I have an obsession with Panera Bread. I could probably eat there every day for the rest of my life and be happy. Ironically, I've never been a huge fan of their sweets section. I never really had a cookie or cupcake or scone from them that made me want to keep on getting it. After my first bite, I would simply thing "Eh, I can do better at home." Still, I kept on trying their sweets to see if something would eventually win me over. That pretty much happened with their cobblestone. I loved how sticky sweet it was and the little bits of apple. And yet it was still not perfect. For me, it was just too much for one person to eat (yet too good to want to share) and needed some caramel in the mix.
I decided to work on my own version of the cobblestone with a couple of my own twists and I am so happy with the results. The bread is light and fluffy and studded with bits of pecan, diced apple, and a few golden raisins thrown in. There is also a hidden layer of caramel on the inside of the bread and when you eat it warm, well, it's pretty darn fantastic.
This might be the most summery of recipes, but still worth turning on that oven - thankfully these caramel apple and pecan pull apart muffins have a fairly quick bake time. You can also save this recipe and bring it out when the weather begins to cool and you want something comforting to snack on along with a nice cup of tea. Or you can get someone to make these for you. Let's try and go for that option 😉
Before I leave you to enjoy your weekends, I wanted to mention something kinda exciting about one of my blogger friends. My friend, Beeta, who is the amazingly talented baker and photographer behind Mon Petit Four just released her first eBook called Paris: 7 Practical Tips to Know When Planning Your Trip to the City of Lights. Beeta is a Francophile and is as expert as you can get on Paris. She shares some very handy tips for visiting the city from the point of view of someone who's spent a lot of time there (and even taught baking while in Paris - lucky her!). If you are going planning a trip to Paris, I highly recommend checking out her book. It's only $2.99 on Amazon! (btw, the links are Amazon affiliate links, but Beeta isn't paying me to talk about her book in any way. I am just so excited that she's released one and wanted to share!)
Caramel Apple Pecan Muffins
For the Dough
- ⅓ cup milk
- ¼ cup unsalted butter
- ¼ cup water room temperature
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 large eggs
For the Filling
- ⅓ cup lightly packed brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 apple diced
- ⅔ cup chopped pecans
- ⅓ cup golden raisins
- ⅓ cup caramel sauce
- In a small saucepan, heat the milk, and butter, until it begins to steam, but not yet simmering. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly for about 3 minutes. Add the water, sugar, and yeast, and stir.
- Allow to sit for about 5 minutes to proof the yeast. The mixture should form a nice layer of foam on top. If there is no foam, you may need new yeast and will need to start over with fresh yeast.
- In a large stand mixer, add the flour, salt, and cinnamon together. Pour the yeast mixture over the flour and mix until combined. Use a dough hook to knead on medium while adding the eggs one at a time, mixing well between each egg. Knead for about 5 minutes. Alternatively, you can knead with your hands on a floured surface.
- Lightly grease a large bowl with oil and place the dough inside. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm, dry area for an hour, or doubled in size.
- Deflate the dough and knead lightly with your hands for a minute. Take out your muffin tin and line with cupcake liners or lightly grease.
- Mix together the brown sugar and cinnamon together until well-mixed. Cut the dough into small balls a little over a tablespoon in size. Roll each ball of dough in the sugar cinnamon mixture. and place four balls in each muffin cup. Top the balls with a mix of the apple, pecans, and raisins, How much you add is up to you, but I think more is more! (Optional: Add about a teaspoon of caramel over everything) Top with four more sugar-coated dough balls. You can wedge any remaining apples, raisins and some more pecans between the balls if you'd like (I did). Just remember to leave a few pecans to top the finished product. Sprinkle more of the cinnamon-sugar mixture over the dough. Allow to rise for another 1 - 2 hours (the longer you wait, the better they will taste). Preheat the oven to 350F while we are waiting.
- Bake for about 15 minutes, or until a light golden brown. Cool, then top with caramel sauce and more pecans.