Thursday, January 12, 2012

Butterscotch Blondie Bars with Peanut-Pretzel Caramel

What do ya know? Another sugary sweet recipe!

What you will NOT get in this post:
Beautiful photography
Fancy techniques
A quick, easy, and light recipe

What you WILL get in this post:
A great example of fail
A decadent and incredibly rich dessert
Something that takes forever to make but is so worth it

Butterscotch Blondie Bars with Peanut-Pretzel Caramel
From... you guessed it, the December 2011 issue of Bon Appetit


1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
2 t baking powder
1 t kosher salt
3/4 c (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 c (packed) light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 t vanilla extract

Peanut-Pretzel Caramel
4 c roasted unsalted peanuts
2 c sugar
1/4 c honey
1/4 c (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 c heavy cream
1 1/2 c thin twisted pretzels, coarsely crushed

1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Line a baking pan with parchment paper (pan should be 13x9x2), leaving a 1" overhang on sides
3. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside
4. Stir butter in a medium skillet over medium heat until browned bits form at bottom of pan, 7-8 minutes
5. Transfer to a medium bowl
6. Add brown sugar, and using an electric mixer beat until well combined, 2-3 minutes
7. Add eggs and vanilla, beat until fluffy and well combined
8. Add dry ingredients, beat until smooth. Batter will be thick
9. Using a spatula evenly spread batter in prepared pan
10. Bake blondie until golden brown and edges pull away from the side of the pan and a tester inserted in the middle comes out with a few moist crumbs, 20-25 minutes
11. Let cool completely on wire rack

1. Line a baking sheet with parchment and spread peanuts evenly in it
2. Bake the peanuts in 350 oven, stirring frequently until fragrant, 5-7 minutes
3. Stir sugar and 1/2 c water in large saucepan over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves
4. Increase heat to a boil without stirring, occassionally swirl the pan until caramel is deep amber
5. Add honey, and return to a boil, stirring often
6. Add butter, stir until blended
7. Add cream (mixture will bubble up so be careful) and whisk until smooth
8. Stir in peanuts and pretzels
9. Pour mixture over cooled blondie and chill until cool, at least 30 minutes
10. Run a knife around sides of the pan to release blondie
11. Using parchment paper overhang, lift from pan
12. Cut into bars, but keep them small because they are richer than Beyonce and Jay-Z, trust me on this

Yay here they are! All excited to become something tasty.
Lining my pan with parchment. I must confess, it probably wasn't the exact 13x9x2 measurement suggested but it worked out just fine.

Mix the flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. At this point in the recipe it tells you to then set it aside. Now I don't know about you, but really? Do they need to tell me to set it aside for fear that I won't? That I will then complete the recipe with one hand and in a panic because I forgot to set this bowl aside? Oh the world would end! Come on now.

Melted butter goes into another medium bowl.

Then you will plop all that beautiful brown sugar in there. Mmm I love brown sugar.

Beat together until it is supposed to resemble wet sand. I guess that depends on what kind of beach you are used to. Mine was mixed well so that's all that mattered.

Now add the eggs and vanilla.

Beat that all together until it's nice, fluffy, and well combined. Man, there is a whole lot of beating going on in this recipe. Might be good on a bad day.

Then of course you add the dry ingredients.

This batter will be very thick, won't resemble any cake batter or even most brownie batters. Take a spatula, and a spoon if needed like I did, and spread that thick beauty into the pan.

The end result will look messy, but it's fine because it will be covered in caramel heaven later.

Bake it according to the above directions, and you will get something that looks like this.

Put those nuts in a pan to roast. I did not line it with parchment paper because it seemed unnecessary.

While the peanuts are roasting I put the sugar and water in a pan. Then put that on a burner and stirred to dissolve the sugar.

Right about then the peanuts came out of the oven. Looking pretty much exactly as they did before they went in.

Well lookey here! Looks like this caramel is coming together nicely, so I step away to let it do its thing.

In about two minutes I have the pretzels pulsed in my mini food processor,

So that they look like this.

Caramel, bubbling along nicely...

and then BAM, it seizes. Just. Like. That. CARAMEL FAIL.

Considering it is just sugar and water, I just start over. Man have I matured. Just three years ago this would have triggered a full on tantrum.

I get the additions ready.

Now this is what a good caramel should look like.

Stir in the peanuts and pretzels, and get ready to spread.

Would you take a look at this beauty? I mean look...



While I still stand behind the statement that I really don't have a sweet tooth, I cannot resist anything caramel. Just ask my dentist.

So I had to take a few of these to the Kummer family, who handily live a mile down the road.

I then packed up the majority of the rest and brought them to work.

These do have an insane amount of labor required, and they are insanely sweet so not something you would want everyday, but what a fantastic "special occassion" dish. Sometimes a foodie wants to cook or bake something a little more complicated.

While these were very good right away, they get better every day so these are a good make ahead if you are doing them for guests or an event.



Eleanor via LJ said...

I like your patter. Meaning the WAY you describe doing things and the parenthetical statements you make.
I like BAM! and plop, and the bit about setting part of the ingredients aside. Humor about how food writers typically address their readers makes me laugh.

Anonymous said...

I definitely plan to try this one! fawatson