Salted Hazelnut Brown Butter Blondies

Salted Hazelnut Brown Butter Blondies | A Sweet SpoonfulI’m late to the game on meditating. Like really, really late but I’m doing it now and because we live in a weird, modern world I have an app that sends me a little reminder each day in case I forget. It also keeps track of my consecutive days of meditation which I find strangely motivating (it’s not lost on me this. is. not. the. point but for some reason seeing all my days in a row feels like a new achievement, which I suppose is how I’m wired). I don’t have enough days amassed to make any grand statement on the benefits of meditation, but I will say that it helps me just sit and be where I am, which is something I don’t often find easy. I have a busy mind that likes to be many places at any given time, so meditating has helped me reign it in, for at least a few minutes.

Salted Hazelnut Brown Butter Blondies | A Sweet Spoonful Sam’s been out of town for a few days, so it’s just been me and Oliver holding down the fort. I had grand visions of the two of us going out on an ice cream date (Salt and Straw just opened in our neighborhood!), but O has a brutal cough and I’ve had work deadlines, so that just hasn’t been our reality. The first night I found myself really rushing through the bedtime routine. Hurry up, read these books. Hurry up, get these teeth brushed. Hurry, hurry, hurry. After I put O down, I slumped down on the couch feeling a little empty and guilty for it all: what was the big hurry? I was racing downstairs to what? Flip through the new issue of Bon Appetit or watch something on Netflix?!

Salted Hazelnut Brown Butter Blondies | A Sweet Spoonful Motherhood is a funny thing. One moment we lament that our babies are growing too quickly and the next, we’re racing through Busytown so we can hurry, hurry get downstairs to watch the newest season of Queer Eye and eat leftover Valentine’s candy. As I sat there eating more candy than I care to admit, I kept hearing that calming voice from my meditation app, encouraging me to just ‘sit here now’ and I wished I could race back upstairs and do Busytown all over again. Really do it. Just sit and be with Oliver as we read it instead of being entirely somewhere else.

Salted Hazelnut Brown Butter Blondies | A Sweet SpoonfulOf course this is easier said than done, which is why, I suppose, meditation is a lifelong practice. I think I’m a little late to the game because so much of the practice has been pitched (to me, anyway) as working to quiet the mind and this always felt daunting: I felt set up for failure from the get-go (my mind is a very un-quiet place). But learning to just sit and be somewhere? That was something I could work on. Salted Hazelnut Brown Butter Blondies | A Sweet SpoonfulAll the tiny, vibrant drawings in Busytown, Oliver’s worsening cough, his insistence on choosing his own “jammas” and the way he tries to trick me out of going to bed by insisting he needs more water or maybe some popcorn. Right away. Last night we didn’t hurry through any of that; I sat with him and with it all, not thinking about anywhere else I could be. He fell asleep quicker than usual — and so did I.

If you’ve been following along on Instagram, you know we were at a friend’s cabin outside of Leavenworth for the long holiday weekend when Mother Nature decided to dump a last wintery hurrah. We coziest in with a few friends, ate pork ragu, chased toddlers, lingered over morning coffee and snacked on these insanely addicting Salted Hazelnut Brown Butter Blondies (Sam  has deemed them the best thing I’ve ever baked; I think you’ve heard me say this before. He’s an easy audience but that said, these are quite remarkable and well worth a bookmark). They have a distinct butterscotch vibe thanks to the dash of bourbon and dark coconut sugar (you can omit the bourbon if you’d like and use brown sugar instead of coconut sugar), are generously studded with toasted hazelnuts and absolutely gooey with hand-chopped dark chocolate (they are verrrrrry chocolaty inside — in a good way!– but I suspect you could get away with using 4-5 ounces instead of 6 ounces if that’s what you’ve got on hand). I think you’re really, really going to like them.

Salted Hazelnut Brown Butter Blondies

Salted Hazelnut Brown Butter Blondies

  • Yield: 16 small squares (or 9 large squares)
  • Prep time: 25 mins
  • Cook time: 35 mins
  • Inactive time: 6 mins
  • Total time: 1 hr 15 mins

These butterscotchy blondies get their big flavor from a little bourbon, vanilla, dark coconut sugar, toasty hazelnuts, browned butter and salted tops. I love the whole wheat flour here and like to hand chop the chocolate so there are larger pockets and shards throughout versus neat and tidy chips. That said, chocolate chips work just fine — and you could substitute in any nut you’d like if hazelnuts aren’t your jam. These are quite rich and decadent, so I suggest slicing them in smaller squares; they keep great at room temperature for a good 5 days or freeze them for future late night snacking.

Ingredients

1 cup (135g) hazelnut pieces
12 tablespoons unsalted butter ( 1 1/2 sticks)
1 3/4 coconut sugar (300g), or 1 ½ cups (300g) packed brown sugar (see note below)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons bourbon (optional)
3/4 cup (100g) whole-wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon (105g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
6 ounces chopped bittersweet chocolate (or chips), about 1¼ cups
flaky salt, to top

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350 F°. Nestle a sheet of parchment paper into an 8×8″ pan (this will help you lift the blondies out very easily) or, alternatively, grease the pan, dust with flour and set aside.

Lay hazelnuts on a small  rimmed baking sheet and toast until fragrant, about 4 minutes (if you’re using whole hazelnuts and plan to just chop them, these take longer to toast, about 8 minutes).

In a small light-colored saucepan (this helps so you can see the color change that will occur), melt the butter over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Cook until the butter begins to foam, about 5 minutes. Continue cooking until the foam subsides and little brown bits appear at the bottom of the pan, smelling fragrant and nutty. During this time, stir vigorously with a wooden spoon, scraping the bits from the bottom of the pan. Pour butter into a heatproof bowl, and stir for 2-3 minutes to allow it to cool to room temperature.

Once butter is cool (but still liquid), whisk in the sugar, eggs,vanilla and bourbon.

In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together both flours, baking powder, and salt. Using a rubber spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and stir until combined. Fold in the chocolate and toasted hazelnuts.

Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth the top with the rubber spatula. Sprinkle with  flaky salt.

Bake blondies for 30-35 minutes or until tops are light golden brown and firm (can’t really do the toothpick test as there’s lots of chocolate going on). Let cool completely before lifting out of pan to slice.

Top with additional sprinkle of flaky salt, and cut into 16 small squares (or 9 large squares) and serve.

Note on brown sugar / coconut sugar: I love the dark flavor of coconut sugar in these, but if brown sugar is more readily available to you, just swap it in but do it by weight (as brown sugar is heavier than coconut sugar). So while 1 3/4 cups of coconut sugar weighs 300g, you can use just 1 1/2 cups of brown sugar as it has an equal weight. 

Comments

  1. Vanessa Burgess

    Human nature remains relatively constant. Kids know another glass of water allows them to get up one more time. And moms get tired of the same story and rush through. I would skip a few pages when reading Jill’s favorite story - 101 Dalmatians, and
    she always caught me!
    Meditation sounds like a great approach. It’s all about behavior modification at every age.
    Love Aunt V

    1. megang

      Oh I'm a big fan of the skipping pages trick :) xoxo

  2. nicole

    These look amazing! If I ever break my sugar fast I will try them ... We love Busytown here and it's so fun to read aloud too. I have never rushed the bedtime ritual because I think the whole enterprise goes much smoother when we take our time HOWEVER I do have an internal "hurry up" voice that I try to drown out, mostly because I'm selfishly ready for my couch flop-with-a-book (or other assorted chores I can only accomplish after bedtime). It's a constant process, right?

    1. megang

      Oh good for you for watching your sugar. I could really use to watch mine! My one downfall! You are very wise that the whole thing is smoother when you just keep going through the motions. I think they know when we're rushing - little sneaks. Also I should take a cue from you and do more couch / book flopping vs couch / netflix flopping. Hope you guys are doing well (your trip looked awesome!)

  3. sara forte

    yes yes yes. I have a steady, low grade angst with my kids most of the day of wanting them to get through all the motions. Check boxes, get to bed and then have time to myself. I then regret that push and then miss them, realize I didn't really "see" them all day because I was just trying to hustle them through. It really isn't as taxing as I make it up to be to just go slow, get down and play, let them make a mess I know I'll clean up just so they can enjoy themselves. Anyway. Love your thoughts, and the treats of course. Never too much chocolate. I'm pretty sure thats what makes a blondie stand any chance against a legit brownie ;)

    1. megang

      Urgh, gosh me, too. Sam and I often have a deal where I do mornings and breakfast and he does bedtime b/c it just doesn't bring out my best self and then I feel guilty all night and WHAT A BAD CYCLE! I hear you on the fact it's all not as taxing as it seems in the moment - I'll look back on the day sometimes in the shower and think, 'I mean, what was the big deal?' but I think it's often a conglomeration of allllll the little moments. Also: I think we're very similar with messes and clutter and kid art projects :) Hope you're good, my friend! Hope to see you sometime this year, too! xox

  4. di

    this sounds absolutely wonderful! will try them out. do you think they'd work if I used all purpose flour? I don't have any whole wheat pastry flour...

    1. megang

      Yes, Di! I absolutely do. Enjoy them!

  5. Annie

    Oh, my, these were ridiculously good! Can't be the flavor combo. One of these was a very welcome lunchtime treat after putting my naughty toddler down for his nap. Thank you!

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