today’s taste: brown butter bourbon blondies
The days leading up to a long weekend inevitably crawl by. No matter how many times we check the date on Monday, it’s still Monday, and the second hand on our watch sure isn’t going to tick any faster for a holiday as insignificant as Labor Day (not that we don’t love you, Labor Day – but without presents, festive colors, or designated foods, it’s hard to make it into the American Holiday Hall of Fame). Try as we might, we couldn’t bring the weekend itself any closer – but we could infuse our baking with a little weekend spirit (pun intended).
These brown butter bourbon blondies (say it five times fast) were exactly what we needed to tide us over until the holiday. They’re sweet, but with a hint of the bold bourbon flavor, and chock full nuts and chocolate chips. Whether you crave dessert or something a little stronger after a long day at work – these blondies will hit the spot.
The brown butter is key. We love what it can do for a recipe: add a toasty richness that you just can’t get with regular butter. Combining that with the smoky caramel and vanilla taste of bourbon creates a knockout dessert bursting with flavor. We used Knob Creek bourbon for this blondie batch, but that’s only because Emily’s boyfriend has more refined taste and had left a bottle in our house (please and thank you, Robby!). Bakers on a budget – there’s no need to splurge on alcohol; a less expensive bourbon like Jim Beam or Turkey Hill will do just fine for these blondies (and most recipes calling for bourbon). Unless you can get your hands on some firewhiskey…
To add another layer of flavor and texture complexity to the brown butter bourbon blondies, we tossed in milk chocolate chips and toasted walnuts. The ratio of chocolate and walnuts to batter in this recipe is very high, which produces a very chunky blondie. If chunky desserts aren’t your thing, you can decrease the amount of chocolate chips and walnuts to ¼ cup each. (However, we might think you are a little crazy for doing so, because chunky desserts are definitely our thing.) If you’re feeling adventurous, white chocolate chips could also work nicely with the batter – as with milk chocolate, the sweetness helps mellow the intensity of the bourbon.
Fair warning: once you mix everything together, the batter will smell quite boozy. This made us a little nervous the first time – while we appreciate a good bourbon old fashioned or mint julep as much as the next girl, we were hoping for a dessert, not a cocktail (or a hangover). However, we were relieved when we tasted the final product — the blondies only have a hint of bourbon flavor after they come out of the oven.
Like most things in life, these blondies are best with a scoop of vanilla ice cream (and, if you’re feeling particularly naughty, a drizzle of caramel). After you’re finished with these, if you’re still craving more brown butter goodness, check out our coconut-covered brown butter donuts recipe for more of that nutty, irresistible flavor.
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 cup walnuts
- 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
- 2 tablespoons bourbon
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Melt the butter in a small pan on medium heat, stirring occasionally. Cook the butter until it begins to smell nutty and turns an amber color. Watch it closely; it will burn easily. Remove the browned butter from the heat and transfer it to a glass bowl or cup and set aside to cool.
- Spread the walnuts in a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer the nuts to a cutting board and chop lightly. Set aside.
- Cut a length of parchment paper to fit an 8x8 baking dish, allowing the paper to reach the top of the pan on both sides. Cut another sheet to fit in the opposite direction, also trimming at the top of the pan. Spray the parchment paper lightly with cooking spray. Set aside.
- Whisk 1 cup of flour, baking powder, and salt together in a small mixing bowl. Set aside.
- In another medium mixing bowl, combine the browned butter and brown sugar until blended. Add the egg and mix well. Blend in the bourbon and vanilla and mix just until incorporated. Gently fold the dry ingredients into the butter mixture just until combined. Do not over-mix.
- Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of flour to the chocolate chips and toss until the chips are somewhat covered. Add the chocolate chips (with flour) and the toasted walnuts to the batter. Fold in gently. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan.
- Bake until the top is shiny, cracked and light golden brown, 22-24 minutes. Be careful not to over-bake.
- Cool the blondies in the pan then lift out using the parchment paper. Transfer to a cutting board and slice into squares.
- Walnuts and chocolate chips may be removed or substituted for other mix-ins.