Butter Pecan Blondies

Blondies are easy to make and easy to customize. Start with a basic batter and pick flavors that you like for your add-ins, then stir it all up, pour it into a pan, and bake. Simple, low-maintenance, and delicious – three of my favorite things! Just remember to keep your stir-in portions under control; you don’t want to crowd your dough too much, and you can always sprinkle more of the add-ins on top for extra flavor and texture; that’s what I always do.

Blondies are also a wonderful option for those living chocolate-free lives like me. I’ve always been a huge fan of butterscotch, so I’ve been thinking about a butterscotch blondie for a while now. Then I remembered the amazing combination of butterscotch chips, toffee bits, and pecans from these butter pecan cookies I made a while back, and it seemed like a great idea for blondies, too. I’m pleased to say that they turned out very well, with excellent texture and flavor.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 12 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons butterscotch chips, divided
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons toffee bits, divided
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped pecans, divided

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 x 13 pan completely with foil and lightly spray with baking spray.

Reserve 2 tablespoons each of the butterscotch chips, toffee bits, and chopped pecans for sprinkling on top of your batter; set aside.

In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda, and brown sugar; mix well to combine.

Add melted butter and stir to incorporate slightly; add eggs and vanilla extract and stir well to fully combine. The dough will be fairly dry, so you’ll want to use your hands to fully incorporate your ingredients.

Add 1/4 cups each of the butterscotch chips, toffee bits, and chopped pecans; stir very well, using your hands if necessary to fully incorporate the ingredients.

Press dough into the prepared pan, then sprinkle the top with the remaining chips/bits/nuts and press them into the dough.

Bake for 23-25 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool in pan for about 15 minutes, then lift out by the foil and place on a wire rack; peel foil back slightly and allow to cool completely.

Once cool, remove foil entirely and cut into bars. Store in an airtight container.

Makes 24.

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Shannon’s Paleo(ish) Brownies

My friend Shannon finished her master’s degree last week, and such accomplishments must be marked with baked goods. Shannon is very fit and healthy, so she requested some paleo(ish) brownies, which were a huge hit at the office.

This recipe is adapted from Civilized Caveman Cooking’s blueberry espresso brownies; I didn’t use organic products or drizzle the melted coconut cream concentrate over the top like he did, but apparently they were delicious nonetheless. As they bake, they filled my kitchen with a delicious coffee/chocolate aroma, so I’m glad everyone liked them so much! Congratulations, Shannon!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup coconut cream concentrate, melted
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground coffee
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup blueberries

Preparation

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease a 9 x 13 baking pan.

In a mixing bowl fitted with the paddle attachment, combine melted coconut cream concentrate, eggs, honey, cocoa powder, cinnamon, ground coffee, vanilla, baking soda, and salt. Beat on medium speed for 2-3 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl well, until the mixture is very well-combined. Stir in blueberries.

Pour batter into the baking pan, spreading gently in an even layer.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool brownies in the pan; cut into 24 squares. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Super Fudgy Brownies

There are those who like fudgy brownies, and those who like cakey brownies. For me, brownies mean fudgy…the cakey ones may as well be chocolate cake. Not that I wouldn’t have eaten them back in my chocolate-eating days, but the fudgy ones were always my preference.

These brownies are super fudgy and adapted from a King Arthur Flour recipe; I left them completely plain so as to not take away from their amazing fudgy-ness. They got excellent reviews from both Mike’s coworkers and mine (I had a video shoot today and took them to my dear friends at our media studio).

Ingredients

  • 12 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs, very lightly beaten
  • 1 cup flour

Preparation

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease a 9 x 13 baking pan.

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Stir in sugar, then continue to cook for just a few minutes until the mixture is hot, but not bubbly.

Pour butter mixture into a large bowl and add cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, and vanilla, stirring well to fully combine. Add eggs, stirring to completely combine, then stir in flour until smooth.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 29-32 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool completely in pan; cut into 24 squares. Using a small offset spatula, gently lift bars out of pan; remember, they are super fudgy, so you’ll want to be gentle so they don’t break. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Coconut Dulce de Leche Brownies

As I contemplated how to use up some leftover dulce de leche, brownies came to mind. My friends Scott and Diana helped me figure out several aspects of this treat last week, but what they’ll likely be surprised to discover at the office tomorrow is the layer of dulce de leche buttercream between the brownie and toasted coconut.

Yes, dulce de leche buttercream. Between a brownie and toasted coconut, topped with chocolate drizzle. They kind of remind me of the Girl Scout Samoa cookie, minus the shortbread…but that would be a great idea for next time. I wish I could try them, but Mike says they’re delicious. I’ll take his word for it!

Ingredients

For the brownie layer

  • 1 1/3 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the dulce de leche buttercream

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup dulce de leche 
  • 2 cups powdered sugar

For the topping

  • 1 1/2 cups shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon shortening

Preparation

Begin by toasting your coconut so it’s cool by the time you’re ready to use it. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and spread coconut on a rimmed baking sheet (you can line the sheet with parchment if you like, but mine toasted better without). Toast for about 8-10 minutes, checking and stirring every 2 minutes to prevent over-browning. Allow to cool completely before using.

Raise oven temperature to 350 degrees. Line a 9 x 13 baking pan with parchment paper, extending the paper over the sides; this will make it easier to lift the brownie out later.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt.

In another bowl, combine vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla; beat lightly to combine, then pour into the dry mixture. Stir well to combine, but be careful not to over-mix. You want all of your dry ingredients to be absorbed, but your batter doesn’t need to be completely smooth; it will thicken and become shiny when it’s ready.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 25-28 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Allow to cool completely before frosting and topping.

To make frosting, in a mixing bowl fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl and add dulce de leche, then beat on medium speed for 3-4 minutes, until very smooth and well-combined. Add powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well between each.

Spread buttercream in an even layer over the brownies, then top with toasted coconut, pressing it gently into the surface of the frosting.

Lift brownies out of pan using parchment; peel parchment away from sides and cut into 24 squares. Place on a wire rack to drizzle with chocolate; it’ll be easier to manage the brownies if you follow this process, but you can certainly drizzle them in the pan then lift them out once the chocolate hardens.

Make drizzle: in a small saucepan, combine chocolate chips and shortening over low heat and stir until completely smooth and melted. Fill a zip-top bag with chocolate and snip off one corner, bearing in mind that the chocolate will be very liquid. Drizzle chocolate over brownies and allow to harden before serving.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature (if stacking, place waxed paper or parchment paper between layers) for up to 3 days.

Makes 24.

 

 

Candy Blondies

For most of my life, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups were my favorite candy. Now that I can’t eat chocolate because of migraines, I’m delighted to see that Reese’s offers a white peanut butter cup. And while I’d never really been a fan of white chocolate, it’s a wonderful alternative for migraineurs like me.

The recipe below combines two of my favorites: white peanut butter eggs and miniature Reese’s Pieces. You could mix whatever candy you like into these blondies; the recipe is one of the best I’ve found, and I’ve made it with both peanut and regular M&Ms before. Next time I make these, I might melt some peanut butter chips and drizzle it over the top, just for an extra bit of peanut butter goodness, or include peanut butter chips in the batter. The possibilities are endless!

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 12 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 6 Reese’s White Peanut Butter Eggs, chopped
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons miniature Reese’s Pieces

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 x 13 pan completely with foil and lightly spray with baking spray.

Reserve 1 cup of chopped peanut butter eggs and 1/3 cup miniature Reese’s pieces for mixing into the batter; save the remaining portions for pressing onto the top.

In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda, and brown sugar; mix well to combine.

Add melted butter and stir to incorporate slightly; add eggs and vanilla extract and stir well to fully combine. The dough will be fairly dry, so you’ll want to use your hands to fully incorporate your ingredients.

Add 1 cup chopped peanut butter eggs and 1/3 cup miniature Reese’s Pieces and mix with your hands to combine well.

Press dough into the prepared pan, then sprinkle the top with the remaining candies and press them into the dough.

Bake for 23-25 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool in pan for about 10-15 minutes, then lift out by the foil and place on a wire rack; peel foil back slightly and allow to cool completely.

Once cool, remove foil entirely and cut into bars. Store in an airtight container.

Makes 24.

One-Bowl Brownies

one-bowl-browniesI imagine that one-bowl recipes evolved out of necessity, with a busy baker looking to cut down time on dish washing. When you live without a dishwasher as I do, you welcome such recipes, especially when you also only need one measuring cup, one spoon, and one spatula for them.

This original recipe came from a box of Baker’s Unsweetened Chocolate, which I usually have on hand in my pantry cabinet. I adapted it to include walnuts and chocolate chips for some fun texture, but you could certainly leave them plain if you’re not a nuts-in-brownies kind of person. While I’m not longer able to eat chocolate because of migraines, I continue to bake with it for my friends and family. Sometimes, simply breathing in the delightful scent of cocoa is all you need.

Ingredients

  • 4-ounce package Baker’s Unsweetened Chocolate
  • 12 tablespoons butter, cut into tablespoon-sized pats
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 x 13 baking pan with foil, extending over the sides, and spray the foil with baking spray.

Roughly chop chocolate and combine with butter in a large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 1-minute intervals until the butter and chocolate are completely melted, stirring frequently.

Add sugar and stir to combine; the texture will be sandy, and that’s fine. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each. Add vanilla and stir to combine.

Stir in flour, then walnuts, then chocolate chips. Using a rubber spatula, pour batter into prepared pan and smooth out the top.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a cake tester comes out with just a few fudgy crumbs; be careful not to over-bake.

Cool completely in pan, then lift out using the foil as handles. Cut into 24 bars.

Note: you’ll want to use a small offset spatula to separate the bottoms of the brownies from the foil after you’ve cut them. Next time, I’ll add a fine layer of sugar to the bottom of my pan to help keep them from sticking. 

Pecan Blondies

pecan-blondieHow do you pronounce the word “pecan?” I say peh-con, with a short e-sound and so the “can” part it rhymes with lawn, while others say pee-can, with a long e-sound and so the “can” part rhymes with man. However you say it, this nut makes a delicious addition to baked goods, especially when toasted.

If you’ve never toasted pecans before, fear not. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and place them on a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer. Pecans need to toast for about 8-10 minutes, but other nuts, like slivered almonds, will need less time, say 6-8 minutes or so. Stir them a few times during baking, and keep a close eye on them so they don’t burn. You’ll know they’re done when they’re darker in color and very fragrant, and you want to let them cool before you use them.

This treat reminds me a bit of the cinnamon-roasted pecans you can find at Christmas and is adapted from the Better Homes & Gardens Baking Book “Make-it-Mine” Blondie recipe.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 10 2/3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup pecans, toasted, cooled, and chopped

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 x 13 baking pan with foil, extending the foil over the sides. Spray lightly with baking spray.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and baking soda; set aside.

In a medium saucepan, melt butter and brown sugar, stirring constantly until smooth. Pour into a large mixing bowl and allow to cool for about 15 minutes.

Add eggs, one at a time, stirring well after each. Add vanilla and stir to combine.

Add flour mixture in a few batches, stirring well to completely combine; the batter will become thick. Stir in pecans.

Pour mixture into prepared baking pan. Lightly spray your hands with baking spray and gently press the dough into the pan to create an even layer.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.

Cool in the pan for about 30 minutes, then lift out by the foil and allow to cool for another 10 minutes or so; you want to cut the blondies while they’re still warm. The tops will crack as you cut them, but that’s okay.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Makes 36 bars.