Congo Brownie Bars

I’m struggling with a bit of writer’s block for these bars – I can’t seem to think of too many adjectives to describe them, except that they are good. Really, really good.

They are composed of a perfectly chewy blondie layer and a not-too-intense chocolate brownie layer.

I liked these – a lot. They have earned the distinction of being one of the few recipes that I’ve baked an entire batch of, just so I could have extras in the freezer.  Something about their simplicity really hit the spot.

The original recipe calls for a cup of walnuts to be sprinkled over the blondie batter before baking, but as you can see, I left them out. I contemplated throwing a handful of chocolate chips into the brownie batter, but I’m glad I didn’t. I think it would have interfered with the harmony of two smooth bars baked together.

This recipe is definitely worth making – again.

Congo Brownie Bars – adapted from Flo Braker

Blondie layer:

1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1 ¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
3 oz. unsalted butter, melted
1 ¼ cups firmly packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg white (save the yolk for the brownies)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Brownie layer:
1 cup plus 2 tbs. all purpose flour
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
4 oz. unsalted butter
4 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 pan with nonstick spray, and set aside.

Make the blondie layer first: Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, mix together the butter, brown sugar, egg, egg white and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients and mix just until blended. Pour and scrape the batter into the prepared pan and use an off set spatula to spread it evenly. Place the pan in the oven and bake until the top is no longer shiny – about 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, and set it aside while you prepare the brownie layer.

Make the brownie layer: Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. In a small saucepan, over very low heat, melt together the butter and unsweetened chocolate, stirring until smooth. Stir in the granulated sugar, then add the eggs, egg yolk and vanilla, and stir to combine. Add the dry ingredients and mix just to incorporate. Drop dollops of the brownie batter over the blondie layer, and use an offset spatula to spread it as evenly as possible.

Return the pan to the oven, and bake for another 20-25 minutes, or until the top is no longer shiny, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs attached. Allow to cool before cutting and/or serving.

Yield: 2 dozen (or more, depending upon how you cut them)

Blondie Cupcakes

Happy National Blond Brownie Day!

Let’s celebrate with a blondie in cupcake form:

These blondies were everything you’d expect them to be – dense and chewy, with that unmistakable brown sugar/caramel flavor. Kind of like chocolate chip cookie dough, for lack of a better description.

Just like regular brownies, these are infinitely adaptable – I threw in a mix of chocolate chips, coconut, and marshmallows – but you are only limited by your imagination (or what you have in the pantry).

The only issue I had was with the paper liners – the cupcakes stuck to the paper! Next time, I will just grease the pan instead of bothering with the paper, and I’ve reflected that change in the directions.

Blondie Cupcakes – adapted from Martha Stewart

1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
½ cup plus 1 tbs. butter, unsalted room temperature
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup shredded sweetened coconut
Handful miniature marshmallows

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a standard muffin pan.

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla, and beat until combined. Stir in the flour, then add the chips, coconut and marshmallows.

Divide the batter evenly amongst the greased pan, and bake until cakes are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes clean – about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

Yield – 12 cupcakes

Crazy Blondies

It’s been awhile since I’ve made a good blondie. I’ve become enamored with them only recently – but their brown sugar chewiness is addicting and I find myself saving more and more blondie recipes.

This one, which is adapted from a recipe by King Arthur Flour, is really unique in that it calls for white whole wheat flour,  in addition to all purpose flour. The whole wheat flour gives a nutty taste without being overpowering or obvious, which is always a bonus – especially if you are giving these to children – they won’t know it’s there unless you tell them.

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The original recipe, which you can find here, calls for the addition of assorted varieties of chips and nuts – but being the purist I am, I simply used bittersweet chocolate chips.

These were outstanding – and I would definitely make them again soon, if I didn’t have so many other recipes to try!

Crazy Blondies – adapted from King Arthur Flour

1/2 cup butter
2 cups brown sugar, lightly packed
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour
3/4 cup all- purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Lightly grease a 9 x 13-inch pan and preheat the oven to 350°F. Melt the butter in a large saucepan, add the brown sugar, and stir until the mixture is smooth.

Remove the pan from the heat and allow it to cool to lukewarm. Whisk in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla extract.

Whisk the flours and baking powder together, then add the dry ingredients to the sugar mixture, stirring to combine. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Spread the mixture evenly in the pan, and bake the brownies for 30 to 35 minutes, until light brown on the edges and top.

Yield: about 2 dozen 2-inch squares.

King Arthur Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Even though the people at King Arthur Flour consider these to be cookie bars, I think they are actually blondies.

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Really, what’s the difference between a bar cookie and a blondie? I don’t have the answer to that, but these bars, rich with brown sugar and loaded with chocolate chips, will satisfy your craving for something chewy and sweet but not overly chocolatey.

They were really good. I think they lasted in the freezer for about 2 weeks – I just ate the last one  sitting here thinking of what to write.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars – adapted from King Arthur Flour

2 3/4 cups  King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2/3 cup butter
2 1/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups (16 to 18 ounces) chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9 x 13-inch pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder. Set aside.

Melt the butter, and add the brown sugar, stirring until smooth. Allow the mixture to cool slightly. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then stir in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture, then the chocolate chips and nuts. Scoop the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake the bars for 30 to 35 minutes, until their top is shiny and golden. Don’t overbake, or the bars will be dry; a cake tester inserted in the center will not come out clean. Remove the bars from the oven, and allow them to cool to room temperature before cutting. Yield: 24 bars.