Blizzard Bars

Since deciding to tell the entire internet that I'd gone off the deep end and onto a Real Diet for a couple of weeks, I've gotten many lovely notes, e-mails and tweets. Most are just to give a little virtual high-five and a bit of cheerleading, but a few are inquisitive. "What diet are you on?" one will ask. "What kind of results are you getting and what suggestions would you have?" inquires another.

Oh, people. I'll be honest with you. I am the worst dieter EVER. To be clear, I have followed my completely depressing regimen to the letter. Well, I may have had a few glasses of wine during an evening with some girlfriends, but we all have toddlers and getting a night out together is practically a religious holiday, so whatever. But beyond that, I feel fly. My pants situation is much more reasonable. I'm confident about my focus and resolve. A little too confident, maybe. Like, so confident that I thought it would be a tremendous idea while on said diet to make a bar cookie "for the husband's co-workers" that consisted mainly of the following ingredients:

I know. Not my brightest moment. So clearly I am not one to give reliable diet tips. Perhaps I can write a diet book called Hey, Want to Lose a Few Pounds? Then Don't Do Any of THIS!, because that is probably all the advice I am qualified to give. And the first chapter would be called "Welp, First of All, Definitely Don't Make Blizzard Bars".

Even if you've never experienced the piece of summertime Americana that is a trip to Dairy Queen in July, you  can certainly appreciate the glory of a DQ Blizzard. Cold, creamy, thick and frosty ice cream, blended with loads of tasty bits of your choosing--M&Ms, Snickers, Heath bar, Oreos, whatevs. Gah, I'm drooling on my sleeves. I am pretty much a die-hard Butterfinger Blizzard sort of person, how about you? Man, that would taste so great right now. Seriously. Way, way, better than salad. Way.

Oh, and speaking of things way better than salad, a couple of days ago, in a high-salad-consumption state, dreaming about DQ Blizzards, I couldn't get the idea of massive amounts of candy bound together by something delicious out of my cravery glands (you can have that term for free, medical community). But everyone knows people on a "diet" shouldn't go to Dairy Queen. So I did the next totally logical thing: I dreamed up a kind of blondie crazily smattered with candy bits of all sorts, a bar of epic chew and deep notes of buttery caramel and a toasty hit of malt powder. Stand. Back. DANG.

If you're down with my dieted-brain-brand of logic, what you end up with is really a candy slab bound together with a super tasty blondie batter. It's completely ridiculous! I even threw in a handful of chopped white chocolate because hey, WHY NOT. Make the combination all your own here by swapping out different candies, throwing in some chocolate chips or nuts. Or don't. I mean, I wouldn't listen to me if I were you. I made Blizzard Bars while "on a diet". I may have had more than one. I'm in no position to tell you how to be. I am, however, in the position to tell you that these are so worth it.

Blizzard Bars

For the candy, I used about two regular-sized bars each of Snickers and Butterfinger, two regular sized bags of M&Ms, one regular-sized Heath bar and about 1/4 cup of chopped white chocolate bits. I KNOW.

You can find plain malted milk powder near the hot cocoa or by the ice cream fixings under brand names like Carnation and Horlicks.

Makes 16

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/3 cup plain malted milk powder
2 cups chopped candy bits (I used Snickers, Butterfinger, Heath bar, M&Ms, and white chocolate--see note)

Position an oven rack to the center of the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees. Line an 8x8-inch square pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper and lightly spray the pan with nonstick cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

In the bowl of a electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter, brown sugar and vanilla on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the egg until well-blended. Scrape down the bowl and beat in the malted milk powder. Add the dry ingredients in two additions on low speed and beat just until combined. Stir in two-thirds of the candy bits on low speed. Give the batter a final folding by hand with a spatula to make sure there are no dry pockets and the batter is evenly mixed--it will be very thick. Turn the batter into the prepared pan and smooth it evenly. Sprinkle the remaining candy bits evenly over the top and press lightly into the batter with your palms.

Bake until the bars are deeply golden and have just begun to pull away from the sides of the pan, 35 to 40 minutes (they will still look soft in the center). Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Remove the slab to a cutting board and cut into 16 squares. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days.
BarsShauna Sever