Hi friends! How's your Thursday going? Mine has been going exactly the way the tweet below would lead you to believe:
"I'm on a metro train and I don't think it's ever actually going to move" an autobiography
— Jesse Peterson (@jessiquinta) May 12, 2016
So, there I stood on that unmoving Metro train, scoping out potential mates should we be trapped there forever and need to create a new society (dark hair in glasses reading Vonnegut, plz be mine). AND thinking about these blondies. Because, like, have you seen them?!
Peanut butter is one of those things that has a weird cult following, like Silly Bandz (#memories) and my younger brother's Instagram-model girlfriend (lol k same). People either hate it or they love it, or they LOVE it and have a pantry stuffed to the brim with 2948039 jars of the stuff in every variety you can think of (cinnamon-maple-algae-fresh dirt flavor, anyone? It has lots of antioxidants!).
Personally, I tend to fall on the less obsessive end of the 'love' spectrum. However, there was a time when I fell squarely in the 'hate' zone. Allow me to take you on a journey to Jones Gap State Park, South Carolina, a hiking area situated in the Smoky Mountains. It was August 2011, and I was on a trip with my best friend Ami, her family, and their family friend, Rebecca. I was 17 years old, about to start my 1st year at UVA, and absolutely invincible.
One of our first mornings at Ami's mountain house, us 3 girls set out for a hike. We had identified a couple of trails that we could combine into a loop to form a nice, 10ish mile hike, which we thought would be a piece of cake. Thus, we weren't too concerned with nutrition as we raided the cupboards for hiking snacks. We nabbed a couple fun-sized bags of stale mini pretzels and a jar of peanut butter (no utensils - who needs those?!) and hit the road.
Our hike was going marvelously - we had great weather, we were essentially alone on the trails, and we were having a great time laughing and talking about our lives. Thus, we were feeling good when we happened upon a trailhead that detailed the possible routes. After some consideration, we decided to nix our original plan in favor of taking the 10 mile 'Pinnacle Pass,' which would then connect to the 'Rim of the Gap' trail to bring us back to the parking lot, a round trip of about 26 miles. Hike a marathon? Why not!
Reasons that we should have chosen 'Not':
- Stinging nettles. Lots of them.
- Thorn bushes. Lots of them.
- Drinking water. Not enough of it.
- THE ONLY FOOD WE HAD WAS PEANUT BUTTER
- AND WE HAD NO UTENSILS TO EAT IT WITH
- SO WE USED OUR FINGERS
- LIKE NEANDERTHALS
So, yeah. After this little escapade, I was pretty turned (turnt? turnt.) off from peanut butter for quite some time. Luckily, that phase passed - if it didn't, I wouldn't be able to have had any of these amazing Peanut Butter Blondies! And do believe me when I say amazing - my friend Dan and I shamelessly polished off a large portion of the pan the very same night I made them.
Peanut Butter Candy Bar Blondies
To make these blondies, you will need:
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1 egg
- 2 t vanilla extract
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 t salt
- ALL THE CANDY YOU'VE EVER DREAMED OF
First, preheat your oven to 350F and grease an 8x8 baking pan.
Over medium heat, melt the butter, then transfer it to a large mixing bowl. Add the sugar and stir until fully combined, then whisk in the egg and vanilla. Add the peanut butter and stir until smooth. Resist the urge to eat this. Think of the good things to come.
Next, you'll add your flour and salt, stirring until just combined. THEN COMES THE FUN PART!!! Grab any candy your heart desires - mine desired PB cups, chocolate-covered toffee, and semisweet chocolate chips - chop it up, and add it in!
Spread this mixture* into your greased baking dish, and then top with EVEN MORE chopped candy. I am turning into a candy. It is just who I am now. Please accept me.
*It is totally, totally okay to spread 'most of' this batter into the pan, and scoop 'some of' this batter directly into your mouth.
Bake these guys for 30-35 minutes, and then let them cool before digging in!
And then you'll have the energy to hike 26 miles! But, may I recommend bringing more than a small bottle of water?! Drinking out of streams is scary, y'all. There's germs and worms in there. Hey, I'm still alive!