Recipes

salted caramel pretzel blondies

My son went to sleep-away camp two weeks for the first time this summer and it was terrible. Oh, I don’t mean for him. I got the full, joyful report when we collected him the first second they let us fly through the gate on Saturday, but even the bits and pieces we’d heard sooner sounded ebullient. He was having the time of his life! But I found it agonizing. Whose idea was this? (Mine.) What was I thinking? (That he’d enjoy it.) Wasn’t he just born? (He’ll be 10 next month.) How was he leaving us already? (You literally talked him into it.) Stop using reason with me! (I am having a full blown conversation with myself.) They were two very long weeks. I was shocked by the slack created when one person slips out of the rubberband that snugs you sometimes crushingly together, and the sheer amount of angst I could pour into this void. Friends with kids in camp went on vacations, went out every night, took up tennis, cleared out their backlog of stuff that never gets done. I did some of that stuff but a tremendous lot of mentally counting the days since he had probably last brushed his teeth, wondering if he’d even unwrapped the packing seal on the sunscreen cans, joking way too many times that we’d sent the wrong kid away (acting out means you miss your brother in 4 year-old-ese, right?) and reloading the parent portal with the occasional camper photos so many times my computer thinks it’s my homepage. (Pauses to check it again. Why stop now?)


add butter and creamwhisk until smoothcook a few minutes morechill thissome stuff you'll needone-bowl blondiesquick blondie batteradd the pretzels an chocolatechop the firm carameladd the caramel pieces

I had a chance to slip him a care package during a friend’s visiting day. Silly putty, a yoyo, some new markers, ping pong paddles, a joke book, a whoopie cushion, just the essentials, and I decided to bake something, too. And by something I mean, Hi, have we met? The person who prepared for motherhood by mastering the art of birthday cake? The person who prepared for labor and delivery by hoping to bribe the nurses into give me the best drugs sooner? No, I was not going to make any old brownies or blondies. Remember The Parent Trap? “If their date is half as good as these cookies, we’ll be sisters in no time!” This was the energy I was channeling as I folded a mosaic of salted butter caramels, crushed pretzels, and oversized chocolate chips into my usual blondies.

ready to bake
caramel pretzel blondies (care package blondies)

I took a page from my salted caramel brownies. I know making your own caramel candies just to chop them into bits to put in another baked good seems like an excess of work but this is so quick, it takes exactly 8 minutes, and then they firm up (15 minutes, tops) while you prep everything else. The result is otherworldly but look, I’m not going to convince you that you need salted caramel crushed pretzel chocolate chunk blondies in your life. You either already knew nothing would be okay until you had them the moment you read the title or no amount of me telling you that they’re unbelievable (pockets of dark caramel, embedded crunchy salted pretzels, that kind of thing), will change your mind. I am at peace with both options, but mostly because I chose the more delicious one.

caramel pretzel blondies (care package blondies)caramel pretzel blondies (care package blondies)

Previously

Six months ago: Cauilflower and Tomato Masala with Peas
One year ago: Layered Mocha Cheesecake
Two years ago: Fried Rice with Zucchini, Tomatoes, and Parmesan
Three years ago: Chocolate Peanut Butter Icebox Cake and Burrata with Lentils and Basil Vinaigrette
Four years ago: Frozen Hot Chocolate
Five years ago: Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake and Smoky Eggplant Dip
Six years ago: Kale Salad with Pecorino and Walnuts and Rice-Stuffed Tomatoes
Seven years ago: My Favorite Brownies
Eight years ago: Tomato Salad with Crushed Croutons
Nine years ago: Raspberry Limeade Slushies and Sweet Corn Pancakes
Ten years ago: Summer Pea and Roasted Red Pepper Pasta Salad, Lobster Rolls, and Espresso Chiffon Cake with Fudge Frosting
Eleven years ago: Key Lime Meltaways, Grilled Eggplant with Caponata Salsa, and Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake
Twelve years ago: Summer Bean Salad, Brownie Mosaic Cheesecake, and Plum Tartlets
Thirteen years ago: Chocolate Caramel Cheesecake

Salted Caramel Pretzel Blondies

  • Servings: 16 to 25 small, decadent squares
  • Source: Smitten Kitchen
  • Print

One of the most frequently asked questions about my go-to blondies is “where’s the baking powder?” I don’t think brownies or blondies should have baking powder in them; I don’t like the slight cakeiness. But remember? This is your kitchen, you should make things in the way that brings you the most joy. I’ve also tested them with an added 1/2 teaspoon baking powder (add before the flour and mix well) and it works well, if that’s your preference.

    Caramel
  • 1/3 cup (65 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (30 grams) unsalted butter
  • Flaky sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) heavy cream
  • Blondies
  • 8 tablespoons (4 ounces or 115 grams) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup (145 grams) light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt, or 1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 1 cup (130 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup (115 grams) dark chocolate chips or chunks
  • 1/2 cup thin salted pretzels, lightly crumbled

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

In a medium, dry saucepan over medium heat, melt your sugar; this took me exactly 4 minutes ever single time. By the time it is mostly melted, if 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.

Remove pan from heat and whisk in butter until melted, then add a couple pinches of salt and cream, whisking until combined. Return pan to the stove over medium-high heat and cook without stirring for 3 minutes more, at which 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. Pour this caramel on to 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 blondies: Heat your oven to 350°F. Butter an 8×8-inch baking pan, or line the bottom and two sides of one with parchment paper, buttering the exposed parts. Melt butter about 2/3 of the way in the bottom of 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. Add sugar and whisk to combine, then egg, vanilla, and sea salt. Add flour and stir just until it disappears. Scattered chocolate chips and pretzels on batter. Remove caramel from freezer and cut quickly into 1-inch squares. Scatter all but 4 to 5 over bowl. Gently fold chunky ingredients into batter and spread in prepared baking pan, smoothing the top. Place remaining caramel squares on top.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until deeply golden at edges and mostly dry on top. [For a swirlier effect, drag a toothpick through a couple of the caramels on top about 15 minutes in.] Let cool in pan for 10 minutes before lifting blondies out by their parchment sling and cooling further on a rack. Cut into small squares and simply marvel at how popular you are.

Do ahead: 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.

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156 comments on salted caramel pretzel blondies

  1. sallyt

    I need these in my life, NOW. Also, this was me with my 13 yo away at sleepover camp, down to wondering why no one wanted the 7 yo for a month, AND sneaking a care package with a friend who was starting midway through my daughter’s session. My care package? Your confetti cookies! They were VERY well-received.

    Can’t wait to make these!

      1. Irma S Moss

        Wait until Anna goes to camp! And they both are gone at the same time! I can’t wait to read THAT blog. You are the very best. Oh, the recipe sounds amazing. I make so many of your posts and they come out perfect their first time and I ALWAYS get compliments.

  2. Kel

    These look sublime, and I normally don’t like pretzels in my baked good. Hmm.

    My kids are all out of the house, now. I can just live vicariously through you and still bake these!

  3. Me

    Sounds amazing, Deb! Can you sub full fat coconut milk for heavy cream in the caramel? I never have the latter and always have the former.

        1. Janet

          Diana – I made these two days ago and while the pretzels are soggy when it’s hot out of the oven, they firm back up once cool and are delightful.

  4. Anna

    I guess I am going to the grocery store today (instead of tomorrow as planned) since I don’t normally keep pretzels in the house.

  5. Kimberly Griffin

    I just have to tell you that I Just like you so very much…

    I have been reading your blog from before your son was born. Your experience has been so much like mine and I wish there had been blogs for me to express my day to day joys ,fears and general angsts when I was a new mother in the very early eighths, no cell phones yet or internet.

    I was out of the country for the last twelve years sailing many oceans. You and your blog, a few other women who write about horses and life in the states were a touch stone to my home land and kept me connected. Just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your writing and point of view. Just a heads up…. just wait until he leaves for college.

    My love and respect to you and yours, Kim

    1. sarahwithah1

      That’s very sweet Kim, I feel the same! I live in Ecuador and this blog is also one of my touchstones. Although today I’m in angst for a different reason – pretzels have to be imported and are therefore $10/bag or more and I swear the same bags have been eyeing me as I eye them every time I pass them in the store for the past 2 years. Today, my body (ugh hormones) is screaming for all baked goods to be devoured RIGHT NOW so I’ll be living vicariously through all my fellow cooks in the states who have the convenience of finding fresh and inexpensive ingredients to makes these blondes today. I can already hear my sighs from when Deb posts all the successful pics of those delighted bakers on IG stories. Enjoy everyone!!
      P.s. Can you post the link to the blogs about horses and life back at home? I’d love to read them. Thanks!

      1. Rebekah

        Sarah with a H1, it won’t be the same, but could you try substituting digestive biscuits, saltines, ritz, or even rice crackers for the pretzels?

      2. Kim Griffin

        Hi, thanks for understanding my connection with bloggers from the US. I was reading David Leibovitz, an American in Paris , who also has trouble sourcing American favorites as you have noted and as I have also experienced. Another blog is Use Real Butter written by a woman who lives in the Rocky Mountains out side of Boulder CO. I had lived there too. For me the most satisfying connection is with AnnaBlake , Relaxed and Forward, she lives in Colorado Springs and is a trainer and horse advocate using affirmative training methods. Hope this gets you started. Touch stones are good for the heart and spirit. I have also spent time in Ecuador. Kim

        1. Ashley

          I made these today and actually think I’ll use saltines next time. I think the pretzels get a little lost in there and saltine crispiness would be great!

    1. I used those little round caramel bits from Kraft. A handful? Somewhere between 1/4 and 1/3 cup, with some sprinkled on top. I bought them as insurance in case my own caramel didn’t turn out…it did, but I left it in the freezer too long and couldn’t be sure the texture was right. So now I have to eat it :) Oh darn.

  6. MJ

    I refuse to believe that your son is 10. Full stop.
    I also assumed that the recipe called for keeping 4 or 5 caramels out so that the cook could eat them. I am seriously disappointed that you have to put them on top of the batter, although I can see why that is a wonderful touch. Do you suppose anyone would notice if a few disappeared before being incorporated into the batter?

    1. Maro

      i ate a few side bits that were smaller than the rest after cutting. rest assured, no one will notice some missing — it’s a lot of caramel!

      1. Lauren

        Are your apple cider caramels the right kind of caramel for this recipe?? I’m thinking about subbing peanut butter chips for the chocolate and using apple cider caramels since apple cider season has just started for us this year. Your blondie recipe is one of my tried and true favorites – infinitely adaptable!

  7. Anna

    I’m assuming I can double and make in a 9×13? My son is entering his senior year in high school, so your notes hit home. Thanks for everything.

    1. Jamie

      Can we double the recipe? I have a dinner party I’d love to make these for and i’m not sure an 8×8 is going to cut it, they look so amazing!

    2. kat

      Confirming that I doubled the recipe and baked in a 9×13. It took a bit longer to bake (maybe 40-45 minutes?), but came out divine and to rave reviews from my coworkers. Thanks, Deb, for making me so popular at work!

  8. Deanna

    maybe next year send Anna to Camp Grandma for one of the weeks at the same time then go somewhere awesome? (Also, how do I convey to my husband that I would like a lobster boil/raw bar thing for my next big birthday? Because I’ve never felt such FOMO)

    I’ve been craving blondies for awhile and these look so perfect. And I know they will be exactly what I want since they’re baking powder free! Do they taste as good as brownies out of the freezer? (Can you imagine these as an ice cream sandwich? Because I can)

  9. Tammy

    This looks scrumptious and I can’t wait to try it out. Do the pretzels remain crunchy after baking? I’m sure the ones on top do, but any that get covered in batter I’m concerned might get soggy.

  10. Amber D.

    7.5 months pregnant and there’s no way I wasn’t making these as soon as I saw them. The stars aligned and I had every single ingredient in my pantry—so now they’re in the oven. Talk about the perfect pregnant person baking project—lots of tasty bits and pieces to nibble on as they’re coming together! I probably slightly burned the caramel but it doesn’t matter, it still tasted good. I took the risk and tried some of the uncooked batter—swoon. Thanks, Deb!

      1. Gene Day

        Especially when it’s the exact right thing! I made Deb’s pop tarts when I was super sick before I knew it was twins. Very satisfying. Then I could stop thinking about them and move on to the next craving.

  11. Shoshana Kreymer

    Ummmm I knew I had to have these right away. I am work, but I logged on to see hoe easy this recipe was. And you know what I’m doing tonight!

  12. T

    I refuse to believe that Jacob is 10! How gave I been reading that long?! These also look amazing. I’ve never been a blondie fan but these can convert me, I can feel it!

  13. JP

    I made Martha Stewart’s Turtle Brownies recently and they also included a homemade caramel. Through this experience, I learned to stop cooking the sugar before it gets to the “deep copper color” because it does continue to cook even after it is removed from the stove (the pan is still very hot). When I let it go to the color suggested, it burned and was bitter. So just my two bits, stop sooner (to just turning golden) and it will turn out just like you want it. Burnt caramel is a very sad thing!

  14. Kristofer

    “You either already knew nothing would be okay until you had them the moment you read the title”

    Almost like you were watching me read this post and saw how big my eyes got

  15. OMG, I have always loved you Deb, but the fact that you just quoted not just Parent Trap, but PARENT TRAP 2 makes me love you even more. I’m pretty sure about 5 people have seen that movie and you’re one of them! Yayeeee!

    (Oh, and I want to make these brownies too!)

    1. eB

      My family owned one VHS tape for several years of my childhood. My parents recorded Footloose and Parent Trap II and then they lost interest in recording things. I was eight and my sister was five so of course we watched both of those movies ONE THOUSAND TIMES.

      You are all my people!

    1. daveleahsmith

      I routinely adapt using GF flour. I have found that reducing each cup called for by 2T seems to help. They’ll never taste quite the same (ah, gluten, I loved thee so) but they’ll be good enough – especially with all the other delicious bits blended in.
      Also, don’t forget to use GF pretzels. Trader Joe’s makes the best ones, IMO.

  16. Dee

    Sorry to be negative, but I feel like I suffered though weeks of your zucchini bread posting looking for the next thing. And clicking and clicking to the zucchini bread. The next thing – tofu pepper – was great. And now it’s gone? In such a short time Can we be on a more regular status?

    1. Jessica

      You must be Deb’s publicist. I can’t think of any other reason that a reader of a free blog would have expectations such as yours for how Deb (a stranger to you, most likely) uses her time and her blog.

    2. This comment baffled me so much that I’m compelled to leave a second reply. Are you complaining that her posting schedule is too irregular? Or that she used too much zucchini in her recipes? Or that this salted caramel pretzel blondie isn’t as good as pepper tofu?? Or are you somehow unaware that you can click on other recipes besides the newest one???? I NEED ANSWERS, DEE!

    3. Jen

      Do you have a paid subscription? I don’t. Blogging is a hobby people share with others! Cheer up, there are lots of bloggers to check out, and I’ve never found one who manages to keep perfect regularity–cuz they’re human (and nice ones who shate😁). Have a good day😉 !

  17. Gail

    I was dubious about your salted caramel brownies but am here today to confirm that the caramel comes together way more quickly than I thought it would, and it is delicious. I have made the caramel just to eat outside if it’s brownie home. Definitely going to try these. Will the pretzels get mushy?

  18. Janet

    Made these today and they were excellent! But keep an eye on the pan when you put the caramel back on the stove. We found it only needed a little over 2 minutes before we needed to take it off the heat.

  19. !!!! The second I saw this photo, I knew I had to make them immediately… And so I did! SO GOOD. And that’s coming from someone who actually doesn’t like blondies (including the recipe for them on this site). The caramel in these is completely transformative. And they really weren’t much more work than regular blondies since the caramel cools while the oven preheats / you make the batter. I added what I thought was a lot of salt, but these could have taken even more.

    1. Ok, I’ve now made these three times in five days. The second time I tried making them gluten free for a GF friend, using King Arthur GF flour and Snyder’s GF pretzels. Not. Good. They were grainy and didn’t hold together and the butter kind of wept out of them. But made them again as written tonight and once again they were bananas good!

  20. Lee-Ann

    These are cooling right now! The caramel and batter was awesome; can’t wait to eat them! Interesting how there isn’t any baking powder though.

  21. rodittis

    When my nephew first went to sleep-away camp he too was 10 and when he came back his suitcase was EXACTLY as my sister had packed it. He hadn’t even opened it. So forget about brushing his teeth and putting on sunscreen — he didn’t even change his clothes!

  22. Ann in NJ

    Oh my goodness, you poor thing, you are going to completely melt down when he goes to college! And I thought I was doing well sending stickers and flat things in the mail when my kids went to camp (they got daily mail so I started sending letters a few days before they left). Pro tip: college care packages make them popular with friends, and you can fill space in the box with individually wrapped chocolate chip cookies.

    These look AMAZING and I can’t wait to make them for my knitting group – pity half of them are avoiding carbs and sugar. Just leaves more for the rest of us.

  23. Curious if you could provide a weight for the caramel squares next time you make these. I would love to make them with a certain sauce cooked down and weight on the chews would be ever so helpful. ;-)

  24. Portia

    I made these last night and was so happy to have two for breakfast! I used white chocolate chips because my girlfriend doesn’t like chocolate (sacrilege, I know). Perhaps because of the white chocolate, I found these a little lacking in salt; I also notice that Deb’s seem to have a sprinkle of salt on top — Next time I’ll try that. The caramel also took me two tries — The first time in a nonstick skillet (is this a caramel no-no?) it cooked for 12+ minutes before starting to color. The second time, in a sauce pan, it colored beautifully but never lost a handful of crystal chunks (which I fished out before it cooled). I ate the first caramel with some leftover pretzels! :)

  25. Gay B.

    From the pictures, it looks like you are making the caramel is a saute pan. I’ve been afraid to make caramels and have always heard that when you add the cream that it will splatter like crazy. Does that happen? Is a saute pan with the low sides OK for this without making a big mess?

  26. Molly S

    You’ve done it again, lady. I came here for one of your chocolate chip cookie recipes to make my boys for a back-to-school treat. Scratch that!! This will so totally make their day when they open their lunch boxes tomorrow. Hurrah!

  27. nbmandel

    Oh, sure, you made your own caramel, but not baking your own pretzels (and boiling them in lye)? I am OUTRAGED.

    Or do I mean that these look OUTRAGEOUS? Possibly.

  28. Kristin

    Your caramel brownies have made me very popular already and have meant that I’m not allowed to bring anything else but caramel brownies to a party, ever. I can’t wait to try these!

    I know you usually brown your butter for blondies…did you leave that step out to simplify things or do you think it wouldn’t add anything here?

  29. Laura

    Snagging this one for future workplace treats! And of course for my husband, who will pout if I don’t make them for him too.

  30. Catherine

    These look delicious! I love your salted caramel brownies and make them regularly but the one thing that flummoxes me every time is prying them off the greased parchment paper. Seems like no amount of oil will help so I’m open to any ideas!

  31. Susan K.

    Just took my daughter to college at The New School (we live in California). It doesn’t get any easier. But I feel better knowing that I sent her with chocolate chip cookies made from your recipe and a suggestion to read your blog for your list of favorite places.

  32. Heika

    OMG, these were amazing! Made them for erev my birthday. Husband and nephew in town from New York were hugely impressed. Perfect recipe as always

  33. Kpks

    You know what? I am copying this recipe to remind my just 1 week in college son who I am. He adores your cocoa brownies, so this should be a cinch too.
    I week in college and I get 3 messages a day. That’s it.

  34. Cecilia Rawlins

    I love your blog and hate to give it up. My doctor has recently discovered some food sensiribities and allergies. I have successfully converted some recipes to gluten free and wondered if you have any suggestions for such recipes or would suggest a good website I

    1. Don’t despair! Deb has plenty of recipes that are gluten free. Two of my go-to desserts are her coconut tapioca pudding and the chocolate financiers (which can be made with coconut oil in place of the butter). I’ve had to eat GF for a long time and have found lots of great food to eat even without doing gymnastics to sub out ingredients.

  35. Anne

    I am in the train to work into downtown Chicago. It is a serious crowd and silence is expected. Today I am laughing out loud enjoying your post so much!! Thank you so much!

    Your writing and your recipes are so wonderful.

    I am often asked why I cook and bake daily for my family. It is simple. It makes me proud to take care of them. I want our home to smell delicious and be a place they are looking forward to retreating at the end of the day. So, I want to assure you that your son was looking forward to coming home to your magnificent food!

    Looking forward to your new book!

  36. Ellie

    I am so excited to make this that it completely derailed my weekend baking plans… After I ordered some malted milk powder intending to make malted chocolate ice cream. Oh well, guess I’ll have to make both ;)

    Would malted milk powder detract from the recipe? I read on serious eats that you can put it in most baked goods.

  37. Eileen

    Worst carmel recipe ever….2 tries…never got past adding the cream and salt. Immediately hard unrecoverable. Blondies with dark chocolate.. so so. Total waste of time and ingredients.

    1. Meredith

      That’s a shame! What works for me is adding a small splash of the cream to bring the temperature down, then a splash more, and then pouring in the rest. Try it again? It’s really delicious when it works!

    2. Linda Adkins

      Followed the instructions to the letter, but the sugar scorched twice. The second time, I had decided to use a smaller stove burner, but no luck. I’ll try once more on med low heat but if that fails, I think I’ll just skip it and keep making Deb’s salted chocolate chips cookies. Those are no fail.

  38. Madison

    Happened to have a bag of pretzels, so I made these the day I saw the recipe. I tried to make the caramel with half & half instead of heavy cream, and it wasn’t great, so I had to re-do the caramel after sending my husband on a quick grocery run… The second time I made the caramel, I removed the sugar from the heat as soon as the sugar was dissolved (still a lighter amber in color), which I believe helped keep it from being tooth-shatteringly hard. After stirring in the cream, butter, and salt, I replaced on the heat for just shy of two minutes. After 10-15 mins in the freezer, the caramel was HARDENED but still relatively easy to cut/crack into pieces. I was a bit concerned about the texture of the hard caramel, but I soldiered on. And so glad I did!! The caramel softened nicely in the oven into perfectly-chewy puddles. Brought them into the office and they were gone within an hour! Can’t wait to make these again.

    1. Lauren

      Madison thank you for posting that! I made these last night and my caramel shattered in the freezer and I was debating making it all over again, but glad I didn’t! Searched the comments and decided to go ahead after reading yours, and they also turned out great!

  39. BETH

    We tried these tonight, and the flavors were sublime. I used Taza Wicked Dark 95% chocolate, and am glad I did – it balanced the sweetness just perfectly for us. The texture was past chewy and just shy of tough, though, despite gentle mixing. Next time, I will try beating the egg/sugar/butter mixture longer to aerate them before adding the flour, and I will add a bit of chemical leavening too. The caramel recipe is a great find on its own, easy to make and just begging to be stirred into a quart of homemade ice cream as it finishes churning.

  40. Jamie

    Why am I having such a hard time with the caramel? I made it three times and it always tastes burnt/bitter. Additionally it takes way longer than four minutes for the sugar to melt….I think that’s my problem but I dont know how to rectify it.

  41. Meredith

    I made these immediately. I make the basic blondies all the time with toffee bits + chocolate chips, but wanted to try this combo of mix-ins. The homemade caramel was definitely a good swap for the toffee bits. But I’m not 100% convinced about the pretzel pieces? Don’t get me wrong, these were delicious, got eaten happily, and were not at all disappointing. I’d just need to do a side-by-side taste test with a batch without pretzels because I’m not 100% convinced that the pretzels contributed much to the deliciousness.

  42. I made these yesterday and I had issues with the caramel being hard, it also didn’t make as much as pictured..I think my biggest issue with these was that the pretzels got soggy. I’ll try making them again but, I’ll use the caramel recipe from Deb’s caramel brownie recipe because I’ve made it before and it’s great

    1. Kirstin

      Easy to make and very delicious. I used regular semi sweet chocolate chips and sprinkled a little extra flaky salt on top of the finished batter before baking. The first day the pretzels were not distinguishable from the cookie. The second day they were more crunchy. The caramel was chewy and not hard at all after baking. I will be making these bars again!!

  43. Maro

    i never make blondies, because what’s the point of chocolateless brownies? but the caramel, saltiness, and chocolate combo here sold me and i shall never doubt again.

    i could only find pretzel goldfish crackers (thanks, Grocery Outlet) and they really didn’t hold up here — i’d skip the pretzel before using them again in this. i think i might just prefer it without the pretzel, but will try again with sticks to confirm. also wondering how potato chips might fare?

  44. Janet

    I’ve been reading this blog since before Jacob was born and I don’t know that I’ve ever commented. But I just made these on Thursday and HOLY COW they are AMAZING. Everyone at work raved about them and demanded the recipe. Love love love!

  45. Made these for a house-warming party, and they were a hit. YES to sprinkling them with extra salt when they come out of the oven.

    For anyone having issues with the caramel: just double or triple the recipe. Extra caramel is not a problem in my house, plus, then, you’re not trying to catch this TinyFood-sized batch of caramel at exactly the right point. Portion out the appropriate amount of caramel for your blondies, and do as you see fit with the rest. If you do decide to increase the recipe size, considering heating up the cream a smidge. Warm cream will mean less extreme bubbling, and a less of a chance of the sugar seizing up on you.

  46. Susan Chester

    I was having several college kids over and decided to make these, along with three other varieties of bars, for dessert. I doubled the recipe so I could use my 9×13 pan, but otherwise followed it exactly … or so I thought. When they’d been in the oven the prescribed amount of time, I checked on them and they didn’t look right. Then it dawned on me that I’d forgotten to double the flour. Frustrated, I turned off the oven and walked away. I eventually took them out and let them sit on the counter. I cut them after they’d cooled and ended up plating them as “tasty disasters”. Well, in the end, I think they’d were the favorite. Even flubbing this recipe yielded a delicious dessert.

    I made the caramel exactly as written. Everything took a little linger since I’d doubled it, but it turned out wonderfully. Because of the whole flour issue, the pretzels really popped and made the bar extra yummy.

  47. Kiera

    Just made these today! Honestly I had high expectations but they were only “so so”. The caramel was the best part, but the pretzels were soft and chewy at the same time and kind of off-putting.

  48. Grace V.

    Agree with a previous comment that mixing the pretzels into the batter caused them to get a bit soggy, without that nice salty crunch. On a second go-around we crushed up some peanut butter-stuffed pretzels instead and scattered them on top. Worked beautifully, and added just a hint of peanut butter to play off the caramel and chocolate!

  49. made these blondies for an office potluck and one co-worker had a “when harry met sally” moment: “oh my gosh,” she moaned, “these are beyond belief good.” she took the remainder of the tray (without even asking hahahaha) home with her using the excuse that her mother was recovering from back surgery and they would make her feel better. i followed the recipe exactly and they are amazing.

  50. Koren Mann

    Made these for dessert tonight. THEY WERE AMAZING. They look beautiful and they were really easy. The only difference I had was the first step definitely took longer than 4 minutes. Maybe because I was using an electric cooktop stove??
    Thanks!

  51. Sara B

    I trust Deb, immensely, and have baked / cooked so many of her recipes. To be fair, I was having kind of an off day in the kitchen, but I have to say these blondies were very disappointing. I think they were some odd combination of bland / not quite sweet enough / and a little bitter. I think milk chocolate would have been preferable and that the caramel recipe is a little too touchy for these nuggets. Also, the pretzels sort of sog into the mixture and make the entire thing taste a little like a pretzel without all the salt on your tongue. I could see if you kept the pretzels on top, added a bit of salt to the top and used milk chocolate and some other caramels, they could be yummy. I may have to try again, just out of stubbornness.

  52. Claire

    These look amazing Deb!! It looks like you sprinkled some coarse salt flakes on top but I don’t see this in the recipe – is it not needed?

  53. mie

    These turned out great!
    New reader here. I’ve never made caramel before and I have to say, it is not the easiest thing to make for me. I had to make it twice so it does not turn out tasting burnt. I figured it is such a small batch, my sugar thermometer was not working properly. And I also forgot to put the pretzel pieces in (so I leave the mini pretzel knots on the top for visual appearance). But they were very tasty. Maybe next time I will also try to mix in some nuts bits. Thanks again for the recipe!
    For those who want to cut back on the sugar, I made mine with about 110 grams (cause I don’t own a measuring cup), the original recipe calls for about 150g so there are about 40 g differences.

  54. Cambria

    These are wonderful! The caramel is forgiving. I thought I had overcooked it during the 3-minute post-butter-and-cream phase: when I pulled it out out the freezer to cut it, it was at hard crack stage. So I whacked at it with a mallet, threw the glass-like shards into my blondie batter, and off it went into the oven. That caramel forgave me! It was creamy and soft when the blondies came out of the oven, and remains so the next day. Thank you Deb!

  55. Fleur

    Made these yesterday and let me tell you, I am MOST DEFINITELY beloved in my office today. The caramel took two tries–I don’t have a working thermometer at the moment, and I burned the first batch during the initial sugar-melting stage, but the second batch turned out great and was a huge hit. Also I only had salted butter and it was fine, although I lean pretty heavily on the salty/sweet combo flavors.

  56. Helga Thomsen

    Your blondie recipe for the win. It is the reason that my husband’s response to the question “Should I bring brownies or cookies to the potluck” is always “BLONDIES!” His favorite version is one with added dried cherries and dark chocolate (we call it Dad’s Cherry Garcia blondies.) . I can’t wait to make these beauties and bring them with me to a party on Saturday!

  57. I need these now!! I just bought a bag of chocolate chunks and now I know exactly what I’ll be using them for. These blondies look amazing and I love how simple they are to make.

  58. Deana

    These are delicious! Like others, it took me two tries with the carmel – I burned the first batch as it cooked about a minute faster for both cooking stages. I also used the baking powder. MIne raised maybe a little higher than Deb’s photo, but were still chewy and yummy. A huge hit!

  59. CharmBakes

    Help! I made these to rave reviews. I forgot to mix in the chocolate and just scattered them across the top. When I first tasted the caramel by itself, I thought it tasted slightly bitter and burnt; however, when mixed into the batter and baked, the flavors were wonderful. I even had to cut the blondies into tiny 1 inch squares because they were so rich.
    So what’s my problem? I made caramel leather. Delicious, but nothing that could be cut even after freezing. It flexed and stretched (a la Stretch Armstrong) but only a few edges could be broken off in shards. So I made the best of it and bent and stretched and tore as I could. I could probably just have lain the whole sheet of caramel in the baking pan and gone with that.
    Any advice what I did wrong? I have a trusty digital instant read thermometer and everything. My only change was doubling the ingredients because I wanted to make in a 9 x 13 pan.

  60. Jennifer

    I made these last Friday and my family of 4 ate the whole pan in one sitting! I also found the caramel needed only 30 seconds or so on the stovetop to get to the right temperature. My pan was not flat in the freezer, so some of the caramel was a little thick, but nonetheless delicious. I will make this again!

  61. Dearest Deb, I read all of your posts word by word, but as someone who thinks of more than 10 hours away from my family as the worst kind of punishment, this tugged at my heartstrings and made me in awe of your heartfelt writing even more than usual. If or when we send our children away to camp, I am confident my reaction will be the same as this and that I’ll be very glad to have these blondies to make.

  62. I MADE CARAMEL FOR THE FIRST TIME AND I COULDN’T BE PROUDER!

    Thanks for the help. These literally taste like candy bars (because let’s be real – they kind of are). <3

  63. Susanna Fraass

    I made these for my birthday. I burned the first batch of caramel (no thermometer) and had to make a second batch, but luckily I have a friend coming to visit soon who prefers burned things, so she gets that! The blondies turned out absolutely delicious. My advice if you’re not a practiced caramel maker is to trust your instincts over the timer if you think it’s burning!

  64. Lindsay Frucci

    Made these today. I also threw my first batch of caramel away, but my second came out perfectly. I heated the sugar on relatively high heat and took it off when it was more of an amber than copper and some unmelted sugar remained. Swirling the hot pan was enough for the remaining sugar to melt and the color to deepen. I added the butter, salt and heavy cream as directed, but let it sit and cool a tad for about 5 minutes. When I put it back on the stove I put it on low heat and monitored the temp. It took less than a minute to settle in at 250 and I immediately poured it onto the parchment. It was perfect. Froze quickly and was easy to cut. Finally, I did swirl the caramel at 15 minutes as suggested, but also sprinkled the top with flaky sea salt after I did. Baked for another 15 minutes. Perfection!!

  65. Nawana

    I had to make these as soon as I read the post. And they were good. Pretty good. But I, not unlike your dear hubby, kept asking myself, ‘where’s the chocolate?’. So I used your brownie recipe and gave them the same treatment, and all was well.

  66. So the caramel process is the same as for your caramel brownies, right? Make caramel candies, freeze them, then scatter them in the batter, and when the whole thing bakes you get pockets of oozy, gooey, warm salted caramel, right?

    About 10 years ago I went through a salted caramel brownie phase. I tried a million recipes and could never get the caramel to stay distinct from the brownie batter. I don’t remember if I had your brownies (sorry!) but I think it didn’t melt? The brownies had to be eaten chilled or the caramel wasn’t distinct from the brownie? Has anyone else tried this recipe or the salted caramel brownie one, and do the caramels melt into pockets of warm salted caramel sauce, distinct from the rest of the bar?

    I think I finally settled on the David Liebowitz recipe where you mix the salted caramel with cream cheese before swirling it in, but that would overpower the more delicate blondie flavour.

    1. deb

      Yes it is however, I’ve caved (heh) and added temperatures this time as markers. I believe when it disappears into the batter, it simply didn’t cook enough to become caramel candies vs. just firmed up caramel sauce, if that makes sense. I’ve also reduced the cream a little bit, so the caramels are less soft.

  67. Yum!!! I made these last night and they are delicious!! I didn’t have the pretzels so I just went with the salted caramel and chocolate chips. The caramel was SO easy to make, you can easily do it yourself!! I am not sure if it was my oven or what but the bake time was almost double. All of my friends at work and my husbands work were in love. Thanks for this!!!

  68. K Warren

    Thank you for your honesty and openness in this post!!! My 11 year old son went to a one-week sleep away camp this summer, and I felt the EXACT same way – I talked him into it, he had fun, and I spent the entire week missing him terribly, counting the days, and obsessively searching for him in the uploaded camper photos. It left such a huge gap in our home to have him gone. And the few times I described these feelings to friends and other moms, people looked at me with kind of confused look, like what is the problem? :) So anyway, this post helps me feel better for the strong emotions I felt missing my son for the week.

  69. Eliza

    These are amazing as written but we cant help but wish they had walnuts in them. I made the caramel with our goat milk (not cream) and it was easy and perfect. It took longer than 4 minutes though to get the sugar to turn copper colored. We did add the baking powder… and we just love these!

  70. Esullins

    What a great recipe! Could you add weight measurements for all of the ingredients? Living outside the USA, butter isn’t sold in sticks or tablespoons, so it’s much easier if everything is listed in grams.

  71. Melissa

    What a perfect baking project for the long weekend! I threw these together while my toddler was napping, couldn’t believe how quickly it all came together. I’ve never made caramel before and was nervous about melting the sugar but you were right it was so easy and so delicious! Can’t wait until they’re out of the oven :)

  72. Jodie Avery

    These are completely amazing! I’ve baked them 3 times since last Thursday! Just an FYI, the first time I accidentally let the caramel cook to hard crack and I honestly liked how they turned out better! Either way they’re fabulous. Just don’t worry if you cook your caramel too long. I just broken pretzel thins and dark chocolate Ghiardelli chips.

  73. Renée

    So delicious! I was originally a little nervous about bringing them to my outing because they were cut very small, but they were so decadent the small-ness was ok! Everyone loved them! Great Recipe, thanks!

  74. Bev

    Really enjoyed making this- but slid it in the oven & realized I’d forgotten the pretzels,lol! Just mixed them in in the pan & it still turned out great! Co- workers loved them & want the recipe!

  75. joan

    Your delicious looking picture shows what appears to be sea salt sprinkled on top of the brownies yet it’s not in the recipe…only salt blended into the batter.

  76. Daniel

    I’m not sure what happened- but after 20-25 minutes the batter looks the same in the oven, hasn’t firmed to become proper brownies :(

    The caramel only started to soften but the color of batter is only slightly darker and firm on the edges.

    What do you think could have happened? Should there also be baking powder in the recipe?

    Daniel

  77. Anne

    I doubled the recipe – and it turned out great. Baked for 40 min. I also like the suggestion from Miranda to double or triple the caramel recipe. Then, just add in to your taste and keep the rest out. This way, it is easier to get a read on the temperature and things don’t go quite as quickly as with the small batch. I used 1/2 bittersweet chocolate and 1/2 semi sweet which kept things from getting too sweet.

  78. Lee

    I have made these twice in one week when having visitors, they were consumed within 24 hours both times. I’m not a patient cook but enjoyed making these treats and enjoy your blog very much. Thank you.

  79. Jessica Smith

    So I made these and they were delicious, except that the pretzel pieces were too big and kind of presented as tasteless chunks – I would make them smaller next time so I get salt and crunch but not chunks.

    And I made just the caramel to combine with the My Favorite Brownies, thinking to make brownies with caramel. But the caramel kind of melted into the brownies and made a gooey but delicious mess – they kind of tasted like gooey salty brownies but not caramel brownies. Was the caramel not cold enough? Do brownies take too long to bake so the caramel melts? Any ideas how to pull this off? Thanks!

  80. RebeccaF

    Made this for a neighborhood block party- doubled the recipe and put in a 9×13 pan. I buttered the heck out of it, but later wished I had also used parchment since it was still difficult to cut and remove from the pan due to the caramel. I admit to having FOCF (fear of caramel failure) but it was just as you wrote- 8 minutes and quite a forgiving recipe. I probably stirred it too much, I spilled some of the cream, and by the time I put a thermometer in it read 260. Still turned out amazing. I used pretzel sticks and roughly chopped them, and Ghirardelli 60% large chips. Very rich, a 9×13 pan yielded 40 or so small rectangles. I will make this again and again- absolutely addictive and wish I had some left from the party and could freeze in bite size bits for an evening treat.

  81. joan

    Deb, I wish you would add measurements by weight as well as my cup. Measuring ingredients like chocolate chips or broken up pretzels is so imprecise. I’m sure your readers would have a better luck with the recipes turning out as you intended if you were more precise with your ingredients.

  82. Claire Summers

    These look insane. I’m trying to limit my dairy and wondering if anyone else has attempted a ‘dairy free’ version. I’m sure I can sub the butter easy enough, but I’m not sure about the cream… any advice anyone?

  83. Hatonon

    I made these last night….. so good. Instead of using all dark choc chips I used half dark and half white. I might even go all white choc next time – something about the creamy vanilla-eyness really complements the blondie.
    I would also agree with other commenters who said the caramel could use more salt. As well as adding salt to the caramel mix, I sprinkled flaked salt on top before putting in the freezer – I think I’ll add even more next time.
    In response to another commenter who took their blondies out of the oven after 25 mins to find they looked exactly the same as when they went in – mine still looked raw after 25 mins, but weirdly after another 5 minutes they were done! They seem to bake from the bottom up, if that makes sense.
    Will definitely make these again – just delicious.

  84. Lindsay

    Holy crap, these are delicious. Made them for a girls night in and they were practically inhaled. This was my first time making caramel and while it took longer than expected, the caramel turned out great, even using 2% milk instead of cream. I seriously can’t get over how good they were. Thanks for sharing such a great recipe!

  85. I have made these twice in one week when having visitors, they were consumed within 24 hours both times. I’m not a patient cook but enjoyed making these treats and enjoy your blog very much. Thank you so much!

  86. I these last night and agree with other commenters that the pretzels are kind of lackluster and soggy the first day, then they magically become crisp the next day! I think these bars are much better the second day. The next time I make them I may cut back the butter in the blondie recipe by two tablespoons; I found them a little bit oily, but otherwise delicious! I also only cooked my caramel by maybe a minute after putting the cream in. I figured it was better to be softer than too hard.

  87. Sarah in Vancouver

    OMG! chew, chew my mouth is full of one of these RIGHT now. Such a winning combo. The caramel wasn’t as scary as I thought and just a quick note that I didn’t want to buy cream to only use 2 Tbsp so I used whole milk (less) and it worked fine. Also, I found like most brownies and blondies the flavour and texture was much better (chewier) the day after baking. I found in particular these benefited from it as the pretzels needed to crisp up again, as others have commented. the caramel was also better the next day. So hide them! from yourself!

  88. Miranda

    I feel like everyone should know that my 9 year old daughter had the idea to make these with goldfish crackers instead of the pretzels and they are a. ma. zing.

  89. Sarah M

    I made this a few weeks ago, but made a mistake and didn’t cook the caramel past the add butter and cream step, so the caramel didn’t harden. I just stirred in globs of it, saving a few globs for the top, and all was well.

    I made it again today, and remembered the step of ~3 minutes extra cooking on the carmel. Well, it burnt or seized up, and had weird brown crumbles in it, and I went through 4 failed batches.

    Next time, I’d do it the first “wrong” way and just glob the soft undercooked caramel on top, swirl through, and save myself the frustration of all those failed caramels.