Here’s another one of the new fall recipes I recently discovered. “Baked Bree” is one of my favourite recipe blogs. Her photos are top notch, the recipes sound fantastic and the reviews are always great. When I found this recipe on her blog, I knew it would be a hit, but I have to admit it was no easy feat pulling this off between the kids activities and my crazy week at work. I was on “staff room duty” this week and that meant bringing in treats for the staff, in addition to the cleaning duties throughout the week. Wednesday is usually treat day, but my first attempt at this recipe was a total flop and so I had to re-do it and bring my treat in on Thursday instead. Sometimes, I’m not sure why I can’t choose the simpler route and stick to a recipe I’m already comfortable with. Why do I insist on testing something new when I plan to serve to others?
These Pumpkin Salted Caramel Blondies are really quite incredible and I will totally be making them again. After my first failed attempt, I actually made a few changes, but mostly just to “play it safe” and avoid another possible flop. The result was good, but I think the original recipe is over-the-top delicious. I will definitely stick to the original next time, as I’m sure the “under baking” was a result of me trying to do 100 things at once!! Several of Bree’s readers also commented on the fact that their blondies required extra cooking time, so I’ll just allow for that next time.
Bree’s Pumpkin Salted Caramel Blondies
- 2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (I used ground)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup room temperature butter
- 1 1/4 cups brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 cup Bree’s Sea Salt and Vanilla Bean Caramel Sauce (or store bought caramel sauce with 1 teaspoon sea salt) DO NOT DO THIS!! See below!
Combine the dry ingredients in a small bowl. In a second bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar until very light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla. Mix. Stir in the pumpkin puree. Finally, add the reserved flour mixture slowly, and stop when the batter is just combined.
Spray a 9×9 baking dish with cooking spray. Add half of the batter and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. (This was not long enough.) Remove the baked base from the oven and pour the caramel sauce over it. Cover the caramel with the remaining batter. Return the blondies to the oven and bake for another 30 minutes (or longer). A toothpick should come out clean. Let the blondies cool before cutting.
When I say my first attempt failed, it was really a series of unfortunate events that led to the demise of my first attempt. Firstly, all of the reviews of this recipe absolutely raved over Bree’s homemade Salted Caramel Sauce and rightly so…..it is to die for. There was no way I was going to do the “store bought” version, when clearly this is was took the recipe to the next level. I hadn’t made this type of a caramel sauce before and although I read the instructions carefully before making it, I followed my own instincts and gave the sugar/water mixture a “little stir” despite the fact that it clearly said not too. This resulted in crystals forming and the end product was not a sauce at all, but rather a variation of the sugar crystals I originally started with. I then made a second batch of the sauce and stuck to the directions and complete restricted myself from even removing a spoon from the drawer. The result was a “to die for sauce” that would be fabulous served on almost anything sweet! Sooooooo good!! I think I even botched the second batch “just a tad” by removing the boiling sugar and water before it reached a deep amber colour. I guess I was just so worried about burning it. Mine was super delicious, but not as deep of a colour as Bree’s. This is an absolute must. If you are not going to make this sauce, don’t even make the blondies. It is very easy, if you just trust Bree’s directions and are patient with the process.
One recipe of the sauce will make enough for the blondies with enough left over to enjoy in other ways throughout the week!
Sea Salt and Vanilla Bean Caramel Sauce
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 vanilla bean, sliced and seeded (Picked up vanilla beans at Bulk Barn)
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
Slice a vanilla bean in half. Using the back of the knife, scrape the seeds from the pod. Add the vanilla bean scrapings to the cream and add then add the sea salt. Set aside.
Put the sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring the sugar to a boil. Let the sugar cook until it reaches a deep amber colour (DO NOT STIR) . Whisk in the cream mixture. It will bubble and go nuts, but keep whisking. It will come together.
Pour the sauce into a jar and keep it in the fridge. The sauce will thicken, but it is more of a loose sauce.This will keep for about a week in the fridge.
On my first attempt at making the blondies, I found they were not baking in the time recommended. I did bake them longer than suggested and thought they were done when I whipped them out of the oven on my way out the door for my son’s hockey game. I was so disappointed when I got home and realized the centre sank (obviously not baked long enough). Despite the fact that they couldn’t be served, they tasted absolutely delicious. The following evening, I attempted the recipe again, but much like the evening before, I really didn’t have much time to play with the cooking times as it was another crazy busy evening for the Roys. I decided to cook the entire blondie recipe at once and omit the caramel sauce layer (just saying I did that makes me feel like I’ve committed a federal offence). I just felt more comfortable baking them this way, as I wasn’t sure if the “runny” caramel sauce had contribulted to the under baking problem or not and didn’t have the time or stamina to play around with it. In lieu of the caramel sauce layer, I opted to change the blondies into more of a “poke” cake. When the blondies had cooled, I poked holes over the surface of the cake and poured the sauce over the top so that it seeped into the holes I had created and still infused the cake in a similar way. Of course, the blondies were now covered with holes, so I made a glaze to give them more of a finished look. The end result was very good, but I still think Bree’s original is the way to go. I can’t wait to get this one right!
Salted Caramel Glaze:
I found a recipe for this Salted Caramel Glaze on It’s Yummi and I have to admit, it was a delicious finishing touch to Bree’s Pumpkin Salted Caramel Blondies.
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 1 teaspoon sea or kosher salt, divided
In a small saucepan over low heat, warm the heavy cream – but DO NOT boil! Keep it warm. (I microwaved it for about 15 seconds and then did 5 seconds here and there to keep it warm.)
In a separate medium saucepan, combine the sugar & water but DO NOT STIR. Place over medium-high heat & bring to a boil. Cook until mixture turns an amber colour (about 5 minutes). (Of course, by now I had attempted this process three times and finally got it right!)
Remove the pot from the heat and add warm cream, butter, and 1/2 of the salt. Stir gently until smooth & well combined. Pour over the cooked brownies and use a spatula to spread it evenly over the surface. Sprinkle with remaining salt.
Allow the glaze to set before cutting and serving. (The glaze did crack a bit as I was cutting the squares, so I heated my knife in an attempt to “score the surface” before slicing through the entire blondie.)
This ended up being a HUGE production that really wasn’t necessary. I was just trying to do too much without giving my self enough time. This recipe is not really complex or difficult and is absolutely worth the effort.