I haven’t made brownies for a very long time.
Years as in, when my grown boys were very, very young. I suppose that after countless results of either raw in the middle crunchy on the outside, or serious qualifiers for hockey puck status, I gave up. Bear in mind that even box brownie mixes were beyond my ability. Thinking about this after my eighth or tenth failure, I decided that it just didn’t matter — there were plenty of other chocolate goodies I could make quite successfully. Some people have yeast phobias; I am a bonafide brownie flunky.
My avoidance could only last so long, however, when the sheer number of brownie recipes made with every variation imaginable are plastered all over the web — taunting me — reminding me that everyone else seems to be gifted in the brownie making department. Read: I was the last person chosen for the kickball team. Let’s face it. I’d been jinxed, so that meant I needed to take a different approach in solving this dilemma.
I’d make blondies. They look the same as brownies minus color, of course, chew the same, and also have quite a number of variations on a theme available to experiment with. If I could pull off a nice blondie, then it just might pave the way for passable brownies. And if I’m successful with the blondies, then I might be able to make my own rendition of a dessert I recently saw in a magazine: chunks of brownies, fresh fruit, and cream all piled artfully in a cup.
And then I discovered Elizabeth Franken and Demolition Desserts. Her blondies are, well, blondies, and they appear in a luscious combo of chocolate and ice cream. At some point in her book in a completely different recipe, there’s fruit and a syrup that is heavenly. I had the gelato, so splendor in a glass was born, and faith in my ability to bake your basic-baked-chewable-squares-no-matter-what-color-type-treat was given a very welcome reprieve.
It’s all water under the bridge, but perhaps now, I can produce a passable brownie. I’m thinking the key is to have a completely different purpose in mind for them from the get go than to just cut them in squares and slate them for the inevitable teeth sinking occasion.
I don’t know what I’d call what I ended up with, but it was truly amazing. Blondies and beyond?
Maybe. But you have to wait for the end result.
All you get now is Roundies — or Almond Blondies. Good blondies, but still.
Roundies: Almond Blondies
1-1/4 c. + 3 T all purpose flour
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened
1/4 c. + 3 T sugar
3/4 c. + 2 T brown sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
2 lg. eggs
1/4 c. slivered blanched almonds
pinch of ground cardamom
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and position a rack in the center. Lightly spray a standard 12-cup muffin tin and set aside.
In a small bowl, mix the flour, salt and baking powder. In another bowl, blend the butter and both sugars. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well. Pour in the dry ingredients and mix just until all ingredients are blended. Add the almonds, pinch of cardamom, and lightly stir. Evenly distribute into the prepared muffin cups and bake until puffed and lightly golden brown, about 25 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted in the center of one blondie is dry when removed.
Cool in the muffin tins completely before removing. Blondies will deflate upon cooling, but will be chewy and moist. Turn out of pan and enjoy with a nice glass of milk, but save a few for….you’ll have to wait and see…
- Fine. You’re thinking blondies are a cinch. I get it. Whatever.
- The muffin cups worked excellently and made for nice, clean treats. No cutting necessary, they came out of the pan with a bit of a scrape from a knife and were stored in a large zip lock bag at room temp.
- Keep an eye on them while they’re baking. I did spin the pan 180 degrees half way through the cooking time which was MUCH longer than I anticipated. My initial estimate was to bake them for 15 minutes and they weren’t close to being done. Trial and error.
- They’re very moist and tasty. The almonds are an excellent touch if I might say so myself. They add a pleasant crunch in every bite. And then there’s that hint of cardamom. Nice.
- Go ahead and try to eat just one.