The last few hours of 2012 are quickly ticking away. I can't say this enough - what a year. Major ups, major downs, and through all of it, we move forward. I think that for most people, this time of the year begets reflection. We look back and examine the year that has passed. We try and forget some of the pain we felt. We try and hold tightly to the joy we found. We scrutinize the decisions we made. Some were poor, of course, but some were monumental. Some difficult, and others a breeze. We question why we did what we did, and we make sure that the next time around, we do it differently. We make resolutions.
I honestly make resolutions all year long. Take better care of myself. Take better care of others. Save money. Be happy. Be healthy. Be gracious. Just be. You get the idea. Well this year, and this night, I am making a promise, not only to myself, but to you. This year, I will view all of my decisions as if they were an investment. How I spend my time. Who I spend it with. Where my money goes. What I eat. What clothes I wear. You get the idea. Because we, as people, spend way too much time, money and energy on things that don't matter. We dwell on things we cannot change and give our hearts to people who may hurt us. We are cruel to ourselves and we are cruel to others. We waste money. We waste calories. We waste tears. Well join me, in 2013, and invest. Invest in people that love you. Invest in the pair of jeans that does, well, what amazing jeans are made to do. Go to that nice restaurant once a month instead of four bad ones. And cook, for the love of God cook.
Somehow tying this rant to food, I should tell you that this recipe is an investment. Making your own caramel is really time consuming and for me, a failure. I had to do it twice and it still didn't turn the way I wanted. Delicious none-the-less. So, if you don't have the time, desire or energy to make your own, go melt some that is already made. I promise you that this is a recipe worth your time. Happy New Year, readers. I hope your 2013 is your best year yet.
Butterscotch Blondie Crunch Bars
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
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
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 13X9 inch baking pane with parchment paper, leaving a 1" overhang on long sides of pan. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.
2. Stir butter in a medium skillet over medium heat until browned bits form at bottom of pan 7–8 minutes.
3. Transfer to a medium bowl. Add brown sugar. Using an electric mixer, beat until well combined and mixture resembles wet sand, 2–3 minutes. 4. Add eggs and vanilla; beat until fluffy and well combined, about 2 minutes.
5. Add dry ingredients; beat until smooth (batter will be thick). Using an offset or regular spatula, evenly spread batter in prepared pan.
6. 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.
7. With oven still on, spread peanuts over sheet in an even layer. Bake, stirring frequently, until golden brown and fragrant, 5–7 minutes. Set aside.
8. Here is where you may choose to melt caramels instead of making your own. In that case, follow directions on package. If you're willing to make your own... Stir sugar and 1/2 cup water in a large saucepan over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat; boil without stirring, occassionaly 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.