[pinit] You know about my next gluten free cookbook after GFOAS Bakes Bread, right? Copycat recipes for all the name brand snack cakes, cookies, breakfast treats your family’s been missing now that you’re baking gluten free. Woohoo! I’m gearing up for the photo shoot for that next book (in less than a month! *yikes* I’ll show you behind-the-scenes photos of it, if you’d like to see). So, you know, I’m kind of jittery. But even more than jittery, I’m in full-on copycat mode. If they can make it with gluten, I’m bound and determined to make it without. So when one lovely reader asked on Facebook if I would develop a recipe for Gluten Free Maple Butter Blondies in the style of the old Applebee’s blondies it sailed right to the top of the list.
Well, actually, first I had to look it up. I’m so *ashamed* but the truth of it all is that I had never even heard of maple butter blondies. But it seems that it’s, like, a thing. Near as I can tell, they no longer serve it at Applebee’s (not that they ever served it gluten free), but it’s still a chain restaurant thing. Where have I been?!
I thought of this as sort of a deconstructed butter pecan ice cream. But in the form of a thick, chewy blondie studded with pecans and white chocolate chips…
… topped with a butterscotch sauce made with pure maple syrup (hello maple butter!), then a scoop of the best vanilla ice cream I have ever had (not to mention the easiest!), and more maple butter. ‘Cause why not. You can make each of the parts separately, and way ahead of time if you like. Each part on its own is pretty impressive. But put them all together, and no one will forget this dessert. Or you. They’ll be calling your name. And begging you for just … one … more… bite. Seriously, you guys have the BEST ideas!
*The maple butter can definitely be made even a few days ahead of time. Store it in a sealed container in the refrigerator. It will solidify. When you are ready to serve the sauce, uncover it and warm it in the microwave or in a water bath in a small saucepan on the stovetop over medium heat, stirring frequently until smooth.
Preheat your oven to 325°F. Grease and line an 8-inch x 8-inch (for thicker bars) or 9-inch x 9-inch (for thinner bars) baking pan, and set it aside.
First, make the blondies. In a large bowl, place the flour blend, xanthan gum, salt and baking soda, and whisk to combine well. Transfer a tablespoon of the dry ingredients to a small bowl, and add the white chocolate chips and chopped nuts to the small bowl. Toss to coat the chips and nuts in the dry ingredients, and set the small bowl aside. To the large bowl of dry ingredients, add the granulated sugar and packed light brown sugar, and whisk to combine, working out any lumps in the brown sugar. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and add the butter, eggs and vanilla, mixing to combine after each addition. The dough will be thick. Add the chocolate chips and chopped nuts with the reserved dry ingredients, and mix until the pieces are evenly distributed throughout the dough. Transfer to the prepared baking pan, and spread into an even layer with wet fingers and/or a wet spatula.
Place the pan in the center of the preheated oven and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out nearly clean, with just a few moist crumbs attached (about 35 minutes for the 9-inch x 9-inch pan, and about 45 minutes for the 8-inch x 8-inch pan). Remove from the oven, place the pan on a wire rack and allow the bars to cool in the pan until stable enough to move without cracking (about 20 minutes). Remove the bars from the pan, place on the wire rack and allow to cool completely before slicing into 9 equal pieces.
While the bars are cooling, make the maple butter. In a medium-size, heavy-bottom saucepan, place the chopped butter. Gather the remaining maple butter ingredients into small bowls, lined up right alongside the stovetop so that you can move quickly once we get going. Melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the brown sugar, and stir until the mixture is wet and grainy. Add the maple syrup and continue to cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture begins to look smooth (about 3 minutes). Add the heavy whipping cream and switch to a whisk (a flat whisk is ideal for getting into all of the edges of the pan, but a balloon whisk will do just fine). Reduce the heat to low, and whisk constantly until the mixture is smooth (about 1 minute). Once the mixture is smooth, bring it to a simmer and continue to cook, whisking occasionally, for about another 5 minutes, or until it is slightly reduced and coats the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat, and taste the maple butter with a clean spoon. Add pure vanilla extract and coarse salt to taste.
To serve, place each blondie on a separate plate, drizzle with some of the warm maple butter sauce, top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and drizzle with more sauce. Moderation is not really the point here.