Soft and delicious blondies layered with a gooey dulce de leche-inspired filling. The caramel-like dulce de leche center is so easy to make, vegan and dairy free, and the blondie batter comes together in just one bowl. These healthier cookie bars are not overly sweet as is the case with most caramel-centric desserts and absolutely delicious! This recipe for Dulce De Leche Blondies uses real, simple ingredients is paleo-friendly (gluten/grain/dairy free) and nut free!
What Is Dulce De Leche? Are Caramel and Dulce De Leche The Same Thing?
Caramel is made by slowly reducing white sugar with a bit of water, until the sugar caramelizes and the mixture becomes thick and turns a dark amber color. Traditional dulce de leche, on the other hand, is made from cooking down cow milk and sugar. White sugar and milk are cooked at a lower heat which create a more mild flavored substance than cane sugar-only caramel.
How Do You Make A Healthier Dulce De Leche?
What I call “dulce de leche” in this recipe is essentially my healthier take on the traditional recipe. It has a similar flavor and texture to the conventional sweet and creamy original, but my dulce de leche is vegan, dairy free, and refined sugar free. I replace white sugar with coconut sugar, and cow milk with coconut milk which, when cooked down, create a glorious caramel-like flavor. To make it similarly thick and creamy, I add a neutral flavored nut/seed butter like cashew or sunflower seed. So, while this sauce is not exactly caramel or dulce de leche, I would say it’s closer in flavor and texture to dulce de leche because the coconut cream and sugar create more mellow caramel flavor. Whatever you want to call it though, it’s super easy to make and comes together in about 7 minutes! You can use it as a delicious dessert dip or a spread!
What Do These Caramel Cookie Bars Taste Like?
These dulce de leche blondies are basically a soft and chewy cookie bar filled with a gooey caramel-like sauce. My favorite thing about these blondies is that they are just perfectly sweet. More often than not caramel-forward treats can be cloyingly sweet because traditionally, caramel is straight up sugar. This healthier spin on dulce de leche has a more well-rounded sweetness because the (coconut) sugar is balanced by the coconut cream and nut/seed butter. If you’re possibly having second thoughts about making these, here’s why you absolutely should.
These caramel cookie bars are great because
- Soft and chewy cookie base.
- Caramel-like sauce filled ooey gooey center.
- Well rounded sweetness. (Just perfectly sweet.)
- Fun to eat and easy to make!
- Made in just one pot and one bowl – no candy thermometer required!
What Ingredients Are Used to Make Paleo Dulce De Leche Blondies?
These Dulce De Leche Blondies are made better-for-you as they contain no refined sugars, flours, or oils. They are paleo-friendly meaning they are gluten free, grain free, and dairy free. They also happen to be nut free! You’ll only need 12 total ingredients to make these! (You could actually even reduce that down to 10 if you like!)
Here are the ingredients you’ll need and some variations/substitutions:
- Coconut Sugar – Used in the blondie batter and the caramel. It is perfect for this recipe as it has a naturally nutty caramel flavor. I use and love Nutiva’s Coconut Sugar for the reasonable pricing and excellent quality.
- Coconut Cream – The thick solid layer of the top of a coconut milk can. Used to make the vegan dulce de leche sauce. I recommend using a fresh can of full fat coconut milk for best results.
- Avocado Oil – Helps add moisture to the blondie without making it too dense. Sub with melted and cooled coconut oil.
- Sunflower Seed Butter – Makes the perfect chewy texture in the blondies. I use SunButter.
- Cashew Butter – I used cashew butter in the dulce de leche because it has a more neutral flavor. Feel free to sub for any other thick and creamy nut/seed butter. My next best recommendations are sunflower seed butter or a thick tahini. Almond or peanut butter will work but have more assertive flavors.
- Coconut Oil – Used in the dulce de leche to help caramelize the coconut sugar.
- Cassava – An unprocessed flour that is gluten, grain, and nut free. I use and love Otto’s.
- Tapioca Flour – Helps thicken the batter so it does not become too floury.
- Eggs – To help puff the blondies.
- Baking Powder – So the blondies rise just the right amount.
- Vanilla – For flavor in both the filling and the blondie batter.
- Salt – To offset the sweetness.
How Do You Make Healthy Dulce De Leche Blondies?
I love those recipes where the outcome looks wonderfully decadent and complicated but in reality they are easy to make, and this is definitely one of those! The dulce de leche comes together quickly in a pot. And the blondie is made in just one bowl. Then you just layer them together in a baking dish and bake em up! They bake up in just over 20 minutes! So quick and easy!
Here’s an overview of the steps:
- Make the dulce de leche. Just cook down coconut sugar, coconut cream, and coconut oil in a small pot until it’s thick. Stir in vanilla, dash of salt, and mix in the nut/seed butter. Takes about 6-7 minutes total.
- Make the blondie batter. Mix the wet ingredients together, add the dry ingredients, and that’s it!
- Pour 3/4 of the batter into a square baking dish (I use this 8 inch square) and spread out into an even layer.
- Pour the caramel over the blondie batter.
- Drizzle remaining blondie batter over the caramel.
- Create swirl. Use a sharp knife or toothpick and make 2 figure eights in the surface of the blondie to create the swirl. Don’t make too many swirl motions or the caramel will get incorporated into the batter, you want to keep thick ribbons. See photos on how to create the swirly layers.
- Let cool and enjoy!
These Dulce De Leche Blondies will keep at room temperature, in an airtight container for 2-3 days. Afterwards move to the freezer for longer storage.
These Dulce De Leche Blondies are such a delicious and fun treat, perfect for the caramel lovers in your life! The so soft cookie bar layered with a sweet and creamy caramel-like filling make for the perfect dessert, coffee companiment, and, now that I think about it, these would be an incredible base for a scoop of vanilla ice cream! We just loved them and I am sure you, and your loved ones, will too!
paleo friendly (gluten/grain/dairy free), refined sugar free, nut free
More Stuffed Cookie Bar Recipes!
- Healthy PB&J Stuffed Blondies (paleo & nut-free option)
- Healthy Cookie Dough Stuffed Brownies (paleo & nut free)
- Peanut Butter Stuffed Blondies (paleo-ish, grain free)
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Dulce De Leche Blondies
Soft and delicious blondies layered with a gooey dulce de leche filling. The caramel-like dulce de leche is vegan/dairy free and so easy to make, while the blondie batter comes together in just one bowl!
paleo friendly (gluten/grain/dairy free), refined sugar free, nut free
Dulce De Leche Sauce
- 2/3 cup (172 grams) coconut cream solid part from the top of can of coconut milk
- 1/2 cup (72 grams) coconut sugar
- 2 tsp (10 grams) coconut oil
- 1 tsp vanilla
- dash sea salt
- 3 tbsp cashew butter* sub other thick & creamy nut/seed butter
- 3/4 cup (114 grams) coconut sugar
- 1/2 cup (122 grams) avocado oil sub melted and cooled coconut oil
- 1/4 cup (65 grams) sunflower seed butter* sub other thick & creamy nut/seed butter
- 2 eggs ideally room temp
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp (90 grams) cassava flour spooned and leveled
- 1/4 cup (30 grams) tapioca flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
Heat oven to 350 degrees and prepare an 8 or 9 inch square baking dish by lining with parchment paper.
Make the dulce de leche by heating the coconut cream, coconut sugar, and coconut oil in a small pot over medium-high heat. Let it bubble and reduce for 5-6 minutes, stirring often, until the mixture is thick, dark, and glossy. Remove from heat, stir in the vanilla and a dash of salt. Mix in the nut/seed butter until well combined (use a whisk if necessary). Set aside to cool.
Make the blondie batter. In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl if mixing by hand, beat together the coconut sugar, avocado oil, sunflower seed butter, and eggs together until well combined.
Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add the vanilla and beat on medium-high until the mixture it thick and glossy, about 2 minutes.
Add the cassava flour, tapioca flour, baking powder, and salt and stir on low until the flour is just full incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl once during mixing to ensure ingredients are well distributed.
Create the swirly layers. Pour 3/4 of the blondie batter into the prepared baking dish and use a silicone spatula to spread it out into an even layer. Pour dulce de leche sauce over the blondie layer. Drizzle remaining blondie batter over the dulce de leche and use a sharp knife or a toothpick and make 2 figure eights (one on each side) in the surface of the blondie.
Bake the blondie in the center of the oven for 20-22 minutes. The blondie is done when the edges are puffed and golden and the center feels firm.
Let cool in the baking dish for at least 15 minutes. Then slice and enjoy!
Storage: These Dulce De Leche Blondies will keep at room temperature, in an airtight container for 2-3 days. Afterwards move to freezer for longer storage.
Sunflower Seed Butter – Use any other thick and creamy nut/seed butter you like such as cashew, almond, or peanut butter. Just be sure to choose one that contains only 1 ingredient and has no added sugars or oils. Always stir the nut butter well in the jar before measuring. Do not use compacted paste at the bottom for baking.
Cashew Butter – I used cashew butter in the dulce de leche because it has a more neutral flavor. Feel free to sub for any other thick and creamy nut/seed butter. My next best recommendations are sunflower seed butter or a thick tahini.
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