Trials In Blondies

I'm in search of the perfect blondie recipe. But one thing I've been considering is what exactly is a blondie? Is it just a chocolateless form of a brownie, and hence, you can put whatever you want in it and still consider it a blondie? Or does adding certain things to the batter, such as nuts, chips, and coconut, make it, say, a congo bar or some other treat?

This all started with a chocolate cake craving. Now, blondies are a far cry from chocolate cake, so it took a strange thought process getting here. Chocolate cake -- the kind I would want -- seemed a little too extravagant and over the top to make for a small craving on a weeknight, so I began looking for brownie recipes. Brownies are typically quicker and easier, and I can eat them without any sort of frosting or ganache, which I would require on chocolate cake -- unless it's a fudgy cake like flourless chocolate cake. But back to those blondies...

While I was flipping through books and magazines looking for any sort of recipe that might not take too long to make but still hit the spot, my boyfriend commented that he liked blondies. Hmm... they're not chocolate based, but I could go for something with a chewy, buttery texture, I reasoned. Within minutes, my craving changed -- well sort of: I picked a recipe with chocolate chips.

Blondies with Chocolate Chips and Walnuts (from Everyday Food, September 2007)

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for pan
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush an 8-inch square baking pan with butter; line pan with a piece of parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides. Butter paper.
In a large bowl, whisk butter and sugars until smooth. Whisk in egg and vanilla. Add flour and salt; mix just until moistened (do not overmix). Fold in 1/2 cup each chocolate chips and walnuts. Transfer batter to prepared pan; smooth top. Sprinkle with remaining chocolate chips and walnuts.
Bake until top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Set pan on a wire rack, and let cool completely. Using parchment overhang, lift cake from pan and transfer to a cutting board; cut into 16 squares. Store blondies in an airtight container at room temperature, up to 2 days.

chocolate chip and walnut blondies
These were incredibly easy to make -- I didn't even need the KitchenAid -- and quite tasty too. But were they the perfect blondie? Not quite. I didn't think there was enough of the chewy part, which is what I love most. Too many chips and walnuts got in the way. When I make these again, I'm going to double the batter, so I'll get a thicker blondie but still plenty of crunch and chocolate. Don't get me wrong though: They are absolutely delicious and when eaten warm with the chocolate still gooey, they satisfied my chocolate-cake-turned-blondie craving (perhaps a chocolate blondie craving?) with the first bite.

See Trials In Blondies Continued for my next blondie test.