Plum caramel crumb bars have a unique feature that other crumb bars don't have: plum caramel! The homemade fruit caramel adds an extra layer of flavor and depth making these dessert bars extra special.
Plum Caramel Crumb Bars
- 6 ounces ripe plums, pitted peeled, and chopped (about 2 plums)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ½ cup granulated sugar (100 grams)
- 1 tablespoon butter (14 grams)
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- pinch of salt
Plum caramel crumble bars
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (296 grams)
- 2 cups rolled oats (160 grams)
- 1 ½ cup brown sugar (300 grams)
- 1 cup butter, cold, cut into small chunks (227 grams)
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 14 ounces plums sliced into ¼ inch thick wedges (about 5 plums)
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- Make the plum caramel. Blend together 6 ounces chopped plums with the lemon juice until smooth.
- Melt ½ cup sugar in a medium sauce pot over medium-low heat until amber brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the pureed plum mixture. Return the pot back to heat and continue to simmer for another 5 minutes or until thickened, stirring frequently.
- Remove the caramel from heat and stir in the butter, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. Let cool completely.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a 9x13 inch baking pan with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray.
- Make the crumble. Combine the flour with rolled oats, brown sugar, butter, egg, and baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat the crumble together until the butter is crumbly.
- Toss together the plums with the plum caramel and cornstarch. Spread ⅔ of the crumble mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan, pressing down to create one even crust. Bake the crumble for 10 minutes.
- Remove the crumble from the oven and spread the plums in an even layer along with all of the juices. Sprinkle the remaining crumble on top and bake the dessert for 25 minutes or until golden brown on top. Remove from heat and let cool completely. Cut into bars and serve.
Watch how to make this:
I love peaches so much that sometimes I forget about the other stone fruits. In the past month, I've made so many peach recipes and eaten so many of them that I might turn into a peach myself. So I'm giving myself a quick break and turning my attention to plums! I feel like plums don't get enough attention but they can be very delicious. If you're not a fan of them raw, I encourage you to try these plum caramel crumb bars. I think they will change your mind - if not the dessert bars then at least the plum caramel!
It's been so long since I made crumble bars partly because I'm always trying to create something new. However, the other day I saw on a restaurant's menu a dessert with strawberry caramel and I was intrigued. I wanted to try making a plum version and thought it would pair well with these bars. Before I knew it, I was whipping a batch and trying as hard as I could to not devour the whole pot. Yes, it's that delicious and when paired with crumb bars, it's even more divine. Give these dessert bars a try and I think you'll quickly agree.
- Plums: This type of stone fruit has a sweet and juicy flavor with a pleasant balance of tartness. The taste can vary slightly depending on the plum variety but in general, they have a rich sweetness followed by a subtle tanginess.
- Granulated sugar: Use this white sugar to make the caramel to help ensure even heating and melting during the caramelization process. It is also easier to observe the color change while cooking.
- Rolled oats: These oats have a thicker texture than quick oats or instant oats, making them ideal for baking. They are able to retain their shape and texture better while cooking more evenly during the baking process.
- Brown sugar: Use brown sugar for the crumble to add a slightly molasses flavor and extra moisture.
- Cornstarch: The thickening agent helps bind together the plum juices with the caramel while thickening the liquids.
How to Make Plum Caramel Crumb Bars
To make the plum caramel, you're essentially making caramel and adding pureed plums to the mix. Sounds simple enough, right?
Peel and chop 6 ounces of plums, about 2 fruits, and blend it with lemon juice until smooth. If you're having a hard time peeling the fruit, you can blend it with the skin first. Then, strain the puree through a fine-mesh sieve to get rid of the skin.
Melt granulated sugar in a medium pot over medium-low heat until it starts to turn amber-brown. Keep a close eye on the sugar since it can quickly burn. Once it's at the perfect color, add the fruit puree off the heat. Continue to cook the caramel until it thickens, then finish it with butter, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. Let the caramel cool completely.
You can make the caramel up to 5 days in advance if you prefer.
Step 2: Prepare the crumble
While the caramel is cooling, make the crumble. All you have to do is combine all of the ingredients and beat them together until the butter is crumbly.
If you don't have a stand mixer, you can use a pastry cutter or get down and dirty and use your hands.
Spread ⅔ of the crumble mixture into the baking pan and press it down to create a crust. Bake the crust for 10 minutes - just long enough for it to get a little golden.
Meanwhile, toss the fresh plums with the plum caramel and a tablespoon of cornstarch. The cornstarch will help thicken the juices and help prevent the bars from getting soggy.
Step 3: Putting it all together
Spread the fruit onto the prebaked crust in an even layer. No need to wait for the crust to cool first, just spread it right on there!
Sprinkle the remaining crumble on top, placing little dollops sporadically. You won't have enough crumble to cover the fruit completely but that's okay! We want some of the fruit peeking through.
Bake the plum caramel crumble bars until the top is golden brown, about 25-30 minutes.
Now at this point, you can dig in right away and it'll almost be like a fruit cobbler. Serve it with some vanilla ice cream if you want to go all the way.
However, if you want to serve these as dessert bars, wait for them to cool completely. Cut the bars and serve. You can still enjoy them with vanilla ice cream if you want!
I was a little worried at first that these plum caramel crumble bars would be too sweet. On the contrary, they were perfect! On the first day, the bottom crust is more crunchy but it'll soften up the following day. So if you like it crunchier, gobble them up on the day of! If you like a softer bar, wait a little bit and let the fruit soften the crust. Either way, they are truly delicious!
Can I use another fruit instead of plums?
Yes, any other stone fruit such as peaches, nectarines, or cherries would all work. You can also switch it completely and use berries.
Can I make these gluten-free?
Absolutely, just switch out the all-purpose flour for gluten-free all-purpose flour and rolled oats for gluten-free rolled oats.
How long do these bars stay good for?
If stored in an airtight container, they should stay fresh for up to 3 days.
For more dessert bar inspiration check out these pineapple coconut bars!