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Blondies. Are they nice?


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I popped Kerry's recipe in the oven last night while we were eating dinner, my first batch of blondies ever. My younger son is not a chocolate fan so I figured they would be up his alley- no nuts however as he doesn't like nuts. They loved them. Thanks for the recipe Kerry!

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Yeah. Report from family is all good. Another to add to my growing collection of baking recipes. Thanks, Kerry.

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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Someone with more of a sweet tooth than Anna N: how sweet *is* Kerry's recipe? Oversweetness is my primary complaint about many baked goods, but I do enjoy sweets and always go for them over salty snacks.

MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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Martha Stewart's Brown Butter Toffee Blondies take it to another level. I've never added the toffee bits or nuts that it called for and its still wonderful.

Cheese - milk's leap toward immortality. Clifton Fadiman

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Well, I ended up making two batches of blondies, one from Joy of Cooking and the other using Kerry Beal's recipe. So we've got Blonde on Blonde here (with all due apologies to B.D.) Briefly: I have the 1996 edition of Joy of Cooking. It happens to be the one that many people hate. They say it's pretentious and that it no longer reflects the basic "homespun" goodness that Joy of Cooking was all about. Apparently there was a lot of input from professional "name" chefs for this edition. I had never seen the previous editions of Joy, so I had nothing to compare this one to. I generally like it a lot, not just for its recipes, it's also a very good reference. 

 

Anyway, their blondies recipe seems to be a perfect example of what people were complaining about. They brown the butter. There's brown sugar, some white sugar, and some corn syrup. A bit of baking powder but also some baking soda, an extra egg yolk, etc. It's a somewhat fussy recipe for blondies. Not as sweet as I expected it to be, I did like the texture, the color was on the darkish side, but in truth nothing to write home about in terms of flavor. BTW, their recipe for brownies is totally the opposite, but it's the same recipe that has appeared in all editions of the book, and it's a great recipe (as long as you use good chocolate).

 

Kerry's recipe is basic and straightforward, a little on the sweet side but not too much, paler in color than the Joy recipe (blonde; they were blonde!) and much more flavorful than the Joy recipe. Next time I would bake it a bit more, the texture is a little "loose" for my taste, but I really liked these. The texture is just a matter of preference. Thank you Kerry Beal! And I'm sure my co-workers will thank you tomorrow. And P.S. -- I would never put chocolate chips in these.

 

One more thing: I didn't have pecans, just walnuts, so I used those. They were fine, but I think pecans would be much better.

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cakewalk

Thanks for doing this comparison. For someone like me who has no prior experience of blondies it was very interesting. Kerry's recipe suits me fine as it is so easy.

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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Here's my second take on Kerry's blondie recipe. This time, I browned the butter and then melted in the brown sugar far enough ahead of time that it had cooled down so it didn't cook the egg. I also boosted the amount of salt (because I use Diamond Crystal, which is less dense than many other salts) and vanilla extract (taking a cue from the Cook's Illustrated recipe mentioned above). I also added walnuts (untoasted because I'm lazy, and sprinkled on top, so they might toast a bit during the bake) and (ssssh, don't tell anyone) stirred in a double handful or so of chocolate chips before I scraped the batter into a parchment-lined pan.

 

I don't know if you can see it in this photo, but the same thing happened this time as last: there's a thin layer of grease on the outside. There's enough grease (presumably from the butter) to get through or around the parchment and stay behind on the pan. It doesn't make the eating unpleasant, but it does leave your fingers a bit slimy. Any ideas what might cause it, or how I can get rid of it?

Blondies.jpg

MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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There's enough grease (presumably from the butter) to get through or around the parchment and stay behind on the pan. It doesn't make the eating unpleasant, but it does leave your fingers a bit slimy. Any ideas what might cause it, or how I can get rid of it?

Not sure, but it sounds like it might be a mixing problem. It reminded me of the first time I ever made a genoise. I didn't mix well enough, and the melted butter (there wasn't even a lot of it) did not combine with the flour and remaining ingredients, it just pooled onto the bottom of the pan. Your problem sounds similar.

 

BTW -- The Food 52 post is interesting. Two of the reasons I thought Kerry's recipe was better than the Joy of Cooking recipe were: it had twice the amount of vanilla, and twice the amount of salt. I thought those two things did a lot more than the browned butter.

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I've been doing my mixing in the pan with the same silicone spatula I use to mash the brown sugar into the melted butter and get rid of any lumps, and then at the end to scrape the batter into the pan. Is this not the right implement?

 

Does the pan ordinarily need to be treated? I've gone to parchment because it's so easy to get whatever you've baked out afterwards, and because I always have it on hand.

MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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I melt the butter in an 8 cup pyrex measure, add the sugar, wait until sufficiently cool and add all the rest.  Same silicone spatula for all.  

 

I put it in a pan spray treated 8 by 8 inch pan.  

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Are you mixing in the baking pan? They're quite shallow, so it's possible that the pan doesn't offer enough depth to mix the ingredients properly. You can troubleshoot and see if it comes out differently if you mix everything in a bowl and then scrape into the pan. I also don't use parchment, I use floured pan spray (which I think is right up there with the microplane as one of the best inventions since the wheel). Or you can line the pan with foil and then spray the foil, which also makes it easy to take out of the pan.

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No. I've been browning the butter in a saucepan on the stove, adding the brown sugar while the butter is still hot so I can melt away any lumps, letting it cool so it doesn't cook the egg, and then adding everything else. Plenty of room to mix.

 

My experiences with floured pan spray were universally awful: turned the pan sticky and black, clogged nozzle, propellant lost so that I couldn't push out half the contents of the can. What brand are you using that you like?

MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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No. I've been browning the butter in a saucepan on the stove, adding the brown sugar while the butter is still hot so I can melt away any lumps, letting it cool so it doesn't cook the egg, and then adding everything else. Plenty of room to mix.

 

My experiences with floured pan spray were universally awful: turned the pan sticky and black, clogged nozzle, propellant lost so that I couldn't push out half the contents of the can. What brand are you using that you like?

I don't have a particular brand of floured pan stray. I've used Pam, Baker's Joy, several others that I can't think of right now. For most cakes (loaves or square pans) I first line with foil and then spray the foil. (Then I wrap the cake in the same foil.) This eliminates the issue of pans turning sticky and black. But I use it directly on the pan for "fancy" bundt pans, and I love it because the whole cake actually comes out with none of it stuck on the pan. I usually spray several spots on the pan (rather than try to cover the whole pan) and then use a brush to smooth it out. Clogged nozzles are a nuisance, but I started wiping the nozzle after each use and that works. Don't know about the propellant issue. I always thought when the propellant stopped, the can was empty, no? I like floured spray because of the convenience, but mostly because of how well it works on bundt pans that have designs. Nothing sticks. When I would butter/flour the pan it was always a gamble.

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 Would browning the butter add any deeper, richer flavor to the blondies, or is it a step that wouldn't do much?

I can taste a difference. It's subtle, but it's there, and the nuttiness of the browned butter enhances the butterscotchiness as well as the pecans (or walnuts; I've used both successfully).

 

I don't have a particular brand of floured pan stray. I've used Pam, Baker's Joy, several others that I can't think of right now. For most cakes (loaves or square pans) I first line with foil and then spray the foil. (Then I wrap the cake in the same foil.) This eliminates the issue of pans turning sticky and black. But I use it directly on the pan for "fancy" bundt pans, and I love it because the whole cake actually comes out with none of it stuck on the pan. I usually spray several spots on the pan (rather than try to cover the whole pan) and then use a brush to smooth it out. Clogged nozzles are a nuisance, but I started wiping the nozzle after each use and that works. Don't know about the propellant issue. I always thought when the propellant stopped, the can was empty, no? I like floured spray because of the convenience, but mostly because of how well it works on bundt pans that have designs. Nothing sticks. When I would butter/flour the pan it was always a gamble.

Part of my propellant issue may have been that at the time, I lived at an altitude of about 5000 ft. The lower atmospheric pressure meant that there was a greater pressure difference between inside the can and outside, so it may have upset the balance between the amount of contents and amount of propellant. (If a can sits for a while and the seal isn't perfect, some of the propellant can also leak, regardless of your altitude, which also doesn't help.) But I got so fed up with the other issues that I never went back to the sprays with flour!

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MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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