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.

blondies

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.

blondies

Blondies
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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