Pretzel-Crusted Chocolate-Peanut Butter-Caramel Blondies

Wow, that’s a mouthful. No pun intended. The great thing about blondies is that they can be pretty simple. Or not, like these bars. Want to know what inspired these? I was sort of looking for a way to emulate the taste of Chubby Hubby, one of my favorite Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavors, in blondie form, and this is what I came up with.

These bars are pretty outrageous. You’ve got a sweet and salty pretzel crust on the bottom, a rich caramel-peanut butter blondie center packed with chocolate chips in the middle, and a generous layer of chopped peanut butter cups to top it all off. In other words, these bars are really rich. But really, really good.


Pretzel-Crusted Chocolate-Peanut Butter Caramel Blondies


For the crust:

2 cups crushed pretzels
1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter
1/2 cup dark brown sugar

For the blondie layer:

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temp
1 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup AP flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup caramel sauce (store-bought is fine, or make your own by melting about 12 Kraft caramel candies with a tablespoo of heavy cream)
1 cup chopped peanut butter cups, for topping


  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×9 baking pan and set aside.
  2. Make the crust by combining the pretzels, melted butter, and brown sugar in a small bowl and mixing well. Press the crust into the bottom of your prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter, brown sugar, peanut butter, and egg. Stir in the vanilla.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the flour and salt.
  5. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet until well-combined. Then, stir in the caramel sauce and chocolate chips.
  6. Pour the batter on top of the crust. Sprinkle the chopped peanut butter cups on top of the blondie layer.
  7. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let the blondies cool in the pan (at least one hour) before slicing and serving.

Brownies With Pumpkin Caramel Sauce and White Chocolate Chips

Looking for a pumpkin-infused twist on a simple, classic brownie? Try this recipe. It’s quick, easy, and very, very tasty. Plus, you can use any leftover pumpkin-caramel sauce as a topping for your next ice cream sundae. (Or, you know, just eat the remains with a spoon…)


Brownies With Pumpkin Caramel Sauce and White Chocolate Chips


1 stick of butter, melted
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup AP flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/3 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup caramel candies (I used Kraft)
1 tbsp milk


  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8×8 baking pan and set aside.
  2. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the caramel candies with the tablespoon of milk at 30-second intervals, stopping to stir in between. Once melted, stir in the pumpkin, and then set aside to cool to room temperature.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the butter, sugars, egg, and vanilla. Set aside.
  4. In a small bowl, combine the flour, salt, and cocoa powder.
  5. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet until well-combined.
  6. Stir in chocolate chips.
  7. Pour the brownie batter into your prepared pan and then use a spatula to evenly spread the pumpkin caramel sauce on top.
  8. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let the brownies cool in the pan for two hours before slicing and serving.

Caramel Apple Toffee Bars

I just love caramel apples. I don’t have them often, but they’re definitely one of my all-time favorites fall treats. The problem with caramel apples, however, is that every time I eat one, I spend way too much worrying that I’m about to lose a tooth or three just by biting in. That’s why I think these caramel apple toffee bars are such a wonderful idea. They basically offer the same delicious taste of caramel apples without the potential dental repercussions. And while they do lack the crunch and texture that only an actual apple could offer, the toffee bits help make up for that slightly, especially when sprinkled generously on top.

Best of all, these bars are really easy to make, and they taste even better when warmed up and served with a bit of vanilla ice cream. If you’re a fan of caramel apples, be sure to add these to your to-do list.


Caramel Apple Toffee Bars


2 cups AP flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled to room temp
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla
2 cups diced and peeled apples
1 cup toffee bits, divided into 3/4 cup and 1/4 cup
1 cup caramel sauce (store-bought is fine, or you can make your own by combining about 15 Kraft caramels with two tablespoons of milk and melting in the microwave)


1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×13 baking pan and set aside.
2. In medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and spices.
3. In a large bowl, combine the sugars and butter. Whisk thoroughly until well-combined.
4. Add eggs, one at a time, beating or whisking well to combine. Add vanilla extract and mix thoroughly.
5. Fold in the flour mixture a little bit at a time until just combined. Stir in apples, caramel sauce, and 3/4 cup toffee bits.
6. Pour the batter into your prepared pan. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup of toffee bits on top.
7. Bake for 30 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. The bars will/should be soft.
8. Remove the bars from the oven and let them cool completely (at least two hours) before slicing and serving.

Crazy Bark

Sometimes I like to get a little nutty in the kitchen, especially when said nuttiness can be achieved without investing a significant amount of time. I invented this concoction awhile back and decided to whip up a batch recently. I call it Crazy Bark, ‘cause, well, it’s a little insane.

How do I describe what this is? In a nutshell, it’s like a s’more and a peanut chew collided to make one supremely indulgent concoction. I mean, take a look at the ingredients. You’ve got chocolate and peanut butter. You’ve got caramel. You’ve got graham crackers and marshmallows. What more could you ask for?


Crazy Bark


For the bottom layer:
1 cup semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup dark chocolate
1/3 cup lightly salted peanuts
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup chopped marshmallows (not mini marshmallows—you want smaller pieces here)
1 graham cracker, chopped

For the top layer:
1/2 cup caramel chips (if you can’t find these, feel free to use butterscotch or peanut butter chips instead; or, just double the amount of caramel and milk indicated below)
6-8 Kraft caramels, unwrapped
1 tbsp whole milk (you can use another type of milk if you don’t typically have whole milk on hand)
1/3 cup chopped marshmallows
1/3 cup chopped graham crackers


1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
2. Melt the semisweet chocolate, dark chocolate, and peanut butter in the microwave on 50% power at 30-second intervals, stirring in between. Once melted, stir in the peanuts, marshmallows, and graham cracker. Pour the mixture into your prepared baking sheet and refrigerate until set (1-2 hours).
3. Once the bottom layer has set, combine the caramel chips, caramels, and milk in a bowl and melt the mixture in the microwave. Once melted, stir in the marshmallows and graham crackers. Pour the mixture over the bottom layer and return to the fridge to set (another 1-2 hours).
4. Once the bark has set, use a sharp knife (or your hands) to break into pieces. Try not to eat entire batch all at once.

Caramel Tres Leches Rice Krispies Treats, or What to Do With Leftover Tres Leches Mix

Remember that delicious tres leches cake I made recently? Well, the one annoying thing about the recipe is that it calls for about a cup of that yummy milk mixture to be discarded. Since I don’t like letting any type of food go to waste, I decided to get creative in finding a way to repurpose some of what I had leftover. And hence these caramel tres leches Rice Krispies treats were born.

This recipe is incredibly easy to whip up. It only takes a few minutes, and there’s no actual baking involved. The only thing is that the cleanup can be a little messy…and the bars themselves, though wonderfully tasty, did end up coming out a little sticky. But if you do what I did and cover them individually with plastic wrap, you’ll have a nice little snack supply on hand.

Incidentally, I still have some more of that milk mixture left over, so if anyone has any ideas on what to do with it before it goes bad in my fridge, I’m all ears.


Caramel Tres Leches Rice Krispies Treat

1 and ½ cups Rice Krispies cereal
1 cup miniature marshmallows
About 20 Kraft caramel candies, unwrapped
3 tablespoons tres leches mix (heavy cream, evaporated milk, and condensed milk combined)

1. Line an 8×8 baking pan with parchment paper.
2. Combine the caramel candies and tres leches mix and heat in the microwave or on the stovetop until the caramels have melted and the mixture starts to bubble slightly.
3. Stir in marshmallows and cereal, making sure to coat the cereal well.
4. Pour the mixture into your prepared pan and refrigerate until set, about one hour. Cut into squares and enjoy.

Caramel Cookie Dough Shortbread Bars

The other day, my 16-month-old locked me in my pantry. No, I’m not kidding.

I was standing in the doorway of my walk-in pantry, whose knob was set as locked to prevent my sneaky child from busting into my closed pantry behind my back and helping himself to whatever goodies he can reach. As I was combing the shelves looking for some caramel candies, the baby decided to sneak up behind me and start pushing the door into me. Now in all fairness, I didn’t try very hard to resist, thinking there was no way my little 16-month-old could possibly exert enough force to shove my body all the way into the pantry via the door. But lo and behold, I was wrong, ‘cause about eight seconds later, the child managed to push me all the way into the pantry, thus locking me in.

My husband, who was on hand for most of this scene, found it extraordinarily funny. Me, not so much. Actually, that’s not true. I laughed about it after the fact, but was also quite thankful that my husband was on hand to immediately bust me out.

Of course, this incident has caused me to rethink my strategy of keeping the child out of the pantry, and so going forward, I will not lock the door, but rather will use one of those annoying but necessary baby-proof knobs that makes opening things unbelievably difficult (for me) but will most likely do the job of keeping my junk food stash safe and out of my child’s mouth.

Anyway, once I recovered from my very brief moment of pantry incarceration, I got to work making these amazing shortbread cookie bars. I’ve done something similar in the past along the lines of classic Millionaires’ Shortbread, which is basically a shortbread base, caramel center, and chocolate glaze. But when I saw this recipe on Brown Eyed Baker, one of my absolute favorite baking blogs, I decided I had to go for it.

These bars are nothing short of amazing. I was actually worried that the cookie dough layer would make them a bit too sweet, but they turned out perfectly. The original recipe is enough for an 8×8 pan, but I wanted extra to bring in to work, so I made one and a half times the recipe to fill a 9×13. In hindsight, I could’ve stuck with the 8×8. These bars are wonderful, but they’re also incredibly rich, and believe it or not, you really only need a small piece to come away satisfied.

Although you do have the option of storing these beauties at room temperature, I decided to keep mine in the fridge and found that I enjoyed them cold—so much so, that my once-ample supply is now rapidly dwindling.


Caramel Cookie Dough Shortbread Bars
Original recipe from Brown Eyed Baker


For the shortbread base:
1/3 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used a little more to bring out the vanilla flavor)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup AP flour

For the caramel layer:
7 ounces soft caramel candies (about 25 candies), unwrapped (I used Kraft caramels)
2 tablespoons heavy cream

For the cookie dough layer:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup AP flour
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

For the chocolate glaze:
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon unsalted butter


To make the shortbread:
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8×8 inch baking pan with parchment paper, leaving some overhang on two sides.
2. Beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
3. Add the vanilla and salt, and beat until combined.
4. Add the flour and mix until just incorporated; the dough may appear slightly crumbly.
5. Firmly press the dough into your prepared pan. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes (22 to 25 minutes if you’re making enough for a 9×13 pan), or until the edges are lightly golden.
6. Remove pan from the oven and set on a wire rack to cool slightly.

To make the caramel layer:
1. Place the caramel candies in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the heavy cream and stir until completely melted. (Disclaimer: I totally cheated and melted these together in the microwave. It turned out just fine, but I made sure to watch it carefully.)
2. Pour the caramel mixture over the shortbread crust and spread into an even layer.
3. Refrigerate until set, about one hour.

To make the cookie dough:
1. Combine the butter and sugars in a large mixing bowl and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes.
2. Add the heavy cream and vanilla and mix well.
3. Add the flour and salt, and mix on low until incorporated.
4. Stir in the chocolate chips.
5. Spread the cookie dough on top of the set caramel layer, using a spatula to smooth the dough into an even layer.
6. Refrigerate the pan while you prepare your glaze.

To make the chocolate glaze:
1. Combine the chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat the mixture on 50% power in 30-second increments, stirring well after each, until it’s completely melted and smooth.
2. Spread the glaze over the cookie dough layer and chill in the fridge until set, about one hour.

To remove the bars from the pan, grasp the edges of the parchment paper and lift out the entire block. Place on a cutting board and use a sharp knife to cut into squares.

The original recipe says that these can be stored at room temp in an airtight container for up to three days. As I said, I opted to keep mine in the fridge. Don’t struggle with the decision too much; they’re delicious either way.

Vanilla Cardamom Shortbread Bars with White Chocolate Caramel Glaze

Just when it seemed like the weather was finally starting to get a bit warmer around here, bam—another cold front hit. Okay, it wasn’t exactly a cold front, but after several days of temps in the 60s and 70s (you know, actual spring weather), it went back down to the low 50s with a vengeance. Now I realize that 52 degrees isn’t actually freezing. But throw in cloudy, gray skies, a bout of rain, and, oh yeah, the fact that it’s late April, and all it took was a couple of cooler days to make me want to curl up in a blanket the moment I put the child to bed.

Of course, no couch potato moment would be truly complete without something freshly baked to accompany it, and so I decided to whip up some shortbread cookie bars. The base is very similar to that of the Samoa bars I made last week, only it incorporates a bunch of fall spices that jack up the flavor and work well with the caramel and white chocolate topping.

Now I have to say, I really love the way these babies turned out. But more so than that, they smelled absolutely amazing while they were baking up. Had I been able to somehow capture the smell and mass-produce a line of household products and candles to feature it, I would’ve found myself sitting on a goldmine. But alas, all I could do was enjoy the sweet aroma of vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom wafting through the air as the rain kept rapping against my windows and the wind howled in protest of spring.


Vanilla Cardamom Shortbread Bars with White Chocolate Caramel Glaze


For the shortbread cookie base:
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 large egg
1 and 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 cups Ap flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

For the topping:
1/2 cup Kraft caramel bits (or a half cup’s worth Kraft caramel candies, unwrapped)
1 tbsp whole milk
1/2 cup white chocolate, melted


To make the shortbread cookie base:
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan, or line with parchment paper.
2. Cream together sugar and butter until fluffy.
3. Beat in egg and vanilla extract.
4. Gradually beat in flour, salt, and spices at low speed until mixture is crumbly.
5. Pour crumbly dough into prepared pan and press into an even layer.
6. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until base is set and edges are lightly browned.
7. Cool completely on a wire rack before adding the topping.

To make the topping:
1. Combine caramel bits, milk, and white chocolate in a medium bowl.
2. Heat in the microwave for 30-second increments at 50% power, stirring the mixture in between. You’ll find that the caramel will melt before the white chocolate, so it’s important to keep stirring. When the white chocolate is mostly melted, vigorously whisk the mixture together to eliminate the lumps.
3. Drizzle the mixture over the shortbread base.
4. Allow to set in the fridge for an hour before cutting into bars.


Samoa Bars

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted a recipe. That’s what happens when life gets in the way of baking. But this is a good one, promise.

Ever since my Girls Scouts cookies were delivered back in March, I’ve been indulging on a pretty much regular basis. But this year, I decided to be conservative and only order one box of Samoas—my favorite. So when it came to my attention that I was starting to run out of my beloved Samoas, I decided to take matters into my own hands by whipping up some homemade Samoa cookie bars.

I’ve seen a few different recipes for these bars, some of which involve dipping the bottoms in chocolate. Since I didn’t have a ton of time, I opted to skip that step and instead just drizzle chocolate on top of the bars—a little less Samoa-like, but delicious nonetheless.

Although this recipe is incredibly simple, there are several steps involved, and you need to wait for each layer to cool/set before moving on to the next. But as long as you leave yourself enough time, you should have no problem throwing these together over the course of an afternoon.


Samoa Bars
Recipe from Baking Bites


For the shortbread cookie base:
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 cups Ap flour
1/4 tsp salt

For the topping:
3 cups shredded sweetened coconut
12 oz chewy caramels (I used Kraft)
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp milk (I used whole)
10 oz semisweet chocolate


To make the shortbread cookie base:
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan, or line with parchment paper.
2. Cream together sugar and butter until fluffy.
3. Beat in egg and vanilla extract.
4. Gradually beat in flour and salt at low speed until mixture is crumbly.
5. Pour crumbly dough into prepared pan and press into an even layer.
6. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until base is set and edges are lightly browned.
7. Cool completely on a wire rack before adding the topping.

To make the topping:
1. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.
2. Spread the coconut evenly on a parchment-lined baking sheet and toast for about 20 minutes, stirring every few minutes, until coconut is golden. Let cool and set aside.
3. Unwrap your caramels and place them in a microwave-safe bowl along with the milk and salt. Cook on high for about 3-4 minutes, stopping to stir a few times to help the caramel melt evenly. Once smooth, fold in toasted coconut with a spatula.
4. Pour dollops of the coconut-caramel topping over the cooled shortbread base. Using your spatula, spread the topping into an even layer.
5. Let topping set at room temperature until cooled, about 1 hour.
6. Melt your chocolate – I used the microwave method. Place chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and cook on 50% power in 30-45 second intervals, stirring in between.
7. Once melted, drizzle chocolate over the tops of the bars (it won’t cover them completely).
8. Let the chocolate topping set before cutting the bars, either 2 hours at room temperature or 1 hour in the fridge. Once cooled, use a sharp knife to cut into individual bars.

Shortbread Caramel Brownie Bars

Sometimes a plain old brownie just doesn’t cut it. Or at least that was my way of thinking when I decided to go for something a little more jazzed-up on the brownie front.

These brownies are awesome and delicious. You get a buttery shortbread crust, a gooey caramel layer, and a soft, chewy brownie on top. What more could you want? The only downside is that they do take a bit of time to prepare, as there are multiple steps involved. (I made these over the weekend…no way do I have time for multi-step baking during the week.) But if you have the time, and the patience (which is just as important), do yourself a favor and bake up a batch of these beauties. Have I mentioned how utterly delicious they are?


Shortbread Caramel Brownie Bars

1 and 1/2 cups (3/4 lb.) butter
2 and 1/2 cups AP flour
1 and 1/4 cups sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
12 ounces individually wrapped soft caramels, such as Kraft
1/4 cup whole milk
10 ounces of bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

To make the crust:
1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.
2. Cut up 1 cup of butter into chunks.
3. In the bowl of a food processor, combine 2 cups of flour, 1/2 cup of sugar, cornstarch, and the butter chunks.
4. Process until the dough comes together and press it evenly over the bottom of a buttered 9×13 baking pan.
5. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the crust starts to brown.
6. Remove from oven and let cool completely before adding the next layer.
To make the caramel layer:
1. Unwrap your caramels and place them in a microwave-safe bowl with the milk.
2. Cook in a microwave oven on full power for one minute. Stir the mixture, then cook and stir at 30-second intervals until melted and smooth, about 3 minutes longer.
3. Spread caramel mixture evenly over cooled crust and chill until firm, about 20 minutes.
To make the brownies:
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
2. Pour chocolate and remaining 1/2 cup butter into a large bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water (bottom of bowl should not touch water). You can also use a double boiler. Stir the mixture until melted and smooth.
3. With a whisk or a mixer on medium speed, beat in remaining 3/4 cup sugar, eggs, and vanilla until well-blended.
4. Stir in remaining 1/2 cup flour, baking powder, and salt until well-blended.
5. Pour chocolate mixture over caramel layer and use a knife or spatula to spread level, completely covering caramel.
6. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
7. Cool completely before cutting into bars.

Marshmallow Caramel Swirl Brownies

Sometimes I get into these “I’ve got to have a brownie” moods—which is funny, ‘cause I’m not always the biggest chocolate person (I know, blasphemy). In fact, most days I’d opt for a blondie before going for its cocoa-laden counterpart, but yesterday I was all about the dense, gooey chocolate brownie. I took a recipe I recently made, added a couple of tweaks, and about half an hour later found myself sitting on the couch with a warm, delicious concoction that took no more than 10 minutes to actually throw together.

Now I’ll admit that I enjoyed the downtime almost as much as the brownie. Almost.



Marshmallow Caramel Swirl Brownies

1 stick melted butter
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
½ cup AP flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon instant coffee
1 cup caramel chips (these can be tricky to find, but butterscotch chips work just as well)
½ cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup marshmallow fluff, divided

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease an 8×8 pan.
2. Combine the melted butter and cocoa.
3. Add in your sugar and mix well.
4. Whisk in the eggs one at a time.
5. Stir in the flour, salt, vanilla, and instant coffee, then whisk to combine.
6. Stir in the caramel and chocolate chips.
7. Stir in ½ cup of the marshmallow fluff
8. Pour brownie mixture into the prepared pan.
9. Top mixture with remaining marshmallow fluff, using the edge of a greased spoon to swirl it around.
10. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out mostly clean (I wanted these brownies a little on the gooey side).
11. Let brownies cool a bit more in pan before cutting. Or, if you simply can’t wait (and I wouldn’t judge you if that were the case), go ahead and dig right in. They’ll be a little tricky to cut, but in my humble opinion, they’re even more delicious when they’re warm and soft.