Honestly, blondies aren’t actually cookies. . .they’re bars. But if you cut them small enough, no one will challenge you.
So. Brownie v. blondie? For true chocolate lovers, the latter is likely a sacrilege. But the buttery, caramel-y flavors of blondies appeal to many. Me, included.
Legend has it brownies were invented by socialite Bertha Palmer’s chef at the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago. She asked him to create an easy-to-eat dessert for her friends at the luncheon she hosted at the 1893 Columbian Exposition World Fair. As you might imagine, they were a big hit. I wrote a piece about the story, including Bertha’s connection to Sarasota, so check it out to learn more AND get that recipe.
Blondies were on the baking scene long before their chocolate counterparts arrived. Interestingly, it seems that the first published recipe was Fannie Farmer’s in her 1896 edition of The Boston Cooking-School Cookbook.
That classic recipe has been modified by many over the years, but key ingredients include brown sugar, butter, vanilla and nuts.
A few years ago there was chatter within the food scene about the ‘simply perfect’ blondies created by folks at Cook’s Illustrated. They tested all sorts of things like whether to use melted butter, how long to cook them, if you should toast the nuts (you simply must), and how much vanilla is never too much, just to name a few.
- 1 c. Walnuts or pecans (I used pecans)
- 12 Tb. Unsalted butter, melted & cooled
- 1 1/2 c. All-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. Baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. Table salt
- 1 1/2 c. Light brown sugar, firmly packed
- 2 large Eggs, lightly beaten
- 4 tsp. Pure vanilla extract
- 1 c. White chocolate chips
- Heat oven to 350 degrees and set rack to middle position. Line a 9X13 baking pan with parchment or foil (leave enough to overhang so it's easy to lift the blondies out of the pan after they've cooled). Spray the parchment/foil with vegetable spray. Set aside until ready to use.
- Spread nuts onto a baking sheet and bake approx. 10 minutes, until nicely brown and fragrant. When done, transfer to a cutting board to cool, then coarsely chop.
- While nuts roast, place butter in a small bowl and microwave for 30 seconds at a time until fully melted. Remove and allow to cool.
- Whisk flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.
- In a separate, large mixing bowl, whisk melted/cooled butter and brown sugar until smooth, then add eggs and vanilla and whisk again. Gently fold in dry ingredients with a rubber spatula. When just about combined, add white chocolate and nuts and mix again. Don't over mix!
- Spread batter into prepared baking pan. Bake 22-25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean in the center and the top is shiny and slightly golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature. Remove from pan by lifting parchment/foil. Transfer to a cutting board to cut into 2" pieces (or smaller or larger, to your liking). Store leftovers in an airtight container.