Truth be told, I am not a chocoholic. Don’t get me wrong, I really like chocolate and I won’t ever turn it down. But I’m not a fanatic. I don’t need a little nibble of it every day, and I don’t automatically go for the chocolate option when ordering dessert in restaurants. Maybe that’s why I’ve always preferred blondies over brownies. Blondies are actually one of my favorite cookies out there. I used to work really long hours at a firm downtown, across the street from the New York Stock Exchange. Anyone who’s visited the financial district knows that it’s a little scarce in the way of restaurants. A few delis, and mostly chains. I don’t want to count how many times I ate at Chipotle while I worked there. Directly across the street from my building sat Au Bon Pain. While I tried very hard to watch what I ate (working 14 hour days doesn’t leave much time for exercise, after all), I found their blondies extremely difficult to resist. So I allowed myself one per week. They were heaven.
Since then I’ve wanted to find a foolproof recipe that really delivered the best blondie at home in my own kitchen. I’ve made a few recipes, only to find them lacking. The best part of a blondie is the chewy, gooey, brownie-like texture. Many recipes are too dry, and taste more like a cookie bar. Not that there’s anything wrong with cookie bars, they’re just not the same thing as blondies.
But now, I have found it. I have found the perfect blondie. I can’t imagine I will ever need another blondie recipe ever again.
These took two tries to get them perfect. First, I found a blondie recipe on The Smitten Kitchen weblog. It instructed to use an 8×8” pan, or to double the recipe and bake in a 9×13” pan. I thought I had an 8×8”, I really did. Nope, turns out mine is 9×9”. So the blondies spread too thin and they weren’t gooey enough.
Shortly after that cooking mishap, I ran across a blondie recipe in David Lebovitz’s “The Perfect Scoop” that also called for using an 8×8” pan. Okay, so I’m definitely just doubling it now! But as I compared the Lebovitz recipe to The Smitten’s recipe, I realized they were almost identical. Lebovitz credited Dede Wilson for his recipe while Smitten adapted hers from Mark Bittman. All this leads me to think there really is only one definitive blondie recipe floating around out there, and believe me when I tell you, this one is all we need. I made one small tweak. Both recipes called for all brown sugar, and sometimes I find all that molasses flavor to be a bit much for my palate. So I simply cut some of the brown sugar with some regular white granulated, to equal the same amount of sugar. But that’s it. Either way you make it, it really is blondie perfection. You can make the recipe with no add-ins, or basically add in whatever strikes your fancy. I used chocolate chips and chopped pecans.
*I doubled the recipe as written and used a 9×13″ pan. Cooking time was about 30 minutes.
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
A pinch of kosher salt
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
2/3 cup chocolate chips
2/3 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
Preheat your oven to 350 F.
Grease an 8×8″ square pan and cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom (I didn’t grease my pan first and it turned out fine).
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir the brown sugar, white sugar and vanilla into the melted butter, then stir in the egg. Stir the melted butter mixture into the dry ingredients, then fold in the chocolate chips and nuts, or whatever your add-ins happen to be.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Smooth the top and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the center is firm to the touch but not hard, and slightly puffed. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Then remove the parchment paper, with the blondies, to a cutting board or other heatproof cooling surface and let cool completely before cutting into squares and eating.