One of my favourite things about baking is how it’s basically just delicious chemistry. I mean, the most important ingredient is love, of course, but at its base, it’s science that you eat.
Sweet, sweet, delicious science.
Not surprisingly I am a huge fan of Alton Brown and his “Bill Nye the Science Guy” approach to food. I love watching him explain not only how you go about whipping an egg white, but why you whip the egg white in that way and what happens to the proteins as you whip it.
Another love of mine for similar reasons is America’s Test Kitchen and all their corresponding publications. Just as every proper scientist should, they take classic recipes through their paces, just like experiments, testing them over and over again until the ultimate baked good is created. Cookie recipe not soft a chewy enough? ATK will make that recipe 100 times with minute changes in each iteration until everyone feels it’s the best cookie their kitchen could make.
So when I came across Baking Illustrated, a huge cookbook from ATK of their best baking recipes, I had to buy it.
So this is isn’t my first foray into blondie territory. It’s just that I love brown sugar so much that I can’t deny any potentially amazing blondie recipe despite already being extremely happy with my go to recipe.
And also, this one didn’t require a stove-top at some point like my old one. And besides, ATK’s extensive testing could never me astray, right?
Well… not exactly.
See those things up there? They are all extremely delicious things. White chocolate chips, semi-sweet chocolate chips and toasted pecans. I love each one dearly in the appropriate application. I mean c’mon, chocolate? Yes, please, in all its forms, directly injected into my mouth. I am a fan of that. And pecans, especially when toasted… such a wonderful fragrance and flavour.
But in a blondie?
It seems like it should be the greatest idea ever. White chocolate lends a creaminess. Pecans bring out the nuttiness of brown sugar. Semi-sweet chocolate lends a contrast. And you know what? It probably is the greatest idea ever.
For most people.
I, however, was once the little girl who used to sneak spoonfuls of brown sugar into her mouth because she couldn’t get enough of that sweet dark flavour. These days, blondies are just a more convenient, more socially acceptable vehicle for brown sugar than a simple spoon.
With all those other wonderful things in there, I can barely taste my favourite wonderful friend, brown sugar.
So in conclusion… are these blondies absolutely delicious and did I totally eat 4 of them in the span of 15 minutes?
Yes, yes I did.
Are they my new blondie?
No. No they are not.
This does not mean that ATK is not amazing. Because they are. You better recognize!
I apologize for that last part, I cannot pull that off.
America’s Test Kitchen Blondies
Recipe from Baking Illustrated
- Vegetable cooking spray
- 1 1/2 cups (7 1/2) ounces unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) firmly packed light brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
- 1 cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
- Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13×9-inch baking pan with 2 pieces of foil. Coat the foil-lined pan with vegetable cooking spray.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the melted butter and brown sugar together until combined. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well. Using a rubber spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the egg mixture until just combined. Do not overmix.
- Fold in the semisweet and white chocolate chips and the nuts, and turn the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with a rubber spatula.
- Bake until the top is shiny and cracked and feels firm to the touch, for 22 to 25 minutes. Place the pan on a rack and let cool completely (about an hour). Cut into 1 1/2- by 2-inch bars.