Sometimes caramel is the only thing that will do

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Three weeks. But who’s counting?! Not me, obviously…

Two weeks till I graduate, three weeks from today till I’m done done done! I feel like my posts of late are kind of like some version of a baked goods advent calendar until I’m done with my Master’s degree. Is that a thing?! Well whatever, I just made it a thing.

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I’m taking study breaks with baked goods! This week’s offering could  not be more different than the last post — that one was fruity and light, this one is shut-the-front-door dense, caramel-y, gooey, rich, and decadent (in the best way, of course). All while being paleo (it’s sweetened with maple so not strict paleo), vegan, free of the glutens, and full of healthy fats and real food! Because, well, because. Because real food is good for you! And it tastes better anyway, right? Right.

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Might I point out this also makes a great side dish for breakfast… alongside eggs and salad and leftover caponata. Don’t question. Just do it!

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Highly recommend to consume this in front of Monty Python and the Holy Grail with excellent company for full brain-rejuvenation effect and happy taste buds.

And that is officially all I got on the anecdote front. Brain is in maxed out mode, I think it’s time for bed. Yes, I know it’s 8:45 on a Friday night. Nope, I’m not sorry at all.

Happy Weekend!

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Vegan Salted Caramel Skillet Blondies

Vegan, paleo, gluten free, refined sugar free. Dense, fudgey, gooey, and delicious. Yield: 1 8″ cast iron skillet, which feeds however many you decide (1? 2? a dinner party? you do you). Lightly adapted from With Salt and Wit, here!

For the caramel:

  • 1/3 c almond butter
  • 1/4 c maple syrup
  • 1/4 c coconut oil, melted

For the blondies:

  • 1.5 c almond meal (or flour, also fine)
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • heaping 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flaxseed + 3 tbsp water)
  • 1/8 c coconut oil, melted
  • 1/8 c unsweetened applesauce
  • scant 1/4 c maple syrup
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • heaping 1/4 c extra dark chocolate chippies

Preheat the oven to 350, and bust out your trusty little 8″ cast iron skillet! No need to grease it, such is the wonder of cast iron and the use of caramel under the blondie batter…

Mix the flax and water in a small bowl and let sit until gelled, about 5 minutes.

In a large liquid measuring cup (one of those pyrex ones works nicely) or other tall thing, vigorously whisk the almond butter, maple and coconut oil for the caramel until combined. You can do this in a blender if your almond butter is particularly thick — mine was runny enough to make a bicep workout feasible (and I decided I was too lazy to wash the blender later). Pour the caramel into the skillet and set aside.

In a larger bowl, combine almond meal, baking soda, sea salt, and cinnamon. Stir to combine. Add in flax egg, melted coconut oil, applesauce, maple, and vanilla. Stir until combined (shouldn’t take too long). Toss in chippies and give it one last good stir. Pour the batter into the caramel — you may have to smooth it out a little, and it will cause the caramel to creep up the sides. All good!! The caramel forms a nice crust for the gooey blondies, which turn out almost like cookie dough. Don’t worry too much about it spreading out perfectly, I promise it will be delicious.

Bake until the top is firm and the caramel is crackly on the edges. I checked mine at 20 minutes, then let it go for another 5 minutes since the blondie wasn’t as firm as I wanted. Final bake time was probably closer to 30 minutes. It helps to bang the skillet on the stove a bit to get the batter and caramel to settle. Once done to your liking, remove from oven and let sit for a few before annihilating.

Absolutely delicious with paleo gelato, or whatever floats your boat! Store any leftovers in the fridge.

Sincere apologies for the strange coloration on the photo below; I have no idea what happened and sadly grad school nonsense takes priority over having a proper photo shoot for the last remaining piece of blondie. Le sigh. Three weeks!

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