3 blondie recipes to try if you’ve mastered the art of chocolate brownies

Posted by for Food and Drink

From classic blondies to cinnamon roll blondies, these squidgy, buttery bakes are the good kind of vanilla. 

Cast your mind back to earlier this year. The UK was deep in hard lockdown, and all over the country, people were trying to make the best of a bad situation by turning to wholesome activities. From yoga to cross-stitch, baking to candle-making, there wasn’t a crafty hobby we didn’t embark upon in an attempt to distract ourselves from the news.

This could mean we know how to fill our time now we’re staring down the barrel of a winter under varying degrees of Lockdown 2.0. But it could also mean that we’ve already burnt through our enthusiasm for multiple pastimes this year, leaving us in dire need of a new project.

Fortunately, there will always be new recipes to master. So if you’re one of the many people who became obsessed with making chocolate brownies during your quarantine baking phase earlier this year, we suggest turning your attention to blondies. Similar to brownies but less ubiquitous, blondies are simple squares of dense, squidgy, chewy cake, with a batter that’s predominantly flavoured with vanilla rather than chocolate or cocoa powder. 

Someone who knows a lot about blondies is food writer and baker Sarah Kieffer. An entire chapter of her cookbook 100 Cookies is dedicated to brownies and blondies, with dozens of recipes riffing on the classic bakes. Below, Kieffer shares three of her favourite blondie recipes, starting with one for traditional blondies with vanilla, white chocolate chips and toasted pecans.

Brilliantly, Kieffer has also blended blondies with another lockdown baking craze: cinnamon buns. Her recipe for cinnamon roll blondies features a brown butter dough swirled with spiced sugar and cream cheese. And her banana crunch blondies are another delicious mash-up, with a chocolate ganache topping and sprinkling of candied walnuts (ideal if you can’t bear the thought of making another banana bread). Time to get that oven on…

  • Classic blondies

    blondie recipe

    Sarah says: “This recipe appeared in my first book infused with coffee and remains one of my favourite treats to make for get-togethers, parties, holidays, and straight-up snacking. This is my ‘home’ version, with plenty of vanilla and toasted pecans. If I’m not in the mood for white chocolate, I’ll leave it out, replacing the chips with equal parts chocolate.”

    Makes 12 large or 24 small blondies

    Ingredients

    • 215g plain flour
    • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
    • 170g unsalted butter
    • 300g brown sugar
    • ¾ teaspoon salt
    • 1½ tablespoons pure vanilla extract
    • 1 large egg, at room temperature
    • 90g toasted pecans, chopped into bite-size pieces
    • 128g semisweet chocolate chips
    • 85g white chocolate chips

    Method

    Adjust an oven rack to the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease a 23 by 33cm baking pan and line with a parchment sling.

    In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder.

    In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, brown sugar, and salt. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Let the mixture cool to room temperature. Add the egg and whisk until combined. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Add the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Add the pecans, chocolate chips, and white chocolate chips, and stir gently.

    Transfer the batter to the prepared pan, and pat into an even layer. Bake for 18 to 24 minutes, until the blondies are set on the edges and the top is golden brown and just beginning to form cracks. A wooden skewer or toothpick inserted into the blondies should come out with just a couple of crumbs.

    Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely. Use the parchment sling to gently lift the blondies from the pan. Cut them into bars. Store blondies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two days.

  • Cinnamon roll blondies

    cinnamon blondies recipe

    Sarah says: “I never understood Edmund’s choice of Turkish delight when the Queen of Narnia offered whatever his heart desired on her reindeer-drawn sleigh. As a child, I often thought, ‘Oh hey, what about cinnamon rolls?’ Because they are not only delicious in real time, but also perfect for snowy, otherworldly adventures – the spicy cinnamon sugar warming you right down to your toes, and the tangy icing alerting the senses in case you happened to be cozied up next to an evil witch.

    “I’ve tried to mimic my Sunday morning indulgence here in bar form: brown butter blondies make a perfect base, and cinnamon sugar and cream cheese are both swirled into the top to make each bite pure, deep magic.”

    Makes 12 large or 24 small blondies

    Ingredients

    For the cream cheese filling:

    • 113g cream cheese, at room temperature
    • 50g granulated sugar
    • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    • pinch salt

    For the cinnamon sugar swirl:

    • 50g brown sugar
    • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • pinch salt
    • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

    For the brown butter blondies:

    • 284g plain flour
    • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
    • 227g unsalted butter
    • 200g granulated sugar
    • 200g brown sugar
    • 1½ tablespoons pure vanilla extract
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 2 large eggs plus
    • 4 large yolks, at room temperature

    Method

    Adjust an oven rack to the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease a 23 by 33cm baking pan and line with a parchment sling.

    For the cream cheese filling: in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the granulated sugar, vanilla, and salt, and mix on medium speed until well combined.

    For the cinnamon sugar swirl: in a small saucepan, melt the brown sugar, butter, and salt together over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and stir in the cinnamon until combined.

    To make the brown butter blondies, whisk together the flour and baking powder in a medium bowl.

    In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt 170g of the butter. Brown the butter until it is dark golden brown and giving off a nutty aroma, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the remaining 57g butter to the pot, swirling the pot until the butter stops foaming. Add the granulated and brown sugars, vanilla, and salt, and stir to combine. Let the mixture cool to room temperature. Add the eggs and yolks and whisk until combined. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Add the flour mixture and stir until just combined.

    Transfer the batter to the prepared pan, and spread into an even layer. Dollop the cream cheese and cinnamon sugar over the top of the batter, alternating the two. Drag the tip of a butter knife through the batter, creating swirls.

    Bake for 25 to 29 minutes. A wooden skewer or toothpick inserted into the blondies should come out with just a couple of crumbs.

    Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely. Use the parchment sling to gently lift the blondies from the pan. Cut them into bars. Store blondies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two days.

    Note: Leave a small space unswirled in the centre of the batter when assembling. This is the spot you want to insert your toothpick to check when the bars are done, as the cream cheese and cinnamon swirl will remain wet throughout baking.

  • Banana crunch blondies

    banana chocolate blondies

    Sarah says: “Adding bananas, chocolate ganache, and candied walnuts takes the humble blondie to the next level. Also, once you take a nibble of candied walnuts, your life will forever be altered. You will keep little bowls of them on your countertops; you will hide bags of them in your secret candy stash.”

    Makes 12 large or 24 small blondies

    Ingredients

    • 213g plain flour
    • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
    • 170g unsalted butter
    • 300g brown sugar
    • 227g mashed bananas (about 2 bananas)
    • ¾ teaspoon salt
    • 1½ tablespoons pure vanilla extract
    • 1 large egg
    • 60g toasted walnuts, chopped into bite-size pieces
    • 30g cacao nibs

    For the chocolate ganache:

    • 340g bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
    • 240g double cream
    • 280g candied walnuts (see below)

    Method

    Adjust an oven rack to the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease a 23 by 33 cm baking pan and line with a parchment sling.

    In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder.

    In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, brown sugar, mashed bananas, and salt. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Let the mixture cool to room temperature. Add the egg and whisk until combined. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Add the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Add the walnuts and cacao nibs and stir gently.

    Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan and bake for 18 to 24 minutes, until the blondies are set on the edges and the top is golden brown and just beginning to form cracks. A wooden skewer or toothpick inserted into the blondies should come out with just a couple of crumbs.

    Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely.

    For the chocolate ganache: place the chocolate in a small bowl. Heat the double cream in a small saucepan until it is simmering and just about to boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let it sit for 5 minutes. Remove the plastic and whisk until completely smooth. Cool to room temperature. When the ganache is cool, whisk for 30 to 45 seconds, until the ganache thickens a little bit.

    To assemble: top the cooled blondies with the chocolate ganache, spreading it evenly over the top. Sprinkle the candied nuts over the ganache (I like to use the whole 280g here, but you can sprinkle less if desired). Use the parchment sling to gently lift the blondies from the pan. Cut them into bars. Store the blondies in an airtight container at room temperature for 2 days.

    Candied walnuts

    Makes about 420g

    Ingredients 

    • 280g walnuts
    • 100g granulated sugar
    • ¼ teaspoon salt

    Method

    In a large frying pan over medium heat, stir together the nuts, sugar, and salt. Cook until the sugar begins to melt and the nuts begin to toast, stirring almost constantly.

    Once the sugar begins to melt, turn the heat down to low and cook until the nuts are lightly caramelized. Pour the nuts onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Let them cool completely before chopping. Nuts can be stored in an airtight container for up to one week.

    From 100 Cookies: The Baking Book For Every Kitchen by Sarah Kieffer (£21.99, Chronicle Books), out now

Photography: © 2020 Sarah Kieffer

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