It’s starting to feel a little more like Christmas at my house. Today, Aiden and myself put up the Christmas decor and set up the tree. Remind me to test lights in the future, because after the lights were up and decorations on, I plugged in the tree only to see that one strand was dead. Ha! It was amateur hour, obviously. Nonetheless, things feel a bit more festive, and have really put me in the Christmas mood.
Now, the only thing missing is the snow. But only for the next 3 weeks, then it can go away.
I have a little confession to make, I really do not enjoy desserts with any sort of nuts in them. Scratch that, I don’t mind almonds. That being said, you will understand my utter surprise when I absolutely loved these bars. Something about them just worked for me. Upon first taste of the peanut-pretzel caramel, I wasn’t sure I would be into them, but when both components came together it was pure bliss.
The beautiful blondie has a wonderful nutty taste from the browned butter (best stuff ever!), which perfectly complements the peanuts and pretzels covered in that wonderfully dark caramel. The only thing I would have changed for next time is to slightly decrease the peanuts and bump up the pretzels (they were my favourite part), and I have adjusted the recipe below to reflect that. Other than that, they were perfect.
The other thing that I appreciate about these bars is that they stay fresh for about a week, so its perfect when you are doing a lot of baking around the holidays. Enjoy!
A nutty blondie topped with a rich peanut and pretzel caramel.
- 3/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter
- 1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups roasted peanuts (I used a combination of salted & unsalted)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- pinch salt or fleur de sel
- 1 cup 1 1/2-inch wide twisted pretzels, coarsely crushed
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 8x8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang of 1 inch on all sides.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
- Set a medium skillet, preferably uncoated, over medium heat and add the butter, Heat the butter until small browned bits form at the bottom of the skillet, the butter has browned and has a nice nutty smell, about 7 minutes.
- Add the browned butter to the bowl of a stand mixer, along with the brown sugar, and mix on medium-low speed until well combined. Mixture will resemble wet sand at this point. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until well combined and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
- Add the dry ingredients, and mix on low speed until combined. Do not over mix. Mixture will be thick. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and spread to create an even layer. The layer will be thin.
- Bake until golden brown, and a toothpick inserted comes out with a few crumbs attached, about 20 minutes. Let the blondies cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Note: The edges of the blondie will be higher than the centre.
- In a medium saucepan, stir together the sugar and water and set over medium-low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the sugar to a boil without stirring. Swirl the pan occasionally to make sure the sugar is burning evenly, and brush the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush. Boil the sugar until the caramel is a deep amber colour, about 6 to 7 minutes. This time may vary based on your stove, but look for a deep amber colour, like a penny.
- Remove the pan from the stove and the honey, and return to the heat for about 30 seconds while stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter, then the heavy cream until smooth. Careful, the mixture will bubble vigorously! Stir in the vanilla and salt. Stir in the peanuts and pretzels. Pour the mixture over the cooled blondie and chill until cool, about 30 minutes to 1 hour.
- Lift the parchment from the pan, and using a very sharp knife cut into 16 pieces.
- Storage: Chill for up to 1 week, and allow to come to room temperature before serving.
This recipe is easily doubled.
- This recipe is easily doubled and baked in 9×13-inch square metal pan.
- I purchased already roasted nuts to save a bit of time. But if you want to roast your own nuts, Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, spread peanuts on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake, stirring frequently until peanuts are golden brown and fragrant, about 7 minutes.
- To crush the pretzels, I put them in a ziploc bag and gently crushed them with the bottom of a glass.
Adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine, December 2011