If you haven’t noticed by now, I have a crush on fall and all the bounty it delivers. Squash, root veggies, all of it. Don’t leave anything out. Please.
October weather in Utah is meant to shock us natives straight out of any hopes that fall might last forever. Last week on one of my early a.m. walks, one that was in the super chilly low-30’s, I was stumbling through the darkened streets when I found myself playing kick the can with a bunch of fallen apples.
But where’d they all come from? And more importantly, were there more?
There were a few in the gutter, a few more across the street. And then I hit the motherlode. The tree about 15 feet in front of me and it didn’t look like anyone had plucked the ripened fruites for quite a while given all the rotting specimens on the ground and the low hangers just begging to be saved from the near freezing temps that would snap any hopes of them warming up a Thanksgiving pie.
And so they found a new home. With me.
My favorite apple sweet treat is Apple Crumble. Yes, I loved my mini Apple Cuplettes and my Bloody Caramel Apples, and while baking the classic apple pie is still on my to do list, I wanted to make something that would put Smudge’s cooking skills to work.
So we settled on a recipe I had tagged from an issue of Martha Stewart: Apple Brownies.
I’m a total brownie nut. If I could have either cake, cookies or any other sweet treat, brownies would win every time. I’m still on the hunt for the perfect brownie recipe which is why I haven’t had the resolve to post one yet because I couldn’t bear it if it was just, meh. And then you’d think I was a brownie fraud or I had no taste in brownies and that is so far from the truth! So if you have a recipe for the ultimate chocolate brownie, please link it below. One that’s fudgie and cake-ish all at the same time. That’s my hope. My dream.
But I digress.
That’s why I figured we should give the apple version a try. Thanks to my extra chromosome I am compelled to add chewy and gooey to nearly every one of my dessert recipes. Luckily I’ve passed along some of my behavioral traits to Smudge and we settled on adding caramel.
So we drizzled caramel on top before baking and the result was a smooth, creamy goo, but not as caramel over the head luscious as I had expected. Oh man! What to do…Well. We did what Smudge said we should do. DUH! We added more!
As the brownies cooled a bit more we made another high speed trip to the grocery store for more caramels. Once home Smudge peeled wrappers and I melted goo and we both put on our best plaid design making skills and drizzled more over the top. Whoa. A whole new level of gooeyness—and teeth picking.
A couple of quick tips about the recipe:
1. Use a good quality, preferably organic sweet apples. The apple flavor is meant to shine so using the best fruit is essential. I used a honeycrisp apple in my version.
2. If pecans aren’t your thing go ahead and sub walnuts. Toasting the nuts before would bring out an even more earthy taste.
3. If you want the flavor of caramel for a topper but are looking for something a little smoother you could top with a store bought caramel coating rather than the melted candies. However this version won’t set up the same as the candies.
4. Don’t be alarmed. The dry mixture is a bit crumbly on the outset to compensate for the moisture released from the apples to create a moist brownie base.
5. If you want really straight cuts for your brownies, cool in the fridge for 30 minutes or so to get the best edges. If you’re not too particular go ahead and follow the directions below. Or if you just can’t take it, eat them straight from the pan. I won’t judge.
Caramel Apple Brownie Recipe
- 1 stick salted butter melted and cooled, plus more for dish
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans plus ¼ cup whole pecans
- 2 large firm-sweet apples about 1 pound peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes, about 2 3/4 cups
- 20-25 caramel candies
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9 X 9 brownie pan or pyrex dish with parchment paper that extends up the sides of the pan. Butter parchment paper and set aside.
- In a medium bowl whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. In another bowl beat together butter, sugar and egg with a hand mixer until light and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add chopped pecans and apples, and stir by hand until combined. Add flour mixture, and stir until combined.
- Spread batter in pan. Place caramel candies in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 30 seconds, stir and then microwave for another 30 seconds. Drizzle caramel over batter, top with whole pecans and bake until golden, about 35 to 40 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes, then cut into 12 bars. If you like an extra caramel flavor for topping, drizzle additional melted caramel over the top of the cooled brownies and allow to set before cutting.