Apple Cider Caramel Blondies

These deliciously dense blondies are swirled with a spiced cider caramel for a unique fall treat.

By Hilly O'Hanlon for Milk Bar
Nov 1, 2022
90 Minutes
9 Servings

While many blondies have a light caramel flavor from the combination of butter and brown sugar, Chef Hilly O’Hanlon of Milk Bar goes a step further by incorporating caramel into the batter. Most of the liquid portion of the caramel is apple cider, which when paired with warming spices like cardamom and allspice, has a flavor reminiscent of candy apples. The blondies share more in common with a classic brownie as well, using Chef Tosi’s tip of adding white chocolate to make a similarly fudgy texture.

You’ll only use about half of the apple cider caramel, so use the rest to top vanilla ice cream or make candy. To make caramels, pour the remaining liquid into a Baking Dish greased and lined with parchment paper and allow to set until firm to the touch. Sprinkle with flaky salt if desired, slice into squares with a greased knife, and wrap individually with wax paper like salt water taffy.

The limited-edition Milk Bar x Made In 8x8 Baking Dish is now sold out, but you can shop the dish in other colorways below.

Apple Cider Caramel Blondies

These deliciously dense blondies are swirled with a spiced cider caramel for a unique fall treat.

Hilly O'Hanlon for Milk Bar

90 Minutes
9 Servings
  • For the Apple Cider Caramel:
  • 4 cups apple cider
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ¾ teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • (Alternatively, the cinnamon, cardamom, allspice, and ginger can be swapped for 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon store-bought apple pie spice)
  • For the Blondies:
  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup milk powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • cup white chocolate chips
  • 1 ¾ cup light brown sugar (packed)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup apple cider caramel (about half, see above)

    Add apple cider to a heavy bottomed 4QT Saucepan or 3QT Saucier and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally and watching closely, until the cider has reduced to about ⅓ cup, 30–40 minutes. The cider should be thick and syrupy. (The wider your saucepan, the quicker this process will go!)


    Once the cider has reduced, add granulated and light brown sugar, butter, corn syrup, and heavy cream. Stir everything together until melted and homogenous, then cease stirring.


    Attach candy thermometer (if using) to the side of the pan and bring the mixture to a rolling boil over medium-high heat without stirring (only swirling). Bring mixture to 252F, or soft-ball stage (if not using a candy thermometer). This should only take about five minutes at a rolling boil. To test for soft-ball stage: drop a bit of the hot caramel into a bowl of very cold water. The caramel should form a—you guessed it—soft ball.  When removed from the water it should resemble a soft, squishy ball that holds its shape for a second before warming from the heat of your hands.


    Immediately remove from heat and stir in cinnamon, salt, cardamom, vinegar, allspice, ginger, and vanilla. Keep warm.


    Preheat oven to 325F.


    Mix together the flour, milk powder, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl, set aside. This is the dry mixture.


    In a Butter Warmer set over medium heat, melt the butter and white chocolate together, stirring until fully combined.


    Add the brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla to a large bowl. Whisk together until all is combined and the sugars are hydrated (it will be a little thick at this point.) Whisk vigorously until the mixture has lightened by a shade or two and increased in volume, about 2 minutes.


    Stream in melted white chocolate mixture and whisk until homogenous.


    Swap the whisk for a spatula and stir in the dry mixture until fully combined; do not overmix.


    Spread blondie batter evenly into an 8x8" Baking Dish with the back of a spoon.


    Working quickly, drizzle about half (1 cup) of the still-warm caramel over the surface of your blondies. You want to leave a few peeks of the blondies underneath, not fully cover the top – don’t worry if it looks a little messy, that’s the point!


    Using a spoon or butter knife, swirl the apple cider caramel into the surface of the blondies until some caramel has combined with the batter, but there are still gorgeous pools of caramel left.


    Bake until the blondies have puffed and then settled, the top is golden brown, and the pools of caramel are bubbling away,  40–50 minutes.


    Cool for at least an hour before digging in. For a chewier blondie, store these wrapped in the fridge for up to 7 days. Otherwise, store at room temp well wrapped for 2–3 days.