Caramel Apple Gingerbread Brownies

apple cranberry coconut caramel gingerbread brownies flourless gluten free

A few weeks before the holiday season, I was feeling a bit bogged down – finals were in full swing, I was hearing back from colleges left and right, and as a result holiday baking/blogging kind of fell by the wayside, more than I’d have liked. I just never had the time to bake. Besides, I wasn’t too much in the mood for holiday cheer.

On the last day of finals, in my English class, the teacher set out treats left over from her “grading party” with fellow instructors. Everyone was raving about the eclectic brownies another teacher had made: an apartment complex of cookie dough and chocolate brownie concealed hidden cookie surprises within, and was topped off by some sort of rainbow cheesecake dip. Our teacher exalted her friend as a kitchen genius.

The competitive spirit awakened in me the instinct to jump in the kitchen and whip up some sort of creative combination of my own, inspired both by the flavors of December and the randomness of those stacked brownie-cookie-thingies.

It felt good to get to the oven and mix up a yummy treat, as finals came to a close. It felt even better to know that my own recipe was wholesome and healthy. Gluten free, sensibly sweetened with Truvia Baking Blend, and choc-full of real fruit, these slices of heaven won’t give you a heart attack anytime soon. Stay on Santa’s “nice” list with sinless and flourless, creatively layered gingerbread caramel apple brownies.

Caramel Apple Gingerbread Brownies

adapted from recipes on The Comfort of Cooking, Delicious everyday, and Food.com

fills one 9″ round pan (about 8 generous servings)

caramel apple coconut cranberry gluten free gingerbread brownies with weight watcher candies

Ingredients:

caramel apple filling – NOTE: It wouldn’t hurt to multiply this by 1.5 or even 2 so you have some left over to use as topping, rather than adding extra apple at the end

  • 1 tsp Earth Balance Original Buttery Spread
  • 1 large Granny Smith apple, sliced
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • generous splash of cinnamon

gingerbread layer

  • 1 cup canned, drained chickpeas/garbanzo beans
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 tbs pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • dash cinnamon
  • 1/2 tbs ginger

brownie layer

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup Hershey’s unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup Truvia Baking Blend
  • 1/4 cup chocolate hazelnut butter
  • 1/4 cup Libby’s 100% Pure Pumpkin Puree
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 pouch of Weight Watchers by Whitman’s Candies Bite Size Caramels

topping (omit first 3 ingredients if you are reserving some caramel apple filling – see above)

  • 1/2 of a Gala apple, sliced
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • dash cinnamon
  • 2 tbs dried cranberries
  • 2 tbs sweetened flaked coconut

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit. Spray a 9″ round pan generously with nonstick spray.

For caramel apple filling/topping: In a medium bowl, toss together apple slices, brown sugar, and cinnamon.

Place Earth Balance in medium pan. Heat to medium and coat the pan with Earth Balance as it melts. Arrange apple slices in pan so that as many as possible have a surface on the pan. Cook for several minutes, stiffing constantly. Flip slices when side that is on the pan is browning.

When apples are softened and browned, remove from heat and set aside.

For gingerbread layer: Place garbanzo beans in blender or food processor (I used a blender) and blend thoroughly until they are as smushed as possible (you don’t want that bean-y texture in your brownies!) Add other gingerbread ingredients; blend until smooth.

For brownie layer: Beat eggs. Add cocoa and mix. Add wet brownie ingredients and mix thoroughly.

Cut candies into two to four pieces each. Stir into brownie mixture.

Now, put it all together: Spoon gingerbread mixture into prepared 9″ pan. Focus on the center, you probably won’t get all the edges, but flatten it out into as thin a layer as possible.

Now, arrange caramel apple slices around the outer ring. Distribute some across gingerbread layer. If you made extra, reserve some for topping later.

Spoon brownie layer over apples, covering them as much as possible and extending out to the outer edge of the pan.

Bake at 350 Fahrenheit for about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and add toppings: arrange apple slices around edge in a circle; sprinkle cranberries across surface; sprinkle coconut over what’s left blank.

Bake another 12 minutes, or just until a cake tester comes out clean.

gluten free caramel apple gingerbread brownies coconut cranberry with dannon light and fit yogurt

You can dig into this warm, ideally with some Dannon Light & Fit Caramel Apple Pie Greek yogurt that’s been chilling in the freezer for an hour. Or, refrigerate overnight for a fantabulously fudgey, dense and decadent cool treat the next day! Enjoy this gluten-free, wholesome seasonal treat anytime, any way you like it!

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