Bear with me here, okay? The last ten days have been a whirlwind of packing boxes, saying see-you-laters, driving, unpacking, saying hello-agains, setting up a mini-apartment, and starting new classes. I’ve started round 2 of this crazy thing called college, and once again I am reminded that yes, it is possible to simultaneously hate change and love it, and to feel approximately 10,000 emotions all at once. So I’m sorry for the brief hiatus from baking, but I’m sure you kind souls will understand!
The bad news is that my super-talented photographer brother is far far away in Montana (sniffle), so my baked goods no longer have the luxury of being beautified and clarified by his mad skills. Instead, we get my not-so-talented iPhone photos. Let’s just say that beauty and clarity are not the first two adjectives that come to mind when I look at them! We all know that we eat with our eyes, so just use your imagination and trust that these blondies taste even more delicious than they look.
The good news, on the other hand, is that this year I’m lucky enough to be living in an apartment-style dorm with two of my best friends (and one super-friendly new roommate), which happens to have its own little kitchen! We also have four (tiny) bedrooms, two bathrooms, four bathroom sinks, a little living room, a TV, a VCR (yes, those things still exist!), and a fake potted plant featuring our two plastic flamingos, Mushu and Lulu (long story). (As you can tell, my obsession with parenthesis continues.)
Compared to last year’s standard freshman experience (i.e. living in what felt like a cubicle, carrying a shower kit to and from the bathroom every day, and eating way too much cafeteria food) I’m living a life of luxury. I couldn’t wait to break in our new kitchen, so as soon as my last class was over on Friday I made a quick trip to Safeway for ingredients and got straight to work.
While cookies are my usual go-to, we only have one cookie sheet and zero electric mixers, so I opted instead for cookie bars aka blondies. I knew I could just use melted butter since blondies are baked in a pan and won’t spread like cookies, and I also just really love blondies. Since I was already melting the butter I went ahead and browned it, which is never ever ever a bad decision ever. Browned butter gives whatever it’s in a nutty, caramel-y depth of flavor and it makes your kitchen smell amazing for hours!
Apart from browning the butter, which really isn’t that hard, this recipe is about as simple as it gets. I used one bowl, one spoon, and one pan, which I lined with parchment paper for easy clean-up. Very do-able for tiny apartments and limited supplies! I chose to add in chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and a dash of cinnamon, but you can think of this recipe as a base for whatever type of bars you fancy. I’ve made them in the past with shredded coconut, white chocolate chips, and chopped nuts, and in my option the more loaded they are, the better! Hopefully everyone shares this opinion, since I halved the original recipe and forgot to halve the chips, meaning they were very, um, chippy. No one seemed to mind :).
It felt so good to be back in the kitchen after a crazy week! There’s something about the predictability of measuring, mixing, and baking that’s incredibly comforting, which is part of the reason I love to bake so much. It also brings back memories, provides a sense of focus, allows for creativity, and best of all, results in delicious things! Baking addict forever <3.
Butterscotch Browned Butter Blondies
Makes about 16 bars
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
1/2 cup butterscotch chips
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line (or grease) an 8×8″ baking pan with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang. Set aside.
Place the butter into a small saucepan and melt over medium heat. Let it cook for about 5 minutes, whisking constantly, until it turns dark golden-brown and smells nutty and fragrant. Be careful to stop as soon as the butter is browned, because it can quickly burn! Set the browned butter aside to cool as you prepare the dry ingredients.
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.
Add both sugars to the slightly cooled butter (you can just mix it all in the saucepan), whisking until smooth. Whisk in the egg and vanilla until smooth and glossy. Gently stir in the dry ingredients, mixing just until no flour streaks remain. Stir in the butterscotch and chocolate chips.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely before slicing into bars.
(Recipe adapted from Brown Eyed Baker)