Cashew Blondie with Caramel

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Disclaimer: This was an experiment and a work in progress. About a month ago, I made blondies with peanut, pretzel and caramel. It was pretty good and reminded me of a payday, but it only made me really want to try to make a payday “type” bar (not a candy bar, but blondie bar). I really like the blondie recipe, so I decided to keep that as my base and started researching possible nougat/caramel options. I found one that used peanut butter, sweetened condensed milk and marshmallows. I wondered about the peanut butter being overwhelming, but I assumed that the milk and marshmallow would balance that out. Since I’m still on a cashew kick, I went with cashews instead of peanuts for the top layer.

Everything came together pretty well. I really liked the texture of the “caramel” (I have to keep using quotes for caramel because it really isn’t caramel at all. I didn’t know what to call it, and since it’s caramel colored, I went with caramel.), but it really just tasted like a nougat-y peanut butter. Overall, I really like the direction this recipe is heading in. Next time, I think I’ll make a caramel and mix it into the milk and marshmallow or, just make a dulce de leche with the milk and mix that with the marshmallow. Stay tuned.

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Cashew Blondie with Caramel

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 teaspoon vanilla extract

“Caramel”:

  • 2 & 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cups peanut butter chips (I didn’t have any so I used chunky peanut butter)
  • 14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 cups miniature marshmallows
  • kosher salt or sea salt, optional
  • 3 cups cashews

Method:

For blondie:

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

For “caramel”:

Melt butter and peanut butter chips in a large saucepan over low heat. Stir until smooth. Remove from heat. Stir in condensed milk and marshmallows.  Continue stirring until smooth and well-blended.  Pour over cooled blondie. Sprinkle cashews on top. 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.

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