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!Print
Caramel Apple Pie Bars
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Total Time: 40 minutes
- Yield: 8 bars 1x
- 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.
*You can substitute applesauce here to make them completely date-sweetened.
**You can substitute oat flour.
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Kaila @ Healthy Helper Blog says
HOLY YUM. I love anything caramel apple. I make my Caramel Apple Swirl Bars ALL THE TIME this time of year because I am just so obsessed! These look so amazing with your caramel sauce on top! Totally trying these out this weekend after my ‘pie’ adventure! 😉 LOL
Me too! Including the actual real on-a-stick thing. Good luck with the pie situation, I can’t wait to see/hear about it 🙂
I love caramel, and I love apple, and this means I also get to make a jar of caramel sauce . . . all the best things in one. I might have to make this ASAP!
Hahaha!! And once you have an entire jar, of course you will have to use it up 😉 If only the blender could handle smaller batches…NOT. Thanks Laura, and I hope you try them!
The Vegan 8 says
Oh my goodness, these look like a slice of heaven!! Apples are my favorite fruit and since I don’t like most fruit, that says a lot, haha! I honestly think apples are the best and with cinnamon, it’s perfection. I bet these taste fantastic. That drizzle looks gorgeous and all of these upclose shots are amazing. DROOL. Love the video, too. Makes you wanna run to the kitchen and make them pronto. One of my favorite things to make is granola bars, the smell…the taste…everything is so much better than storebought.
I totally hear you on the recipe surprises too…I can’t tell you how many posts that made it to the blog were different than my original plan for the recipe, LOL!
The best laid plans haha! I kind of love it though, I get so many new ideas that way. I swear my list of ideas is so long I’m not sure it will ever be possible to make them all! Apples may not be my absolute favorite fruit, but adding in cinnamon and caramel takes them much much higher. I could’ve happily just eaten apple slices dipped in that sauce and never turned on the oven to be honest 😀 Mmmm but yes the spices cooking smell is lovely. Thank you for the kind words Brandi!
Demeter | Beaming Baker says
Whatever is about this trend–I like it! Wishy washy or totally inspired? 🙂 Wait a minute… lemme guess, is it nice cream???? 😉 It is, it is!! Yay!! Lol. YES on the creamy topping making dessert so much better. Plus, when French dessert upgrades are involved, suddenly everything’s even yummier! 🙂 Okay wow… I suspected I knew where this story was going, and yet… my eyes still boggled out of my head when I saw that scoop of nice cream with ALL of that drizzle on top. Wow. Remind me again why we’re not neighbors?? Love these so much… I’m gonna sweetly ask for them in my Halloween treat bag… 😉 xoxo
It may just be a slightly more real look into the workings of my brain than anyone really ever wanted lol? Snack idea hopping like a little bunny? I knew you’d guess right, BBB <3 We are not neighbors YET because you said the candy shop in your house wasn't open yet. But once it is I could just pop up at any moment, so watch out! I'll bring plenty of snacks and sprinkles and nicecream and stuff though, of course 🙂
Harriet Emily says
Ahh, caramel apple is my favourite combination!!!! These bars look so tasty Natalie, and perfect for Autumn!!! Love them! I can’t wait to make some this weekend!
One of my many favorite fruity combos too! Thanks Harriet 🙂
Watching the video for this was torture!!!! Especially when you broke the bar in half with that delicious caramel drizzle ??? I absolutely LOVE the cinnamon-apple combo, but the addition of nicecream and caramel sauce is perfection! I don’t think I’d be able to wait the 10 minutes to let the bars cool, which I’m sure would end in a melt-y nicecream mess! But oh so delicious. What a yummy fall creation!! ?
Oh it was a total mess by the end, just sauce and melty banana everywhere–so yum! AIP has made recipe testing difficult, I can’t help but steal a bite of everything and then pawn them all off to my family before I eat the whole batch and then regret it lol. I need to get into AIP recipes too, but I am still figuring it out myself 🙂
rachel @ athletic avocado says
I don’t that these caramel apple pie bars could get any better, like seriously you’ve added Caramel AND banana ice cream to top these beauties off with! These are the whole SHE-BANG! <3
Thanks Rachel! I went a little all out on these snack bars, but ice cream can turn anything into dessert 🙂
Yep, I’m definitely drooling. This dessert is everything I want in the fall and then some. I can’t even imagine how good this smells, let alone tastes!!
Thanks Karly! Oh yes, the smell while baking was a treat all it’s own 🙂