Romance Cooks

Pete Mancuso’s Blondies – Kimberly Kincaid

Sweet and sinful, these Blondies are sure to please! Enjoy them at the holidays, or any time you need an indulgent pick-me-up.

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Pete Mancuso’s Blondies

1 cup pecans, roughly chopped

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons salt

¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, melted

2 cups light brown sugar (packed)

2 eggs, slightly beaten

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 ½ cups (okay to eyeball this) store bought caramel topping

1 ½ cups thin twisty pretzels, broken into pieces

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Prepare a 9×13 inch baking pan by lining it with parchment paper and spraying with cooking spray, leaving some overhang on either side. Set pan aside. Spread pecans in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Bake until just fragrant, about 4-5 minutes (this releases lots of flavor—don’t be tempted to skip this step!) Remove and cool. Increase oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Sift flour, baking powder and salt together into a small bowl and set aside. Using a mixer, combine melted butter and brown sugar until it resembles wet sand (I promise it will taste better than that). Making sure the mixture has cooled from melting the butter, slowly incorporate eggs and vanilla. Mix well. Add flour mixture in small increments, scraping down sides as needed. This mixture will be thick. Your mixer may protest a little. That’s okay!

Stir in pecans by hand and spread mixture in prepared pan with an offset spatula (or you can put a little cooking spray on your hands and press it into place) Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes, until the top is golden brown. A cake tester should come up essentially clean, with maybe a crumb or two. These are meant to be slightly gooey in the middle. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for ten minutes. Lift out of pan to cool completely. Remove and discard parchment.

Once cool, carefully slide the blondie sheet back into the 9×13 pan. Top with caramel topping and refrigerate 30 minutes, until set. Just before serving, top with pretzel bits. Slice into bars and serve to the one you love! Yield depends on how big you like your blondies. Approximately 3 dozen bars.

the sugar cookie sweetheart swap


When caterer Lily Callahan goes up against hotshot pastry chef Pete Mancuso in the bake-off of the season, the stakes are high–and scandalously passionate. Will the gorgeous gourmand steal Lily’s heart–and the top prize in the Christmas cookie competition?

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