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.
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]
- 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
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 8" square pans with parchment paper. Spray the parchment with oil once lined.
- 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.
- While the butter is browning, whisk together the flour and bakind powder. Set aside.
- 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.
- In three batches, add the dry ingredients, mixing on low until the flour is just combined.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.]
- Remove the blondies from the pan with the parchment handles and cut into 12 [or more] pieces. Enjoy!