Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Caramel-Apple Blondies

I came across a lot of apple-related recipes recently - not surprising, given that last week was the Jewish New Year holiday. 
I admit - I am not a big fan of recipes with apples in them, but some of these recipes looked really good!. Plus, Halloween is just around the corner (maybe a couple of corners...), so caramel apples seemed like a classic choice to base my next dessert on. 
Long story short - I pulled myself together, temporarily ignored the fact that I am not an apple-dessert fan and that I need to deal with caramel for this one, and what do you know - eventually these turned out great!

These blondies did not just turn out great by a coincidence; after all, they are based on awesome recipes: 
The blondies recipe is taken from a "white chocolate and raspberry blondies" recipe (without the raspberries, obviously...) by Natalie Levin and Efrat Lichtenstadt, which also appears in their amazing baking book, The Sweet Book.
The apple layer and the hazelnut streusel recipes are taken from a "hazelnut crumble apple pie" recipe by Natalie Levin
The caramel/taffy recipe (which, BTW, is a great easy alternative to the classic "make caramel, add in cream and make a complete mess in your kitchen" butterscotch/taffy recipe) is taken from a "Twix (chocolate and salted taffy) Tart" recipe from the very same Sweet Book

Caramel-Apple Blondies
Yields: 16 Blondies


for the blondies:
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 190 grams sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract/paste
  • a pinch of salt
  • 140 grams (1 cup) all purpose flour
  • 90 grams (3 ounces) white chocolate, chopped. 
for the apples layer:
  • 2 granny-smith apples, peeled and chopped to small cubes
  • a squeeze of lemon/lime juice
  • grated peel out of 1/2 a lemon/lime. 
  • 20 grams (2 tbsp) sugar
  • a pinch of cinnamon powder
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract/paste
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
for the hazelnut streusel: 
  • 30 grams (1 ounce) blanched hazelnuts
  • 90 grams (3 ounces) all purpose flour
  • 5/8 stick unsalted butter, cold, cubed
  • 50 grams sugar
for the caramel/taffy frosting:
  • 100 grams (1/4 can) sweetened condensed milk
    [Keep the 3/4 leftover can in the fridge, well wrapped (it should be good for a week or two) and prepare Vanilla-Mango Tartelettes next week!]
  • 20 grams sugar
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 5 grams (1/2 tbsp) glucose or corn syrup
  • 250 ml (1 cup) heavy cream, cold
  • 1 heaping tsp vanilla pudding mix (powder)
  • cinnamon powder for decoration

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F). 
  • Apples layer: Place sugar in a small/medium pot/pan; put pot/pan over a medium heat, until sugar is melted. 
  • Add in the rest of the apples-layer ingredients. 
  • Cook over a medium heat until apples begin to soften, stir occasionally (apples will fully soften during the final baking stage)
  • Remove from heat, strain apples from excess liquids and set aside to completely cool in room temperature.
  • Hazelnut streusel: Place hazelnuts and flour in food processor, and process until hazelnuts are well ground. 
  • Add in butter and sugar; continue processing until crumbs are formed. 
  • Wrap well and keep refrigerated until pre-bake assembly stage. 
  • Blondies: In a large bowl, mix together butter and sugar. 
  • Add in eggs, vanilla and salt, mix together until well combined. 
  • Sift in the flower, add in the chopped white chocolate, mix together until combined, not beyond. 
  • Pre-bake assembly: (optional) Line an 8x8" or 9x9" square pan with parchment paper. 
  • Transfer the blondies batter to the pan; evenly spread and smooth the batter in the pan using an angled spatula or a spoon. 
  • Top the blondies batter with the apples (try to spread them evenly). 
  • Top the apples with the streusel (try to spread it evenly) - apples should be completely covered with streusel.
  • Transfer pan to the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes, until streusel is lightly golden. 
  • Let pan completely cool in room temperature, at least 1 hour. 
  • Using a large sharp knife, carefully cut the cake to 16 2x2" (if pan is 8x8") or 2 1/4 x 2 1/4" (if pan is 9x9") squares. 
  • Caramel/taffy frosting (start preparing while blondies are in the oven): Place condensed milk, sugar, butter and glucose/corn-syrup in a small pan, cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture thickens and slightly darkens. 
  • Set aside to cool down in room temperature. 
  • After both caramel/taffy and blondies have cooled down: In a mixer with a whipping attachment, whip together the caramel/taffy, 1/2 cup of heavy cream and the vanilla pudding mix until well combined. 
  • Add in the other 1/2 cup of heavy cream, and continue whipping until well combined and firm. 
  • [note: be careful not to over-whip the frosting, which may "break" the heavy cream and turn the mixture into a liquid mess; the frosting may be a bit grainy due to caramel bits that haven't fully "dissolved"; this may make the frosting look less appealing, but trust me - it will not affect the taste :) the important thing is that the frosting will be firm]
  • Using a pastry bag with a star tip, top each blondie with a "star" of frosting. 
  • Sprinkle a little bit of cinnamon on top of the blondies. 
  • Enjoy!

Leftovers? Keep the blondies refrigerated in an air-tight container up to 4-5 days. The blondies are at their best when at room temperature, so leave refrigerated blondies out in room temperature for 15-30 minutes before digging into them. 

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