If you’re going to strap on an apron and call yourself a baker so you can churn out highfalutin’ stuff, go ahead. But you better be able to sing the hits, too, because the number of times a family baker has the time to make croissants or gets requests for baked Alaska are pretty small. Instead, there are common calls for “what can you bake for the bake sale tomorrow?” or “do we have stuff for rice krispy treats?” I have found that having a few major winners up my sleeve is crucial— chocolate chip cookies, chocolate cake and being able to whip up a quick pan of brownies is the key to a happy life in front of the stove and the flour-pot.
For a long time, despite their popularity, I derided blondies as color-challenged brownies that try to make up for their lack of chocolate by adding all kinds of stuff that doesn’t belong (nuts, flavored chips, etc.). But a few blondies in my life changed all that, and now I have a recipe of my own up my sleeve. It’s really the America’s Test Kitchen/Cook’s Illustrated recipe– which has been repeated ad infinitum throughout the Internwebz measure for measure, but as usual, I added a few twists: coconut, cocoa powder and more salt.
Two caveats: One, I do not toast the nuts, as the original recipe instructed me to do. I found repeatedly that toasted nuts taste great in salads, but not in baked goods– ESPECIALLY if you don’t have the time to let them cool down. Unless you grow your own or buy them raw, the regular chopped nuts are fine.
Two, the recipes specifies 22-25 minutes of baking time but does not indicate that you when you take them out, they’ll be a gooey mess almost inedible due to lack of form and intensely hot temperature. You have to let them cool and set, and when they do, they are so worth it. But patience is a difficult virtue to master.
- 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (plus 1/8th tsp)
- 2 teaspoons of cocoa powder
- 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tablepoons vanilla
- 1/4 cup sweetened, flaked coconut
- ~1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup white chocolate shavings (Mine, from a Callebaut bar)
- ~1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
- Set your oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13×9-inch baking pan parchment or foil and coat with cooking spray.
- Combine and whisk the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
- In your stand-mixer or another bowl, combine the melted butter and brown sugar together until combined. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix. Using a rubber spatula, fold the dry ingredients (including the chocolate chips, nuts, coconut) into the egg mixture until just combined. Do not overmix.
- Turn the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with a rubber spatula.
- Blondie recipes insist you should “Bake until the top is shiny and cracked and feels firm to the touch,” but I found that to be a non-working standard. My blondies had a matte finish, and I sent them back in for another 10 minutes. Nothing it seems, can hurt these blondies (EXCEPT FOR OVERMIXING), so cook them for 22 to 25 minutes. Then, let them cool completely for about an hour, if you can. Cut into bars, making sure you give yourself the first one.