Ooey gooey goodness: Make an autumn feast of these pumpkin caramel blondies

Pumpkin is my absolute favorite flavor in the entire world (right before garlic and chipotle), probably because it reminds me of fall and the wonderful holidays that take place in this season. And I can't believe I've gone this long without writing a pumpkin-based recipe for CL Food. I guess the delay was due to racking my brain for a new way to use the ingredient. I've made pumpkin pie, cheesecake, cookies, brownies, bread, pasta and soup in the past, and wanted to infuse pumpkin into something else that I love.

Then it came to me: blondies! If you're not familiar with blondies, they're the chocolate-free sister of brownies. Blondies are also a great base for featuring other flavors, like caramel, butterscotch, etc., without overpowering them with chocolate flavor. I found my staple blondies recipe in The Joy of Cooking (my go-to cookbook) and used it as a base for my "Redheads" — brownie and blondies' red-tinted, spicy sibling. I thought, "Why not do the same with pumpkin?"

So, I reworked the recipe, added some pumpkin puree, used maple syrup in place of the corn syrup and topped them with caramel sauce for an added layer of flavor. Voila, my pumpkin caramel blondies were born (or maybe they should be called "Punkies"?). If you're feeling like Martha Stewart, you can make your own caramel sauce for this, but the jarred kind in the ice cream aisle works just as well.