Monday, November 6, 2017

Chewy & Gooey Apple Crumble Gingerbread Blondies

Do you crave the crunch or do you desire ooey gooey?

For me, there's a time and place for both in bakery. Sometimes it depends on the flavour or carrier. If it's chocolate, I'm probably feeling ooey gooey like fudgy brownies or soft chewy chocolate cookies. If it's buttery and vanilla, I lean towards crisp and crunchy like sugar cookies or breton shortbread. With warm spicey flavours I swing both ways - I love gingersnaps or crisp gingerbread cookies, but I also dig soft molasses spice cookies and then this happened....

Fudgy ooey gooey gingerbread blondies. Wow. Buttery molasses laden with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and allspice baked up like fudge and topped with spiced apples and crunchy buttery oat clusters.

This has become the ultimate Fall dessert.

If we take a closer look at the recipe, you'll notice it looks similar to cookie dough except when you get to the dry ingredients the proportions get whacky. 

It's not like a brownie which has almost equal amounds egg and butter. This batter has one less (about half as much egg). Binding is coming mostly from flour. Adding more egg would make this mixture far too wet since we are already using molasses.

With a brownie you can get away with a minute amount of flour thanks to the structural support from eggs and the starch components in cocoa. With this recipe we need more flour. Full stop.

So it all looks like a molasses cookie recipe until you get to the flour - there's not enough flour to make it cookie dough, which means ooey gooey sticky fudgy business! I like this.

Full disclosure: I have always mocked blondies. The whole point of brownies is the BROWN - it's all about chocolate. But then these happened and it became a whole other story. Adding molasses and gingerbread spices to the mix truly makes a blondie worth the lack of chocolate. Molasses adds a robust and complex caramelized flavour that makes a blondie more than just sugar, flour and eggs. It is the foundation and it carries these spices through the buttery batter so pleasantly. 

There are three parts to this recipe:
1. Gingerbread blondie
2. Sweetened, spiced, sliced apples
3. Buttery oat crumble

No fret though - they are all easy to prepare and no rush to get them all done at the same time. The blondie base can rest for a few minutes while you prepare the other layers.

I chose to drizzle melted sea salt peanut butter over top and I think it completely transformed these from already irresistible to completely addictive. We all know how well apples and peanut butter go together, but then add gingerbread flavours and the sweet & salty component to the story and I could not stop eating them! Peanut butter and gingerbread - remember that combo!

It's a mouthful of so many good things, and (get ready for it) it will make you feel like Christmas! Too soon? Sorry.

Ooey Gooey Apple Crumble Gingerbread Blondies
makes 12 squares

For the blondie base:
7 tbsp (100g) unsalted butter, room temperature 
½ cup (110g) packed dark brown sugar
¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar 
2 tbsp fancy molasses
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground allspice
¼ tsp salt
1 large egg
1 cup (142g) all-purpose flour 
½ tsp baking powder

For the apple filling:
2 apples, peeled, cored, and sliced thinly
2 tbsp granulated sugar 
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
½ tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch nutmeg

For the crumble topping:
½ cup (50g) rolled oats
3 tbsp (45g) packed dark brown sugar
3 tbsp (27g) all-purpose flour
¼ tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp (42g) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
Peanut butter for drizzling (optinal, but so so good!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8x8 pan with parchment paper and set aside.

In a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, cream together butter and both sugars on high speed for 2 minutes until fluffy. Beat in molasses, spices and salt. Add egg and mix until well incorporated. Sift in flour and baking powder and stir it in until just blended.

Spread batter evenly into prepared pan. Refrigerate while you prepare the other layers.

Combine sliced apples, sugar, flour and spices in a large bowl and toss to coat. Allow to sit for 10 minutes, then arrange evenly on top of blondie batter.

To make the crumble, stir together oats, brown sugar, flour and cinnamon in a small bowl. Add cubed cold butter and cut or rub it in with your fingertips until the mixture is crumbly. Spread evenly over the top of the apples.

Bake for 35-40 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean with no batter. Let cool completely in the pan before serving. They slice best when refrigerated for 2 hours. Enjoy with a drizzle of peanut butter or a scoop of ice cream!
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