I'm celebrating the first year of my blog with a new look and some sweet treats this week. Thanks for being a part of my little world for the past year! Here's to many more...
First up- pretzel caramel butterscotch blondies. The name kind of says it all doesn't it?
This bar has it all. Chewy, brown-buttery blondie bottoms (think brownie texture but toffee-like flavor). A creamy, not too sticky, honey flavored caramel. And a salty, crunchy topping with just a touch of chocolate. It's the stuff of my dreams.
Adapted from the Bon Apetit, Dec 2011 issue. Makes 30 bars.
For a printable version, click here.
I have been dying for an excuse to make these bars ever since I ripped the recipe out of my magazine back in December. Finally the bake sale offered me the opportunity. I made a few changes from the original, most notably I left out the peanuts- we were asked to make sure our treats were nut free. I didn't miss them one bit. I did increase the amount of pretzels on top and added the chocolate chips. Some recipe reviewers thought the original bars were too sweet, so I cut back on the sugar in the blondie- trust me, there's still plenty.
For the blondies:
1 1/2 sticks (12 tbs) butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
For the pretzel caramel topping:
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup light flavored honey
1/4 cup (4 tbs) butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 cup pretzels (coarsely chopped)
1/2 cup chocolate chips
To make the blondies:
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9x13x2 inch baking pan with a sheet of parchment paper. The parchment should overhang the edges of the long sides of the pan by 2 inches on each side. This will make a "sling" to help you lift the bars out of the pan.
Place the butter in a small saucepan. Over medium heat, melt the butter and then continue to let it cook until it begins to have a "nutty" fragrance and the milk solids turn a golden brown. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and pour the butter into the bowl of a stand mixer (you could mix this by hand as well if you don't have a stand mixer). Add the brown sugar to the bowl and beat the butter and sugar until the sugar dissolves and the mixture resembles wet sand. Add the eggs and vanilla extract and beat until light and fluffy. Pour in the flour and baking powder and mix on slow speed until just incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the top is golden and the center is set. Let the blondies cool completely on a baking rack.
To make the caramel:
Mix the sugar and water in a medium saucepan. Over medium-high heat, bring the sugar/water mixture to a boil. Turn the heat down to medium and let the syrup continue to bubble vigorously without stirring. You can occasionally swirl the pan, but mixing could cause crystals to form in your caramel. When the caramel turns a deep amber color (this takes 12-15 minutes), add the honey to the pan. Be careful- the mixture will bubble up and it is extremely hot! Let it cook for one minute, then add the butter, stirring. Finally, turn off the heat and add the heavy cream to the pot. The mixture will steam and bubble furiously and it will appear to have seized up on you. Have no fear, when the bubbling subsides a bit stir the mixture well. It will all loosen up and become creamy again. Pour the hot caramel over the cooled blondie base. Scatter the pretzel pieces over the top and press lightly into the caramel. Distribute the chocolate chips evenly around the topping.
Put the pan into the refrigerator to cool for at least 30 minutes, but up to 3 days. Trust me, it is much easier to cut when chilled. When ready, pull the blondies out by the parchment sling (you may need to run a knife along the unlined sides of the pan to loosen the caramel). With a heavy, sharp knife cut the blondies into 3 long strips. Cut each strip into 10 pieces. This may seem small, but the bars are VERY rich and a little goes a long way. I recommend keeping them wrapped and in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve. The caramel will remain set and be a bit less sticky that way. The bars only need to sit at room temperature for a few minutes to become soft enough to eat.