It’s that time of year to cover yourself in flour, splatter your walls in melted chocolate, lose sprinkles between your kitchen tiles, and bake homemade gifts for friends and co-workers. Whether you opt for classic sugar cookies, decadent chocolate truffles, or playful gingerbread men, the sweet mouthfuls are fun to make, fantastic to share, and often too pretty to eat.
Browsing through Bon Appetit’s December issue, Marni was instantly attracted to the Butterscotch Blondie Bars. The image of the golden, crunchy yet chewy, and salty yet sweet bars stole the show. She decided to give them a try, modifying the recipe a bit by using less peanuts and melting caramel chews for the topping.
Butterscotch Blondie Bars
1 1/2 c flour
2 t baking powder
1 t salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
2 c light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 T vanilla extract
1 1/2 c roasted unsalted peanuts (toast beforehand for 5 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until fragrant and golden brown)
12 oz caramel chews
1 T butter
1 1/2 c thin twisted pretzels, coarsely crushed
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside. Over medium heat melt the butter in a small pan until browned bits form at bottom, 7–8 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and add the 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). With a spatula, evenly spread batter in a greased 13”x9” baking pan. Bake blondies until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 20–25 minutes. Let cool completely.
Over medium-low heat, melt the caramel chews and butter until smooth. Stir in the peanuts and pretzels. Pour over the cooled blondie base. Chill until cool, about 30 minutes. Run a knife around short sides of pan to release blondie. Cut into rectangular bars and serve. Makes 32-36 bars.
Since snow has yet to hit Boston, Kara opted to imitate snow balls in the form of coconut macaroons. She altered Ina Garten’s classic macaroon recipe and added a chocolate drizzling. The light and decadent mounds are the perfect accompaniment to a cup of hot cocoa.
14 oz sweetened shredded coconut
14 oz sweetened condensed milk minus 1 T (to lessen the runny batter)
1 t vanilla extract
2 extra-large egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 t kosher salt
1 c semi sweet chocolate chips (or your favorite chocolate)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
Combine the coconut, sweet and condensed milk, and vanilla in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites and salt on high speed until they make medium-firm peaks. Fold the egg whites into the coconut mixture. At this point, I like to refrigerate the batter so it hardens a little, about an hour.
Using a tablespoon, drop the batter onto lined sheet pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Sometimes the batter will spread while baking. If the finished product is not snowball-shaped, cool the cookie and trim the excess.
Melt the chocolate either over a double boiler or for 30 second increments in the microwave until smooth. With a fork, drizzle the chocolate over the cooled cookie. Makes about 20 cookies.
Santa is in for a treat this year.