Peanut Butter Blondies with Chocolate Ganache and Local Theater

I spent my weekend immersed in theater.

A joy I have denied myself for much of the last 2 decades, even though I not only once enjoyed being a part of the audience, but actually appeared on stage from time to time, as well. My credits are so old now I can barely recall them–juror #10 in Twelve Angry Jurors (Men); some old lady in the Heiress of Harkington Hall; Lucky, Lucky Hudson and The 12th Street Gang; and my one attempt at being musical in the Oklahoma! ensemble. There were more, but I don’t remember them. I was an understudy. I built sets. I worked on lighting. I even was inducted into The International Thespian Society. That was a lifetime ago.

Peanut Butter Blondies with Chocolate Ganache - Poet in the Pantry

Life gets in the way sometimes.

I miss theater. I miss the magic. The weaving of a tale before your eyes, and you’re a part of it just by being there. It’s never the same play, no matter how many times performed. Different actors, different directors, different venues, even different nights: it’s a living, breathing being, constantly evolving. It’s personal. It’s reactive. It’s community. It’s so much more than can ever be found on a lifeless screen from your living room sofa. And I adore the people who have dedicated themselves to bringing this world to us.

Peanut Butter Blondies with Chocolate Ganache - Poet in the Pantry

The Warner Theatre hosted two festivals this weekend honoring these special people.

The International Playwrights Festival, held on October 16-18, featured 12 winning one-act plays chosen from 200 submissions from around the world. On Sunday was the Connecticut Artists & Playwrights Festival, pairing paintings from the Five Points Gallery (from UCONN faculty) with 10-minute plays that were inspired by them. It was 4 days of magic just 1 mile from my home.

Saturday, I caught the last night of the International Playwrights Festival, titled Captive Audience. Four one-act plays were given life before us, with the playwrights right there in the audience to see for themselves how their works were interpreted. You already know I am a huge fan of The Desultory Theatre Club; the real treat Saturday night was that the DTC’s own, Keith Paul, both directed one of the plays–Buddhists in the Basement by Mary Beth Smith of Massachusetts–and performed in another–Captive Audition by Paul Braverman of California. Buddhists in the Basement was a riot. Sadie, the wife fresh from a Buddhist retreat, tries to convince her husband, Joe, to allow two Buddhists she met at the retreat to live in their basement. The actor who portrayed Joe was superb–I don’t think it could have been executed more perfectly. Kelly McGurk–a fellow thespian from high school–made for a wonderful Sadie, pulling off well the weird woman who can’t seem to figure out what it is she wants to do with her life. After the plays, there was a Q&A session with the performers, directors, and playwrights–a truly unique experience–and the playwright herself praised them on their vision of her work. Even better, though, was Captive Audition. Keith Paul showed us what he’s got while trapped on the stage by a disgruntled director and petulant playwright. The play poked fun at the sometimes difficult relationship between the director, actor, and the written work itself and Keith Paul did a phenomenal job in the role of Myles Clark.

Peanut Butter Blondies with Chocolate Ganache - Poet in the Pantry

Sunday afternoon it continued with 3 paintings and 3 10-minute plays for each painting. The tagline for the festival–the beauty of art speaks to each artist individually–could not have been more perfect. Each playwright was inspired in different ways by the artwork s/he selected, whether literally–as in The Sequence by Bob Tilton of Storrs, CT–or very obscurely, like To Tell The Truth, by Allan Appel of New Haven, CT. Once again, Keith Paul of The Desultory Theatre Club directed; this time it was the 3 plays inspired by the painting Omnes Organum Triplum by Pam Bramble, Art and Art History Associate Professor at the Torrington Branch of UCONN. To Tell The Truth was a  50s-style game show (hosted by one of Jon Bristol’s puppet creations from Elmwood Productions) where–as J. Timothy Quirk aptly argues–nobody wins. Fault by Julie Weinberg of Goshen, CT, took a look at the relationship between a brother and sister out of chronology. And last, Your Eyes, The Stars by Darcy Parker Bruce of Norwich, CT, was a fantastic storytelling experience, carried entirely by only one actor, Theresa Elizabeth of Torrington, CT.

Peanut Butter Blondies with Chocolate Ganache - Poet in the Pantry

I left the theater with a renewed sense of purpose.

I have long said that this blog started as a writing exercise. It was spawned from a Creative Writing course I was taking at the time. The answer to wanting to become a published author someday, I took matters into my own hands and published on my terms, on the time schedule that worked for me. And I grew comfortable with this arrangement, allowing me to sneak in a little bit of storytelling when I can. But it’s become a bit of a crutch, and what I’m realizing now is that that screenplay that’s been revised 4 times and is still only half-written will never be finished at this rate. Those poems that I sometimes share here? They’re languishing on my pages, an ill-suited medium for what they were intended to be. I love my blog. I love sharing my baking and photography with you. But I need to make more time for that other writing, too. Because, much like theater fell out of my life some time ago, if I don’t feed this part of my soul, it, too, will wither and die. And I don’t want that to happen.

Peanut Butter Blondies with Chocolate Ganache - Poet in the Pantry

I’m surrounded by so much talent in my hometown. This needs to continue to be a source of inspiration for me.

Peanut Butter Blondies with Chocolate Ganache - Poet in the Pantry

5.0 from 1 reviews
Peanut Butter Blondies with Chocolate Ganache
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Author: inspired by Smitten Kitchen
Recipe type: Cookie
Serves: 24
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 10 ounces peanut butter chips
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ½ cup Reese’s Pieces
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a 9″x13″ baking dish and line with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars, beating for 3 minutes or until lightened and fluffy.
  3. Add the peanut butter, mixing until just incorporated.
  4. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla extract.
  5. Add the flour, mixing until just incorporated. Remove bowl from mixer and stir in the peanut butter chips by hand.
  6. Spread evenly in the prepared baking dish and bake on the middle rack in the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes, rotating halfway through the baking time. They will be done when the top has puffed up and lightly browned around the edges and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few crumbs on it.
  7. Cool completely before adding the ganache (about 1½ hours).
  1. In a small sauce pan over medium heat, cook the cream until it boils.
  2. Dump the chocolate chips into a large mixing bowl then pour the heated cream over them. Let sit for 2 minutes.
  3. Add the butter and stir until smooth (if the chocolate chips don’t melt all the way, you can toss it in the microwave for 15-20 seconds, but no more than that).
  4. Spread evenly over the peanut butter blondies. Sprinkle the Reese’s pieces over the top of that and let sit until set, about a half hour.
  5. Pull the blondies out of the pan by the parchment paper and cut on a flat surface.
  6. Store in a single layer in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
If you’re in a hurry, you can cool the blondies in the freezer and/or set the ganache there, as well. It’s important to have them cool completely before cutting or they will just fall apart.

Much like my hometown heroes have inspired me in my creative life, Smitten Kitchen was one of the first blogs I truly followed. Her recipes were part of my inspiration when the blog transitioned from a creative writing exercise to a food blog in December 2010. It seemed fitting to include an adaptation of one of her recipes in this post.

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  1. I love how passionate you are about the theater 🙂 it’s honestly been forever since I’ve seeen a play of any sort!!
    And these blondies … MMmmm yumm

  2. These peanut butter blondies look seriously so delicious and I bet they tasted amazing. Wish I had one to devour right now!!

  3. Carrie – these look awesome – and with peanut butter chips? Drooling. I’ve never seen a blondie look so dressed up.

    1. Gotta bump up that peanut butter portion! 🙂 Thank you!

  4. These look wonderful. They would be a huge hit at my next book club!

  5. Hi Carrie! Saying hi from CCN! I adore your photos and really empathize with your desire to get back to your passions. Luckily for me, my blog forced me to work with talents/skills I always hired someone else to do – write and photograph. Both skills sets still have a long way to go but they have certainly blossomed out of necessity. I was friends with many thespians in high school and many, like you, are feeling the draw back to the stage in some way, shape, or form. And the blondies? they look luscious! Love the idea of the ganache!

    1. What do they say–necessity is the mother of invention? It’s also a great time to see what kind of skills you have hidden underneath it all and nurture them! 😉 I’m finding a lot of thespians returning to the fold at this point in life. Lacking the ability to take the plunge on the stage, writing seems the next natural step. Thanks for the compliment on the blondies! The ganache really makes them sing!

  6. NEVER lose site of your goal or your passions. You write, beautifully, and create delicious recipes, too!

    1. Thank you, Betsy! Trying very hard to stay on task now. 🙂

  7. These look really tasty! I love blondies and love peanut butter. 🙂 Pinning! And I here you about the food blogging . . . it’s fun to share recipes, but can be very time-consuming. I’ve never been much of an actress, but my sisters were involved with a local theater group for many, many years. I’m always amazed at how they can put on a performance with minimal props/sets/lights and it is their acting skill alone that really pulls you into the story. I love the simplicity of their performances that puts the focus on their talent. 🙂

    1. Thank you! They really are a wonderful combination! It’s so hard to find that right balance of life fulfillment, blog, family, and everything else. Actors make magic happen! That’s the only explanation for how they manage with so little else put into the production!

  8. Fun post and inspiring. I want to make those yummy goodies and start learning theater lines. Way back I did little church play roles. So fun. Follow your dreams!

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