Since I last blogged here about a week ago, life has been pretty terribly interesting for me. When I say “terribly,” I mean it. It’s been terrible. I feel fatigued after working overtime to catch up with assignments in the past couple of days. And, that’s not it.
After a swollen pink eye, I was bugged by an achy tooth. Double whammy! A few hours ago, I was still sitting at the clinic – diligently waiting to have my tooth extracted. It’s gone. But, I’m feeling the pain as the anesthetic is worn off. Luckily, I’m on medical leave. I do have to say, though, that this post was painstakingly composed. Haha!
I brought something to read along while waiting for my turn in the clinic’s reception area. Suddenly, I heard the bawling of a kid coming from the dentist’s room. I wondered to myself, “Why hadn’t you come to see the dentist and have the goddamn tooth removed earlier!?”
I realized that one of my greatest fears has to do with dentists and anything related to them. This faulty tooth had been bugging me for a few years actually; however, I was reluctant to see these
I realized one more thing: Having a tooth extracted is something a foodie will never, ever look forward to. I’m forced to ground myself to a toddler’s diet by taking soft, mushy and runny foods. No strenuous workout. Minimal talking too, verbally. *Sob*
Anyway, this post has come a little awkward. As you know, I’m a slow (and long-winded) blogger. Though I was trained to be a journalist, I could never seem to blog about all my bakes and dishes in a timely fashion. (I have months of backlogs to clear, slowly. Haha!) This week, though, I have to make it an exception.
Bars (or bar cookies) were unheard of in my world until I began my 3-year stint in America. I was so naïve that I didn’t know brownies are bars till then. (The brownies I grew up eating were cakey, which were very untypical American. That was why I misplaced brownies under the Lethally Chocolaty Cake category at the back of my brain. *LOL*) When I was in the States, besides lemon bars and fudgy brownies (yet to blog about), one of the first few bars I was introduced to were no other than blondies.
I had my first blondies during the Christmas of 2008. (Yes, Thanksgiving and Christmas equate long bake-a-thon! Miss it!) The bars were made by my family friends for the cookie swap at their family’s annual Christmas gathering. (The Lockes and the Mathews, if you’re reading this, thank you so much for the invitation!) Based on what I can recall, blondies have to be chewy, soft, SWEET and give you that deep butterscotch flavor.
Just this Sunday, I made blondies to satisfy my cravings. I have two blondie recipes to choose from. To justify the money spent, I decided to go with the recipe from Dorie Greenspan’s “Baking: From My Home to Yours.” Honestly, this book has been put to pretty good use. But, I have yet to blog about my other bakes from the book. And, these blondies aren't the first recipe I've tried out from the book. *LOL*
I decided to blog about the blondies in a timely manner because I just discovered that Tuesdays With Dorie (TWD) bakers also made these bars for this week’s assignment. It was a pure accident! Thought it’d be fun to join TWD just this once. I wonder if there’ll be another pure coincidence again ...
Anyway, money wasn’t the only deciding factor. Greenspan named hers “Chewy, Chunky Blondies.” “Chewy” and “chunky” really caught my attention. I’d been meaning to replicate these bars, but something had gotten my way. I couldn’t find butterscotch chips and Heath toffee bits in Malaysia! (Or I didn’t look hard enough!?) Frankly, I’m not a big fan of butterscotch chips; however, I don’t mind using them in my foods. If I could choose, I’d prefer peanut butter chips to butterscotch ones, anytime. (Can’t find those here either!) I guess I really took these ingredients for granted when I was still in the States.
After a visit to the clinic (for my pink eye) last week, I went to pick up a few items at the local supermarket with my mom. As I swooshed past the confectionery aisle, something grabbed a hold of me from the corner of my eye: Andes Toffee Crunch Thins! I excitedly said to myself, “It's blondies time!” Yes, these make good substitute!
Pardon me for the horrible shots of these blondies. I photographed them just before going off to work this Monday morning as it’d been raining nonstop from Sunday afternoon till early that morning. Do bear in mind, though, blondie recipes are easy to execute. Not time-consuming whatsoever. It’s just that I was also making some good ol’ potato bread at the same time; therefore, I was a bit slow in getting the foods photographed toward the end of the day. Yet to blog about these delectably soft rolls. We shall see when that happens. Haha!
I referred to my other blondie recipe and altered Dorie’s a wee bit by reducing the sugars and adding in a tablespoon of molasses and light corn syrup each. (Light corn syrup is labeled as “liquid glucose” outside of the States.) I know the sugars are there to give the bars that chewiness, but I couldn’t bear witnessing myself dumping that much sugar into my bake! In addition to that, I used fresh grated coconut in mine. In Malaysia, we don’t have sweetened flaked coconut. And, I don’t look forward to using that actually. Nothing beats fresh coconut flavor!
Result? Blondies that are equally chewy as the ones I had in the States – except these are REALLY chunky. With each bite, I get a little surprise here and there. I love the chunks of chocolate, toffee bits and walnuts within! The downside is these bars are a tad too greasy to my liking. Or did I do something wrong!? No doubt, though, mine don’t look exactly like the ones in the book. After looking at other TWD bakers’ blondies, I feel better. At least, mine aren’t the only ones that turned out darker. Haha! Mine still taste like blondies, except chunkier.
My cravings have been fixed. My only complaint now is since the loss of a tooth this morning, I’m having a hard time chewing on the bars, which are still sitting on the dining table. How I wish I can share some of them with all you sweet-toothed!
Chewy, Chunky Blondies
Adapted from "Baking: From My Home to Yours," by Dorie Greenspan & "Joy of Cooking: Christmas Cookies," by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker and Ethan Becker
220 g all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
227 g unsalted butter -- softened at room temperature
300 g light brown sugar
* I used 220 g. *
115 g granulated sugar
* I used 100 g. *
1 Tbsp molasses
* Not blackstrap molasses! *
1 Tbsp light corn syrup (liquid glucose)
2 large eggs -- at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
170 g bittersweet chocolate -- chopped into bits / semisweet chocolate chips
170 g butterscotch chips / Heath Toffee Bits
* I used coarsely chopped Andes Toffee Crunch Thins. The candy comes in 132 grams per box; therefore, I only used that much. *
75~100 g sweetened shredded coconut
* I used fresh grated one. *
113 g walnuts
* To toast the walnuts, bake them at 150°C for 13~15 minutes. Remove from the oven, and let them cool completely before use. Coarsely chop cooled walnuts; set aside. *
- Grease a 9x13-inch pan and set aside for use later.
* I used a slightly smaller pan, which is around 8"x12". And, I lined it with parchment instead. *
- Whisk (A) together and sift once; set aside for use later.
* I sifted mine, which was additional, to break up all the big and small lumps and to REALLY ensure that the ingredients are well distributed throughout the flour mixture. *
- Cream the butter on medium speed till smooth and creamy, then add in (B) and beat for 3 minutes or till well incorporated. Mix in (C) quick to just combine.
- Add in the eggs to the butter mixture, one at a time, beating well with each addition. Then, mix in the vanilla extract to blend well.
- Reduce to the speed on the hand/stand mixer to low, blend in the flour mixture till the the flour mixture has just disappeared into the batter. Now, do this by hand and with help from a rubber spatula, stir in (D) to evenly distribute them throughout the batter.
- Scrape the batter from your mixing bowl and into the prepared pan. With a rubber spatula, smooth out the top of the batter to ensure an even surface as best you can.
- Bake at 160°C for 40 minutes or till test done, i.e. the knife comes out clean when inserted into the center of the blondies. The blondies should pull away from the sides of the pan slightly and the top gives a nice honey-brown color.
- Remove the blondies from the oven; transfer the whole pan to the cooling rack to let cool completely before cutting to serve and/or store airtight.