Wednesday, March 12, 2014

brown butter blondies.

When I was a wee child, I participated in an after-school cooking program. The actual cooking was rather minimal (how much can a 6 year old really do) but it was a nice excuse to cover the front of my denim overalls in a flurry of flour (something I am still prone to doing as a 28 year old) and return home with the stickiest of fingers (now I have no excuse).  The highlight of the class was the discovery of the blondie, the most wonderful cousin to the brownie and the newest obsession of my 6 year old self.  Since that most exciting day of discovery, I have stuck with my tried and true recipe (because why mess with a childhood favorite) but sometimes (only sometimes) it's time to try something new.  

This new iteration is awesome.  A rather adult version of a childhood favorite (though I can't imagine any child turning them away). The browned butter transforms them into something multi-dimensional (so much extra flavor develops when you cook the butter). Normally I am a proponent of the center when it comes to bar cookies but here the edges (and especially the corners!) reign supreme. Somehow they end up with a deep caramel flavor the kind of thing that would normally take hours of cooking to achieve. The addition of instant espresso powder only heightens the flavor and the chocolate well that's because we needed to keep one element of the original. My inner six year old is extremely happy with the results.  

Brown Butter Blondies 
Recipe adapted from Not Without Salt

I halved this for fear I would eat them all.  Halving an egg is not the easiest thing to do but I usually just break the egg into a bowl, scramble it with a fork, and eyeball half (or if I am being anal, I weigh it and halve that way).  A little more or less won’t harm anything.  If you do halve it, bake the blondies in an 8x8 pan. 

1 ¼ cups (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon instant espresso powder
2 cups packed dark brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
¾ cup bittersweet chocolate chips
Flaky sea salt for sprinkling (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper; butter and flour parchment paper.

In a saucepan over medium heat, cook the butter until it turns golden brown. The butter will bubble up to stay with it and watch closely. Turn off the heat when you see a nice golden color. It will continue to cook a bit as it cools. Stir it around a bit to see the color underneath the foam. Remove from heat, and let cool. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and espresso powder.

In the bowl, combine browned butter and both sugars; stir with a wooden spoon until combined. Add eggs and vanilla and mix well.  Add flour mixture. Mix until thoroughly combined, then stir in chocolate chips, pour into prepared pan.  Sprinkle with sea salt if using. 

Bake until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. (Do not overbake so start checking at 30 minutes.) Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before cutting. Blondies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days – but seriously, they won’t last that long.  

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