ImageThere are many things about me that my friends find funny, and I find bewildering.  I never knew there was a game called “Candy Land” (I played “Kosher Land” at home) until I was twelve; I never ate a hamburger until I was 22; I have never seen an episode of the Simpsons; I’m 50% middle eastern but I do not tan, and I hate cilantro; and surprisingly, despite greatly enjoying preparing desserts, I do not actually enjoy eating them.

One thing that isn’t strange is that I absolutely love chocolate. 

When I was a wee little girl, while my sister was still eating desserts of “plain yogurt with raisins” at birthday parties (my mother had her so fooled!), I went to an adult party, and tasted my first piece of chocolate.  It was given to me by my mother’s dear friend, and I laid it on my tongue and savored it.  As the story goes, I walked up to my mother and stuck out my tongue to show her what I had just found.  It was delightful, and my life was forever changed.  Until I was 15 years old and I decided to “quit” chocolate cold turkey a week before Halloween.  I was a much stronger person then.  Now I don’t even have enough self control to not call someone I shouldn’t be calling, or press send on an email I wish I didn’t send.  Sometimes, don’t you wish you could rescind that email before/after it was read?  Like “poof!” it disappeared! How did that happen? … I hope someone reads this blog post and writes that app… because if anything, it would be an iphone app, right?  But I digress, this “non-chocolate” phase lasted until Valentine’s day 2007, when my boyfriend tricked me into eating some after I got into college… that was a good day. 

I made these for family Hannukah party we held on Christmas Day many months ago.  It seemed a bit sacrilegious to be celebrating Hannukah on Christmas, when we should have been celebrating Jewish-Christmas (i.e. Chinese food and a movie).  I went back to the kitchen just to wash my hands, and when I returned, “poof!” they disappeared… if only my emails could do that…

Butterscotch Blondie Bars with Peanut-Pretzel Caramel
(Adapted from Bon Appetit)

Ingredients

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 tablespoon 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

Chocolate (optional)

  • A few ounces of semi-sweet or bitter sweet dark chocolate.

Preparation

Blondie

  • Preheat oven to 350°. 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 the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 20–25 minutes. Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack.

Peanut-Pretzel Caramel

  • Preheat oven to 350°. 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. DO AHEAD: Chill for up to 1 week in an airtight container. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Personal Touch: Bon Appetit doesn’t suggest dipping these in a dark chocolate shell, but I thought they were missing something (natch)

  • Melt semi sweet / bittersweet dark chocolate in a double boiler.
  • When melted, dip each square into the chocolate as desired (bottom, side, enrobe…etc)
  • Place on a baking sheet lined with wax paper and slip into the refrigerator for an hour or two until solid. 

Eat and enjoy!

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