July 8, 2013

Browned Butter Coconut Caramel Popcorn Blondies

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I have only one word for these bars.


Don't laugh.

I've become the subject of many jokes among my friends.

The first one concerns my hand sanitizer. I used to be kinda sorta obsessed with it. Like, even my acquaintances remembered me for it. Yes, I am a clean freak (although my dad thinks otherwise. After watching me bake, he decided if we did have a dog, it would be so fat from eating everything I drop and splatter) Yes, and maybe a germiphobic, but I have gotten much better. Meaning Germ-X isn't an extension of my hand anymore. However, my legacy lives on. At a volleyball tournament last year, there was a gift bag for our team and in it was a Bath n' Body hand sanitizer. I immediately received it and I hadn't even gotten to look in the bag yet. "Mary Frances, this is perfect for you!"  

Gee thanks:)

One of my friends got me half a dozen little Bath n' Body sanitizers for my birthday last year and attached a little note as to their specific purpose. One was for my purse, another for my elbow (don't ask!) and another for after killing spiders. I laugh at that one now, because I would have to kill a spider in order to use the hand sanitizer. I really don't like spiders. However, you all will be proud to know I have improved in that area too. I now squash spiders without squealing and practically bathing in sanitizer afterwards. (See, that friend knows my needs well!)  Ok, I'll kill it provided its a little spider. I still don't mess with the big ones. That's why I have brothers. Anyways, I still adore those little scented bottles of germ annihilators. They're just the best. My favorite scent right now is Island Margarita. 

And then there's the joke that I have the body of a 90 year old. Some part of me is constantly put of whack. Right now, it's a lot of things. Like both my ankles, my back, my hip (again! ... *sigh*) my jaw and my hand. The hand will heal, I do know that.  First I burned it by picking up the 350 degree glass pan of these blondies without hot pads. Then they got really calloused from swinging a golf club several hundred times.  My jaw?  Well, I'll probably have to get a splint for that. My hip (ugg, touchy subject) has bothered me off and on for years and lovely me gets to start rehabbing it. Again. Everything else I get to "just let heal."  Yeah. My ankles are new and I'm not sure what's up with them, but I can't run and that's really disappointing. Not that I run a lot anyways (read not at all) but I wanted to keep up conditioning for volleyball. My annoyingly wise ex trainer mother advised me to rest and let it heal now when there is no need to "push through the injury."  

So I baked instead of doing whatever I normally do that hurts my ankles. And back. And ... Oh just forget it. I decided, I needed something gooey. With caramel. And coconut. Oh yeah, popcorn is good, too. 

These bars have so much going on, it's crazy. There is an incredibly soft blondie base that takes advantage of browned butter to give it maximum flavor. Browned butter was new to me, but I was blown away by how such a simple trick adds so much depth to a recipe. So much deeper and richer and all you have to is, well brown your butter!  Melt it and let it boil until it is a deep amber color. Don't cheat on it, let it cook, but do watch it closely. We want brown butter, not burned butter. There is a difference. 

And the caramel!  Adapted from the peanut butter caramel sauce, this one hits home. It is thick and gooey and sticks the popcorn and coconut to the blondies, melding it all together. Caramel is so good and this sauce is sooooo simple. Only four ingredients!

Pop up a couple cups of popcorn, add some coconut and pour your caramel sauce over it all. Bake it a little longer, let cool (yes, otherwise you will be dealing with a gooey sticky hot mess) and then dig in.  

My dear mother, chocolate lover (even more than I!) forgave me for putting popcorn in her blondies because of how soft and gooey they were. They do firm up after about 12 hours, but the first few might be a little rough. Did I mention a hot mess? Me and mom love those. :)

So there you have it, coconut and caramel, popcorn and blondies, and a whole lot of sweet, gooey goodness - and no, I'm not joking.

Browned Butter Coconut Caramel Popcorn Blondies
Recipe Source: The Sweet {Tooth} Life.  Blondie base adapted from Sweet Treats and More
Yield: 12-16 servings

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut

3 cups popcorn (3 tablespoons unpopped kernels)
1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut

2/3 cup milk
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. 

In a small saucepan, melt and brown butter. Let cool for a minute and then whisk in coconut oil and sugar. Whisk in egg and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Once combined, stir in coconut and spread in a greased 9x9 pan. Bake for 10 minutes. 

While blondies are baking, pop the popcorn. Toss popcorn with the coconut and set aside. 

For caramel, whisk cornstarch into a couple tablespoons if milk. Stir in rest of milk and sugar. Stir on medium heat until thickened. Stir in vanilla. 

Once the 10 minutes are done, sprinkle popcorn mixture over blondies. Pour caramel sauce over popcorn and return to the oven. Bake for 10 more minutes. 

Let cool for several hours before cutting. Store leftovers in an airtight container. Enjoy!


  1. I'm addicted to hand sanitizer. I have it in my car and it's a habit now, my daughter even just holds out her hands waiting. :) LOVE the blondies!

  2. Haha, love this recipe. My kids would flip for it!!

  3. Replies
    1. I was so pleased with how it turned out. Thank you!

  4. Looks terrific! I don't think anything can be bad if it has brown butter :)

    1. I'm discovering that brown butter is definitely a good thing! Thanks!

  5. Sounds incredible, Mary!!! I'm constantly in awe of how you make me feel so engaged when you're blogging about a recipe!!!!!!! I love it!

    1. Aww thank you Chloe! I've been trying to be more intentional about including more life stuff rather than just "it's so good!" :)

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  7. Popcorn totally needs to be in more desserts! Popcorn + caramel + coconut sounds like heaven to me.

  8. I'm sold! These bars look delicious. I love the idea of adding the popcorn to them. Salty and sweet combo is amazing. :)
    Tina @ www.tinaschic.com

    1. Thanks Tina! Sweet and salty is one of my favorite combos.

  9. These looks devine x

    1. Thanks Renee! They sure are! Your cupcakes look amazing too!


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