I have never been a big fan of rules. Mom will certainly be happy to tell you about how I always wanted to skirt the rules to back up my statement if you need proof. Laws I like. I like that people are supposed to follow a relatively small set of very important laws that are designed to keep all of us safe. Speed limits are there for a reason and my heart races when I see someone clearly pretending there is no such thing. It’s equally important that there be laws to protect our property and belongings from intruders, along with those on the books protecting us from far more heinous crimes.
But rules aren’t the same as laws. Most of the time, they’re nuisances, just there to cause trouble and make our lives more difficult. Like the rule at my grade school allowing girls to wear only clear nail polish. Did they think some pink enamel was going to corrupt out minds, make us learn less? Because I tend to think that’s one of the least important problems with the education system in this country. A rule in our neighborhood that all the driveways have to be dark colored. I don’t think the quality of life or property values are going to decrease because someone decided to put in a nice, new, not to mention quite attractive cement driveway. But maybe that’s just me.
Then there’s the crazy formatting for pretty much any written document. In school, it was MLA. A fantastic paper could receive a not so fantastic grade if a student made a few formatting mistakes. Writing and sending query letters for my novels should have its own college degree program. I fear I’ve done something wrong every time I send one out, focusing so much on what’s double spaced and what’s not, if I’ve put the right words in the subject line, when really all I want, and they should want, is to tell them why they should represent me. Of course, following all their rules hasn’t seemed to matter yet.
I try to give you recipes that don’t require a lot of rules. Want to mix by hand instead of using a stand mixer? Go for it! Want to bake in a different pan? It’ll probably work. Like using paper liners for muffins instead of greasing the tin? By all means. But this, this isn’t one of those recipes. I’ve tested these caramel blondies more times than I would like to admit, but I finally got them to work. The thing is they’re quite finicky. However, they are more than worth it.
This original recipe of mine is my new signature treat, one of the best things I’ve made, something I think about eating and making again all the time. These are seriously amazing! AMAZING!!!! The blondies themselves are the best I’ve ever had. That classic crunchy, almost glossy blondie top that cracks with each cut of the knife or tasty bite, the firm, but soft bottom, and then the ooey gooey center that makes your mouth water with the mere site of it. Never greasy, they’re the perfect combination of underbaked goodness and crunchy texture. But see, that’s not enough for me. So I baked half of the brownie dough, then poured a bunch of hot caramel over it before topping it with the rest of the dough and baking it again. Some of the caramel bubbles past the top layer, some sinks below the bottom crust, some stays in the middle. It’s all perfection, each bite an adventure so tasty and decadent you won’t be able to wait to take another. Even if you have passed on blondies in the past because they’ve all disappointed you, give these a try, because I promise they will not disappoint. So follow all the rules, make them and sit back and enjoy your effort. I know you’ll love them.
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 cups packed light brown sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- About ½ recipe Caramel Sauce, hot
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9 by 13 inch pan with parchment. Do not butter the pan, but make sure the parchment comes up the sides of the pan. In a medium bowl, combine flour and salt.
- In a large bowl, mix butter and sugars with a hand or stand mixer on medium high until light and fluffy, about 8 minutes. This must be done with a mixer as its ability to incorporate air is vital. Add the eggs 1 at a time, being sure to incorporate each before adding another. Add vanilla and mix to combine, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Add the flour mixture in 2 installments. Mix until just combined, finishing mixing by hand.
- Spread half of the batter into the prepared pan. This is kind of tough since the parchment is not buttered, but take your time and it will work. Bake for about 20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out with only a few moist crumbs.
- While that is baking make the caramel. It is best to use fresh caramel. If you want to use some that you already made, be sure to heat it up well, so it is quite liquidy.
- When the blondie base is finished baking, it may cool up to 10 minutes, no longer, and it does not have to cool at all. Pour enough caramel over the base so that it is covered in a thick layer. The blondie will likely have puffed around the edges, leaving them bare and the caramel in the middle; this is fine. Do not spread the caramel to the edges; it will get there on its own. Take small clumps of the remaining batter in your hand, flattening them out and forming them before placing them on top of the caramel. Do this until the entire top is covered with batter, trying to avoid bare spots and sealing the edges as best as possible. The less you play with it the better as the batter will start to melt.
- Bake for an additional approximately 30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out of both the entire blondie and the top half with only a few moist crumbs. The top should be hard and golden brown and the caramel bubbling. Allow to cool completely in pan before cutting into bars. May be stored at room temperature for up to 3 days or frozen wrapped in parchment and foil and placed in a zipper bag for up to 4 months. Best thawed in a 350 degree F oven for about 10 minutes.