Brown Butter Blondies with Sea Salt

blondies with brown butter and sea salt

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.

ingredients for blondies with brown butter and sea salt

white chocolate

unbaked blondies

brown butter and sea salt blondies, just baked

cut blondies

brown butter pan

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*

2 eggs
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.

If you aren’t quite ready to dive back into sugarland, these chocolate bars, which I can find at my grocery store, offer that same sweet-salty dynamic. They are delectable:
chocolove bar with almonds and sea salt

46 Comments

  1. These look incredibly tasty and beautiful (esp for a non-chocolate girl). My mouth is seriously watering sitting here at my desk. A batch of these is absolutely in order this weekend!

    Reply
  2. It is freezing in London – I went out side for a few hours and my face got all puffy from the cold (my fault for not layering enough though). I have been keeping warm with delicious crumbles.

    I like how this only uses chocolate stirred through which means I can probably leave the chocolate out! (I don’t like chocolate, yes I know this is strange)

    Reply
    • Explody Full — it is freezing here too… what I would do for a bite of a delicious crumble. Perhaps I’ll add that to my to-do list for tomorrow. And since you don’t like chocolate, I think these will be perfect for you — you could substitute anything you like in place. Are you averse to toffee bits?

      Reply
    • Alley — I am dying to make cookies with brown butter. I have been eating too many sweets, so I’m trying to refrain, but I don’t think I’ll be able to hold back too much longer. Thanks for the inspiration!

      Reply
  3. I do so adore your blog! I use your reciples regularly (specifically your BEAUTIFUL buttermilk scones). Whenever I am looking for a recipe for something I usually start with your blog and SmittenKitchen. You do good work! Thanks for sharing! :)

    Reply
  4. I had an intense dessert craving yesterday but there was no caster sugar, no chocolate, and no raisins in my pantry, plus only 2 eggs in the fridge… I checked your blog because I know I can always rely on your recipes (your lemon bars make a regular appearance here) and made these with walnuts. They are delicious and incredibly addictive – dessert yesterday night and breakfast this morning! Thanks Alex!

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    • Emilie — so happy to hear this! And you are right — they are too addictive. I’m having a hard time not making batch after batch of them. So glad you like the lemon bars too. Thank you for your nice comment.

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  5. Just made these with a slight alteration, and they are out of this world!!! I have a penchant for maple blondies, so I subbed out 1/2 c of the brown sugar for 1/2 c maple syrup, which i added to the browned butter while it was cooling. I also like my walnuts just lightly toasted, so I did that as well, and added some chopped Godiva white chocolate bar with vanilla bean. I also topped the batter with about a 1/4 tsp of flaked sea salt. They have a salted caramel-like taste, with the interesting crunch of toasted walnuts and the delicate creaminess of the white chocolate. The browned butter just makes them. Seriously good. I have made numerous batches of blondies for my husband, but these are his #1 favorite!!! Now I hear you have a recipe for lemon bars, which are also one of my favorites, so I am going to bookmark this recipe and peruse your blog!!!!

    Reply
    • Jennifer, I think you are a little bit of a genius. Your variations sound wonderful! I was thinking about sprinkling sea salt on top as well, but was worried about overdoing it with the salt, not so much for me, but for others. Did you still add a teaspoon of sea salt to the batter? I am going to try your maple syrup substitution. I bet it makes them even chewier? I don’t ever know how these sorts of substitutions affect the final product, but I love the sound of maple. Also, toasted walnuts sound heavenly! Can’t wait to try these variations. Thanks for writing in!

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  6. I did still use 3/4 tsp salt in the batter to activate the baking powder and baking soda – but these went QUICK! My “vegan” daughter couldn’t handle the temptation, lol. I feel bad, kind of. But not too bad… great recipe! I really loved the salt on top, it was just what they needed- i’m such a huge fan of the salt & sweet fad, kettle corn, salted caramel – something in a woman’s hormones requires it! <3 Thanks again!!!

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    • Jennifer — you are funny…couldn’t agree more about the requisite sweet & salty for the woman’s hormones. OK, thanks for the tips on 3/4 tsp salt in the batter and 1/4 tsp salt on top — will do that for sure — and I will look for genuine Maple Syrup the next time I get to Trader Joe’s. Thanks!

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  7. I made these on Sunday because once I saw the picture I just HAD too.
    The batter smelled soooo good!!
    I didn’t have Maldon, I used Real Salt sea salt and they turned out perfect even though I hovered over the butter fearing it would burn.
    Thanks Alexandra

    Reply
  8. Hi! I have just been feasting on the tray of these I’ve pulled out of the oven and they are delicious. i didn’t put any mix-ins but I can see how they would taste really good with some walnuts.

    I only had a 8×8 tray so I halved the recipe as you suggested, there wasn’t much batter in the tray after I tipped it all in but it turned out ok. I might try the full amount next time…I am pretty sure I followed the instructions properly for once too!

    Reply
    • Explody Full — so glad you liked these! Ok, I think I am going to have to try a double batch in an 8×8-inch pan to see how it turns out so I can give better instructions in that regard. Walnuts sound like a fabulous idea. Can’t wait to try your dumplings!

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  9. I just tried these with the changes but we preferred the less chewy version. I was a bit skeptical how something so perfect could be made any better. I’ve been using the Ghirardelli white chocolate chips. I don’t think they taste any different than the bar and it saves me a tiny bit if labor. Thank you so much for this recipe. It’s a total hit with my family. Not to mention it opened my eyes to the world of browned butter!

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    • Oh lizzie, I’m sorry! That’s never fun :( I hope they didn’t go to waste? I should make a note that the changes I made might not be for everyone. And, I know, isn’t browned butter amazing? I can’t believe I’ve baked for so many years without it.

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  10. Que ricos son! los acabo de hacer y a todos en la casa les gustó mucho. Son pegostosos y de muy buen sabor. Yo los hice con chocolate de leche porque es el que más me gusta.

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  11. Quick question before I make them!
    You say double for a 9×9 but half for an 8×8, so do you mean to use four times the amount for a 9×9? Or just the original recipe amount for 8×8 and double for 9×9?
    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Rosie — Ok, sorry for the confusion. The recipe reflects the doubled amount, so don’t quadruple it for a 9×9 pan. And, you might be ok using the doubled amount (again, how the recipe is written) for an 8×8-inch pan too — one commenter found that the halved amount wasn’t quite enough for the 8×8 pan. If you use an 8×8 and you use the doubled amount of batter, you might just need to bake them for a little bit longer. Hope that helps! Let me know if you have any other questions. And happy baking!

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  12. I have done the full recipe very successfully in a 8×8 pan – no issues. But when I made them yesterday, I tried the newer version and they didn’t rise much at all and the texture was almost uncooked. Is that what they are supposed to be? Also… my batter (every time) is very “wet” – much wetter than your picture. Okay… all that said, these are to die for and the contents of the “uncooked” pan is rapidly disappearing.

    My favorite food blog – hands down! :-)

    Reply
    • Lindsay, you are too nice to say such things! OK, I think I need make another note or revise the “updated note.” First of all, I’m glad to hear that a double batch works nicely in the 8×8-inch pan. I am wondering if in an 8×8-inch pan, the leavening ingredients — baking powder and soda — shouldn’t be reduced quite so much since the pan is thicker? Hmmm. I might just have to make myself a batch of these today. Raw center is no bueno, but I’m glad you are still enjoying them. Thank you again for your nice comment and for being so understanding. I’m making edits to the recipe right now.

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  13. Alexandra, I have one more question… I haven’t worked with brown butter before – I ended up with 2 different types of solids in the pan – the solid that accumulates in the bottom center of the pan and then dark brown solid particles that settled to the bottom when I poured the browned butter into the bowl. I didn’t use either. Should I have?

    Thank you for being so responsive!

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    • Lindsay — I think I really need to make a batch of these tonight…I am all of a sudden craving them. I think you did the right thing, but I am not sure I necessarily remember two different types of solids, but that could just be that i’m less observant. I basically poured my browned butter into a clean mason jar and just left any solids that didn’t pour out easily in the bottom of the saucepan. So in other words, I wasn’t super careful — I didn’t strain it through cheese cloth or anything — but I also didn’t use a spatula to get any remnants of brown butter from the pan. I hope that makes sense! I’m going out to dinner with two friends who are leaving the area, but if I have time before or after, I am going to bake these again in an 8×8-inch pan. And if not today, tomorrow for sure!

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  14. “If you are using an 8×8-inch pan, do not omit the baking soda and use 3/4 teaspoon baking powder”

    So just baking soda in the recipe or baking soda + baking powder for 8 x 8 pan? Thanks!

    I literally just received my Maldon salt from the UPS guy. I’ve been waiting all week to make these. hehe

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    • Hi Amanda! So sorry for this confusion.I received a comment last night that the blondies were underdone in the center when all of the baking soda was ommitted and when the baking powder was halved. So, and I haven’t tried this yet, but I was thinking that if you are going to use an 8×8-inch pan with the double recipe, that you should use the 1/4 teaspoon baking soda (instead of omitting it) and use 3/4 teaspoon baking powder (as opposed to 1/2 teaspoon), so baking soda + baking powder for the 8×8-inch pan. Does that make sense? Don’t hesitate to email me or comment again if you have any questions. Hooray for the arrival of the Maldon!

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  15. Alexandra – Thanks for the reassurance that I didn’t mess up on the butter! Another thought when you remake these – my batter was far “wetter” than your picture – and I reviewed the ingredients twice to see if I’d left anything out. It almost slid out of the bowl into the pan… Feel like I’m nitpicking, but the taste is so amazing, I want to get the texture right!

    Thanks again!

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    • Thanks for the reminder. I am likely going to make these tomorrow morning, and I will definitely take some pictures of both the batter and the butter for your reference. I am seriously craving these now!

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    • Lindsay — OK, first of all, thank you very much, I’ve eaten about 10 too many blondies today :) So, I used an 8×8-inch pan, which the batter fit into comfortably. I think a 9×9-inch pan is a better size mostly because I think the blondies bake a little more evenly, but even so, I would say a double batch of this blondie recipe definitely works well in the 8×8-inch pan. I did not omit the baking soda, and I used 3/4 teaspoon baking powder. I used light brown sugar (didn’t have enough dark brown), and I used 1.75 cups flour. The dough was on the wet side, but not so much that it slid out of the bowl. I definitely had to use my spatula to scoop it out and plop it in the pan. I have photos on my flickr site if you want to look: http://www.flickr.com/photos/10576492@N02/sets/72157633498583398/ and I will add them to the post with some notes soon. As for browning the butter, this is what I did: as soon as the butter looked brown in the saucepan, I removed it from the heat and poured it into a pyrex bowl. I did not use a spatula to remove anything clinging to the saucepan. I did notice some solids in the bottom of my pyrex bowl (I took a photo, which is in that flickr set), and I used all of them. Everything that entered the pyrex bowl, got used in the blondie batter. The blondies baked for about 37 or 40 minutes… I sort of lost track. I didn’t poke them with a toothpick or anything to check for doneness. I just gently touched the top, and I let them cool entirely in the pan. They were not underdone in the center.

      I hope that helps! Let me know if there is anything else or if you have any questions regarding the pictures. And as I said, I will update the post soon, too. Thanks for the inspiration to make another batch…such a treat to have on hand :)

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  16. So sorry for all those blondies you had to consume in the name of recipe perfection! ;-) I will make them again soon with the changes you made and I have absolutely no doubt they will be perfect!! Thank you!!

    Reply
  17. Hi! I just wanted to ask if you ever have any issues with hackers?

    My last blog (wordpress) was hacked and I ended up losing several weeks of hard work due to no data
    backup. Do you have any solutions to prevent hackers?

    Reply
  18. Hi Alexandra, I have solved the issue with under-done blondies, but not sure I can help with hackers… But for blondies in an 8×8 pan: set oven at 325 instead of 350 and cook for 54 minutes. Perfection!
    For work I do that sits on my computer (the work I used to do was all on Word) I use Carbonite to back-up everything up real-time. It’s very reasonable and seems very reliable. Not sure how it would work (if at all) for things that have been created directly online, unless you made a copy that you stored on your disc. My heart aches for you – I wrote and published a book a couple of years ago and during the 3 years of writing and revising, my greatest terror was losing my work. Hope you were able to retrieve in some way.

    Reply

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