28 February 2014

Blondies: the world's most perfect brownie

I love blondies. Unlike the trade of universally loved chocolate ice cream for boring, cardboard-tasting vanilla ice cream for the sake of being different, the albino cousin of the brownie tastes like browned butter and rich caramelly burnt sugar, and it's dense and satisfyingly chewy.  I love them naked, and I love them as a canvas for whatever bits and pieces of fruit, nuts, and candies I have laying around, waiting for a proper binding substance.  They are almost impossible to screw up, can be mixed in one bowl in a matter of minutes, and comprise the most basic of baking ingredients you have in your pantry at all times.  Have I won you over yet??

Universal Blondie Recipe:

Makes 16 bars

½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick), melted
1 cup lightly packed dark brown sugar
1 egg
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup flour (all-purpose or a mix of all-p. and whole wheat

Optional mix-ins:
½ cup chocolate chips
½ cup chopped nuts
½ cup dried or frozen fruit or shredded coconut
¼ cup liquor (rum, whiskey, bourbon…)--add 1 tablespoon flour if using
½ teaspoon extracts (mint, raspberry, almond…)

Preheat the oven at 350°F.  Prepare an 8 x 8 inch baking pan with butter, cooking spray, or parchment paper.

Combine all ingredients in the order listed into one big mixing bowl, whisking together wet ingredients (butter, sugar, egg, extract(s)) first before stirring in remaining dry ingredients.  Smooth into the prepared baking pan and bake 25-30 minutes , or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Cool to at least room temperature before cutting.

Some of my favorite combinations:
Tropical: add diced frozen mango, shredded coconut, rum, and macadamia nuts
Minty: add peppermint extract and dark chocolate chips
Trail Mix: add almond extract, mixed dried fruit, nuts, and chocolate chips
Christmas: add frozen cranberries, white chocolate chips, walnuts, and bourbon