My favorite sweet treat is a chewy chocolate chip cookie. A close second? The blondie. This is essentially a cookie in bar form. However, as easy of an idea it might sound it is far from easy. The issue is getting it fully cooked without over cooking the sides.
My go-to recipe for a long time had been one from an issue of Martha Stewart Living from years ago. It was good but never consistent and it called for butterscotch chips as well as chocolate chips. I love the flavor accent the butterscotch gave the blondies. It nicely complimented the brown sugar and vanilla but once I moved away from American “chips” chocolate, butterscotch, or whatever… I was at a loss. Trying to get the interesting flavor in my blondies was proving harder than I thought. I even tried making a batch of butterscotch and swirling it into the batter. That last attempt was ok but way to fiddly.
Recently in an issue of Fine Cooking there was a recipe for Scotch Blondies. This grabbed my attention right away. Being that I enjoy bourbons and whiskeys in other cooking I have done as well as in a few cocktails I wanted to give this a try. With the recipe being in Fine Cooking I trusted it more than I should have. Usually recipes from them are true to their promise and picture. It called for gently melting the butter in a saucepan, removing from the heat, stirring in the brown sugar, and finally adding the scotch. This yumminess then gets worked into the batter. What I should have thought about is that the alcohol wasn’t getting cooked at all until it was in the batter and baked in the oven. The other major issue was that the bake time was 25 minutes. The identifying markers of when to pull it from the oven was when the top is golden brown (uh, what? that batter is the color of a dark caramel) and it just begins to pull away from the edge of the pan.
Now I should mention that they wanted you to use a 9×13 pan. I always do mine in a 9×9 pan which meant mine would be thicker and in which case they should take longer to cook but at 25 minutes I checked and the top was a perfect golden brown and set and it was clearly pulling away from the edges. So I went ahead and pulled it. The instructions also had you fully cool it in the pan. By the time I turned it out and sliced it in half it was too late to really save it. It was a gooey mess. It was DRAMATICLY under cooked. To the point I would say it was a hair better than raw.
I was holding together so I reheated the oven, scooped up the two halves, put them on a cookie sheet and put it back in the oven. It did manage to bake a little more but it was a complete let down. Not only was it way under cooked but the flavor of the uncooked booze was so strong it overpowered any nuances you should have gotten from the booze.
Knowing a couple things I would have done differently had I followed what I known, I pushed on and made them again. This time I started with bringing the bourbon to a simmer and igniting it to burn off the raw alcohol flavor. I then melted the butter in the hot alcohol and stirred in the brown sugar. This fixed the issue with the final taste and lends a depth of flavor to the blondie that replaces the need for butterscotch chips. Then as for the baking I went back to the tooth pick test. In the end I had a blondie that I could be proud of!
- 320 grams All-purpose Flour
- ¾ teaspoon Baking Powder
- ½ teaspoon Baking Soda
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- 2 large Eggs, beaten (about 100 grams)
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla
- 4 fl ounces Basil Hayden Bourbon
- 6 ounces Unsalted Butter
- 440 grams Dark Brown Sugar
- 160 grams Chocolate Chips
- 160 grams Pecans, chopped (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Prepare a 9×9-inch pan, spraying it with non-stick spray and lining with parchment.
In a large bowl whisk together the flour, the rising agents, and the salt. Set aside. In a small bowl beat the eggs and vanilla. Set aside.
In a small saucepan add the bourbon, bring to a simmer, remove from the heat, and carefully ignite the alcohol. To do this light a match away from the pan. Keep the lid near by. work the flame closer and closer to the rim of the saucepan. When it lights it will be sudden and dramatic. This is due to the alcohol in the evaporation. Let it burn, uncovered for 10-15 seconds. Place the lid on the pan. This will extinguish the flame. Uncover the pan and add the butter. Let it melt in the bourbon, occasionally giving it a stir.
Once the butter is mostly melted add the brown sugar and stir until fully incorporated and looks silky smooth. Add a little of this mixture to the eggs and whisk together. Add the rest and whisk until well combine.
Fold in the flour mixture until you see no more pockets of flour. Don’t worry if it still looks a little lumpy but make sure you scrape the bottom of the bowl with each folding pass. Fold in the chocolate chips and nuts (if using).
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 40-45 minutes, until a tooth pick inserted comes out clean. Fully cool in the pan before turning them out.