Monday, December 12, 2011

Pumpkin Blondies with Salted Caramel

My brother lives in Charlotte and basically had to work for most of the Thanksgiving holiday (and pay his dues) because he will be home for Christmas and my wedding!  I wanted to send him something homemade because I was not sure how well he would fend for himself.  That, and I wanted him to have a bit of a taste of his New England home.  When trying to come up with something to make I was at a bit of a loss, but my recent obsession in Pinterest really helped me search for just the right fall dessert.  Finally, I settled on a Salted Caramel Pumpkin Blondies recipe from Sing for your Supper.

This recipe calls for caramel sauce, and while store-bought is good enough, I thought I would challenge myself and make some homemade salted caramel.  After scouring a bit more on Pinterest I stumbled upon a Salted Caramel Sauce from a A Twist of Kate.  The caramel sauce seemed easy enough so off I went.

Caramel Ingredients
The Necessities...

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 vanilla bean, sliced and seeded
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
To begin, I had to figure out how to use a vanilla bean...turns out you slice it open and scoop all the good stuff on the inside - that's the flavor.

Vanilla Bean
I then added the heavy cream, the vanilla bean innards, vanilla extract and sea salt and set it aside for later.

Vanilla bean mixture
Next I added sugar and water to a saucepan over medium heat and brought it to a boil.

Sugar and Water...
Once boiling, I added the cream mixture and kept whisking.

I mean, I think I whisked for over 30 minutes before this even thought about coming together.

Getting there...
I was just about exhausted when this came together, and "came together" is a term I use loosely.  The caramel sauce definitely thickened up, but it was missing the rich caramel color I was looking for.  I think I needed to allow the sugar to dissolve in the boiling water longer before I added the cream mixture.  Regardless, it still tasted good, and I only got 1 slightly burned finger in the process.  It also didn't harden completely so I figure this was a pretty good first attempt at caramel making.

Once I was done with the caramel, I moved onto the blondies.

The Ingredients
The Necessities...

  • 3/4 cup caramel sauce
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
Turns out I actually only had a bit of pumpkin pie spice left so I improvised with a mixture of (1/4 tsp) nutmeg, (1/4 tsp) cloves, and (1/2 tsp) cinnamon.  If you have ground ginger that is something that can be added as well.  I did not have any so it was just the three components.

Once the pumpkin pie spice issue was solved, I moved on.  I added the dry ingredients to a mixing bowl, stirred it together and set aside for later.

Dry Ingredients
Next, I went ahead and creamed together the butter (loads of it) and sugar for about 2 minutes, until it was light and fluffy.  I then beat in the eggs and vanilla until it was all well combined.

Butter, Sugar, Eggs and Vanilla
Once together, I added the pumpkin puree and stirred it into the batter on a low speed.

With Pumpkin mixed in...
Finally, I slowly add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and stirred it on a slow speed until all the ingredients were fully incorporated.

Batter is DONE!
Baking these blondies is not straight forward.  To start, I poured about half of the batter into a greased 9 x 9 inch pan and baked it in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes.  I then drizzled the caramel over top of the half of the slightly cooked blondies and topped it off with the rest of the batter and put it back in the oven for another 30 minutes.

Covered in Caramel
In The Oven...
Even with the caramel, the blondies were done when a toothpick came out clean, which it did.  However, I think these could have used a minute or two more.  These blondies were definitely a bit gooey on the inside.

Finished Blondies
Gooey or not, these pumpkin blondies were delicious!  I made two batches because they just sounded too good to pass up!  So good, I don't even have a picture to show off the yummy inside!  These blondies had such a great pumpkin and salted caramel flavor - rich and decedent.

While I was sad to part with all of these goodies, I figured these would give my brother a feeling of home.  For those not sure how best to mail baked goods, the key is to actually pack the container with a soft white bread, like Wonder Bread.  Instead of the baked good getting stale, the white bread does - magic!

My brother and his friends with whom he celebrated the holiday loved the blondies!  Lucky for me the wonder bread trick worked!

Have you ever made caramel - any tricks to getting it right?

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  1. I love those pools of caramel at the top. Caramel and pumpkin sounds delish

  2. I like the Wonderbread tip! P.S. I like blondies and brownies when they are a little underdone. :-)

  3. You have to let your caramel get color before you add the cream. I've underdone it and desperately tried to darken it at that point, and it never works. My solution was to make another batch of caramel and mix the two together. A thermometer goes a long way. So does the water trick... drip a little of the caramel into a glass filled with ice water, fetch the little droplet out of the water and roll it between your fingers. If it's a pliable little ball, it's at softball stage, If it's rock-hard it's at hard ball and way overdone for a caramel sauce recipe. Swirling the pan is also good to see what color the bottom caramel is. I could go on. Ha.

    Regardless... these look amazing! Caramel and pumpkin is an awesome combo.

  4. These look GREAT! And I've yet to make my own caramel, unfortunately.

  5. LOVE the sound of this dish! I totally should have topped the pumpkin blondies I made earlier this season with salted caramel! I have found that the semi-cheating route of adding corn syrup and a bit of water really helps!

  6. what a thoughtful sister you are. i like the wonderbread tip!

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