COCONUT CARAMEL ALMOND BUTTER BLONDIES
From bottom to top, these three-layer blondies start with a graham cracker crust, followed by a gooey layer of coconut caramel, beneath a layer of almond butter blondie. They're crunchy, chewy, salty, and sweet all at the same time. They taste almost like a Samoa, and not unlike a sleeve of Girl Scout Cookies, I ate all of them.
Total time: 1 hours 50 minutes
Bake time: 1 hour (total)
Makes a 9x9 pan or roughly 16 blondies
Ingredients for the crust:
1+1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup finely shredded coconut (you'll need more for the caramel)
5 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Ingredients for the caramel:
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup finely shredded coconut, toasted
Ingredients for the blondie:
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1+1/4 cups dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/3 cup almond butter
1+2/3 cups (210 grams) all purpose flour
1/4 cup sliced almonds
Instructions for the crust:
1.) Begin by preheating the oven to 350° F. Line a cookie sheet with tin foil and spread 1+1/4 cup of finely shredded coconut across the sheet. This will be enough for both the crust and the caramel. Toast for 5-6 minutes, watching closely to make sure it doesn't burn. Leave the oven on to bake the crust.
2.) Butter a 9 x 9 ceramic baking dish and line the dish with a strip of parchment paper slightly narrower than the bottom of the dish, but long enough to hang over the sides a bit. Then, take the strip of parchment out, flip it over, and press it back into the dish. This way both sides of the parchment are now greased!
3.) For the crust, in a medium bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, 1/4 cup of the toasted coconut, melted butter, and kosher salt using a spatula or your hands, until the mixture resembles wet sand and will clump together when squeezed. Dump the mixture into the prepared dish and use the bottom of a measuring cup to press the crumbs into an even layer. Bake for 10 minutes, until lightly golden. You can either turn the oven off or leave it on if you're planning to do all steps back to back.
Instructions for the caramel:
4.) Before you get started on the caramel, it's important to have all your ingredients measured out and have read the instructions, because you don't want to stop between steps. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, sprinkle a very thin, even layer of the sugar and cook without disturbing for about 3-5 minutes, until almost all of it is melted. Sprinkle another thin layer of sugar on top of the melted sugar and use a heat proof spatula to mix it into the dissolved sugar in small circle, cooking until the newly added sugar has also dissolved. Repeat in small additions, until you've used all the sugar. Cook slightly longer, swirling the saucepan but not stirring, until the melted sugar takes on a dark golden color.
5.) Now, turn off the heat and while stirring slowly pour in coconut milk. The caramel will sputter and tighten up in some places due to the temperature difference. This is normal! Continue mixing and turn the heat back on to medium and continue stirring until any hardened bits of caramel are dissolved. Add melted butter, salt, and vanilla extract, and continue stirring until combined. Finally add remaining cup of toasted coconut and stir to incorporate.
6.) Turn off the heat, and let the caramel cool for about 30 seconds before pouring it onto the prepared crust and using an offset spatula or a spoon to gently spread the caramel into an even layer, working it all the way into the corners, trying not to disturb the crust. Set the dish aside to cool while we work on the blondie layer.
Instructions for the blondie:
7.) If you turned the oven off, reheat it to 350°F. In a large bowl, whisk together melted butter, brown sugar, salt, and vanilla extract until combined. Add egg and whisk until fully incorporated, followed by the almond butter. Once incorporated, add the flour and use a rubber spatula to fold it into the wet ingredients until it's fully combined and no streaks remain.
8.) Distribute the blondie batter on top of the caramel in large dollops, and use a spoon or offset spatula to spread into a smooth layer. Sprinkle the surface with sliced almonds, and sprinkle lightly with kosher salt.
9.) Bake for 40-45 minutes until the entire surface is set and golden brown (the edges will be darker). To test, insert a knife or cake tester in the center, only going into the blondie layer and not through to the caramel. If they blondies are done, it should come out clean or with a few moist crumbs. Allow the blondies to cool in the pan for at least an hour or overnight.
10.) To remove, run a knife around the edges to loosen the caramel from the sides, and then use the parchment paper to lift the blondies out of the dish. Cut into 16 squares and enjoy.
Blondie base adapted from sweetestmenu.com