brown butter blondies, two ways

posted in: baking, Featured, recipe swap, recipes | 18

In school, I was definitely one of the people always on the go-go-go. In college, I was in a professional fraternity and a handful of other organizations. There were always events, or class projects or fun outings or fashion shows to work on. [Oh, and partying. Hey, I’m no angel.] In high school, there were at least a few group meetings each week. Heck, even middle school had extracurricular activities, and I kept busy. I like to think it was [and still is?] a case of my need to stand out. Besides my parents generally pushing me to be an awesome student and study hard, being a middle child does some weird stuff to your psyche. If I can’t stand out at home that much, I’m gonna at least be the kid always doing something.

Melodramatic childhood analysis aside, there’s also something satisfying about volunteering, helping plan events, or just generally spending time with a group of people brought together for one reason. And living in a city that is so busy itself invigorates me to stay busy. Everyone has their job. And then they have their side gig. And sometimes they have their weekend gig too. There’s so much passion, so much energy, and so much joy to the New Yorkers I spend my time with

So before you know it, you’re thrown into a fairly hectic schedule. And then there’s a time when you reach a different level of busy. So when I had my first supper club dinner, a giant New York City cookie swap, a cupcake party volunteer position, a boatload of professional work on my plate AND a recipe swap all collide in one week, I was… Excited. Scared. Overwhelmed. Did I mention tired? Yeah, definitely tired.

But the Cookie Swap and Vintage Recipe Swap falling on the same day was Kismet – this month’s recipe swap is the original Toll House cookie! Chocolate chip cookies might be my favorite thing to bake. While in their purest form, straight out of the oven, they’re heavenly. Gooey chocolate surrounded by a toffee-like chewy and soft dough. But they’re also the perfect blank slate – add toasted nuts, crushed up salty snacks, candy, dried fruit, different varieties of chocolate chips, whatever shows up in your pantry. To me, that only amps up the levels of delicious. So with a classic recipe like Toll House at my fingertips, my inspiration was intense and cookie-shaped.

And then Sunday morning arrived. After working for over fourteen hours straight yesterday on the inaugural Whiskey & Salt Supper Club event, I awoke this morning a little hung over, extremely exhausted and feeling like my body was in a fight and lost. Scooping cookies seemed way over my head. Melting butter? I think I can do that. Forgetting about it in the pan until it was brown? Oh, well that works. Pulling random bits of ingredients from the freezer and pantry? Yes, I can do this. Who needs a bunch of small cookies when you can make one giant cookie?!

Yes, I’m talking about the blondie. The full realization of how awesome blondies are didn’t sink in to my brain until recently. All the things I love about cookies, none of the single portioning raw dough. And this recipe, adapted from The Cookiepedia, is truly versatile. Because of the variety of ingredients in my home, I made two varieties for the cookie swap. Just like cookies, you can substitute any mixture of toasted nuts, baking chips, candies or other treats. The brown butter adds something lovely to the final flavor, as brown butter seems to do. And you get chewy edges, slightly soft centers and tons of chocolate chip cookie flavor in a bar.

brown butter blondies, two ways

Yield: two dozen bars

If you want the blondies one way only, use a 9x13" pan instead and combine the add-in measurements - 2/3 cup baking chips, 2/3 cup mix-in of choice.

This recipe was inspired by Toll House and my hangover, and adapted from a wonderful cookbook, The Cookiepedia, by Stacy Adimando. [received as a review copy]

Ingredients

  • 1 cup salted butter
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1.5 cups light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1.5 teaspoons whiskey [or bourbon, rum, or vanilla extract]
  • 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup toasted nuts, chopped
  • 1/3 cup butterscotch chips
  • 1/3 cup nut brittle, crushed

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 8" square pans with parchment paper. Spray the parchment with oil once lined.
  2. Start with your butter. In a light-bottomed saucepan on medium heat, melt the butter. Turn to low heat once melted and let the butter do it's thing. It will take about 8-10 minutes to turn brown, start to smell nutty and basically become the best thing ever. Remove from the heat once browned.
  3. While the butter is browning, whisk together the flour and bakind powder. Set aside.
  4. In the bowl of your stand mixer or another large bowl, add the brown sugar and butter. Mix on medium speed for a minute. Add the eggs and liquor or extract and beat on medium for several minutes. The mixture will start to lighten up in color, and become silky-smooth. This is what you want. It should take about 3-5 minutes of mixing for this to happen.
  5. In three batches, add the dry ingredients, mixing on low until the flour is just combined.
  6. Put half of the batter in your flour bowl and keep half in the mixing bowl. [Eyeball it, it's fine. It's not rocket science.] In one bowl, add the chocolate and nuts, in the other, the butterscotch and brittle. Mix both until just combined.
  7. Pour or scoop batter into their respective prepared pans. My batter was rather thick so I had to help it along in spreading. Wet your hands and pat the dough down, pushing into empty corners and edges. Sprinkle lightly with fine grain smoked salt. Repeat for the second pan.
  8. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes clean. Less baking gives you doughier blondies, more baking gives you denser, chewier blondies. Remove from oven and cool completely before removing from pan. [After resting at room temperature for 5-10 minutes, I put both pans in the freezer for 30 minutes. It speeds up cooing perfectly.]
  9. Remove the blondies from the pan with the parchment handles and cut into 12 [or more] pieces. Enjoy!
http://emilyhanhan.com/2011/12/05/brown-butter-blondies-two-ways/

18 Responses

  1. Someone did brown butter cookies so I fear my comment will be redundant but it’s true; everything is better with brown butter! And then you add bourbon? Oh my…after my own heart you are.

  2. Ahh I love that your hangover led you to this genius idea! I’ve only made blondies once before (what can I say, I guess I grew up in a brownies household), and I’ve never really thought of them as a perfect giant cookie. This is definitely the way to go, just plop them in the oven! These look great, thanks for the recipe

  3. My family was totally a brownie family too! They’re the one pure chocolate dessert I can really get into, but blondies are ruling the bar shaped dessert battle now!

  4. Nope, never too redundant! Brown butter is king!
    And whiskey, bourbon, rum are all great stand-ins when vanilla extract is running low. πŸ™‚

  5. Emily, these look soooo good! I love that our brains went to the same place with the brown butter. Guess what, I’ve never made a blondie before. True story. Guess what else, I’m going to make blondies now that I’ve seen this recipe. True story again.
    X
    Sabrina

  6. I love blondies and have never made them! You are right about the salt and sweet combination; it’s perfect. And with whiskey? Divine.

  7. I love your brown butter blondie interpretation – absolutely delicious looking!

  8. hehehe, sometimes, you just gotta make blondies…like when certain conditions arise, as they did for you! These somewhat spontaneous kitchen creations often turn out so wonderful. I can see that that’s the case for your blondies. Yum!

  9. These are gorgeous…I’m all about blondies. Kudos to you for being in eight different places at once! πŸ˜‰

  10. This look so good! I am a big fan of blondies πŸ™‚ One of my favs!

  11. omg I am reading this at 3:30, and the mid-afternoon hunger setting in…wow these look good! Love the idea of adding nut brittle to a blondie!

  12. Emily, I snagged one of each of these at the swap & oh lordy, they’re good! I, um, hid the toffee one from my husband so I wouldn’t have to share it. “What? No, there was only one blondie, honey! Definitely not two…”

  13. reading your post is just like reading my own! we were on the exact same page! your blondies look fantastic!

  14. See, I was just like you, thriving on being busy, but I am the oldest of three:) And I still like to be busy.
    Blondies are unknown territory for me, as I always opt for brownies. But just looking at your squares, I am determined to veer away from the familiar and try them. And, yes, I will definitely add booze:)

  15. My goodness girl you must be EXHAUSTED! I know and also love the energy of NYers… there’s always so much fun to be had and we’re really the friendliest group of people πŸ™‚ But sometimes saying ‘yes’ to so much fun means cranky pants in the morning (at least for me… I’m reverting to super green smoothies to try to fix this…). I LOVE this recipe, and can’t wait to share it. Sorta craving toffee with my smoothie now….

  16. Lovely post and great pictures ~ I am a fan of using bourbon in anything food/baking ~ looks live you’ve hit a home run with these

  17. The best things can come out of hangovers, especially when combined with brown butter and bourbon! These look delicious!

  18. Er, where do I start. These are killer good. I cannot stop staring and scrolling back and forth. Pure decadence.

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