Captain's LogIf there's one thing my fella loves more than Nutella, it's blondies. Or maybe frosting. I reserve things like blondies for special occasions because they are so rich and delicious, and it just so happened that a couple of weeks ago there was a special occasion. Time for a treat! For those of you not in-the-know, a blondie is sort of like a brownie in the sense that it's a chewy-fudgy textured-baked bar, however they don't have a chocolate base like a brownie. Blondies are, essentially, chocolate chip cookies in bar form. I found this recipe for Nutella-stuffed browned butter blondies a few months ago, made it once, and knew it was a real winner. They're oopy-goopy, sweet but not too sweet, and the browned butter, for all its annoying fad-ness, lends the bars an amazing butterscotch-caramel flavor which you just can't get from regular butter.
So here we go! The original recipe comes from The Food Charlatan and I'm pretty sure I made little-to-no changes to her method. I just took more photos.
- a small container of Nutella (10oz), to be divided and almost entirely used
- 10 T unsalted butter
- 2 cups dark brown sugar
- 4 oz softened cream cheese
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 2 cups flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
The first thing I did was measure out the Nutella. The recipe makes 12 blondies, and each blondie needs a big glob of Nutella inside of it. Normally I would make a larger quantity with smaller portions, thinking that all my labor could stretch farther, but it's a bit of a pain to create and handle the globs of Nutella so for the time being I'm cool with capping this to only 12. So: using two spoons, place 12 globs of Nutella onto some parchment paper, supported by a baking sheet or plate or something. The globs should be about tablespoon-sized, but don't agonize over it.
This glorious pan goes in the freezer for later use.
Then I preheat the oven (350°) and get to work on the browned butter. This is exactly what it sounds like: butter that is melted and then cooked for an additional period of time until the milk solids in the butter have caramelized, giving it a deeper flavor.
**BUT LENORE, CAN I SKIP THIS STEP AND JUST USE MELTED BUTTER INSTEAD?**
No. You can't. Not exactly, for reasons discussed below.
|10T butter, melllltiiiiing|
|Are you impressed at the lack of finger prints?|
|Nope, not ready|
And proceeded to measure out the sugar…
|two cups, dark brown, no regrets|
|1/4 cup… rounded|
Which is okay because, honestly, a container of Nutella is the last thing we need laying around here these days.
Time for a butter check!
|Bubbling, but still pale yellow. Foam on top. NOT READY.|
|Foam is gone. Getting close!|
|Curiously some bubbles are back, but look! Solids below are browning.|
***LENORE, THIS TOOK FOREVER. I WANT TO SKIP THIS STEP. WHAT IS THE DEAL.***
Okay, Voice of Opposition, you've been very patient. You shouldn't skip this step because it makes the blondies amazing. Remember how I said this was a special occasion treat? Don't make it if you're in a hurry and can't invest in the process. That said, part of the browning process involves evaporation of the water which is present in the butter. You may recall this was 10 tablespoons of butter---that's one stick plus two tablespoons, or about 5 ounces. But look! Below is the finished browned butter. It's exactly 4 ounces, or the equivalent to one stick of butter. All that we did, really, is cook off water. So this is super-powered butter! Less watered-down! If you MUST skip this step, and I will definitely purse my lips if you do, just use one stick of butter and not the full 10 tablespoons.
…and for what it's worth, every brand of butter contains a different quantity of water (cheaper brands having more water). So, like, skipping the browning is risky business, that's all I'm saying.
Mix the butter, brown sugar, and cream cheese in a mixer or a bowl or whatever vessel you have available to you.
|Thus we enter another period of struggle with my apartment's spotlights|
See the satisfying progression:
When the mixture looked like natural peanut butter and smelled like butterscotch, I said "wowza!" and proceeded with the recipe, adding eggs and vanilla and mixing well.
|terrible lighting + electric yellow farm eggs = a confusing photo|
I piled the flour on top of the mixture and added the salt and baking soda to the flour, giving it a gentle half-attempted shallow whisk.
|it's like the electrical team in my apt complex have never blogged before|
HOT TIP: remove about 1/4 of the batter and set it aside. You'll need it to bury Nutella nuggets. I've never tried this method, but I think it could work nicely…
Now it's time to add that remaining 1/4 cup of Nutella! We're going for a "swirl," so I like to dollop it over the top of the batter and only slightly mix it in. The next step is adding the batter to a 9" x 13" pan, a process which in itself will do a little more mixing, so don't go crazy here.
Now it's time to spread the batter out into an even layer and tuck away those delightful nuggets of Nutella which have been safely stored in the freezer.
|Press them down into the batter|
|shhh sleep now|
|Bumpy alien secrets|
My finished product photos aren't as good as those in the original posting, where you can see the extent of the glop factor.
|This photo does NOT do them justice, |
but you can see how dark and rich even the non-chocolate portion of the bars are.
You should make these the next time someone you love does something amazing. (Or if you just, you know, wanna.)