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Updated Saturday, December 22, 2012 at 08:01 AM

Recipe: Bon Appétit's butterscotch blondie bars with peanut-pretzel caramel

By Linda Cicero
The Miami Herald

Makes 40 bars

Blondie base:

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter

2 cups light brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Topping:

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 ½ cups 1 ½-inch-wide pretzel twists, coarsely crushed

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking pan with parchment paper, leaving a 1-inch overhang on long sides of pan.

Whisk flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.

Melt butter, stirring, in skillet over medium heat until browned bits form at bottom of pan, seven to eight minutes. Transfer to a bowl, add brown sugar and beat with electric mixer until mixture resembles wet sand, two to three minutes. Beat in eggs and vanilla until fluffy, about two minutes. Add dry ingredients and beat until smooth; batter will be thick. Spread in prepared pan.

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

Meanwhile, with oven still at 350 degrees, spread peanuts on a rimmed, parchment-lined sheet pan. Bake, stirring often, until golden brown and fragrant, five to seven minutes. Set aside. (Turn off oven.)

Stir sugar and 1/2 cup water in a large, tall saucepan over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat; boil without stirring, swirling pan and brushing down sides with a wet pastry brush from time to time, until caramel is deep amber, 12 to 15 minutes.

Add honey. Return to a boil, stirring often, about one minute.

Remove from heat. Stir in butter until melted. Whisk in cream (mixture will bubble vigorously) until smooth. Stir in peanuts and pretzels. Pour over cooled blondie.

When topping is completely cooled, run a knife around short sides of pan to release blondie. Using parchment overhangs, lift from pan. Cut into four rows lengthwise and 10 rows crosswise.

Nutritional information per bar: 248 calories (45 percent from fat), 13 g fat (4 g saturated fat, 5 g monounsaturated fat), 25 mg cholesterol, 5 g protein, 31 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber, 10 mg sodium.


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