain and I use it quite often in many baked goods. However, I always stick with all-purpose flour when a mild flavor is necessary, such as in cakes and delicate cookies. White wheat flour can be found at some grocery stores and at King Arthur Flour.
Caramel-Apple Cardamom Crumb Bars:
- 2 2/3 cup white wheat flour (or all-purpose flour)
- 1 2/3 cup quick-cooking oats
- 1 1/2 tsp cardamom
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 2/3 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 cup butter, melted
- 2 cups peeled, cored and chopped tart apples (like Granny Smith)
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1/4 cup light corn syrup
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
I started by preheating the oven to 350F and greasing (with cooking spray) a 9″x13″ baking dish.
In a large mixing bowl, I stirred together the flour, oats, cardamom, cinnamon, and salt until well-blended. Then I added the brown sugar and stirred to blend. I added the butter and combined it with a spoon (or you can use your hands) to get a crumbly texture.
I pressed half of this mixture into the baking pan and baked for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, I made the caramel. In a 3-quart saucepan, I combined the heavy cream, corn syrup, brown sugar and salt. Then I brought the mixture to a moderate boil over high heat. I used a candy thermometer to monitor the temperature and cooked it until soft ball stage (243-244 degrees F). You can also check the caramel by dropping a small sample into ice water. When it cools, it should form a squeezable but firm (not hard) ball.
After the caramel reached the right stage, I removed it from the heat and blended in the flour and vanilla. I spread the apples over the crust and then poured the caramel over top. Then I topped with the remaining crumbs and baked it for 25-30 minutes until it started to brown.
I let it cool on a rack and then cut into squares. Yum!