Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray an 8" square pan with olive oil. Set aside.
Place the honey in a large glass measuring cup. Microwave on high power until the honey is runny & just bubbling, 45 to 60 seconds. Add cocoa & stir with a fork until well combined. Let cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, place the flour, baking powder, baking soda, & salt. Whisk until well combined.
In a large bowl, combine the applesauce, oil, egg, & vanilla. Whisk together until well blended. Add honey, cocoa mixture & whisk until smooth. Add the flour mixture to the liquid mixture & stir until no traces of flour remain. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake until the surface looks dry around the edges of the pan & a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs clinging to it, about 25 minutes. Do not overbake. Place the pan on a cooling rack & let cool completely before slicing into 16 squares.
Store the brownies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Michelle Says: Use real apple cider vinegar – the flavored stuff is not the same. Make sure to have plenty of tortilla chips on hand, as the salsa is even better fresh than canned! Wear rubber gloves when handling the peppers.
Melt 1 c. sugar in heavy skillet over low heat, stirring constantly. Heat until melted to a golden brown syrup, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add boiling water & stir over low heat until lumps are dissolved. Pour into measuring cup ¼ c. of caramel mixture & add enough cold water to make 1 c. of liquid.
Cream together the softened shortening & remaining sugar until fluffy. Beat in thoroughly eggs. Sift together the flour, baking powder, & 1 tsp. salt. Stir in alternately with caramel mixture. Pour into two 9" layer pans or 13"x9" oblong pan & bake 35 minutes in preheated 350°F oven.
Heat together remaining caramel mixture, cream, & butter to make the burnt sugar frosting. Beat in the powdered sugar, salt, & vanilla extract.