On Monday night, award-winning Irish author Kevin Barry will be taking part in Writers Read, a free event hosted at my university by my former creative writing prof. Barry is the Artist-in-Residence this semester, working in the recently opened Mordecai Richler Reading Room. These past few days I’ve been reading Dark Lies the Island, one of his collections of short stories, to get better acquainted with his work. He has made himself available to meet with Creative Writing students, an opportunity I shouldn’t waste. If you’re looking for a homemade snack to accompany one of the books on your shelves, bake a batch of these blondies, a simple recipe that can be whipped up by hand.
Blondies are a mix between chocolate chip cookies and brownies. Blondies are baked in a pan like brownies but the flavours are similar to those of a chocolate chip cookie. These blondies are studded with both white and semisweet chocolate chips as well as toasted pecans. Melting the butter results in chewy blondies. The process of creaming the butter would incorporate too much air into the butter. The sweet molasses taste from the brown sugar develops a rich butterscotch flavour, while the salt sharpens the sweetness. The nuttiness adds a textured crunch, and the final look is that of a slightly under-baked cookie.
With a slight variation, these blondies can become Congo Bars… odd name considering it’s a recipe from southeastern USA. In a 350F oven, toast 1 1/2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut until light golden, about 4 to 5 minutes. Let the coconut cool, then fold it into the batter along with the pecans and chocolate chips.
Recipe Source: Cook’s Illustrated
Yields 36 bars (I sliced the blondies into 24 bars)
7.5 ounces (1 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
10.5 ounces (1 1/2 cups) light brown sugar
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped coarsely
3 ounces (1/2 cup) semisweet chocolate chips
3 ounces (1/2 cup) white chocolate chips
1) Preheat the oven to 350F.
2) Butter a 9×13-inch baking pan and dust with flour.
3) In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together. Set aside.
4) In a large bowl, whisk the brown sugar and melted butter together.
5) Add the eggs and vanilla to the sugar-butter mixture, mixing well.
6) Use a spatula to fold in the flour mixture, mixing only until just combined. Do not overmix!
7) Fold in the nuts and chocolate chips.
8) Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
9) Bake for 22 to 25 minutes, until top is shiny and crackled.
10) Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely.
11) Slice into bars.