I love brownies...but I love blondies better.
And these ones, with a slightly chewy, moist interior, gently crisped golden top, and rich, caramelly-buttery-brown-sugar-vanilla-y with a touch of salt flavor, are highly craveable.
Don't get me wrong. I don't hate brownies. In fact, quite the opposite. If you hand me a dense, fudge-like brownie, I will be your friend for a good long time. There are some moments when only a brownie will satisfy your needs.
But if I were pressed to make a choice to have one or the other only for the rest of my life...I'd choose blondies over brownies.
What is it about blondies?
Maybe it's the texture: just chewy enough to provide a little resistance when you take a bite, to keep things interesting. Not too cakey, but definitely not a cookie.
Maybe it's the color: blondies do have an awfully alluring toasty, honey-colored hue.
Maybe it's the fact that the milder flavor lets the flavor of nuts really shine, whereas they can get lost under the powerful chocolate flavor of brownies.
Or maybe it's the flavor: each bite with flavor undertones of butterscotch, graham crackers, sweetened condensed milk, caramel, and shortbread, even though blondies contain none of these things. Maybe it's how the subtle flavor fills your mouth with sweet with a touch of salt flavor, and makes you want more and more and more.
Maybe it's all of these things. Probably.
But honestly, while I can get very thoughtful about the whole thing, I'd rather just eat some blondies. This is a particularly nice recipe, adapted from the Whole Foods Market Cookbook.
These blondies rule
Makes one 9-inch square pan - printable version here
3/4 cup chopped pecans
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
1 1/3 cups packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Place the pecan pieces on a baking sheet, and roast them until they are nicely toasted, 4 to 6 minutes. I do this as the oven preheats; if you smell the fragrance of the nuts, they're ready. Once toasted, remove from the oven and set to the side for the moment.
Generously grease a 9-inch square cake pan, and insert a strip of parchment paper (I do this so I have "handles" to lift the bars out later).
In a medium bowl, stir the flour and salt to blend.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar until fluffy (2-3 minutes on medium speed). Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition. Stir in the vanilla extract.
Remove the bowl from the mixer, and stir the flour in by hand. Fold in the toasted and cooled nuts.
Spread the thick mixture in your prepared pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until golden and just set in the center.
Remove from the oven, and let cool for several minutes. If you've added that little handle I told you about, you can pull out the blondies in one solid unit.