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Peanut blondie casts spell without chocolate

It’s a delicious duo for many, but chocolate with peanut butter gives me the creeps.

I like chocolate, and I like peanut butter — just not together. I’d be inclined to blame the sugar in both milk chocolate and the peanut filling that most candies use. But even Trader Joe’s switch to dark chocolate doesn’t sway me toward the peanut butter cup cause. Don’t even get me started on Reese’s Pieces.

My antidote to the season’s chocolate-peanut butter spell is this honey-sweetened treat that’s essentially a brownie without the chocolate. I’d use all-natural peanut butter to further minimize sweetness. If Halloween doesn’t cover that craving for your family, consider adding the cup of white chocolate chips suggested by Chicago Tribune food writer JeanMarie Brownson.

A grown-up take on the sweet-salty-savory trend replaces these honey-roasted peanuts with “smoked” peanuts and adds 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper to the batter. Perfect for pairing with hot apple cider.

Tribune News Service photo

Honey-Roasted Peanut Blondies

Nonstick spray, for preparing pan

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 large egg

1/3 cup smooth or crunchy peanut butter

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/4 cups flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup honey-roasted peanuts, roughly chopped

Heat oven to 350 F. Line an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with foil. Spray with nonstick vegetable oil.

In a large bowl with a mixer on high speed, beat the butter until light, for 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the sugar and vanilla until light. Beat in the egg until smooth. Beat in the peanut butter and baking powder until well mixed.

On low speed, beat in the flour and salt until incorporated. Stir in the peanuts. Scrape batter into prepared pan. Use an offset spatula or dull knife to spread batter to edges of pan.

Bake in center of preheated oven until edges pull away from pan and top feels firm, for 30 to 35 minutes. Cool on wire rack, for 10 minutes. Lift out of pan using foil to help. Rest on a wire rack until completely cool.

Transfer to a cutting board; carefully pull away foil. Cut blondies evenly into 4 pieces. Cut each piece into 4 squares. Store in a container with a tight-fitting lid.

Makes 16 pieces.