I’m a sucker for blondies. I’ll take them over brownies or cookies any day. The crisp buttery skin, the chewy edges, the gooey insides, the sparks of chocolate shocking bitterly on my tongue. . . excuse me while I go have a third one for the day, will you?
The combination of dark and white chocolate are what really make this for me. I’m not a huge fan of milk or semi-sweet chocolate, as I feel the milk binds a lot of that cocoa flavor and hoards it. I think it may do this on purpose. Good dark chocolate–I used a Scharffen Berger 99% cocoa bar–is bitter. Painfully so. It hits you in the back of the throat. It clears your head like a double shot of espresso (even though it contains far more theobromine than it does caffeine). It hurts. Cue the white chocolate. I don’t want to hear anyone else tell me it isn’t chocolate. I already know. It does, however, contain a huge amount of cocoa butter, which has its own sultry flavors and aromas that get utterly lost in dark chocolate. Thus you want to experience each in quiet bursts, surrounded by butter and sugar of course.
Ingredients (makes a 9×13 pan. I won’t presume to tell you how many servings that works out to.)
2 sticks (1/2 lb or 16 T) butter, melted
2 cups brown sugar (the darker the better)
1 T vanilla
2 cups flour
1 T baking powder
1/4 t salt
1-2 cups shaved chocolate or chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350°F Measure the brown sugar into a mixing bowl and stir it up a bit to unpack it. Add the melted butter and combine with a hand mixer. The result will smell like molasses and you may want to eat it as is. Restrain yourself.
Add the eggs and vanilla and blend them in as well. The batter should be bubbly and caramel-like. Again, don’t eat it all!
Combine the flour, salt, and baking powder in a sieve and sift the mixture over the other ingredients.
The mixture should now be thick, like peanut butter.
Ah, but what about the chocolate? I enjoy shaving my own chocolate. It’s relaxing, you get chocolate and all its delightful scents all over your hands, and, most importantly there’s a variety of texture and flavor that come out when you chop it by hand that a bag of chocolate chips just can’t imitate. You get tiny, effervescent flakes in one bite, great eye-popping chunks in the next. Moreover, you’re guaranteed to never find a completely chocolate free bite. The point of a blondie isn’t blandness, after all. One of the things that sets it above the brownie is that you get a different experience each bite, keeping your palate fresh and ready for more. Which makes it a little hard to eat just one.
I find that the best way to shave chocolate is a bread knife. Take the knife to the corner of the chocolate brick and crunch it. There will be shavings, flakes, and chunks. This is good. If the edge starts to feel a bit long, start on another corner.
I used about 3 ounces each on dark and white chocolate. The white chocolate needs less pressure, and can’t get too warm or it will melt.
Finally, mix the chocolate into the batter just to combine.
Butter a 9×13 pan and spread the batter across it as evenly as you can. As you can see, that wasn’t terribly even for me. Lots of splatterage up the sides. Oh well.
Bake at 350°F for about 25 minutes. They will have a paper-thin buttery shell on top, and a bit of a crusty crumb forming around the edges. You could poke it with a toothpick if you want, but in my experience, blondies that leave a skewer completely clean are overcooked. Ditto brownies. Let the blondies cool a bit–350°F is pretty damn hot–and serve with ice cream or whipped cream or, being realistic here, with another blondie. ‘Cause one just isn’t enough. As they cool, the center of the pan will sink some. Do not be alarmed. The flavor is just compressing.