Cooks Illustrated Blondies

August 12, 2009 · 32 comments · Print This Post

in Baked Goods

Cooks Illustrated Blondies

This quick and fool proof recipe for Blondies has become my go-to hostess gift this summer. Very few people are able resist these buttery bite-sized squares especially as every last nibble is heavily filled with creamy chocolate and crunchy nuts. I also loved that I learned a new-to-me trick from Cooks Illustrated which detailed how to line the baking dish with foil so that you can easily extract baked goods from the pan and then slice them into neat and tidy squares. You know how much I love everything to be orderly.

Another great item to have on hand for making more aesthetically pleasing treats is a baking pan with straight edges. You can obviously use a traditional curved edge oblong Pyrex but it’s so much nicer to have a pan that will yield a crisp and clean perimeter.

One last suggestion. Whatever you do, please don’t ever buy those horrible white chocolate chips sold by the bagful. They are cloyingly sweet and taste just awful. I always find that it’s best to chop up a good quality white chocolate bar when a recipe calls for the addition of white chocolate chips. Trust me. There is a huge difference in flavor.

Cooks Illustrated Blondies

Adapted from the recipe originally published in the July 1, 2005 edition of Cooks Illustrated.

A note from Cooks Illustrated: Be very careful not to overbake the blondies; they dry out easily and will turn hard. Start checking the oven a couple of minutes before they will be done.

1 cup pecans or walnuts (4 ounces)
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (7 1/2 ounces)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), melted and cooled
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar (10 1/2 ounces)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 ounces white chocolate chips (1 cup) or chopped bar, or 3 ounces each white chocolate and semisweet chocolate chips

Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees. Spread nuts on large rimmed baking sheet and bake until deep golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer nuts to cutting board to cool; chop coarsely and set aside.

While nuts toast, cut 18-inch length foil and fold lengthwise to 8-inch width. Fit foil into length of 13 by 9-inch baking pan, pushing it into corners and up sides of pan; allow excess to overhang pan edges. Cut 14-inch length foil and fit into width of baking pan in same manner, perpendicular to first sheet (if using extra-wide foil, fold second sheet lengthwise to 12-inch width). Spray foil-lined pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in medium bowl; set aside.

Whisk melted butter and brown sugar together in medium bowl until combined. Add eggs and vanilla and mix well. Using rubber spatula, fold dry ingredients into egg mixture until just combined; do not overmix. Fold in chocolate and nuts and turn batter into prepared pan, smoothing top with rubber spatula.

Bake until top is shiny, cracked, and light golden brown, 22 to 25 minutes; do not overbake. Cool on wire rack to room temperature. Remove bars from pan by lifting foil overhang and transfer to cutting board. Cut into 2-inch squares and serve.

Cooks Illustrated Blondies

{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Amy J August 12, 2009 at 11:57 am

Foil in the pan? So simple. Perfect and makes me feel a little more confident about attacking another brownie recipe. That’s the most difficult part to me, getting them out of the pan!

And the white chocolate chips, I’ve thought the very same thing but never thought about a substitute.

Thanks for sharing.


2 Elle August 12, 2009 at 12:16 pm

Beautiful! the foil trick works great, doesn’t it? I really love the pans with square corners, but do I own any? No.

Love the tip about the chocolate bars!


3 Susie August 12, 2009 at 12:28 pm

I figured out the foil in the pan thing after making fudge and lining the pan with wax paper. Same idea. I adore blondies. I prefer them without nuts but take what I can get. I’m blondie-easy that way. And the square pans are nice for a clean edge – I just hate trying to clean the corners. Gorgeous looking treats, Erin!


4 Kirsten August 12, 2009 at 12:34 pm

What symmetrical blondies! I agree on using the white chocolate bar. White chips aren’t usually even made with cocoa butter, that’s why they’re labeled something like “white morsels” – they’re not allowed to call it chocolate because there’s no chocolate in there!


5 sharon August 12, 2009 at 1:27 pm

You have some lovely blondies on your hands! I agree about white chocolate chips…the worst is when you try and melt them. These look amazing and definitely a great go-to recipe.


6 kristina August 12, 2009 at 1:31 pm

They look and sound fabulous! K x


7 carrie August 12, 2009 at 1:44 pm

yummmmm. I totally want to be a hostess for you so I can get my stomach on some of these!

Also? could not agree more about the white chips/chunked bar. I’m not a HUGE fan of white chocolate, but when I do make something that has it in it, I go straight to the bar.

(funny… I used to go straight to the bar before I got into baking, too. but those were different times, and very different bars.)


8 Erin August 12, 2009 at 2:43 pm

I need these now. They look delicious.

And is is bad that I’m a little smug that I’ve been doing the foil in the pan trick forever for my brownies? I can’t believe I knew a slick cooking trick that you didn’t already utilize! 😉


9 Elina August 12, 2009 at 2:48 pm

These don’t look healthy, but oh my… probably worth every calorie. Mmm, you’re making me dream of blondies now 🙂


10 Bob August 12, 2009 at 3:18 pm

Those look wicked good. Man, I wish my girlfriend liked blondies. But she doesn’t, so I can’t really make them. I mean I could, but then I would eat them all by myself. And get sick. Not to mention fat. Heh.


11 kristen b August 12, 2009 at 3:32 pm

I was thinking about making seven layer bars for a BBQ this weekend, but now I’m reconsidering. The Blondies are a personal favorite and these look delicious!


12 Dana August 12, 2009 at 5:18 pm

Good idea on chopping up the chocolate! My husband loves white chocolate, but even he doesn’t like those gross chips.


13 Dolce August 12, 2009 at 5:39 pm

I am invited to a picnic birthday party Saturday and these sounds like a great thing to bring. Thank you!
And, yes, I do agree about the white chocolate chips, but same on the semi sweet chocolate, unless you buy top notch, you are better off chopping a bar.


14 Monica H August 13, 2009 at 12:16 am

I do the same with parchment paper because getting bars out of the sqaured off pans is nearly impossible!

These look yummy!


15 Kim August 13, 2009 at 8:36 am

I just love your blog! Those blondies look awesome. I may have to try those this weekend.


16 Kathie August 13, 2009 at 8:50 am

My son actually was the first in the house to use the foil slings – for brownies.

They work awesome for anything you’re going to cut into squares later on.

Do you have a good recommendation for a nice squared off pan – preferably glass or stainless steel?


17 Dolce August 13, 2009 at 10:37 am

This is a good one, though I will probably save it for fall / winter. The idea of the over on for more than 15 minutes is too much for me in the NY summer hot & sticky weather 🙂


18 Jeannette August 13, 2009 at 12:10 pm

bookmarked!! i have my go to recipe for blondies but these look so beautiful that i must give them a try 🙂


19 Kristilyn August 13, 2009 at 4:10 pm

I have never had a blondie before but I have heard PLENTY about them. I’m intrigued. I think I should rummage around my pantry to see if I have all the ingredients. 🙂



20 [email protected] on Art August 14, 2009 at 8:42 am

I always thing of Blondies as a bake sale staple. I am feeling a bit homesick so I might have to make a batch to bring in as a post-lunch snack at work.


21 Lindsey August 14, 2009 at 9:00 am

I have never even thought of lining my brownie pans…and I don’t know why, considering I make them all the time.


22 ttfn300 August 14, 2009 at 3:49 pm

love the foil in the pan idea, and i’m with you on the white chips. i adore green and black’s white choc! the pan? well, i’ll have to hold off on that one… until i get better funded 😉


23 Miya August 15, 2009 at 4:32 pm

If you live in SF, CA … Try the white chocolate blocks in the bulk section at Rainbow Grocery. I admit that I like white chocolate … Well I like ALL chocolate. These blocks are the best tasting white chocolate I have encountered. Plus, you can purchase exactly how much you need.


24 Sues August 17, 2009 at 4:40 pm

I totally agree with you on the white chocolate! I’m in love with Chris Kimball of Cook’s Illustrated and think blondies are amazing, so I might just have to try these 🙂


25 Pamela September 5, 2009 at 6:09 pm

Yum! I made these, and everyone enjoyed. Thanks for posting. 🙂


26 Bill July 17, 2010 at 11:20 pm

These Blondies look awesome and appear (short of actually baking a pan right now) to be THE Blondies that I knew and loved at Just Desserts store fronts in San Francisco back in the 80’s. I have never come across those Blondies in all these years, even though my wife (who linked me to this site) has tried over and over to reproduce the Just Desserts version.
Hopefully we’ll have a test of this version and I’ll have found joy!


27 Linka72 September 17, 2010 at 8:52 pm

Ok..I see where I went wrong the first time. My baking powder was from 2003 (cringe) and I creamed the butter and sugar instead of melting it..being a rebel isn’t always a good thing.


28 Sonya December 21, 2014 at 8:58 pm

I agree – these are fabulous! I made them today from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook, where they were republished, and my GOD are these good!!! I made four recipes side-by-side that I’d loved in the past (Ben & Jerry’s Dessert Book, The Mixer Bible, and the Cook’s Country reduced fat-version (new to me)), and this was the clear winner, and just fabulous. I love the addition of white chocolate chips (I use the Cook’s Illustrated recommended Guittard Choc-au-lait white chocolate chips which are really good, which my Cost Plus World Market carries and I’ve also bought on Amazon), because they are not only delicious, but they don’t cover up the base flavor of the blondie like semisweet chocolate chips do (those are delicious in the ratio in this recipe, though). I love Cook’s Illustrated, America’s Test Kitchen, and Cook’s Country. And I LOVE this blondie recipe!!!


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