Can I just say how touched I am? You all left the sweetest congratulatory messages on the last post, and I’m really just tickled. We’re told this is a pretty exciting time in our lives, and if the last two weeks are any indication, exciting is quite an understatement. We’re floating.
But I digress: this is a food blog, not a get-all-mushy-about-my-engagement blog, and I think it’s about time I passed along some recipes! I was in Chicago on business for the past few days, and in New York with friends to celebrate before that, so the kitchen’s been dark lately, but in the past few weeks, I’ve made some pretty tasty things, including one thing I probably haven’t made in years…
When it’s mid-July and summer’s taken up residence here in Washington, the fruit are at their peak. With ripe peaches and juicy plums in abundance, there’s no good reason to make anything but fruit desserts. That’s why, for the past 10 years, I seem to have forgotten about blondies. They just fell of my radar entirely; when I think of dessert, I think of crostadas and pies and fruit crisps galore. Chocolate? Chocolate who?
The other day, I was moments away from making Dorie Greenspan’s Brown Sugar Bundt Cake (from her book Baking From My Home to Yours). I had the bundt pan out and ready to go, the stand mixer fitted with the paddle, and then, suddenly, had a second thought. Didn’t the recipe say that the bundt was better the next day? I wanted something sweet now. Maybe I should stick to something I know, something comfortingly chewy and chocolatey and altogether delicious, that’d be delicious in under 30 minutes. I flipped a couple of pages and there, staring back at me, were some thick, unctuous-looking blondies. I was sold.
Now, some of the things I’ve made from Baking have been less than stellar. Dorie’s chocolate chip cookies really didn’t hit the spot for me, and I was a little worried about her blondies, since they’re so similar in flavor to chocolate chip cookies. But the worrying was for nothing. These blondies were, without a doubt, the best I’ve ever had. They were perfectly chewy without being undercooked; the balance of salty to sweet and the undercurrent of vanilla running throughout were just right, and the generous addition of heath bar chips pushed them over the top. And no, they definitely weren’t too sweet: the bitterness of the walnuts balanced out the sugar. I wish I’d made a double batch!
Chewy Toffee Blondie
adapted from Dorie Greenspan
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups (packed) light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chips, or 1 cup store-bought chocolate chips
1 cup butterscotch chips or Heath Toffee Bits (I used Heath)
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut (I omitted these)
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter a 9×13-inch baking pan and put it on a baking sheet.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle or using a hand mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add both sugars and beat for another 3 minutes, until well incorporated. Add the eggs one by one, beating for 1 minute after each addition, then beat in the vanilla. Turn the mixer to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing just until they disappear into the batter. Using a rubber spatula, stir in the chips, nuts and coconut, if using. Scrape the batter into the buttered pan and use the spatula to even the top as best you can.
Bake for about 40 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center of the blondies comes out clean. The blondies should pull away from the sides of the pan a little and the top should be a nice honey brown. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for about 15 minutes before turning the blondies out onto another rack. Invert onto a rack and cool the blondies to room temperature right side up.
Cut into 32 bars.