If there is one thing that you should know about me, it’s that I am a prolific baker. I’m not even going to tell you how frequently I bake because it would be embarrassing to put it into print. Suffice it to say, that I whip up a little something and pop it in the oven about as often as I should throw in a load of laundry to keep up with the dirty clothes generated by my family of six. And I wonder why I can’t shake the last few–OK, 15–pounds of baby weight. Not really. Besides, baking is way more fun than doing laundry.
For me, desserts tend to fall into one of two categories: (1) chocolate, and (2) why bother. Chocolate is homey. Chocolate is decadent. Chocolate is what dessert is all about.
My favorite “quickie” dessert is definitely my Super Fudgy Brownies. Dense, fudgy, chocolatey decadence. Mmmmmm. If this sounds familiar, it might be because I adapted that brownie recipe to make Salted-Caramel Brownies, which I shared here a few weeks ago. Because it was rainy today, and maybe because I tend to obsess about food, I got to thinking about brownies and their counterpart, blondies.
I’ve never had much use for blondies–not that they aren’t tasty! Blondies have a brown sugar and butter base, a caramel-ish taste, and a texture similar to that of a brownie. I’ve seen them with chocolate chips and/or walnut included. Sounds fine, but it’s not a brownie. That’s just my opinion. I was curious as to what my family would think, so we decided to have a brownie vs. blondie throw-down. I. Can. Get. Fatter.
I started by whipping up a pan of my Super Fudgy Brownies. I’m not going to bore you with the details, since I pretty much showed you how to make them here. Just skip the caramel part, and put the brownie batter in a larger, 13 x 9, pan and bake at 350 for 28-30 minutes.
While the brownies were cooling, I perused my cookbooks in search of a blondies recipe. I found a few, but none of them looked intriguing. I figured that if I had any chance of enjoying a blondie, then it better be as rich as my brownies. A-ha! The light bulb moment: I should just tweak my brownie recipe to make the blondies. So that’s what I did. I omitted the cocoa powder and chocolate chips, and added baking powder, cinnamon, and a dash of nutmeg.
The result is spiced, caramel-y blondies, with the texture of brownies.
Sounds lovely, doesn’t it? It is. Let’s do it!
1 C. (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 C. brown sugar, firmly packed
2 C. all-purpose flour
½ tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. baking powder
4 large eggs
1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
Start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees F. Then grease a 13 x 9 inch pan and set it aside. Be sure to use a pan that is obviously well loved, like mine.
In a medium bowl, add flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, and a hefty pinch of nutmeg. Give it a good whisk to combine, and set it aside.
Then, in a large saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar over medium heat, whisking frequently as it melts, to incorporate the sugar and keep the butter from separating. Continue to heat until most of the sugar crystals have melted. Do not allow the mixture to boil. Remove from heat, and cool for 5 minutes.
Pour the melted sugar mixture into the dry ingredients. Whisk them together to form a stiff dough. It’s going to look a bit like play dough at this point, but don’t worry, we’re not done.
Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking well in between each addition. I like to crack all of the eggs that I need into a measuring cup before adding them. Cracking them ahead of time allows me to fish out any rogue bits of shell before they end up in my batter. Rogue bits of egg shell add an unwanted crunch and “eeeew!” factor to your baked goods, and thus should be avoided. To add the cracked eggs, slowly “pour” the eggs over the bowl until one yolk falls out, then quickly stop pouring, and mix in the egg. Repeat until each egg is incorporated.
Once all of the eggs have been incorporated, stir in the vanilla extract. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake for 25-28 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool completely before cutting with a plastic knife.
Now. Are you ready for a blondies versus brownies throw-down?!
On your left, the Super Fudgy Brownies. On your right, the Spiced Blondies. Yin and Yang.
In the interest of scientific comparision, I took a bite of each. You’re welcome. The brownie was dense and silky and chocolatey. The blondie was lightly spicy and warm and cakey.
Hmmm…I’d better take another bite for the sake of research. I’m very thorough like that.
Yes. Definitely. Definitely fudgy.
And the winner is….the brownies! Not by as much as I thought though. I was surprised by the results stemming from the informal taste comparison done by my family. Although I enjoyed the blondies, I chose the brownies because, well because they’re chocolate! (Duh!)
Hubby also chose the brownies–slightly surprising, but not earth-shatteringly so. But my eldest boy, my vanilla-over-chocolate-every-time boy, chose the brownies, too! What?
And if that weren’t enough to rattle me, my 2nd and 3rd sons, the we’ll-take-more-chocolate-on-our-chocolate-thank-you-very-much middle boys, the very same can-we-please-have-hershey-kisses-for-breakfast boys, chose the blondies! Who knew?!
The final tally:
The Baby didn’t get to vote. He’ll add that to the sure to be long list of things that he was left out of because he is the baby. But he would’ve voted for the brownies, like his Momma. I’m going to freeze the remaining brownies and blondies so that I can bring them to a dinner on Friday night. I’ll let you know what our guests prefer, later.
Here’s the blondies recipe!