Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Blondies with Brown Butter and a Cookbook Review of The Cookiepedia ...Got Milk?

"Think what a better world it would be if we all, the whole world, had cookies and milk about three o'clock every afternoon and then lay down on our blanket for a nap."
---Robert Fulghum

So true this quote that kicks off the more than 50 classic cookie recipes in The Cookiepedia: Mixing, Baking, and Reinventing the Classics by Stacy Adimando with photography by Tara Striano. This little (7 1/2 x 8-inches, 160 pages) wire bound book is a cookie-lover's dream. It features all of the classics divided by category, Buttery Cookies, Chocolaty Cookies, Fancy Cookies, Fruity Cookies, Spicy Cookies, and Nutty and Seedy Cookies.

Author Stacy Adimando is a recipe developer, food writer, graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education, and deputy lifestyle editor for Every Day with Rachel Ray magazine. Adimando has taken the cookie recipes that many of us grew up with and tweaked them to make them her own. This is something that she encourages the reader to do as well with plenty suggestions for variations for the different recipes. There is a helpful chapter on The ABCs of Cookie Baking comprised of Kitchen Tools, a glossary of Cookie Speak, and ways to have Fun With Decorating. The book is well designed and colorful, combining hand-drawn illustrations with pictures that make you want to jump in and take a bite. Making it especially useful are the side bar tips sprinkled in and about, and the "Notes" section at the end of each recipe with plenty of space for the cook to take their own notes.

There were many recipes that tempted me; Butterballs, Mint Thins, Florentines, French Macarons, Black and White Cookies, Lemon Chewies, Fig Bars. Cardamom Cookies, Salt and Pepper Cookies, Caramel Nut Bars and Poppy Seed Squares to name just a few, but it was the Blondies with Brown Butter that I felt was calling me to try first. Browned butter, chocolate chips, toasted pecans and sea salt--what's not to like? Of course the added bonus is that you mix them up and throw them in a pan--no scooping, forming, or anything else I didn't want to mess with, lazy busy girl that I am.

Blondies with Brown Butter
From "The Cookiepedia" by Stacy Adimando
(Makes 2 Dozen Bars)

These bigger, nuttier bar versions of chocolate chip cookies get their distinct flavor from browned butter, and they have a denser, satisfying chew. A sprinkling of coarse salt on the tops brings out a rich flavor.

1 cup unsalted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cups chocolate chips
2/3 cups toasted pecans, chopped
coarse salt such as sea or kosher, for sprinkling (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Start by browning the butter. Melt it in a sauce pan on medium heat. When the foaming subsides, start swirling the pan to keep the butter moving. Continue to cook until it changes from a light yellow to a deep golden, stopping just when you see the color change happen. Take it off the heat and pour into a bowl to cool.

Tip: If you take it too far, a matter of about 30 seconds to a minute, the butter will burn.

Meanwhile, sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl and set aside.

Beat the melted butter and sugars together. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat for several minute, or until the mixture looks thick and silky. Add the dry ingredients one-third at a time and mix until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips and pecans.

Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper, then grease the parchment paper.

Pour the dough onto the parchment paper and spread it evenly with a spatula or slightly wet hand. Bake 30 to 35 minutes (err on the shorter side for doughier blondies), until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Tip: Lift using the two long sides of the parchment paper or turn it out onto a cutting board.

Sprinkle lightly with the coarse salt. Let cool completely before removing from the pan. Cut into squares.

Make 'Em Your Way: Just like chocolate chip cookie dough, blondie batter is great for sneaking in extra treats and adjusting the amount of mix-ins to suit your personal taste. Some people prefer just a few semisweet chocolate chips, others like to load their blondies chock full of goodies.
  • Candy Bar Blondies: Mix in roughly chopped candy bars, or roughly chopped dark chocolate.
  • Platinum Blondies: Use white chocolate chips and macadamia nuts.

Notes/Results: Buttery and decadent, with a nutty aftertaste, these blondies are a little more sophisticated than the normal batch. Browning the butter takes a bit of effort and time over the stove for the lazy girl, but the flavor makes it well worth it. I used fresh local eggs and butter and the batter was so rich and good, I am surprised it made it into the cookies. I used the open bags of chocolate chips I had on hand, 1/2 larger milk chocolate pieces and 1/2 an semi-sweet, but I think dark chocolate would be even better. At first I thought that cutting them into 24 pieces would be too small/stingy, but these are rich enough that a smallish square works. They are not health food--I ate two and I am dropping the rest off to friends tomorrow so they get out of my house. I am a firm believer in sharing the artery clogging cookie love. ;-) I will make these again and play around with the mix-ins--I am thinking pistachios with dried cranberries and dark chocolate would be fun.

The Cookiepedia is a great little book, fun to read and a pleasure to cook with. (Did I mention that the spiral binding makes it perfectly flat on the counter? Love that!) It would be perfect for yourself, your cookie-loving friends, or combine it with a couple of cookie sheets or cooling racks for a great shower or birthday gift.

What's your favorite cookie?

Disclosure Statement: A review copy of this cookbook was provided to me by the publisher, but as always, my thoughts, opinions and experiences cooking from it are all my own.



  1. these sound addicting! my favorite cookie is oatmeal with chocolate chips.

  2. I'm posting my review of this next week! I didn't make the blondies but now I think I might have to...

  3. They look good but I wouldn't have been able to go past something called a lemon chewy!

  4. Oh yes! I've been seeing so many cookie recipes using browned butter and I'm so eager to try it. I love cookies, but I seem to love them better in bar form. These look outrageous!

  5. Your brownies sound incredibly good with the browned butter! What a nice flavor to impart in them. A reader was just asking for a blondie recipe - I will have to point her in your direction.

  6. Kat--oatmeal chic chip is one of my favorite cookies too. ;-)

    Joanne--can't wait to see what you made. This one was a winner. ;-)

    Foodycat--the lemon ones looked delicious but these were pretty amazing. ;-)

    Kim--the browned butter really does add a lot of complexity. And I like the thick chewy bars too. ;-)

    Reeni--this was a good one--the browned butter added an almost caramel taste to them. ;-)


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