Butterscotch Caramel Blondies

Butterscotch caramel blondies

Butterscotch Caramel Blondies

I’ve been in San Francisco this week, doing some events – which is actually an excuse for eating my way around town. San Francisco is a city that seems to reinvent itself every few years. But what thing that keeps going in the same direction is the quality of the food and the ingredients that are available.

Butterscotch Caramel Blondies

I’ve spent time with a French artisan butcher, met the master of laminated pastries, and gorged in the palace of the reine (queen) of the Kouign Amann, and all I can say is “Wow!”

Like me, a number of people who were influenced by the food culture that’s flourished in the Bay Area have scattered far and wide, and gone off to do our own things. And like me, Claire Ptak of Violet in London seems to be doing the same. I haven’t been to her bakery but she worked at Chez Panisse after I left for a number of years, before heading to England to open a cake shop. I never got to meet her…although I’m sure everyone else in the Chez P. kitchen had a lot to say about me ; )

Claire is the author of The Violet Bakery Cookbook and right off the bat, let me just say this: I love the design of this book. The font, size, and photos reminds me of one of those issues of Vogue magazine from the 1970’s with a clear, crisp font and slightly saturated pictures that makes me wish I was in London, having a spot of tea, accompanied by a slice of cake or a scone with some clotted cream.

Butterscotch Caramel Blondies

This year has been a banner year for cookbooks when I had dinner with my publisher in New York early in the fall, he brought along a big stack of cookbooks to replenish my collection. I wasn’t sure what he was thinking, since I had to lug everything home. But once I dove into them, I was happy to have so many excellent new cookbooks in my kitchen. So many recipes that I wanted to try, so little time! (And after a week in San Francisco, so little stomach space left.) And this book was amongst that stack.

Butterscotch Caramel Blondies

Even though I thought I was overwhelmed with so many great cookbooks – and I had limited stomach space, I am a trooper and boldly forged ahead. (Another one prompted me to make shrimp and chive potstickers, which were also a big hit.) And it’s hard to blame me because with a name like butterscotch caramel blondies, what’s not to like? Wispy chards of caramel baked onto a base of buttery, butterscotchy batter, which result in soft, chewy bars that don’t overwhelm, but hit the right balance.

Unlike other baked goods, these were actually better the next day, when the crumbles of crisp caramel softened up enough to make them “meld” better to the blondies. They were definitely a snack or dessert bar that was worth making more room for.

Butterscotch Caramel Blondies

The one trick to this recipe is getting the caramel thin. It’s okay if it’s on the thicker side – I’ve learned not to try to show certain things, like flaming marshmallows or working with scalding caramel, while trying to snap the pictures at the same time.

And my live-in help didn’t quite understand the urgency needed to get it thin as I attempted to capture the moment on camera while urgently giving directions in two languages before the caramel could cool down, while I futzed with all those dials on my camera. (In his defense, I kept stopping him so I could get a picture.) But it’s not difficult if you’re on your own: As soon as you pour the caramel, lift the silicon sheet, getting it even to vertical, to encourage the hot caramel to spread thinly. Note that the caramel is very hot so some may want to wear oven mitts.

Butterscotch Caramel Blondies

But not to worry if a few pieces are on the thicker side. The first day they might be a bit toothsome. But after sitting overnight, they’ll soften and meld nicely with the buttery blondies underneath. Pas de problème, as they say in France.

Butterscotch Caramel Blondies

I had a little trouble capturing how good these are in a picture. Part of it was I kept tearing off pieces of them as I sliced. (And the other part is that I’ve only figured out how to use about 3% of those dinky little knobs on my camera.) However don’t let that stop you from making these. I forgot the French word that Romain used to describe them, but they’re pretty terrific, perhaps even incroyable.

Butterscotch Caramel Blondies

Butterscotch Caramel Blondies
Print Recipe
12 bars
Adapted from The Violet Bakery Cookbook by Claire PtakFor more detailed instructions on making caramel, check out my post How to Make the Perfect Caramel. Yes, I’m aware the baking pan sizes are listed a bit differently in inches than in centimeters. But Claire recommended the metric-sized one, which is likely the size available in England, and mine I lugged over from America, and used that. I think if you have a pan that is close to either of those sizes, you’ll be good to go.Any chocolate that you have will do. Claire uses milk chocolate but I found they were good with dark chocolate, which is what I used. The chocolate should be chopped in irregular pieces, roughly the size of shelled almonds, more or less.I did use a silicone baking mat for the caramel and highly recommend using one if you have it. If you don’t have one, a lightly greased baking sheet will do but work fast as the caramel does cool quickly. Note that the recipe is in metrics primarily and I recommend if you have a scale to use it when making this recipe. If not, measurements in cups and measuring spoons are offered.
For the caramel
3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
For the blondie batter
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon (250g) unsalted butter
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups (300g) light brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups (240g) all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder, preferably aluminum-free
1 teaspoon kosher or flaky sea salt
4 1/2 ounces (125g) chopped good-quality milk or dark chocolate, bittersweet or semisweet
1. To make the caramel, melt the granulated sugar in a skillet or wide saucepan until the sugar melts. Stir gently, only enough to encourage it all to melt evenly. Once it’s a deep amber brown, immediately pour the caramel on a silicone baking mat or lightly greased baking sheet. Quickly lift and tilt the silicone sheet or baking sheet so the caramel is as thin as possible. Set aside to cool, then break into shards.
2. Preheat the oven to 325ºF (160ºC). Butter a 9″ by 13″ (approximately 30 by 20cm) and line the bottom with parchment paper.
3. Melt the butter in a small pot over low heat. Remove from heat and set aside.
4. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and vanilla until light and smooth. Whisk in the slightly cooled melted butter.
5. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Using a spatula, gradually add the flour mixture to the eggs and butter, almost until completely combined. Add the chocolate pieces and mix just until combined.
6. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Scatter the shards of caramel over the surface of the batter and bake until the center just feels like it’s just set, but is still quite soft, about 30 minutes. Best to err on the side of underbaking than overbaking as you want them soft in the middle when cool.
Let cool in the pan and cut into squares. Although just fine eaten the same day they are made, I found them even better the second day as the caramel pieces mellowed and melded better to the chewy blondies.

Storage: The blondies will keep for up to four days at room temperature, in an airtight container, or frozen for up to two months.

Related Posts and Recipes

Ingredients for American Baking in Paris

Dave and Kate’s Brownies

Warm Sticky Toffee Pudding

Dulce de Leche Brownies


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48 comments

  • A
    October 30, 2015 5:13pm

    Could you pour the caramel onto either nonstick aluminum foil or parchment?

    • October 30, 2015 5:18pm
      David Lebovitz

      I’ve not used nonstick aluminum foil so can’t advice. The aluminum foil in France is very thin (like newspaper) and tears easily, so I don’t recommend anything that might rip when working with caramel. Same with parchment paper, although there are a lot of new baking papers, foils, and etc that have come out, but I’m not familiar with their qualities.

      • Sarah banks
        October 30, 2015 6:04pm

        Hi A – from experience, using the “thick” and regular aluminum on the shelves in the bay area, as well as the parchment paper found on the shelves here too, you can NOT pour the caramel on to it and get it back off again – not reliably, at least. Visit sur la table or bed bath and beyond, buy a silpat, and thank me later. Store it in the weird little package it comes in (knick it at all, and you can’t use it anymore). It’ll make your caramel work a dream.

    • hannah
      October 30, 2015 8:16pm

      I would not use aluminum..parchment is great but I can’t speak for the stuff you get at the store. I get my parchment in a huge roll from a restaurant supply store. I have used it to work with caramel and it has been a dream. It’s super sturdy and the caramel peels off perfectly.

      • A
        October 31, 2015 11:47am

        Thanks for letting me know that you’ve had success with parchment in this case.

        I use nonstick aluminum foil when making salted caramels, thus I thought it might work with this recipe too.

    • Michele
      November 28, 2015 4:23am

      Am I a huge food snob for rejecting any recipe calling for caramel and not involving popsicle sticks or small children that relies on kraft caramel candies..? I will insert this variation to my blondie offerings this year in place of the extremely successful browned butter version and tally the votes.

  • Sarahb1313
    October 30, 2015 5:53pm

    Oh. My. Goodness.
    So I pledge to decrease my sugar intake with all the Halloween candy floating around this week and you post this?!
    This looks perfect. I love blondies and the caramel is awesome. It’s like the perfect marriage of your salted butter caramel ice cream (which is so freaking decadent I can only make it once a year), and Deb’s smitten caramel brownies!
    Thank-you. Making tomorrow!!

    (And to the other poster- don’t use foil- you’ll be cursing trying to separate it. If need be grease some parchment paper)

    • Asa
      November 1, 2015 4:16pm

      Speaking of Halloween candy, I used chopped up milky way and snickers bars on top instead of caramel, and m&ms instead of chocolate chunks. Soooo…basically nothing at all like this recipe. But I might try to make the caramel some other time.

  • October 30, 2015 6:09pm

    i’ve only been to b pat once, and i need to go back! i couldn’t believe their kouign amanns could be *that* good, but they are.

    i thumbed through a copy of the book, and somehow i missed this recipe! not sure how, because it sounds amazing. as if blondies weren’t rich and butterscotchy enough! (:

  • Claire
    October 30, 2015 6:37pm

    These look supremely fabulous, I’ll have to try my hand at them this weekend!

    Also, David, it was a pleasure meeting you at the Nourse theater, you made my week!

  • October 30, 2015 6:57pm

    This looks fantastic. And I love that they get better the next day- not wanting to have a half full pan of drying out brownies has stopped me from baking before. Now I have no such excuse not to make these.

  • October 30, 2015 6:59pm

    I think your helper did an admirable job, I get the idea at least. No one really talks about how stressful it can be trying to photograph the process. My helper only speaks one language (same as mine) but is 7 years old…soooo….anyway these look delicious and toothsome is my new favorite word.

  • Danielle
    October 30, 2015 7:06pm

    These sound amazing! Thanks for sharing!

    I wonder if your tip to hold the Silpat vertically would work with peanut brittle? I’m always trying to beat the clock when I make it and spreading it as fast as I can. Gravity might help my efforts!

  • Adrienne
    October 30, 2015 7:29pm

    David, every time I read one of your posts, “I think I wonder if he will let me adopt him…”

  • Boudica
    October 30, 2015 8:11pm

    Dear David,
    I thought you ought to know this: I have made your delicious salty chocolate brownies for my boyfriend and his three gorgeous children thrice now and I have, hopefully not only because of the brownies, melted their hearts. I am officially the most popular person within the loosely-knit family set-up. The children simply adore me and the boyfriend loves to have the brownies for breakfast, after having hidden a few big pieces from the children. The ex-wives are not very happy with us being happy and merry, and no doubt also because I am slimmer, taller and younger than they, but I will continue with the brownie heaven regardless. Another batch will be made this weekend. I haven’t been in a relationship for 10 years, not counting dalliances, of which there have been many, naturally. As a rule I don’t bake; a selection of good quality chocolates and wine save the energy for certain other activities after a candle-lit dinner. But now, with the gorgeous children, all of whom are models, and their father, who takes my breath away, I find myself baking happily and voluntarily in the kitchen with eight to ten hands involved. This pleasantly utopian situation has not happened before in my life. Thanks, David. Your chocolate brownies make us happy!

    • Judith Gorman
      October 31, 2015 12:46pm

      Is this comment a joke. If not I can’t help myself from gagging.

      • Donna
        October 31, 2015 11:47pm

        +1…a seismic vanity proclamation!!!

  • Rosann
    October 30, 2015 9:13pm

    Could you please add a Print option for your recipes?

  • October 30, 2015 9:19pm

    Hi David!

    I love your blog (of course) and I have indeed heard so much about you. Thanks for the lovely things you said about my book, your reference to 1970’s Vogue is spot on.

    I’m delighted that you have made a version of the blondies. Thank you. I do hope we get to cross paths one of these days. I’m taking my bakers to Paris in the Spring, so maybe we can all meet for some delicious pastries.

    With very best wishes,

    Claire

  • Chobani
    October 30, 2015 9:35pm

    Dear David,

    I want you to know that your recipe for Baci di Dama has transformed my life. I had been in a bit of a rut, even though outwardly everything seemed fine. I have a fantastic job, my husband and I regularly vacation in Martinique and St. Barths, and our friends tell us we’re the most glamorous couple they know. But something was missing. I recently spent a long period in the mountains in Switzerland, and while I was taking some necessary rest I came across your blog. I was transfixed, and it inspired me to move on. And while I had limited kitchen privileges at the facility, it became my mission to make as many recipes as I could. Preparing the Baci di Dama was a turning point. While gently shaping the dough, the tactility of the finely ground hazelnuts brought back a flood of memories and helped me move on from the incident at the beach. While it may not make my children love me again, or bring back their father, this recipe assures me that I can move on in life as an elegant woman and hostess with a seductive secret weapon: a deliciously toothsome dessert! Thank you, David, for everything you have done for me.

  • milton gersh
    October 30, 2015 11:54pm

    Hi, First let me say I have been a fan for at least 8 yrs. of your posts, They r terrific. My question is have u ever used stevia in place of sugar. If u have , what would be the difference in quantities, Is it possible to use stevia in place of sugar. Thanks, Milt g

  • October 31, 2015 4:23pm

    Ha! I’m pretty sure my live-in help would not have done nearly as good a job with the caramel.

    I questioned my sanity for a few moments last week while I carefully photographed flaming wood chips for a smoked negroni, one hand on the tripod mounted camera, the other grasping tongs holding contents that could set my house on fire. Maybe I just like my photography with a side of danger.

  • Deborah
    October 31, 2015 4:37pm

    A friend brought back a copy for me from England. What a fabulous book to read and cook from. This was the third recipe I made and they are indeed incroyable!

  • Anne
    October 31, 2015 7:03pm

    I like the idea of “wispy chards of caramel.” Can we figure out a way to get some kale into these as well?

  • Christine
    October 31, 2015 11:27pm

    Hi David,

    I, too, would LOVE it if you added a ‘print’ option to your recipes. They are amazing. I’ve made the almond cake to rave reviews twice now- even my stepson, who hates sweets, made me promise to mail him some now the he’s moved to Michigan.

    I have decided to ask for a ‘Silpat’ for Christmas.

    • Henrietta
      November 1, 2015 2:43pm

      The Amazon silicone mat works just as well as silpat for a fraction of the price.

      • Christine
        November 1, 2015 3:30pm

        Thank you for the cheaper Silpat suggestion! Love that Amazon, whoever she is.

  • October 31, 2015 11:55pm
    David Lebovitz

    Rosann and Christine: I wish there was a way to do it but there wasn’t that option available when I started the site and with nearly 1800 posts here, I’d have to go back and reformat them all, which would take me weeks (or months!)

    milton: I’ve never baked with Stevia so can’t advise.

    Chobani: Glad that you like that recipe!

    Claire: Was trying to come up with the right analogy for the design and “feel” of your book, which is really beautiful. It’s really lovely!

  • Henrietta
    November 1, 2015 2:41pm

    I’m wondering if cane sugar will work for the caramel sauce?

  • charlie
    November 1, 2015 10:43pm

    Pulled these out of the oven today. Fun to make and really delicious.
    David, it was fun to see you on the PBS show “I’ll Have What Phil’s Having” when Phil was in Paris.

  • JC
    November 3, 2015 12:32am

    Made this y’day.. Oh so good! Very rich but boy.. well worth the calories :)

  • November 3, 2015 2:58am

    Can you swing by Oakland and see what’s up here? Maybe another write up on Camino, Bakesale Betty, Pizzaiolo, other Chez Panisse folks?

  • November 3, 2015 3:02am

    David: Another couple ‘print’ option requests on this post, as always. Consider giving the one-word reply: Evernote. Free, with a very low cost ‘premium’ option with useful extras. Automatic links to NYTimes Cooking’s vast database. Web clipper features that instantly give you exact copies of, and links to, recipes. So useful to save a recipe on the computer or smartphone and prop up the resulting Evernote note on the tablet in the kitchen. I stopped printing recipes 4 years ago and haven’t looked back! No, I don’t work for Evernote. | When you signed my book in Santa Monica, I complimented you on your amazing energy, the only thing I could think to say in 30sec. What I should have said is that your writing is personal and funny in a field, food blogging, in which much writing is generic. If I read one more inspirational anecdote about beloved grandma on an ethnic food blog, gag me with a spoon. Just heartless, I guess. Love your writing and read each new post as soon as it pops up on my FB Feed. Buy your books, too…:D

  • November 3, 2015 3:18am
    David Lebovitz

    Rafael: I don’t have a car when I’m in California so it’s hard to get to some of those places in Oakland. And since I have limited time when I travel, it’s not always possible to go everywhere I’d like to go – unfortunately!

    Ed: In my FAQs I tell people that Evernote offers that option. Thanks for reminding others of it here as well. (Come to think of it, I should use it too!)
    : )

    charlie: Glad you liked them ~ and the television show.

    • November 3, 2015 3:55am

      David: I knew the ‘Evernote’ reference was in your FAQs, but I would just move readers on from the dated ‘print’ option? But then you are really patient with endless requests for recipe measurements in whatever system the commenter uses, when there are endless conversion tables online. Or my other bugaboo, ‘give me a gluten-free version’. Again, it’s easy research online and you are really busy. You probably don’t want to learn one more piece of software, but you might discover that Evernote saves you vast amounts of time organizing research, assembling travel itineraries, compiling receipts, all the non-photo stuff that doesn’t back up to your Flickr or can get lost on an overflowing hard drive. Try it! PS. I now know how you get so much done. You are awake and working at 3am Paris time! Do you sleep at all?…:D

    • November 4, 2015 6:00pm

      Hit me up. Happy to drive you around Oakland :-) Do like a Bourdain? I don’t know.

  • Jo
    November 4, 2015 1:33pm

    These are in the oven now and I just know they’re going to be wonderful. I must have made my caramel a bit too thin as I couldn’t sensibly fit it all on top of the mixture. Oh well, I’ll just have to eat it!
    Thanks David for yet another fantastic post.

  • November 5, 2015 9:50pm

    Oh the scalded caramel shards make these next-level. I am drooling. These and some white port. That’s an lovely afternoon right there.

  • Carol
    November 12, 2015 2:55pm

    Just wanted to know that I made this recipe and it was excellent. Thanks.

  • Bleecker
    November 17, 2015 9:44am

    This recipe worked like a charm and the blondies were scrumptious! I’ve been looking for a blondie recipe with a soft chewy interior to no avail. My search is now over. Thank you David.

  • Amala
    November 19, 2015 11:27pm

    I just, just made these. Burned my mouth eating them out of the oven as I could not wait the recommended day for the ‘toffee to mellow’!
    But it was extra worth it because I browned the butter instead of just melting it… That was a flavor worth a smidge of bodily injury.
    Great recipe!

  • Paul
    November 20, 2015 6:00pm

    Thank you for the recipe. Made these yesterday using 70% G&B and they are pretty spectacular, even if I slightly under-baked them. Making them again tomorrow though so hopefully even better. (Visitors for coffee! I’m not (quite) that greedy). I think they will be a regular.

  • Mel
    November 21, 2015 7:12am

    WOW these were indeed incroyable! I used 70% chocolate and added extra milk chocolate too because 125g just didn’t seem like enough :)

  • Eddie
    November 25, 2015 6:10am

    David, I wonder if there’s a typo in the amount of light brown sugar: 300g (1 3/4 cups, packed). 300 g is closer to 1 1/3 cup? Or perhaps you meant 380 g? Many thanks.

    • November 25, 2015 1:05pm
      David Lebovitz

      That is the measurement and conversion that Claire gave in the book, in her recipe. I usually do my own conversions but since the book was written in both measurements, I used hers. I normally find 1 cup of brown sugar equals 180g which is about 315g for 1 3/4 cups, which is pretty close to hers. (Brown sugar can vary by weight because it’s so humid.) If you do try the recipe with another amount, let me know how it works out.

      • Eddie
        November 25, 2015 4:54pm

        Thanks David. Good to know. Now I can’t wait to make these blondies!

  • Toby
    November 28, 2015 1:15am

    David, I made this and it’s very, very good. I have a question abt the caramel. I waited until it turned amber and it very quickly started to bubble and expand in the pot. I quickly poured it on the silpat. However, it has a “burnt” taste. Should that be?

    • November 28, 2015 1:01pm
      David Lebovitz

      Sounds like you cooked it too much. Check out my post How to Make the Perfect Caramel, which is links in the post, for in-depth instructions and tips on how to get it just right.

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