Friday, September 9, 2011

White chocolate & pecan blondies

Friday!  Fall-ish weather!  Football tomorrow!  And a tailgating feast!

Whether you've getting together with friends to root for your favorite college or professional team, I've got something you simply must not ignore: platinum blondies!

Don't have any pigskin in your future?  Make them anyway for the heck of it!  If you need a reason to have dessert, then life isn't worth living.  Wanting it is reason enough :)

I made these for last week's first Pitt game of the season, and they were a smashing success.  So were the little flags -- I even caught a GUY taking a picture of them!  And who says guys don't appreciate details?

If you're not familiar with blondies, it's a bar cookie made with lots of brown sugar that, when baked, results in an almost butterscotch-y flavor.  Think the texture of a brownie but without the predominant cocoa flavor.

Blondies are infinitely adaptable and this recipe is no exception.  The original called for toasted chopped pecans and white chocolate chips, and I decided to stick with that plan because the recipe had such glowing reviews.  If it isn't broken, don't fix it, right?

I realized that was the right decision when I discovered that I couldn't keep my paws off the dough!  I'm usually the kind of baker who scrapes the bowl so clean that you'd wonder if it were ever used. 

Uh, not this time, folks!  The hosts on Food Network shows always drive me absolutely crazy when I see them leaving tons of batter/whatever left in the bowl.  "You're wasting that!"  Let's just say I joined that fraternity when I pretended not to see that big hunk of buttery sugary chocolate and nut-laden dough in the bottom of the bowl.  It was for a quality control test :)

It's a miracle that I was ever able to part with the rest of the dough and let it bake properly after tasting that dough.  I wondered how on earth it could improve from such an already-delicious state!  Because isn't dough just the most satisfying and delicious treat?  Yes, yes it is. 

Welp, the oven in my kitchen must have magical powers because the cookies were even better than the dough!!  Go figure, huh? :)  A slight crackle on the outside revealed a chewy and moist inside, just how a blondie should be.  Bursting -- I mean, look at those pictures! -- with gooey white chocolate chips and nutty pecans.  Toasting the nuts is definitely one of those steps that's totally worth it, in case you were wondering.

Also worth it?  Adorning each and every blondie with a flag.  Because, even if you're not a football fan, cookies like these will turn you into a face paint-wearing gridiron junkie!  Thank goodness the platinum blondies were at least high octaneP-I-T-T, let's go Pitt!

Platinum Blondies
(adapted from Al Roker's Hassle-Free Holiday Cookbook)
-makes 16 two-inch squares

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
4 ounces white chocolate, chopped, or 3/4 cup white chocolate chips

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Lightly butter an 8-inch square baking pan with sides at least 1 1/2 inches high. Using an electric mixer or mixing by hand, beat together the sugar and egg until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and butter and beat to mix well. In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt and add to the butter mixture, beating until just incorporated. Do not overmix. Using a spoon, stir in the pecans and white chocolate.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and use a flat metal spatula or a butter knife to smooth the top. Bake the blondies for 25 to 30 minutes, until the top is dry and golden and a knife inserted in the center comes out with just a few crumbs attached (not wet, but not perfectly dry). Remove the pan from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Cut the blondies into 2-inch squares.

The blondies can be stored, well wrapped, at room temperature for up to 3 days (these seem to get better as they sit) or frozen for up to 2 months (thaw before serving).

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