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.
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.