Monday, November 9, 2009
Maple walnut blondies
This mostly cooler weather has me looking for more fall flavors to use in the kitchen. I did the pumpkin thing for a while... what about maple? I had a craving for French toast for dinner last night but realized that if I made it, I'd either A) have to make a second trip to the grocery store and it was already getting late, or B) not have bread for a sandwich tomorrow. What to do, what to do... ah, yes. Make something with maple syrup to satisfy that craving that required minimal effort, so I could relax and watch a movie rather than doing dishes at 10:30 at night. (You can't imagine how much this actually happens.) Minimal effort... something baked in a dish all at once... bar cookie... blondies!
How many of you know what a blondie is? Or have even heard of a blondie? And I don't mean the cartoon.
(Makes me think of when I was younger and used to pretend, in front of my parents, to read all of the Sunday comics but secretly only read Garfield because the others' humor was way over my head at the time. Anyway...)
A blondie is basically the non-chocolate version of a brownie. Traditionally, the blondie got its name from the light color of the cookie and the predominant butterscotch flavor, coming from the butter and brown sugar. Today, many variations exist. The blondie is made via a simple mixing process (only a whisk needed!), baked in a pan for a bar-like product, and easily personalized with whatever mix-ins or toppings you like: nuts, baking chips or bits, various flavor extracts, and even frosting.
Maple Walnut Blondies
(makes sixteen 2" by 2" bars)
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
1/2 cup white chocolate chips (optional)
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly coat an 8" square baking pan. In a large bowl, combine the cooled butter, sugar, maple syrup, vanilla and the egg. Whisk until smooth. Stir in flour and salt just until no more flour is visible. Fold in walnuts until evenly incorporated.
Pour batter into prepared baking dish. Bake 30-35 minutes, until blondies are set and a light golden brown color. Cool completely in pan on wire rack.
OPTIONAL: When completely cooled (1 to 2 hours, depending on how warm your kitchen area is), melt white chocolate chips in microwave. That's right, I'm skipping the traditional double boiler (heatproof bowl over another bowl of simmering water) method because a microwave is just plain easier. If you "nuke" in 10 second intervals, stirring between each, you should be able to melt the chips just fine. Transfer the melted chocolate to a sandwich size Ziploc bag, trim the tiniest bit of one corner off, and pipe over blondies until you are satisfied with how they look.
I discovered these taste even better the next day, as the maple and walnut flavors really come together. The walnuts add a nice light crunch to the chewy cookie, and the white chocolate gives a bit of sweetness. I can't stress enough how EASY bar cookies are, especially blondies and brownies. No batch by batch baking with these, just one pan and done. The few dishes and utensils I used were cleaned and drying before the blondies even came out of the oven. And they totally tasted like French toast to me (or enough to stop myself from making a late-night breakfast, at least).
This is a perfect "experiment cookie", I must say. Add mini chocolate chips instead of nuts. Make a cream cheese frosting for a topping! Whatever you do, happy eating! :)