Nutella Pretzel Magic Bars

These bars started simple: Nutella. That's it. We just wanted to work with Nutella. But...what to make?

We discussed what to bake in the car while driving home one day and we spent the whole 15 minute car ride talking about it, and we just coming back to Nutella. Once Nutella is on the brain, you can't get rid of it.

There was some brainstorming. Some ideas were ruled out for being too obvious, some for being too decadent, some just for being too half-hearted (or shall we say half-baked?).

Honestly, I don't even remember how our brainstorming evolved into magic bars, only with Nutella mixed into the condensed milk, and pretzel crumb instead of coconut, and brown butter blondies instead of graham cracker crust... 

(Nothing ever stays simple with us.)

(Especially when we're together. Then it can sometimes get a little out of hand. But in a good way.)

Who knows, maybe it was divine inspiration. They sure taste like divine inspiration. Oh my gosh, guys. These bars are yummy.

We're talking gooey Nutella, crunchy/salty pretzel crunch, chewy/buttery blondie...I think my head is spinning. And not just from the sugar.

You're probably all had a magic bar before, also known as seven layer bars. They're really good. Classic, reliable yumminess. If you need to bake something in a jiffy for a summer barbecue that you can be sure everyone will like, they're a good bet. But these are better. I'm sorry. It's just true.

So next time you go to a summer barbecue, make these.  People will love you. You'll be the most popular person on the block. After trying these, there's really no time for classic seven layer bars because you know that these are an option. 

You want to know what makes these bars even better? They're so dang easy! You've made blondies before. It's basically like making chocolate chip cookies. No sweat. The pretzel crumb is a piece of cake, despite sounding tricky. And the Nutella/sweetened condensed ("magic") layer? You literally just melt the two together for 30 seconds, stir them until smooth, and pour it over the top. Could. Not. Be easier.

I just need you to promise me one thing. If you make these for a barbecue this summer, you have to invite me. It's only fair.

- Molly

Nutella Pretzel Magic Bars

Brown Butter Blondie Base:

1 1/4 sticks (5 ounces) unsalted butter

1 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

2 large eggs plus 1 egg large yolk

1/4 cup peanut butter

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

heaping 1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup chocolate chips (optional)

1 cup Heath bar crunch (optional)

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Grease a 9×9-inch baking pan, line the pan with parchment paper and grease the parchment paper as well.  This recipe can be easily doubled and baked in a 9×13-inch pan.

In a medium saucepan, cook the butter over moderate heat until golden brown, about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and transfer the melted butter to a large bowl.  Allow to cool for about 20 minutes before proceeding.

To the large bowl with the butter, add the sugar, eggs and yolk, almond butter, vanilla extract, and salt.  Whisk until smooth and well combined.  Add the flour and baking powder and stir with a wooden spoon.  The mixture will be thick.

Fold in chocolate chips (optional).  Fold until combined.  Spread half the batter** into the prepared baking pan. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until cooked through and golden brown.  Insert a skewer in the center of the blondies to test the doneness.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before adding the next layer.

**You should only use half the batter for the crust so that it doesn't get too think. We encourage you to bake the rest of it into blondie cupcakes!

Momofuku Pretzel Crumb:

1 1/2 cups pretzel crumbs

1/4 milk powder

2 tablespoons sugar

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, melted

1/4 cup heavy cream 

Make the pretzel crumb while the blondies are cooling.

Put pretzels in the food processor and process to a fine chunks, similar to graham cracker crumbs. Toss the pretzel crumbs, milk powder, sugar, and salt with your hands in a medium bowl to evenly distribute your dry ingredients. 

Whisk the butter and heavy cream together. Add to the dry ingredients and toss again to evenly distribute. The butter will act as a glue, adhering to the dry ingredients and turning the mixture into a bunch of small clusters. The mixture should hold its shape if squeezed tightly in the palm of your hand. If it is not moist enough to do so, melt an additional tablespoon of butter and mix it in.

Spread crumbs evenly across the top of the cooled blondies.

Nutella Topping:

1/2 can sweetened condensed milk (7 oz)

3/4 cup Nutella

Melt condensed milk and Nutella together until smooth. Pour over pretzel crumb. Heat oven to 350. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until edges are brown.

Blondie recipe adapted from Joy the Baker. Pretzel Crumb from the Momofuku MIlk Bar Cookbook.