I have been on a blondie-baking spree. Is it just me, or are blondies having a moment once again? Sizzling brownies are not going off dessert menus in India anytime soon (and honestly, in most restaurants, what you get is a burnt brownie, not a sizzling one,) but I can’t help but notice how blondies have been doing the rounds on the blogosphere. Just look here, here, here and here. And each adapted in a fun, eat-the-batter-with-a-spoon way!
I know blondies are nothing new, they have been around for ages now. I was re-introduced to them via Melissa Clark’s NYT column, A Good Appetite. (I absolutely love her recipes and innovations- and her use of good-quality pantry ingredients to make an everyday meal special.) I was suddenly in the blondie fast lane. I looked them up on every possible online food publication and blog, read and re-read recipes from magazines and cookbooks, was kind of shocked when I learned Nigella’s How To Be A Domestic Goddess didn’t have a blondie recipe…I even stalked a prominent British food writer’s Instagram stream and point-blank asked her if she had a perfect blondie recipe.
After browsing recipes for a while, it was the variations in sugar combinations that struck me most- with each recipe using some form of brown sugar.
Ina Garten: Lightly packed light brown sugar + granulated sugar
Alice Medrich: Tightly packed light brown sugar
Bobby Flay: Light brown muscovado + dark brown muscovado
Deb Perelman: Dark brown sugar
Pooja Dhingra: Light brown sugar
But the recipe I’m sharing today is none of the above, it’s what got me interested in blondies in the first place: Melissa Clark’s Chocolate-Crusted Banana Blondies. It’s kind of funny: the day after I made my first batch of chocolate-crusted banana blondies, my best friend emailed me the recipe saying it looked and sounded great and was on her must-bake list. And really, whether you have a list or not, I do think you must bake these. They’re really good. The recipe is a new way to use up extra/overripe bananas instead of reaching for the loaf pan to make, what else, banana bread. These aren’t as chewy and crusty as a regular blondie, but they sure are good. The chocolate cookie base is the right vehicle to hold up a pretty dense and fluffy blondie layer, made richer by the bananas and brown butter.
I tried using the same blondie batter recipe to make a banana loaf (minus the chocolate crust,) but it didn’t hold up: the brown butter and mashed banana are a sticky combination, and quite a bit stuck to the bottom of the pan. There’s a reason why the batter needs that cookie base for support!
I had to adapt somewhat, because the first time I made these a few months ago, I didn’t have dark brown sugar. I used only demerara sugar, which I pulsed in the blender to make it easier to work with. I also skipped the rum, because again, I did not have any. Also- I drastically cut down on the quantity of sugar. 500 grams is what the recipe calls for (crust and blondie included.) That is just shy of half a kilogram of sugar for one batch of blondies. (!) I used only 200 grams of demerara sugar, and trust me, these were as sweet as any treat should be. The bananas were ripe, but not overripe.
A NOTE ON THE COOKIE BASE: Melissa Clark uses chocolate wafer cookies- which, from the looks of it, is a chocolate version of your standard Nilla wafers. I used a cheap biscuit called Parle Magix, which comes in a chocolate flavour. They cost 5 rupees for a small pack, and they are great for this recipe, or for making any kind of chocolate soil or cheesecake base. The second time around, I used Oreos, minus the filling. Both work great, but yes, Parle Magix is cheaper.
CHOCOLATE-CRUSTED BANANA BLONDIES Adapted from here.
For The Cookie Base:
- 100 g butter, melted
- 50 g light brown sugar/demerara sugar
- 200 g chocolate cookies
For The Blondie Batter:
- 2 ripe bananas, mashed
- 2 large eggs
- 200 grams light brown sugar/demerara sugar (please use dark brown sugar if you have some,)
- 130 g flour
- 80 g toasted walnuts, chopped
- 150 g butter
- Start by making the cookie base. Pre-heat the oven to 190C. Line a 9×13 inch tray with parchement paper and butter it lightly.
- Pulse the cookies in a blender until they form fine crumbs
- Add the melted butter, light brown sugar and pulse until it resembles damp sand.
- Press the mixture into the pan and bake for 7-12 mins until firm. Pull the pan out of the oven and allow to cool.
Next, start making the blondie batter.
- Reduce the oven to 175 C.
- Place the butter in a saucepan and heat it until it starts melting and foaming. Keep cooking it until the foam subsides and the butter has turned a deep brown colour and gives off a nutty aroma- this should take between 3-5 mins. Turn off the heat and allow to cool.
- In a large bowl, whisk the bananas, brown sugar and eggs. Once they are combined, whisk in the brown butter.
- In another bowl, sift the flour lightly. Fold the flour and toasted walnuts into the batter.
- Pour this batter over the cooled cookie crust.
- Bake at 175 C for 45-60 mins, or until a toothpick inserted comes out with just a few crumbs sticking to it. Cool. Cut. Eat.
Do check out what some other bloggers have done with the recipe:
♥ Not Derby Pie followed the recipe almost verbatim, and got a lovely, rich-brown, gooey blondie.
♥ The Cake Duchess toned down the sugar like me, and got a beautiful golden-yellow top and interior with a moist crumb.