Caramel Apple Blondies
Caramel apple blondies with an easy caramel frosting and topped with pecans for a delicious autumnal treat. With a gluten-free option.
One thing I hadn’t baked in a while was blondies so tossing in some apples and a whole bunch of cinnamon seemed like the right thing to do. I’m normally all about super gooey and fudgy blondies and brownies, but these caramel apple blondies are a cross between the two. I knew I wanted to top them off with caramel frosting and figured that super fudgy brownies plus frosting might be a little too much.
These caramel apple blondies are great on their own, but I don’t recommend skipping the caramel frosting! It’s so easy to put together and doesn’t require actually making caramel – something I’m terrified of! You just mix all the frosting ingredients together, boil for 1 minute and then add powdered sugar.
I’ve looked at some other caramel apple blondie recipes and they use a lot less cinnamon. This recipe uses over a tablespoon of cinnamon and none of my taste testers thought it was overpowering! Definitely feel free to reduce it if you don’t love cinnamon.
I’ve tried a few different types of apples in these blondies and Granny Smith were the best. When I used sweeter apple types, they just blended in and hardly stood out. The tart flavor or Granny Smith makes the apple taste pop a bit more!
If making the gluten-free version, you’ll probably want to chill the caramel apple blondies before cutting them as they’re a bit more delicate than the all-purpose flour version. And if you make the all-purpose version, you may want to refrigerate them, anyway, as chilling makes them a bit firmer, fudgier and easier to eat.
If you don’t have the gluten-free flours listed, you could try using your favorite 1-to-1 gluten-free baking mix. I’ve had good luck with this one.
For another apple treat that can also be made with gluten-free or all-purpose flour, try this apple tart!
For the blondies:
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour or gluten-free flour mix*
- 1 tablespoon + 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups peeled Granny Smith apple chunks (about 1/4" in size)
For the gluten-free flour mix, use:
- 1 1/2 cups white rice flour
- 1/3 cup potato starch
- 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons tapioca flour / starch
- 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
For the topping:
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 6 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons + 3/4 teaspoons milk
- pinch of salt
- 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2/3-1 cup powdered sugar, sifted if lumpy
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and line an 8"x8" pan with a sheet of parchment paper.
- In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the flour, 1 tablespoon cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, stir together the melted butter, brown sugar, and vanilla extract.
- Beat in the eggs, one by one, and stir just until combined.
- Fold in the dry mixture, stirring just until no streaks of flour remain.
- Mix the peeled apple chunks with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and fold the cinnamon apples into the batter, making sure not to overmix.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25-32 minutes or until the edges have lightly browned and the middle jiggles just slightly.
- Place the pecans on a rimmed cookie sheet and bake them for 4-7 minutes, stirring them halfway through, or until they smell roasted. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
- When the blondies have cooled, prepare the frosting.
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, mix together the brown sugar, butter, milk and salt.
- Whisking continuously, bring the mixture to a boil and boil for 1 minute, while continuing to whisk continuously. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the salt and vanilla (it will bubble).
- Gradually whisk in 2/3 cup powdered sugar and mix until smooth and no lumps of sugar remain. Taste and add up to another 1/3 cup powdered sugar, if desired.
- Stir occasionally for about 3 minutes or until the frosting has slightly thickened. Immediately pour over the cooled blondies. If it's thickened too much, place back on the heat for a few moments.
- Spread the frosting over the cooled blondies and top with the chopped pecans.
- Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Can be stored at room temperature for 1 day.
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