Blondies

I’m going to a food blogger potluck this weekend and have decided to take blondies; the ulterior motive being that I can get multiple opinions which should help me choose the Top 5. “Blondies” is a tough category. First, there’s the question of what’s in them. Should we really compare a butterscotch blondie with one that has chocolate chunks and white chocolate? For instance, the Garrett McCord blondies from Jenn’s Baking Chamber, the Helms Blondie Clone, the Richard Sax blondie and the Whole Foods Macadamia Butterscotch Blondie are all dense, chewy and taste like butter & brown sugar. And in the opposite corner there are the less butterscotch focused bars such as Pat’s Chocolate Chip, Dorie Greenspan’s Chunky Chewy Blondies and Cooks Illustrated Blondies. And what about Congo Bars? If the aforementioned bars are blondies, then Congo bars are just blondies with coconut and should be categorized as such. And I haven’t even tried King Arthur’s yet….and the Tate’s Bakeshop recipe in my soon-to-arrive cookbook.  So many blondies!

What I’ll probably do is pick the Top 5 butterscotch blondies and call them “Butterscotch Brownies/Blondies” and pick another Top 5 called “Various Blondies”.

To start, I tested some recipes back to back – the first being by two of my favorite authors, Dorie Greenspan and Chris Kimball. Their full recipes have been printed on the web many times so I’ve linked accordingly, but here’s a quick graphic of the ingredient list so you can compare the two side by side – flour is all purpose and butter is unsalted.

blondie-chart-for-blog

As you probably guessed by looking at the chart, Dorie’s Chunky Chewy Blondies (Blondie 1) are much sweeter and richer than CI’s which have a higher overall proportion of egg and are less chewy. And Dorie’s have more chunks, which you can not see in this photo. I actually skimped on the chunks which was a mistake. I’ll make a new batch for the “judges”.  And based on the photo in her book, Dorie’s blondies appears] a little different than mine, dryer (in a good way), and I’m starting to wonder if Dorie uses more flour per cup than I do — maybe 5 oz per cup as opposed to 4.5 oz per cup which would be a total 1/4 cup difference in a recipe that calls for 2 cups flour.  I’ll be happy when all recipes use weights for flour instead of volume.  No wonder so many Americans hate baking.  They’ve had bad experiences with flour measurements.  Moving on…

dorie-blondie

Cooks Illustrated Blondies were good. I liked them quite a bit. They were simple and I didn’t miss the toffee chips one bit. Sometimes toffee chips bug me. Of the two, the CI were my favorites – but like I said, I need to make Dorie’s one more time (full cup of toffee chips and all!) to be sure, and maybe I’ll try using “more flour per cup” (which sounds so inaccurate and old timey, but it’s true). 

ci-blondies

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Comments

  1. Louise says

    It wouldn’t surprise me if you get a split vote as people just have different tastes. So, if they are both good, they may just be more appealing in one way or another to people. And, are you forgetting this very important day? http://www.verybestbaking.com/products/tollhouse/nccd/ I actually thought it’s National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day, but Nestle’s should know. :-)

  2. says

    National Chocolate Chip Day–I must do—something! ;) I may just bake up at batch of Elinor Klivans Chock Full of CC–they are SO good!

    As for the blondies–I’m partial to Dorie’s (not just because I’m part of TWD), but have made them several times with all kinds of add-ins and they are just wonderful. Tyler Florence has a really good butterscotch blondie (like you needed to add one to the pack) He made them once on that annoying show, How To Boil Water with the ditzy blonde girl. My mom and I made them to try them out for the farmer’s market and they ARE reallly good.
    I supposed I can’t really judge Dorie’s over CI’s, because I’ve never tried CI’s. Yep, it will be great for you to have a taste test with lots of people.

    Off to see about ccc’s!

  3. says

    They both look good, but it will be interesting to get input from other people, especially other food bloggers!

    It never occurred to me until I read it here that Congo Bars could be considered blondies. I’ve made those, and people seem to love them.

    I’m still going to try ‘regular blondies’. The recipe I tried most recently didn’t appeal to me at all, and no that recipe is not on your list.

    I wasn’t going to blog about the cookies I made today, but I’m going to check out the link Louise provided. Maybe I should change my mind!

  4. Michelle R. says

    I love blondies, and tried Dorie’s “chewy, chunky” recipe once because of all the raves I’d seen on blogs, but mine came out all greasy and kind of mushy, with really crispy edges. I was really surprised, as I bake all the time and things usually come out right. Do you think I did something wrong? I hate using up ingredients, so I’ve resisted trying her recipe again.

  5. says

    Michelle, don’t worry. It’s just a matter of personal preference. Katrina loves Dorie’s but you and I found them to be a little greasy. Now that might be due in part to the flour issue (you and I might be using 4.5 oz per cup, K. might have used 5 oz per cup), but it might not. I’ve heard from a few other people that they felt the brownies were a little too rich too. So it’s hard to say. I probably won’t make them again either — not until someone weighs the flour and tells me exactly how many grams it’s supposed to be. I don’t want to throw away all those “chunk” ingredients.

  6. Candace says

    I have a nomination for the “other” category – the demerara sugar peanut butter blondies that Val posted on CL about 2 years ago. I just made them again this week.
    I’ve been wanting to try the CI recipe for a while, so maybe I’ll finally do it now.

  7. says

    You already know this, Anna, but I do measure just by scooping the 1 cup measure in the flour and shaking it off to level it, which probably makes my cups more than yours and others. Works for me. So it probably is a difference in measuring. I also haven’t tasted as many different blondies as you have, so I AM a bit partial to Dorie’s because I’ve tried it and like it.
    I heard somewhere that chef’s and bakers measure with a very heavy hand. It would be nice to have metrics on recipes!

  8. says

    I had never seen the CI blondie–I loved their CC and brownies (the latter on your special recommendation, Anna) so this I will try.

    You could call your two categories ‘Blondies’ and ‘Blondies with Bling.’ Although the CI looks like it would be nice vehicle for crushed Butterfingers…

  9. says

    Judy, thanks for that info. That means for a recipe with 2 cups, she might use 2 T. more flour than I do. I’m not sure that would make much of a difference in this instance.

    Katrina, if pastry chefs measure with a heavy hand, it might be because a) they’ve grown accustom to eyeballing and know how the dough/batter is supposed to be or b) they throw the dry ingredients on the scale which takes all of 2 seconds (meaning they can measure however they want) or c) they know the proper motion for scooping and sweeping. I think if you scoop, you are supposed to submerge your whole scoop into the big bin of flour then lift it up so that it’s all piled on the top then gently level the top with a straight edge. You are not supposed to shake it because that packs it in.

    For home cooks, it’s not so easy to scoop in one big motion because we are often scooping out of little narrow-mouthed canisters and trying not to make a huge mess. When I try to do the big “scoop once and level the top” motion I get flour all over the place.

    Before I knew any better, I scooped and shook the cup. Nobody ever complained my cookies were dry and I think it’s because I used recipes that were developed by test kitchens that knew people at home liked to scoop and shake the flour. For instance, the Toll House recipe is better when you pack the flour.

    But when it comes time to make a scratch cake, unless you have been making scratch cakes for years and are good at eyeballing batter or just have a feel for how batter is supposed to be, it’s better to be accurate.

    Anyway, it’s all a mute point once you buy a scale.

  10. says

    You hit the nail right on the head about why I hate scooping into my narrow canister. I also think you’re right that it matter more with cakes (which I don’t bake much) and cookies can take a few extra T. of flour.
    I saw/heard about baker’s scooping with a heavy hand at a class I went to at our local natural food’s store about baking cookies. The Le Cordon Bleu pastry chef who did the class told us that. Anyway, it should be your quest to ask every cookbook author/baker/pastry chef whose recipes are out there how they measure and get their measurements in oz and metrics! Go Anna, go Anna. We’d all appreciate it if you could do that and have it available–say, like by Monday, would be good! ;)

  11. Jasmine says

    i’ve NEVER had a blondie before… sheesh embarrassing for me! I’ll check back to see your picks…it will give me a GREAT excuse to bake something!

  12. says

    Katrina, you can help me with the quest by putting gram amounts next to all flour measurements. Baby steps ;).

    Jasmine, you have an official excuse to bake blondies.

  13. says

    I re-tested Dorie’s recipe again today with more flour. They weren’t quite as greasy, but they didn’t have the dense, smooth quality I like. The second batch was better than the first, but I think I prefer melted butter recipes over creamed recipes.

  14. Shannon says

    I tried the Cooks’ Illustrated recipe and thought they were great, but I have one question. Mine took about 30 – 40 minutes to really set up completely. They were definitely still too underdone after 25 – 30 minutes. Has anyone else had this problem? I am starting to think my oven is UNDER the temperature it says it is.

  15. Laurie says

    Wow, I just made these blondies and found them too moist the first day. A week later, they’re much better. Great to know about the flour. 4.8 ounces per cup. I cooked them for the recommended time and thought they were underdone. I hesitated to cook them any more since brownies are supposed to be slightly underdone. Great website, by the way!

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