County Fair Tea: Caramel Apple Bars

1 cup brown sugar
¾ cups butter
1 teaspoons apple pie spice or cinnamon
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup flour
1 cup pecan meal or ground pecans
2 cups rolled oats

4 large apples, peeled and sliced or chopped
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon apple pie spice or cinnamon

10-12 ounces soft caramel candies (about 2 cups)
3 tablespoons milk

Preheat the oven to 400º. Grease or spray a 9 x 13” baking pan.

To make the crust: In a bowl, beat together the brown sugar, butter, apple spice, salt and baking soda until well blended. Stir in the flour, pecan meal, and oats; the mixture will be crumbly. Set aside 1 cup of the crumbs. Press the remaining crumbs into the prepared pan.

To make the filling: Toss the apples in a bowl with the salt and cinnamon. Spread them over the crust, pressing them in lightly.

To make the topping: In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the caramel with the milk. Drizzle the topping over the apples and sprinkle with the reserved crumbs.

Bake the bars for 35-40 minutes, until the caramel is bubbling and the apples are tender. Remove from the oven and cool to lukewarm. Run a knife around the edge of the pan, cut the bars into squares. Allow the bars to rest until the caramel firms up before serving.