Archive for: blondies
Peppermint is often paired with dark chocolate, but it can be an excellent match for white chocolate, too. White chocolate is creamy and sweet, and can serve as a very nice counterpoint to strong, bright peppermint. This is exactly how these flavors come together in these White Chocolate Peppermint Crunch Blondies. The easy to make bar cookies are buttery, chewy and tender, with a creamy sweetness from white chocolate and a bright flavor of peppermint that pops without overwhelming the other flavors in the bar.
I made the bars with chopped up peppermint bark, Andes Peppermint Crunch Baking Chips (full review coming soon) specifically. Many types of peppermint bark, including the Andes chips that I used, include a bit of chopped up peppermint that gives them a bit of a crunchy texture. This alone will add a subtle hint of crunch to the blondies that give them a little texture, however it’s a much more subtle crunch in a blondie than it is when eaten plain, so I opted to add some sliced almonds to the bars to give them a little more texture. The thin almond slices add crunch and a hint of almond flavor without taking away from the mint or chocolate.
Any peppermint bark – so long as it has white chocolate and a generous amount of peppermint – can work in this recipe, so you can use what you have on hand or any brand that you pick up in the store. If you don’t have peppermint bark, however, you can easily substitute it by combining a few tablespoons of crushed peppermint or candy canes with a cup of white chocolate chips.
Trader Joe’s has put out quite a few baking mixes over the years, mixes with all natural ingredients and a very low price tag that makes them pretty appealing, even for “scratch” bakers. I’ve had mixed results from a few mixes, and very good results from others, and that is enough to keep me curious when I see that they’ve added a new product to their lineup.
Trader Joe’s Blondie Bar Baking Mix is a mix for blondies – bar cookies that have a flavor similar to a chocolate chip cookie and a chewy texture that is more like that of a brownie. The ingredient list reads like something you’d make at home: flour, sugar, brown sugar, baking soda, salt, molasses, oil and chocolate chips. Of course, you add in your own butter and egg to the mix to moisten it before baking. The finished blondies look a lot like the bars you’d make from scratch, although they just a bit cakier than I usually make my blondies. They have a nice brown sugar cookie flavor and plenty of chocolate chips. The only changes that I would make would be to add a splash of vanilla in with the rest of the ingredients to round out the flavors a bit. It doesn’t seem like there are too many mixes for blondies out there, so I like the fact that this mix offers something a little different. It’s also nice that the box includes suggestions for a few other mix-ins to change this mix up and make it easy to put twists on it if it becomes a regular feature in your baking.
I bake brownies more often than I bake blondies, because the fudgy chocolate bars are always a crowd pleaser and they simply come to mind a bit more often than their non-chocolate counterparts. Blondies are such a versatile type of bar cookie, however, because you can work any ingredients you want into them – chocolate or not. They’re also much quicker to bake than individual cookies, since you don’t need to portion out the dough or bake in batches. This particular batch of blondies is something that I put together just to break out of my brownie rut, but the recipe is definitely a keeper.
Milk Chocolate and Coconut Blondies are moist, chewy bar cookies that are bursting with milk chocolate chips and shredded coconut. These two flavors make a great combination, and I wanted to make sure that I used enough of each that they would really stand out and shine in these bars. The batter for these bars starts out much like cookie dough, with a touch less leavening because you want them to keep a dense and brownie-like consistency as they bake. You definitely get the butter-brown sugar-vanilla combination that you get in a good batch of chocolate chip cookies with these, though the milk chocolate and coconut are still the stars.
I used sweetened shredded coconut, but unsweetened coconut can also be used. Milk chocolate is sweet and rich tasting, but a little bit more mellow than dark or semisweet chocolate chips are, so they don’t overwhelm the flavor of the coconut. That being said, you could certainly give these bars a try with regular chocolate chips if you don’t have milk chocolate chips (or you could chop up a bar of milk chocolate). The toasted coconut on top of the bars helps to keep the coconut flavor in the forefront no matter what else you decide to mix into these bars.
Maple sugar is sugar that is produced when you cook down the sap of a maple tree past the point of being maple syrup, until it has almost no liquid and you are left with sandy crystals. It is an intensely flavorful ingredient and can be a lot of fun to work with – especially if you are a maple syrup fan in general. Maple sugar can be used much like regular sugar, but it is almost twice as sweet, so you need to take that into account when putting together a recipe that uses it.
These Maple Sugar Pecan Bars are made with maple sugar instead of regular granulated sugar. Maple sugar gives them intense maple flavor and makes the bars taste a lot like french toast. To compensate for the sweetness of the sugar in this particular recipe, I added a little extra salt to cut that sweetness and used salted pecans in the mix, too. The result is a bar cookie that is sweet, but balanced, and delivers a powerful burst of maple flavor that maple fans will love.
These bars are chewy and cake-like, but are moister and more dense than cake. They don’t have the same fudgy texture that a blondie does, which makes them a little lighter. They’re perfect when served with coffee or tea, but can make a tasty snack any time. The pecans add a welcome crunch to the bars, and if you use some spiced pecans, you’ll get an extra layer of flavor, although walnuts would also be an excellent option and make a nice pairing with maple. I typically stick with salted nuts in a recipe like this one because the sweet maple flavor is strong and the salted pecans stand up to it especially well.
Blondies are a great everyday treat to bake. They’re just as easy to make as a batch of chocolate chip cookies, but take much less time because they’re baked in a pan and sliced later, rather than being baked off one by one in multiple batches. The bar cookies also invite experimentation, because there are many flavors that go well in the chewy cookie base. I’ve used everything from chocolate to nuts in my blondies before, and put a spicier spin on these Chewy Walnut, Ginger and Toffee Blondies with some candied ginger.
Candied ginger is a great ingredient to work with in baking because it has a sharp, spicy sweetness and a hint of crunchiness from the sugar on the exterior of the ginger. The flavor is bright and bold, and if you buy larger pieces of ginger and chop them up yourself, you have a lot of control over how big of an impact the spicy ginger will have in your baking. Here, I’ve paired the ginger with buttery walnuts and bits of toffee and it is a blend of flavors that works out very well.
The blondies are chewy and have a slightly fudgy, brownie-like quality to them – although, of course, there is no chocolate in this recipe. The fudgy texture comes, in part, from the fact that there is no baking powder or baking soda in this recipe (something common to brownie recipes), so as the sugar caramelizes in the bars it leaves them with a rich, dense texture. The walnuts are crunchy and give the blondies a lot of texture, while the ginger adds a spicy punch and the toffee balances it out.
As with many recipes, I prefer to use toasted and lightly salted walnuts in this recipe. It makes the nuts a little bit more flavorful and gives them a little bit of an extra crunch. It also makes them stand out even more from the sweet toffee and spicy-sweet candied ginger because they introduce a salty element to the bars. That said, unsalted and even untoasted walnuts will still work very well in this recipe, lending a more subtle crunch to the finished blondies but a lot of buttery walnut flavor.