When I prepared desserts for our dessert party a few weeks ago, my sister-in-law, JC, loved the blondies that I made.
Blondies are without a doubt one of the easiest recipes in my arsenal and never seem to fail to please even the most avid chocolate lover – but they generally contain no chocolate. Unless, that is, you throw in some chocolate chips which is a devilishly good idea, but changes the exclusive focus on chewy ultra-sweet butterscotch to one that includes the complexity of chocolate. Though, obviously, that combination is virtually deadly (which is why I usually, selflessly, poison-test baked goods before serving them to friends/family). This time I added chocolate chips – it is my perogative, after-all. S & I poison tested this batch – we are still alive, happy.
Like many of my favorite recipes, these are not difficult and not intricate. They are pretty homey and come from an old standby: The Fannie Farmer Cookbook. It is another well worn cookbook with basic American recipes (the original book is over 100 years old). I always find that the baking recipes have stood the test of time in these cookbooks. The savory recipes are sometimes past their prime or simplify new cuisine, but these old cookbooks usually give good ideas and guidelines (i.e., how long to cook and how carve a chicken, how to make stock, how to make stuffing, etc.) Cookbooks like Fannie Farmer were indispensible before the advent of the Web, because they are somewhat instructional in nature. When you had just one good cookbook, it was like an old reliable friend and teacher. If you look at really old versions of, say, The Joy of Cooking, you can even get multiple recipes on how to prepare squirrel. Which is nice and may come in handy, someday. But, I just did a search on “cooking squirrel” on Yahoo! and it returned over 9 million hits. The first was a lesson from “eHow”. I do have a point here….
With food web-sites, food blogs, eHow’s and, basically, social networking through food, a lot of the “old friend” aspect of these venerable tomes has been lost. Which is a shame. These wonderful books have stood the test of time, because these classics are both trustworthy and reliable. I’m sticking with my old friends even as I make new ones.
This recipe for blondies yields a rich and chewy bar. Make sure to keep them in an airtight container because they dry out pretty easily. When well wrapped, they freeze beautifully. The corners of these blondies are the pieces the L, J, S and I fight over. I may need to get one of those new all edges pans to ensure family harmony.
Butterscotch Brownies (Blondies)
adapted from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook, 12th Edition
makes 16 squares or 32 smaller rectangles
I mix the blondies in the pan in which I melt the butter. This saves some cleaning.
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 cups dark brown sugar (packed)
2 eggs (large)
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
1 cup chocolate chips (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch square cake pan.
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
Melt the butter over medium in a medium saucepan (one that is large enough to hold all the ingredients). Remove pan from the heat.
Add the brown sugar, and stir until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, and stir until combined. Add the vanilla and stir. Add the flour mixture to the brown sugar mixture. And combine thoroughly, but don’t overmix. Add the nuts and/or chocolate chips, if desired.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread to the corners. Lick the bowl if you want to (remembering, of course, the raw egg warning: may be harmful).
Put the pan in the preheated 350 degree oven and bake for about 35 minutes, until the top is dry and almost firm to the touch. Don’t overcook! Cool and cut into squares (4X4) or rectangles (cut each square in half).