Deb Perelman’s Salted Caramel Pretzel Blondies

updated Dec 3, 2020
Salted Caramel Pretzel Blondies

This decadent twist on chocolate chip-studded blondies adds crunchy pretzels and homemade salted caramel to the mix.

Makes16 to 25 squares

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Credit: Photo: Ghazalle Badiozamani; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

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Because 2020 is not any old year, I don’t think we should have to settle for any old blondies. Remember The Parent Trap? “If their date is half as good as these cookies, we’ll be sisters in no time!” This is the energy I channeled as I folded a mosaic of salted butter caramels  (we will make them ourselves and it makes all the difference), crushed pretzels, and oversized chocolate chips into my usual blondies. The resulting squares — studded with salty crunch, pocketed with melty caramel and chocolate — are decadent like no other, and thus the exact kind of finale this very long year deserves.

Credit: Photo: Ghazalle Badiozamani; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

Tester’s Note

So, if you’re like me, you will probably mutter while reading through this recipe: “What! Deb wants me to make caramel for these things?” Yes, she does; these blondies really reach high. But don’t be deterred by this one small piece of extra work. It’s really worth it, and the rest of the recipe is so simple as to make up for it. Do watch the caramel carefully, though, as it can go from pleasantly burnt to unpleasantly so very quickly. Also, work quickly once the chocolate chips are added so they don’t melt and turn these into a pan of half brownies, half blondies. — Faith Durand, Editor-in-Chief

Salted Caramel Pretzel Blondies

This decadent twist on chocolate chip-studded blondies adds crunchy pretzels and homemade salted caramel to the mix.

Makes16 to 25 squares

Nutritional Info


For the caramel:

  • Cooking spray

  • 1/3 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 2 tablespoons

    unsalted butter

  • Flaky sea salt

  • 2 tablespoons

    heavy cream

For the blondies:

  • 8 tablespoons

    (1 stick) unsalted butter

  • 3/4 cup

    packed light or dark brown sugar

  • 1

    large egg

  • 1 teaspoon

    vanilla extract

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    flaky sea salt, or 1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt

  • 1 cup

    all-purpose flour

  • 2/3 cup

    dark chocolate chips or chunks

  • 1/2 cup

    thin, salted pretzels


Make the caramel:

  1. Cover a medium-sized plate or small heatproof tray with parchment paper. Lightly butter or coat the parchment with a spray oil, just as an added security measure.

  2. In a medium, dry saucepan over medium heat, melt 1/3 cup granulated sugar; this took me exactly 4 minutes every single time. By the time it is mostly melted, it should be a nice deep copper color (about 300°F to 325°F, but you do not need a thermometer to get the color right at this stage) and might smoke a little too, don’t worry. Tip and swirl the pan around to help even it out and melt any remaining sugar granules.

  3. Remove the pan from the heat. Add 2 tablespoons unsalted butter and whisk until melted. Add a couple pinches of flaky salt and 2 tablespoons heavy cream, and whisk until combined.

  4. Return the pan to medium-high heat and cook without stirring for 3 minutes more. At this point, it should be between 245°F and 250°F (the “firm ball” stage). If you don’t have a thermometer, the temperature is correct when a drop that lands in cold water will hold its shape but still be sticky when pressed with your fingers.

  5. Pour the caramel onto the prepared parchment and place in the freezer until needed. It will take 10 to 15 minutes to firm enough that it can be cut into squares.

Make the blondies:

  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F.

  2. Coat an 8x8-inch square baking pan with butter. (Alternatively, line the bottom and two sides of the pan with parchment paper, then butter the exposed parts.) Melt 1 stick unsalted butter about 2/3 of the way in a large bowl, either over a double-boiler or in the microwave. Stir to melt the remaining 1/3 — this ensures the butter doesn’t get too hot to work with.

  3. Add 3/4 cup packed brown sugar and whisk to combine. Add 1 large egg, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt or 1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt, and whisk to combine. Add 1 cup all-purpose flour and stir just until it disappears.

  4. Scatter 2/3 cup chocolate chips and crumble 1/2 cup pretzels over the batter. Remove the caramel from the freezer and cut quickly into 1-inch squares. Scatter all but 4 to 5 over the batter. Gently fold the chunky ingredients into batter. Transfer to the baking pan and smooth out the top. Place the reserved caramel squares on top.

  5. Bake until deeply golden at edges and mostly dry on top, 25 to 30 minutes. (For a swirlier effect, drag a toothpick through a couple of the caramels on top about 15 minutes in.) Place the pan on a wire rack and let cool 10 minutes. Lift the block of blondies out onto the rack and let cool completely. Cut into small squares and simply marvel at how popular you are.

Recipe Notes

Storage: These keep at room temperature for 3 days, and a week or more in the fridge.

If you’d like to ship them out: Freeze them and then pack them into your most snug, airtight container with layers of parchment paper between them. Wrap the top in plastic before putting the lid on. I sometimes go one step further and wrap the whole container in foil. Pack with peanuts or another filler in a larger box and choose the fastest shipping you can.

Recipe orginally published on Deb Perelman's blog, Smitten Kitchen.

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