Butterscotch Blondie Bars with Peanut Pretzel Caramel

December 2011 Bon Appetit
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Now, normally when I find a recipe I like to try the original one to get a good basis of what the recipe should be like, then change some things and make it my own.

However, these delicious babies need no changing! Perfectly chewy Blondies with crunchy edges (who doesn’t love a good corner piece?!), topped with salty, crunchy peanuts and pretzels then draped in homemade honey caramel… what’s not to like? It’s the perfect sweet & salty balance. Even those who claim to not like desserts will find themselves going back for more! But really, anyone who just doesn’t like dessert is crazy in book.

This recipe is broken down into steps and very manageable, even to caramel beginners! Don’t fret about not having a candy thermometer; there’s no need for one here.

What you will need:

Blondie:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups (packed) light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Peanut-pretzel caramel:

  • 4 cups roasted unsalted peanuts
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups 1 1/2″-wide thin twisted pretzels, coarsely crushed

For blondie:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking pan with parchment paper, leaving a 1″ overhang on long sides of pan. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside. Stir butter in a medium skillet over medium heat until browned bits form at bottom of pan, 7–8 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl. Add brown sugar. Using an electric mixer, beat until well combined and mixture resembles wet sand, 2–3 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla; beat until fluffy and well combined, about 2 minutes. Add dry ingredients; beat until smooth (batter will be thick). Using an offset or regular spatula, evenly spread batter in prepared pan.

Bake blondie until golden brown, edges pull away from sides of pan, and a tester inserted into center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 20–25 minutes. Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack.

For peanut-pretzel caramel:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread peanuts over sheet in an even layer. Bake, stirring frequently, until golden brown and fragrant, 5–7 minutes. Set aside.
Stir sugar and 1/2 cup water in a large saucepan over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat; boil without stirring, occasionally swirling pan and brushing down sides with a wet pastry brush, until caramel is deep amber, 12–15 minutes. Add honey; return to a boil, stirring often, about 1 minute longer. Add butter; stir until blended. Add cream (mixture will bubble vigorously); whisk until smooth. Stir in peanuts and pretzels. Pour over cooled blondie. Chill until cool, about 30 minutes.

Run a knife around short sides of pan to release blondie. Using parchment-paper overhang, lift from pan. Cut lengthwise into 4 strips. Cut each strip crosswise into 10 bars.

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