Caramel Apple Cheesecake Blondies

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Caramel Apple Cheesecake Blondies

      If you're not ready for autumn quite yet, this recipe should convince you. While it's packed with rich, buttery flavor, the still-toothsome apples bring freshness and contrast to the creamy, indulgent flavors. A hint of bourbon and a drizzle of caramel bring the whole flavor profile into one glorious fall dessert. 

     The recipe is surprisingly easy and comes together quickly. You can serve the blondies immediately on plates with forks (and vanilla bean ice cream if you're really into flavor dreams). Cooled, they can be cut into traditional bars, but you will probably still want a plate and fork. They are gooey and delicious.

     Toasted pecans would be a welcome addition, but the bars are great as-is. 

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Blondies

Ingredients

1 stick (4 oz., 8 Tbsp.) salted butter

2 ½ c. peeled, chopped firm, sweet-tart apples

squeeze of lemon juice

dash of cinnamon

¾ c. packed dark brown sugar

1 egg

2 Tbsp. bourbon

1 c. all-purpose flour

8 oz. lowfat cream cheese, softened

1 egg

1 Tbsp. granulated sugar

½ tsp. vanilla

2 Tbsp. salted butter

¼ c. dark brown sugar

1 Tbsp. evaporated milk

 powdered sugar as needed

Procedure

  1. Melt one stick butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Cool. (You can chop the apples during this step if you wish to multi-task.) Grease 8 x 8 pan and preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Toss chopped apples with a squeeze of lemon juice and set aside.
  3. Pour butter into mixing bowl, reserving one tablespoon in saucepan. Add apples to sauce pan. Stir to lightly coat with butter and sprinkle with a dash of cinnamon. Set aside.
  4. Add ¾ c. dark brown sugar to butter in mixing bowl. Beat until combined. Add bourbon, one egg, and a dash of salt. Beat until incorporated. Stir in flour. 
  5. Spread this batter evenly in the bottom of the pan. 
  6. In the same mixing bowl with the same (unwashed!) beaters, beat together cream cheese, one egg, granulated sugar, and vanilla until creamy. You may have some tiny bits of cream cheese that will not incorporate; this is fine. 
  7. Spread cream cheese mixture over the brown sugar batter in pan, just to the edges of the brown sugar batter. Top evenly with chopped apples.
  8. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until blondie batter has lightly browned and cheesecake mixture barely jiggles. Apples will appear lightly browned and dry.
  9. While blondies cool, make the caramel drizzle. Melt 2 Tbsp. of butter in a heavy pan over low heat. Remove from heat. Whisk in ¼ c. dark brown sugar and evaporated milk. Continue mixing until thoroughly blended.
  10. Whisk in powdered sugar, about a quarter cup, a spoonful at a time, until frosting reaches a drizzling consistency. 
  11. Drizzle frosting over bars. Reserve any extra for reheating to top ice cream or eating off a spoon.
  12. Cut into 16 squares. (You can always come back for seconds.) Serve with milk, ice cream, or coffee. 

Special thanks to Cathy Morris for the base recipe for our caramel drizzle.

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