When my new niece was born, I wanted to take some food to my sister-in-law at the hospital. You see, I had visions of the Hungarian Goulash that I was served after I gave birth to my son not too long ago … At that moment, I felt like I was on an episode of “Really? With Seth and Amy” on Saturday Night Live. “I just pushed a human being out of my body (after 40 weeks of pregnancy) and you are serving me institutional Hungarian Goulash? Really?? Really.”
I stumbled upon a recipe for blondies, which I had never really made before. And after looking at the ingredients and procedures, I felt like there was a way to gild the gold and paint the lily. The recipe started with melted butter, which is almost always better browned than simply melted (OK, so maybe I’m not sure how popcorn or lobster would be with browned butter. Wait. Now that I think of it, I bet they would be great.) And I was pretty sure I could make them whole grain without sacrificing too much in texture. Beyond that I knew that if we were forsaking the chocolate brownie cousin, I would want to integrate white chocolate chunks for their smooth sweetness.
That’s where I started and this is where I ended up. This recipe has more sugar in it than I would love, but all of my attempts to cut back have impacted both the flavor and texture. The sugar is integral to the chewiness, the surface sheen, and the balance of flavor. So, it’s not an everyday thing around here, but at least it is whole grain. I should add that when I am replacing all purpose flour with whole wheat flour in baked goods, I use this rule of thumb: use white whole wheat flour when you want something chewier (bread, cookies, brownies) and use whole wheat pastry flour when you want something more delicate (pastry, cake, pancakes). I should also note that this recipe is super easy when you are in a pinch, because it requires only one bowl (plus a saute pan) and no electric mixer and no creaming of butter and sugar.
The new mama and papa loved them — but that might have had something to do with the six pack run we made once we arrived at the hospital. Because, you see, that is what a new mother REALLY deserves: booze and sugar. And probably a steak.
Brown Butter and White Chocolate Blondies
Makes about 2 dozen, depending on how big you cut them
1 cup of butter (two sticks)
2 cups of packed brown sugar
2 t vanilla
2 cups of white whole wheat flour
1 t baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
1/8 t salt
1 1/2 cups of white chocolate chips or chunks
1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. In a large saute pan, melt the butter and allow it to brown while stirring. Normally, a few tablespoons of brown butter will only take 2-3 minutes to brown, but since this is a large amount, it usually takes about 5 minutes. (the bigger the pan, the faster it will brown) You want to get it just brown and smelling fragrant and “nutty.” It can burn pretty quickly once it gets to this point, so be careful. (If it burns, you need to start over). Once brown, remove from heat immediately and pour into a large mixing bowl. Let cool a few minutes.
3. Butter and flour a 9×13 glass baking pan. (Grease the pan with butter and then put about a tablespoon of flour in it and shake it all around, covering bottom and sides of pan and tapping out any excess flour.)
4. To the browned butter, add the brown sugar and whisk well to incorporate. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking completely after each addition. Add vanilla extract and whisk.
5. Dump in the white whole wheat flour, the baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Switch to a wooden spoon or spatula and mix completely.
6. Stir in the white chocolate chunks or chips.
7. Spread into prepared 9×13 pan and bake in preheated oven for about 25 minutes until a toothpick comes out just barely clean in the middle (don’t over-bake). Let cool on a rack and cut into squares.