Tag Archives: bars

Chocolate Chip-Pecan Brown Butter Blondies

 Father’s Day is this Sunday, and I’ve been thinking all day about what I would say about my dad. I mean, I’ve already said a lot–I wrote about him in my first blog post. But he’s such a great guy, I had to give him another. 

My dad is the kind of guy who taught his three daughters how to play golf, throw a baseball, and shoot hoops. But he also did the Father-Kid number at my dance recitals for seven years straight (and once in tights).

He works really hard and is always trying to better himself–intellectually, physically, in his chosen field, in relationships, you name it. His tagline is “Always go forward.” And he means it. Thank goodness that’s the line he uses most frequently–I don’t know how I would have worked “See that? *points to glass* That’s glass,” into this post. 

While my dad has had some success in his life, he is also one of the humblest people I’ve ever met. You can congratulate him on something he’s achieved and, after he thanks you, he’ll immediately turn the conversation to you and what you are achieving. This is something I try to emulate in every interaction I have.

I could go on and on about him, but let me just say this: my dad is a kind, sweet, compassionate, generous person. He has ambition coming out his ears. He loves my mom, his daughters, his friends, and his dog fiercely. If I become half the person he is, I will consider myself the luckiest girl on earth. 

My dad loves chocolate, especially brownies, and he always tops them with pecans that get super toasty while they bake. I’ve already made a pecan-topped brownie recipe on here though, so today, we’re going with blondies. But not just any blondies: Chocolate Chip-Pecan Brown Butter Blondies. They’re super chewy, filled with melty chocolate, and extra nutty from the toasted pecans and brown butter. 

I know my dad would love these and they’re so simple, he might even try to make them. The recipe only has eight ingredients and doesn’t require a mixer. It can be made start-to-finish in about forty minutes! The hardest part is browning the butter, and that takes almost no effort at all. You could make these blondies with regular melted butter and they would be great, but by taking the time to brown it, you add tons of rich, nutty flavor to the finished product. 

Browning butter is mostly letting butter melt over a burner and then letting it continue to cook until it turns a lovely shade of amber. The only real tip I have is not to take your eyes off the pan. Do not step away from the pan, even for a second. Butter can go from brown to burnt in the blink of an eye, and there are few things I hate more than wasting good ingredients.

To brown butter, start by melting a stick of butter in a light-colored saucepan over medium heat. Make sure to use a silver or white pan so you can clearly see the butter browning. Once the butter melts, it will start to bubble and crackle. Don’t be alarmed–this is just the water content evaporating. Once the crackling stops, swirl the pan occasionally for 4-7 minutes. You’ll see the milk solids in the butter gradually start to brown. You’ll know your brown butter is ready when you smell the most amazing, deeply nutty, buttery aroma coming from the pan. At this point, turn off the heat and pour the brown butter into a large mixing bowl. That’s it!

Mix your brown butter with brown sugar, an egg, some vanilla, flour, and salt. Fold in some toasted pecans and chocolate chips before spreading the batter into a pan and baking it for 20 minutes. Let the blondies cool to room temperature before slicing and serving. 

If I were going to be anywhere near the great state of Texas this weekend, I’d make these Chocolate Chip-Pecan Brown Butter Blondies and serve them warm with ice cream, just how my dad likes his brownies. They’re fantastic at room temperature too, and perfect for packing into a box to deliver to all the great dads in your life.

Happy Father’s Day, Daddio! 

 Chocolate Chip-Pecan Brown Butter Blondies
makes one 8×8″ pan, about 9-16 blondies

1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
1 large egg, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease an 8-inch square baking dish with butter, and dust with flour. Set aside.

Toast the pecans. Place pecans on a dry baking sheet. Place in the oven for 4-5 minutes, until fragrant. Let cool completely.

Brown the butter. Place butter in a light-colored saucepan over medium heat. Let butter melt. Butter will bubble and crackle as the water content evaporates. Swirl the pan frequently for 4-7 minutes, keeping an eye on the color. When the solids are turning brown and the butter is nutty and fragrant, remove the pot from the heat and immediately pour the brown butter into a large mixing bowl.

Add brown sugar to the brown butter and stir to combine (it will be thick and look like wet sand). Whisk in egg and vanilla. Use a silicone spatula to stir in flour and salt, scraping down the bowl as needed. Stir in chocolate chips and toasted pecans.

Spread batter into prepared pan and bake for 20-22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean. Let blondies cool in the pan on a rack until they reach room temperature. Run a small, thin knife around the edge of the pan to release them (they should be sturdy enough to lift out of the pan in one piece). Slice and serve.

Blondies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

Funfetti Cheesecake Platinum Blondies

 How have I made it this far without posting any kind of cheesecake recipe? I love cheesecake. Smooth, rich, creamy, decadent–it’s everything I love in a dessert. And it gets brownie points for being the Golden Girls’ treat of choice. If it’s good enough for Blanche, Dorothy, Rose, and Sophia, it’s good enough for me.

But for all the things I love about cheesecake, it’s speed of preparation is not one of them. If you’re making a cheesecake today, you’re not going to get to enjoy it until tomorrow. Many recipes require a 24 hour chill after baking and cooling at room temperature. Who really has time for that when it’s not for a special occasion? Definitely not me. But I also refuse to live without cheesecake. My solution? Swirl it into some blondie batter, bake it up, chill, and commence eating in hours, not days. 

I also refuse to live without sprinkles, so today I’m bringing you Funfetti Cheesecake Platinum Blondies. The blondie base is similar to the one I used here, and it can take almost anything I throw at it. Most blondie recipes contain brown sugar, but I use all granulated here–the resulting lighter color is what makes these “platinum.” If you’d like to stick to traditional blondies, you may use all light brown sugar here, but I think Funfetti desserts are best with all granulated. It makes the vanilla flavor shine, and the lighter color means the rainbow sprinkles really pop!

Let’s get to the most important part: the cheesecake. It’s so good here. The creamy, tangy cheesecake is the perfect counter to the sweet, chewy, sugar cookie-like blondie base. The mixture is super simple to make, too. Beat a brick of full-fat cream cheese with an egg yolk and a teaspoon of vanilla. When it’s fluffy, add in two tablespoons of sugar. If you taste this by itself, it won’t seem sweet enough, but trust me–the tanginess will be divine when baked into the sweet blondie batter. 

 Once you’ve made the batter and the cheesecake mixture, it’s time to assemble. Set aside 2/3 cup of the blondie batter, and spread the rest into the bottom of a 9×9″ pan. Drop the cheesecake mixture and reserved batter by the spoonful over the top of the batter in the pan. Use a knife to swirl it all together. I swirled mine a lot (some might say too much). If you want more pronounced swirls, just go back and forth with the knife a few times. Tap the pan on the counter to make sure everything is evenly distributed before baking at 350F for 25-30 minutes. I tented mine with foil after ten minutes to keep everything from browning too quickly. 

 

Once the blondies just barely (and I do mean barely) jiggle in the center when the pan is jostled, they’re done. Let them cool on a rack for an hour before chilling for three hours. Yes, three hours seems like eternity, but it’s nothing compared to the 24 hours you’d wait for a traditional cheesecake! Once everything is good and cold, slice it into bars and serve. 

The Funfetti blondie base and cheesecake are a match made in dessert heaven! These bars are sweet, chewy, dense, creamy, tangy, and full of vanilla flavor. Oh, and look how colorful they are! I mean, who can resist a dessert studded with sprinkles and filled with cheesecake? Not many people I know, that’s for sure. 

Do you love sprinkles as much as I do? Check out these Funfetti Sandwich Cookies and Funfetti Cookie Dough Truffles!

Funfetti Cheesecake Platinum Blondies
makes one 9×9″ pan,* about 12-16 bars

Cheesecake:
8 ounces brick-style full-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 large egg yolk, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Blondies:
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon imitation butter extract (optional)
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup rainbow sprinkles (jimmies)*

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9-inch square pan and line with parchment, leaving overhang for bar-removal. Set aside.

Make the cheesecake. In a medium-large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat cream cheese until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Add sugar, and beat to combine. Mix in egg yolk and vanilla. Set aside.

Make the blondie base. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together melted butter and sugar. Mix in eggs, vanilla, and imitation butter extract. Whisk in flour and salt. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold in jimmies. Set aside 2/3 cup batter.

Spread the remaining blondie batter in prepared pan. Drop in cheesecake mixture and leftover batter by the spoonful. Use a knife to swirl it all together. Bake 25-30 minutes, tenting with foil if anything starts browning too quickly. Blondies are done when the middle jiggles just barely when the pan is jostled. Let pan cool on a rack at room temperature for one hour. Refrigerate pan for three hours, until cold. Slice into squares and serve.

Funfetti Cheesecake Platinum Blondies will keep covered in the refrigerator for up to five days.

Notes:

1. An 8×8″ square pan may be used here, but it may affect the bake time.
2. Jimmies are the cylindrical sprinkles, and they are ideal for this recipe. Do not use non-pareils (the little ball-shaped sprinkles)–they will bleed their color and give you an unappetizing purplish batter. Have more questions about sprinkles? I go into more detail here.

Carrot Cake Blondies

 These last six weeks have been absolute insanity. I moved, my mom and little sister visited, I had a pie party, and I worked my tail off. On top of all that, I am sick for the first time in three years (a major perk of working with kids is that you become immune to everything).

But Easter is this weekend. And I love Easter. All the significance of Holy Week. Cute little kids hunting for eggs. The pastels and seersucker. And, of course, the food. I love a fancy Easter brunch, and I looooove carrot cake. 

But I am not feeling 100% and have plenty to do this weekend without cooking for a major holiday, too. While I would love to make a traditional carrot cake, I just don’t see myself finding the time to bake and frost it. But Easter just wouldn’t be Easter without carrot cake.

Enter these Carrot Cake Blondies. They have all the spices and flavors of the classic cake, but don’t take nearly the time and energy. The bar base is a no-mixer-required recipe that can be whipped up as quickly as you can grate carrots! I like mine chock full of walnuts and raisins, but if nuts and dried fruit aren’t for you, feel free to leave them out. The blondies are still great without all the “stuff.” 

And then, there’s the frosting. You simply can’t have carrot cake without cream cheese frosting! (That goes when the cake is actually blondies, too.) Here, there’s nearly as much frosting as blondie in every single bite! The recipe makes enough for a very thick layer, but you may use a thinner layer, or leave it off entirely if frosting isn’t your thing.*

*If frosting isn’t your thing, this might not be the right blog for you 😁

Carrot Cake Blondies are the perfect treat for your Easter weekend. They are absolutely every bit as good as classic carrot cake, and half the work, so you’ll have plenty of time to celebrate outside of your kitchen. Plus, it’s a lot easier to hunt for eggs with a blondie in your hand than it is with a slice of cake and a fork!

Happy Easter! 

 Carrot Cake Blondies
makes one 8×8″ pan, 9-12 blondies

Blondies:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup finely shredded carrots,* packed (5-6 medium carrots)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, optional
1/2 cup raisins, optional

Cream Cheese Frosting:
4 ounces full-fat brick-style cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
pinch of Kosher or sea salt

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8×8″ square pan with butter and line with parchment. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together melted butter and light brown sugar. Whisk in egg yolk, followed by vanilla and shredded carrots. Whisk in dry ingredients just until combined. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold in walnuts and raisins.

Spread batter into prepared pan. Tap full pan on counter five times to release air bubbles. Bake 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool in pan on a rack for 30 minutes. Lift blondies out of the pan and let cool completely on the rack.

Make the frosting. In a mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Beat in confectioner’s sugar in two installments. Add vanilla and salt, and beat on high for two full minutes until very fluffy. Spread on cooled blondies.

Refrigerate frosted blondies for 15-30 minutes before slicing.

Blondies keep at room temperature for up to two days or in the refrigerator for three.

Note:

Do not use store-bought shredded carrots. They tend to be dry, and will make these blondies dry as a result.

Whole Grain Cranberry-Orange Snack Bars

 
I spend my life rushing. Rushing to bake, rushing to nanny, rushing to deliver cakes. Like this week–I have had four separate celebration cake orders. It wouldn’t be much for a bakery, but I am just one woman with one small oven and the world’s tiniest fridge. So, I rush. And I don’t remember to eat. I am asked often how I maintain a healthy weight with all the baking, and the answer is that I don’t actually eat much of it. No, I don’t have great self-control. After three years of near-constant baking, I just see cake and pie and cookies as projects most of the time. I taste-test, to be sure, and I have had cookies for dinner more than a few times, but for the most part, when I bake something it’s either picked at for several days or given away.

All that said, I am often so scattered that I forget to eat until I am halfway to wherever I’m going. Most of the time, I stop into the nearest corner store to get Cheez-Its and a Diet Coke. It keeps me from passing out, but it’s not a healthy or sustainable way to eat. 

I’ve been making a few changes to my diet this month, as evidenced by all the whole grain and grain-free recipes I’ve been posting. Today is the final post of this healthier January, and so I am posting what has become my Cheez-Its alternative: Whole Grain Cranberry-Orange Snack Bars. They’re like a cross between blondies, muffins, and granola bars, made with whole wheat flour and oats, dotted with dried cranberries, and scented with orange zest. They’re soft, chewy, and not too sweet, with a flavor that is wholesome and delicious. They’re great for on-the-go, a sweet treat in school lunches, and after-school snacks. They also make a fantastic dessert with a little vanilla ice cream. 

 

Whole Grain Cranberry-Orange Snack Bars are quick and easy to put together. They start with creaming softened unsalted butter and orange sugar until it’s all light and fluffy. Orange sugar is easy to make–just add the zest of an orange to some brown sugar, and rub it together with your fingers like you would if you were trying to remove dried school glue. This brings out the oils in the orange zest and starts to melt the brown sugar. Once the butter and brown sugar are combined, beat in an egg, followed by some vanilla.
 Beat in a mixture of white whole wheat flour, nutmeg, baking powder, and salt, followed by a cup of old-fashioned oats. All that’s left to add are some dried cranberries that have been plumped in hot water. This little act of soaking the dried fruit ensures that the pieces are more juicy than waxy. Spread the batter into a parchment-lined pan and bake 20-25 minutes, until the bars are just done. Let them cool to room temperature and then hang out in the fridge for an hour or so. Refrigerating the bars helps them to slice cleanly.

These bars can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week, or wrapped individually in plastic wrap so they’re easy to grab as you’re running out the door! Make a batch of Whole Grain Cranberry-Orange Snack Bars this weekend so you can enjoy them all week long 😊 

 Whole Grain Cranberry-Orange Snack Bars
makes one 8×8″ pan, about 16 bars

6 tablespoons water
3/4 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon orange zest
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 large egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour*
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup old fashioned oats

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease an 8×8″ pan and line it with parchment. Grease parchment. Set aside.

Heat water to a simmer, and pour it into a small bowl. Stir in dried cranberries. Set aside.

In a separate small bowl, rub orange zest into light brown sugar. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, together white whole wheat flour, nutmeg, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer until it’s fluffy and lighter in color. Beat in light brown sugar mixture, followed by the egg and vanilla. Beat in flour mixture until completely combined. Beat in oats.

Drain dried cranberries and fold them into the batter. Spread batter into prepared pan. Tap the full pan on the counter five times to release any air bubbles. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool completely on a rack before refrigerating for at least one hour. Slice into bars.

Bars will keep covered at room temperature for up to one week.


Note:

Regular whole wheat flour may be substituted for white whole wheat flour.