After a month of abstaining from serious dessert (inordinate amounts of dark chocolate, providing heaps of antioxidants, don’t count), a sugar craving and a magazine blurb had me unearthing baking pans and once again scribbling down butter, chocolate and brown sugar on my grocery list. The blurb described a treat offered at San Francisco’s Black Jet Baking Co — brown butter blondies made with Maldon sea salt — which I needed to have in my mouth immediately. Sorry, but I did.
While no recipe accompanied the blurb, the ever-so-giving interweb provided more than a handful of brown butter blondie recipes for me to compare and contrast, many of which had similar butter-to-flour-to-sugar ratios. After creating a crude comparison table, I ultimately just altered the blondie recipe I always make, substituting brown butter for the butter and a teaspoon of Maldon sea salt for the salt. And, perhaps because the sea salt enhances the flavors of all of the elements including the brown sugar, after making a few batches, I reduced the amount of brown sugar by a quarter cup.
To me, these are heaven, a perfect balance of sweet and salty, impossible not to nibble on all day long. The brown butter, which I had yet to experiment with in baking, provides all of the nuttiness and deliciousness promised by its many fans. These are particularly good with a glass of milk, but I can’t pretend I haven’t enjoyed them aside morning coffee and afternoon tea as well.
I hope you all are staying warm…it’s finally feeling like winter down here in VA. And, if you’re looking for something quick and comforting to whip up this weekend, I’ve created a page (rather than a post…feeling lazy) for my mother’s hamburger helper recipe, which several of you requested. It’s a good one. Have a great weekend.
Brown Butter Blondies
Adapted from Simply Recipes’ blondie recipe
Yield: 16 blondies
Notes: As mentioned above, the original recipe, which is delicious, calls for melted butter not browned, much less salt, and 1/4 cup more brown sugar. I like to double the original recipe and bake it in a 9×9-inch pan, and although I have not tried it, a few of you have had success using an 8×8-inch pan with the double recipe, too.
Update 2-14-2013: For even chewier blondies, omit the baking soda, decrease the baking powder by half (so use 1/2 tsp.), and use 1.75 cups (7.875 oz. / 223 g) flour. I thought these changes made the best batch yet. I also used dark brown sugar, which may have made a difference, and I sprinkled an additional 1/4 teaspoon of Maldon sea salt on top. Update 5-13-2013: If you are using an 8×8-inch pan, do not omit the baking soda, and use 3/4 teaspoon baking powder — the blondies will be super dense (and somewhat undercooked) if you do.
1 cup (8 oz. / 227 g) unsalted butter
2 cups (9 oz. / 255 g) all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp Maldon sea salt*
1 1/2 cups (11.25 / or 320 g) packed light or dark brown sugar**
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup white chocolate *** (about 3 oz / 86 g)
* I have only made these with Maldon sea salt but I suspect fleur de sel can be used in the same quantity. If you don’t have sea salt on hand, I wouldn’t use much more than 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt or a 1/4 teaspoon of table salt.
** Original recipe calls for dark, but I always use light…just what I have on hand.
*** If you use white chocolate, I suggest cutting up a white chocolate bar versus using white chocolate chips, which really are not very tasty…have you tried a white chocolate morsel on its own recently? Not very tasty. I can only find Ghirardelli white chocolate bars at my grocery store, but I have heard great things about Valhrona white chocolate if you can find it. And if you don’t like white chocolate, use your favorite mix-in: chocolate chips, toffee bits, almonds, walnuts, pecans, butterscotch bits … whatever your heart desires.
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9×9-inch pan baking pan with parchment paper. (Alternatively, grease with butter.)
2. Brown the butter: Place butter in a saucepan and bring to a bubble over medium heat. Let the butter gently bubble, swirling the pan occasionally, until the mixture smells nutty and starts turning brown. Before the mixture starts turning brown, the bubbles at the surface of the butter will get really small and will be moving rapidly — be careful at this point as the mixture can quickly turn from brown butter to burnt butter. The whole process should take about 10 minutes. Remove pan from heat and let cool slightly before using.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and set aside.
4. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs. Whisk in the brown sugar, browned butter, and vanilla extract and mix until smooth.
5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir together until just combined. Stir in your mix-ins of choice.
6. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 – 35 minutes.