Browned Butter Blondies
Does anyone else feel like every year there are fewer and fewer kids out trick-or-treating on Halloween? Well, either way, the week after Halloween always seems to turn into, “What-Should-I-Bake-With-This-Ridiculous-Amount-Of-Leftover-Candy week.” The answer to this week is blondies.
I had a fair number of people freak out at me over the White Chocolate Gingerbread Blondies (in a good way, of course), and this prompted me to realize I didn’t actually have a “regular” blondies recipe on the site yet!
Blondies are super easy to make - you don’t even need a stand mixer! One big bowl, a whisk and a spatula, a 9x13 glass pan, some tin foil and baking spray, and you’re good to go. They’re essentially sweet, chewy cookie bars, and you can customize them to your heart’s content (see below the recipe for a few ideas - PB+J bars are my FAV).
I think they’re particularly fantastic with browned butter, so that’s become my new standard. Though it does make them slightly more complicated to make, it also cuts a bit of the intense sweetness and gives them a depth of flavor that takes them from tasty to YOWZA. (If you’re not interested in making these right now but just want learn about browning butter, fine - be that way…and skip to step #2 below.)
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
MAKES 16, 20, or 24 blondies, cut-size dependent
2 sticks + approximately 3.5 tablespoons butter (see below for details on browning butter)
1.75 cups dark brown sugar (350g)
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour (240g)
1/2 teaspoon salt
mix-ins! (see bottom for ideas)
large mixing bowl
9x13 glass dish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9x13 glass dish with aluminum foil and spray with baking spray (or grease with butter or shortening).
To brown your butter*, place 2 sticks in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. As it starts to bubble but the sticks aren’t fully melted, swirl it around a bit, and once the sticks are melted leave it alone. It will foam up a whole bunch, and eventually start popping loudly, almost like popcorn! What’s happening when you brown butter is that the milk fat solids are separating from the liquid, and they’re falling to the bottom of the pan and browning (or, burning even), giving a delicious nutty flavor to your butter. So - leave the pan alone! Once you notice the popping speed get super slow, and you see a little ring of browned bits around the top edge of your butter, give it a good whisk, trying to scrape up whatever may be accumulating on the bottom - see the video below for an example. If through the foam your butter doesn’t instantly turn the lovely shade of dark brown you see in the picture to the right, leave it alone for a few more minutes and check again. The picture here is what it looks like when it’s done! The whole process can take 10-20 minutes, depending on the strength of your heat and conductivity of your saucepan.
Now that you’ve browned the butter, it also means that you’ve removed some of its mass, so let’s put it back! If you have a kitchen scale (which you should), tare your mixing bowl weight and pour in the butter, then add a sliver of butter at a time to bring the total weight back up to 8 ounces. If you don’t have a kitchen scale, when I did this it took another 3.5TB of butter to do the trick, so go ahead and add that to your browned butter in your mixing bowl. Throw your mixing bowl in the fridge to cool down a bit (or the freezer, but keep a close eye on it) while you prepare the rest of your ingredients (get everything out, measure it, whisk together the 240g flour + 1/2 tsp salt.)
Once the butter doesn’t feel hot to the touch (warm is okay), add 350g dark brown sugar (1.75c) and whisk to combine.
Add 2 eggs and whisk well to combine thoroughly, then mix in 2tsp of vanilla.
Switch to your spatula, and mix in the dry ingredients until there are just barely no traces of flour left (if you continue to use the whisk here it’s not going to ruin anything, but as your batter comes together it will clump up in the middle of the whisk and be really annoying to get out.)
Fold in mix-ins of your choosing! (see below for ideas)
Spread the batter evenly in the 9x13 pan, using an offset spatula or back of a spoon to smooth it even.
Bake 23-28 minutes until the center is just not jiggly anymore - don’t overbake these! They’ll finish baking through a little as they cool. Start checking them at 23 minutes and give them 1-2 minutes more at a time until they’re done.
Cool to room temperature and EAT THEM ALL…uh, I mean, once room temp put them in the fridge to chill for an hour and then cut them cause it will be a little easier if they’re cold. They’ll keep room temp for about 5 days, a week or two in the fridge, or FOREVER if wrapped well in the freezer (especially if you don’t cut them first).
*If you choose not to brown your butter (lame!), just melt two sticks of butter on the stovetop or in the microwave, add to your mixing bowl, and skip to step #4.
Add-In Ideas! -
Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars: 1-1.5 cups of chocolate chips or a candy of your choosing - you can even use candy bars if you chop them up into tiny half-bite-size pieces!
Confetti Blondies: 1 cup of rainbow sprinkles.
Espresso Blondies: 2 tablespoons of espresso powder (for this one you’d want to add it when you add the vanilla, before your dry ingredients.)
Oreo Blondies: 1.5 cups of chopped Oreo.
Liquored-Up Blondies: 1/4 cup + 2TB of bourbon or scotch (add when you add the vanilla, it’s okay if the batter looks curdled), also up your AP flour amount by 2TB.
Bananas Foster Blondies: 1/4 cup + 2TB of dark rum (add when you add the vanilla, it’s okay if the batter looks curdled), also up your Ap flour amount by 2TB, and fold in 1 cup mashed banana at the end.
PB + J Nutter Butter Bars (these things are SERIOUSLY delicious): Add 1 cup of creamy peanut butter (NOT the natural kind) when you add your vanilla, reduce your AP flour amount to 1.5 cups (180g) and your salt to 1/4tsp, and for mix-ins add 1 cup of chopped nutter-butter cookies. Then, after you’ve spread your batter in the pan, swirl some seedless jam (maybe a 1/2 cup?) of your choosing throughout the top of the batter.
Browning butter - almost done: