Bit-O-Honey, Bunch of Flavor: Butterscotch Blondie Bars with Peanut-Pretzel Caramel

With an open bag of mini pretzel twists on hand, I looked for another recipe that uses pretzels. I decided to try an recipe for "Butterscotch Blondie Bars with Peanut-Pretzel Caramel." It seemed like my kind of bar -- who doesn't love salty, crunchy things combined with caramel? Plus, so long as you're not scared of making caramel, these bars are pretty easy to make.

The butterscotch blondie base is a mixture of browned butter, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, flour, baking powder, and salt. You spread the batter into a parchment-lined pan, bake until golden, and cool completely.

To make the caramel topping layer, you cook sugar and water until the mixture turns deep amber; add honey and boil for a minute; and finish it off with butter and cream. Then you dump in peanuts (I used salted) and crushed pretzels, and spread the caramel over the bottom layer of the bars. Some of the comments on the recipe opined that there were too many peanuts in this recipe, so I cut the amount of peanuts in half and added some extra pretzels (2.5 ounces total) to compensate. I think there was just the right amount of stuff in the caramel; all of the peanuts and pretzels were completely coated. I chilled the bars overnight before cutting them.
Straight out of the fridge, the bars were easy to cut and the caramel held its shape nicely. However, I noticed that as the bars sat out at room temperature, the caramel slowly started to droop and the topping on bars that were close together on a serving tray merged together (but it wasn't too difficult to pull them back apart). I had a sense of déjà vu from Dorie Greenspan's Caramel-Peanut-Topped Brownie Cake, where the caramel topping also drooped over time.

Drooping caramel or not, I thought that these bars were fantastic. The base blondie sort of faded into the background next to the caramel, but it did have a rich butterscotch flavor and nice chewy texture. And the caramel is fantastic -- stretchy, chewy, and candylike. These bars taste very much like the inside of a candy bar and they were very popular with my tasters.

The pretzels were not as crunchy as I had hoped -- I think it might be better to use thicker chunks of pretzel rods, or maybe some pieces of crunchy flat pretzel crisps. Also, I did not particularly care for the honey flavor in the caramel. I used a mild clover honey, but the taste still came through. I'm not sure if the honey is included to keep the texture of the caramel soft, but if so, I wonder if corn syrup could be substituted instead. But the honey flavor didn't stop me from enjoying these bars immensely, not one bit.

Recipe: "Butterscotch Blondie Bars with Peanut-Pretzel Caramel" from

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