I’m 16, and on a date.  FNL style, we’re at Applebee’s.  We share this (it’s still on the menu, 14 years later).  I think I’m in love.  With the blondie, that is.  I reminisce about this for years, eat bar cookies and brownies, but never quite reach that level.  Once when I was pregnant with Miles I was served something similar, but that man (the baker and father of a friend’s baby) was out of my life soon after as well, recipe never exchanged.  I tried to recreate it myself and failed, wasting time and butter and chocolate and precious, precious imported nuts.  And then I ran across this recipe.

It seemed too simple.  There was no rising agent.  Too little salt.  Too much sugar.  But guess what?  It is spot on.  Very easy as well, you can make the whole thing in one bowl in minutes, bake for about half an hour and be eating warm blondies in less than an hour.  If you want to get fancy, serve it on a sizzling cast iron plate with vanilla ice cream and “maple butter” (I don’t even want to try and guess what’s in that).  I ate them straight out of the pan, but here’s what I did to get fancy: the recipe calls for melted butter, but I went a step further and intentionally browned the butter.  This technique of heating the butter on the stove top until the solids cook to a deep golden brown is a pretty recent food trend, and something you can do to update a grandmother’s cookie recipe to make it relevant.  I find it makes the overall flavor caramelly, especially when paired with brown sugar, and even more modern when combined with sea salt.  I can’t name a single person who would complain about getting served these instead of a Christmas cookie, even without the maple butter.

Brown Butter Blondies (from Smitten Kitchen)

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • pinch salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup toasted nuts
  • 1/2 bar good dark chocolate, broken into chunks

Note: I doubled the recipe and made a 13×9 in pan.  Also, you can skip browning the butter if you’re in a hurry, but it really makes a difference.

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 and prepare a 8×8 square baking pan.
  2. Place the butter in a sauce pan and melt over medium heat.  It will start to bubble.  As it starts to foam, lower the heat and watch as the foam turns from yellow to golden to tan and starting to become a bit rusty…remove from the heat and pour into a mixing bowl.  Allow to cool slightly.
  3. Whisk sugar into the cooled butter.  Add egg and vanilla, and whisk to combine.  Add salt and flour, use a spatula to incorporate without overmixing.  Fold in nuts and chopped chocolate.
  4. Pour into the pan (no need to butter/flour) and bake 25-30 minutes, or until just set in the center.  These are best a bit gooey.
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