Apple Cider Blondies with Caramel Drizzle
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Maybe you've dabbled with adding chocolate chips, walnuts or toasted coconut to your blondies, but you haven't lived until you've swirled them with sautéed apples and ribbons of caramel. Hyperbole? You can be the judge when you whip up a batch for yourself.
The butterscotch-meets-cinnamon notes add an extra layer of flavor, and the caramel gives these blondies a fudgy—not cakey—texture, much like a brownie.
We highly recommend going all out, making our four-ingredient caramel sauce, but if all that boiling and stirring interferes with your Hallmark holiday movie marathons (no judgment), you can always give yourself a shortcut. Combine a cup of unwrapped, soft caramels with two tablespoons of heavy cream, microwaving in 30-second intervals and stirring in between until it's all melted and easy to drizzle.
Apple Cider Caramel Sauce
1 cup apple cider
1 cup (113 grams) packed brown sugar
1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup diced apples (about 1 medium apple; we like Honeycrisp or Granny Smith)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 sticks (226 grams) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups (416 grams) packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups (240 grams) all-purpose flour
1. Make the Apple Cider Caramel Sauce: In a large saucepan over medium heat, cook the cider for 10 minutes—or until reduced to about ½ cup—stirring regularly. Add the brown sugar, butter and cream and bring to a boil, stirring constantly, for about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely.
2. Make the Sautéed Apples: In a medium sauté pan over medium heat, add the apples, brown sugar and cinnamon. Stir occasionally, cooking until the apples are softened, about 3 to 4 minutes. Set aside.
3. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit an 8-by-8-inch baking pan, leaving overhang on two ends. (You’re essentially creating a sling to make it easier to remove the blondies.)
4. Make the Apple Blondies: In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the eggs, vanilla, salt, cinnamon and flour, mixing until combined. Fold in the cooked apples. Pour into the prepared pan, smoothing the top to create an even layer of batter.
5. Add spoonfuls of the remaining caramel sauce to the top of the batter. Use a knife to gently swirl the batter and caramel, creating a marbled look. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the blondies are lightly golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs (no wet batter). Let them cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes before removing. Drizzle with any remaining caramel before serving.
Candace Davison is PureWow’s vice president of editorial, overseeing food, home and major franchises, like the Happy Kid Awards. She’s covered all things lifestyle in her 10+ years of digital media experience, with a focus on baking and recipe development. She has contributed to and published multiple cookbooks, and studied fine cooking, cake decorating and food styling at the International Culinary Center.