Saturday, November 25, 2006

blondies, infinitely adaptable

blondies, infinitely adaptable

I’m back! But not really, as I got home an hour ago, whipped up a batch of the only blondie recipe you’ll ever need for our favorite blondie’s umpteenth 25th birthday and now I have about 45 minutes to find something in my closet that camouflages my sling because ugh, it’s such an eyesore. (On the flipside, when I don’t wear it and someone bumps into me I get all outraged like ‘don’t you know my shoulder is injured?!’ Well, no Debbie, they don’t.)

Although I am certain the last thing anyone wants to think about today is eating, baking, desserts or the next big cooking holiday, this recipe will usher in what I hope will be a month peppered with ideas for gifty kitchen confections. I know a lot of people this time of year make small gifts bags of baked goods, or larger tins for parties, and while I typically don’t, this gives me a chance, too, to try out a lot of bookmarked recipes while also never showing up at a party empty-handed. Also, I finally have an excuse to buy a candy thermometer.


Of course, this recipe is nothing new. I’ve been making it for nearly two years now because it’s simple the tastiest and easiest — one bowl! — baked goods to whip up for a party. It’s denser than chocolate chip cookies, more complex than brownies and in the classic Minimalist style, you’ve can customize it anywhere from a cranberry almond coconut bar to the gunky atery-cloggers I’m best known for. I typically load up on whatever chocolate I have around — tonight it was milk, white and bittersweet — finely chop some walnuts or pecans, use dark brown sugar, European butter and in something you will probably sense is a theme with me, add a splash of bourbon to boot. Gild the lily? Oh, not me. Never.

Finally, I double the recipe, baking it in a 9×13 pan (though really, just because I don’t have an 8×8 — yet) and cut the pieces really small, almost like cubes so we can rest assured that we’re not overdoing it. Oh no, not us. Never.


Adapted from How to Cook Everything

8 tablespoons (1 stick, 4 ounces or 113 grams) butter, melted
1 cup (218 grams or 7 3/4 ounces for light; 238 grams or 8 3/8 ounces for dark) brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla or 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Pinch salt
1 cup (4 3/8 ounces or 125 grams) all-purpose flour

  1. Butter an 8×8 pan
  2. Mix melted butter with brown sugar – beat until smooth. Beat in egg and then vanilla.
  3. Add salt, stir in flour. Mix in any additions (below).
  4. Pour into prepared pan. Bake at 350°F 20-25 minutes, or until set in the middle. I always err on the side of caution with baking times — nobody ever complained about a gooey-middled cookie. Cool on rack before cutting them.

Further additions, use one or a combination of:

  • 1/2 to 1 cup chopped nuts, toasting them first for even better flavor
  • 1/2 to 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 teaspoon mint extract in addition to or in place of the vanilla
  • 1/2 cup mashed bananas
  • 1/4 cup bourbon, scotch or other whiskey; increase the flour by one tablespoon
  • 2 tablespoons of espresso powder with the vanilla
  • Stir 1/2 cup dried fruit, especially dried cherries, into the prepared batter
  • Top with a vanilla butter cream or chocolate peanut butter cream frosting

New favorite combination of late (added 5/24/14): We’ve gotten on a kick making these again, but I’ve really wanted to increase the toasty butterscotch flavor and have done so by: browning the butter, using dark brown sugar but only 3/4 cup (I prefer these less sweet these days), increasing the vanilla to 1 1/2 teaspoons and the salt to 1/4 teaspoon fleur de sel or flaky sea salt, plus a few flakes crumbled on top. I use 1 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate and 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans as the mix-ins. Hope this provides some inspiration!


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