Every year I make blondies for my holiday dessert platter.  Maybe it’s the rich butterscotch flavor or the brown sugar-infused golden color, but people just love these festive bars.  I have created a spin on the classic blondie, adding Pipcorn, peanuts and luscious homemade caramel.  What is Pipcorn and why use it in these bars?  Pipcorn is a mini popcorn snack that comes in different flavors:  Kettle, Truffle, Sea Salt and Rosemary.  I like using it in this festive treat because the popcorn is small in size, super cute, and fits nicely on top of a holiday treat.  And there are no hulls to get stuck in your teeth at a holiday party!

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Pipcorn, Peanuts and Caramel Blondies

Makes about 30 small bars

The base:

1 1/2 (7.5 ounces) cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature

2 cups (14 oz) brown sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

The topping:

2 cups (14 oz) sugar

1/2 cup water

1/2 stick (2 oz) butter

1/2 cup (4 oz) heavy cream

1 cup chopped roasted, salted peanuts (optional)

1 cup Pipcorn (plus one cup set aside and reserved for topping at the very end) I’ve used Sea Salt and Kettle flavors with delicious results

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a 13 x 9 inch pan, line pan with parchment paper, and grease and flour the parchment paper.  Cut enough parchment so that you have some hanging over the sides for easy removal later.  For the base, whisk flour, baking powder, salt in a medium bowl.  In a small saucepan, heat butter on low until lightly browned, but take off heat before turning black.  It should smell fragrant and nutty.  About 5-8 minutes.  Immediately remove from stovetop and pour butter into bowl of stand mixer.  Add brown sugar.  Beat brown sugar and butter until combined, about 3 minutes.  It will look like wet sand.  Add eggs, one at a time, and vanilla.  Beat until light and fluffy.  With mixer on low, add dry ingredients and beat until smooth and thick.  Pour into prepared pan.  The dough will seem very thin, but remember this is just the base for the fun toppings!  Bake for about 15-18 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean with only a few moist crumbs attached.  Let cool, about one hour.

Pipcorn, Nuts and Pretzel topping:  Stir sugar and 1/2 cup water in a big saucepan over low heat until sugar is fully dissolved.  Boil, without stirring, until color is a deep amber, about 10-15 minutes.  Watch closely an be patient with this step.  Add butter, stir until blended.  Add cream, watch out as mixture with boil vigorously.  Stir until well blended.  Stir in Pipcorn and peanuts.  Pour over cooled blondies.  Use one cup reserved Pipcorn to top on caramel mixture.

Allow blondies to cool completely.  If possible, refrigerate overnight to set further.

When cool, lift blondies out of pan.  Cut into squares.  Can be made one week ahead if kept in an airtight container and refrigerated.  Best served at room temperature.