Nutty blondies don’t leave me craving chocolate

Blondies, a 1970s throwback, perhaps could be credited to a cook who came up short on cocoa.

Unless you’re a fan of treats that emphasize rich, toasted nuts, a slightly bitter counterpoint to unadulterated sugar and butter. That’s the concept behind two of my extended family’s favorite desserts: pecan pie and pecan snowballs aka Mexican wedding cakes. While nuts improve any brownie on my palate, they’re usually not copious enough.

Blondies — blond brownies — keep nuts where they belong, front and center. The addition of a sticky toffee topping recalls pecan-pie filling and raises blondies up a notch beyond the recipe featured in the current edition of A la Carte (see the June 27 e-edition) As the week’s story about sugars explained, Muscovado sugar has a deep molasses flavor and is an option for more savory uses such as in barbecue sauces.

The following recipe is best mixed by hand, rather than with an electric mixer, which can overwork the batter and make it gummy.

Tribune News Service photo

Sticky Toffee Blondies With Sea Salt and Roasted Pecans

1  1/2 cups pecans, plus more for garnish

1  1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter

3  1/4 cups (13 ounces) pastry flour

1  1/4 teaspoons kosher salt

3 eggs

2 tablespoons vanilla extract

1 cup plus 1 tablespoon (8.8 ounces) dark brown sugar

3/4 cup plus a scant 2 tablespoons (6.9 ounces) Muscovado sugar

Sticky Toffee Glaze (recipe follows)

Fleur de sel or other medium grain sea salt, for garnish

Heat oven to 350 F. Spread the pecans out on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast pecans until darkened and aromatic, for 6 to 8 minutes, being careful not to burn. Remove and cool; coarsely chop.

While pecans are cooling, brown the butter by placing in a wide pan and heat over medium-low heat until milk solids are nicely browned and butter has a toasted, nutty flavor, for 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and pour into a mixing bowl. Set aside.

Prepare a 9-by-9-inch baking pan by spraying it with nonstick spray, lining with a piece of parchment paper sized to bottom of pan, then spraying once again to coat paper and sides of pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and vanilla.

Carefully whisk the sugars in with the warm butter, mixing well to combine. Slowly whisk butter mixture into beaten eggs and vanilla, mixing well until fully incorporated.

Add flour mixture and blend it in until there are just a few pockets of dry flour remaining, careful not to overmix. Add toasted pecans and fold them in.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake blondies for 12 minutes, then rotate pan. Blondies will be done when the top is glossy and crackling a little and center is slightly firm when pressed gently on top. They will be somewhat soft, but not gooey in center. Remove from heat and cool on a rack. While blondies are baking, prepare the glaze.

Cut blondies into 9 even squares. Dip top of each in glaze. Sprinkle each with a little of the sea salt and garnish with some chopped toasted pecans. Serve as they are, or store them covered once glaze has dried. Blondies will keep for up to 4 days in a covered container, and up to 2 weeks frozen in a sealed container.

STICKY TOFFEE GLAZE: In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine 3/4 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, 1 cup heavy cream and 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon each: honey and corn syrup. Bring to a boil over high heat and boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and set aside to cool until both blondies and sauce are cooled. This makes a generous 2 cups sauce, more than is needed for blondies; sauce will keep, covered and refrigerated, up to 2 weeks.

Adapted by the Los Angeles Times from a recipe by Elizabeth Belkind of Cake Monkey.

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  • Blog Author

    Sarah Lemon

    Sarah Lemon covers the Rogue Valley’s food scene with an enthusiasm that rivals her love of cooking. Her blog mixes culinary musings and milestones with tips and recipes you won’t find in the Mail Tribune’s weekly A la Carte section. When ... Read Full
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