SRP #13: Candy Bowl Clean-up

“SRP” in dentistry means, “scaling & root planing” — a really deep-clean for people with periodontal disease.  “SRP” in FoodSwing lingo means, “short recipe post” — a to-the-point recipe post for people with lives…and tastebuds.

SRP #13:  Sweet & Salty Candy Clean-Up Blondies

You know those paintings with the eyes that look like they follow you everywhere?  That’s basically the way I feel about the big bowl of holiday candies sitting on the dining room table, staring me down every time I pass it…calling to me…magnetically drawing my hand into its depths.
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Compounding the issue of the constantly-calling-Christmas-candy leftovers is that gigantic tin of Boy Scout candy corn that was no doubt a gift from somebody who received it as a gift themselves and realized that no human could possibly eat ALL of it (and still have teeth with which to tell the tale).

I so appreciate the thoughtful, gifting process that forms an integral part of our American holiday traditions, and I am loathe to toss any gifts that I receive — even if I’m completely Gertrude-Hawk-snowmanned-out.  So, my solution to this predicament is finding a new vehicle for these leftover festive treats (a vehicle that does not consist of my grubby little hand).
An aromatic vanilla and brown butter blondie base, with a reduced amount of sugar and a sufficient balance of saltiness, serves as the perfect conveyance for all those sweet treats that need repurposing.  Think of it as refurbishing!  You really have total liberty to use whatever holiday gourmet treats you have on hand (except maybe that big log of Italian salumi and coarse-grain mustard).  My only guidance is to try to have a balance of sweet and salty — the goal here is NOT to cause a diabetic crisis.  Chocolate pecan turtles, caramel corn, salted cashews, dark chocolate covered cherries, … the list goes on and on!

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As mentioned in the recipe below, I recommend storing the blondies with their cut sides nestled tightly against each other to combat that potentially-detrimental drying force that threatens to ruin your perfect treats from the moment they exit the oven, like the angel of death in The Ten Commandments.

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Sweet & Salty Candy Clean-Up Blondies

1 stick unsalted butter, browned
1/2 cup shredded coconut
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 3/4 cups brown sugar
2 tablespoons hot water
2 eggs, room temp
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup chopped assorted chocolate candies (I used milk chocolate caramel turtles) +/- salted mixed nuts
1 cup caramel corn + broken pretzels
Coarse salt, for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 350 degrees farneheit.  Spray a 9″x 13″ glass baking dish with non-stick spray and line with a piece a parchment paper, leaving an overhang.  After browning your butter, use a heat-safe rubber spatula to transfer the butter into a large mixing bowl, being careful to scrape as many of the browned bits off of the bottom of the pan as possible (these are your flavor powerhouses).  Place mixing bowl in the fridge for 20 minutes, until butter becomes semi-solid again.  While butter is cooling, return your browning pan to the stove, and add the coconut.  Turn heat to medium, and use the same rubber spatula you just used to gently stir the coconut as it toasts — this process takes a couple of minutes to get going, but once you start to see a few of the shreds turn golden, the toasting progresses rapidly, so don’t walk away!  Once all of the coconut is fragrant and evenly golden-brown, transfer to a sheet of wax paper to cool.
Remove cooled brown butter from the fridge, and add oil and sugar.  Beat together for 3 minutes, on medium speed.  Add eggs, one at a time, then vanilla; beat an additional 1 minute.  In a separate bowl or large measuring cup, use a fork to combine and aerate flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Use a rubber spatula to gently fold in the dry ingredients, folding only until no streaks of flour remain.  Quickly fold in toasted coconut, chopped candies, and nuts.  Scrape batter into prepped baking dish.  Distribute caramel corn and broken pretzels over the top of the batter, and gently press down to ensure that toppings are in intimate contact with the batter.  Sprinkle with coarse salt.
Bake for 25-30 minutes.  Remove from oven, and allow to cool for 10 minutes.  Use the parchment overhang to lift the blondies from the baking dish and transfer to a wire cooling rack.  Allow to cool completely prior to cutting.  Store cut blondies in a large, rectangular, airtight container, so that you may keep as many of the cut sides in contact with each other as possible to prevent drying out — if you need to stack them in layers, place a piece of wax paper or parchment between the layers.  Store in the fridge, for up to 5 days (technically, you can store them at room temp, but I just think that they taste best chilled).
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