Recipe: Brown Butter Blondies
Move over brownies, Canadian chef Brad Long has our eyes on a different sweet these days
Brownies may get more attention, but Canadian chef Brad Long has a recipe that’s got us paying some serious attention to a different baked good these days. This recipe comes to us from his new book, Brad Long on Butter, and let’s just say we can get on board with shining the spotlight on such a beloved ingredient. Known for making all of our sweet treats even better, brown butter is an integral ingredient in this super delectable treat — don’t worry, we’ve included browning instructions below. And trust us, once you’ve tasted them, you’ll go back for more.
Brown Butter Blondies
By Brad Long
- 1 ¼ cups brown butter (start with at least 1 3/4 cups cold butter), cooled to room temperature (instructions follow)
- 3 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 ½ tsp baking powder (optional; if you prefer an uber-dense blondie, omit)
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 2 cups packed brown sugar
- ½ cup cane sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Preheat your oven to 325F. Line a 9- x 13-inch cake pan with parchment paper.
If you aren’t already a brown butter ninja, brown the butter according to my directions below, and then set it aside to cool to room temperature.
In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on low speed, mix together the sugars and cooled brown butter until smooth (creamed).
One at a time, add the eggs, mixing well after each addition. Now mix in the vanilla. Gradually add the flour mixture and mix until fully incorporated.
Spread the dough (it will be quite thick) evenly over the parchment-lined pan.
Bake in your hot oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Keep in mind that underbaking is better than overbaking. Too long in the heat and these delicate beauties will desiccate. Remember, moisture is the blondie’s friend!
Let the blondies cool completely in the pan before cutting into squares (or any shape, for that matter) of your desired size.
How to brown butter:
Pick your butter (salted or unsalted, your choice), melt it in a tall, medium saucepot over high heat, full flame, until the butter foams, the milk solids fall, and the solids begin to brown.
Wait, did you see I said tall saucepot? Like bigger than you think you’d need. Go for height over width because when the butter foams, depending on how much butter we’re talking about, it’s going to expand rapidly and a long way up the side of the pot … and over and into the screaming flames below if you chose the wrong pot. Oh, the horror! So consider your pot carefully. And don’t walk away from this process (it may take a few minutes to happen).
When butter is cold, the water, proteins, and sugars are essentially packed in solid fat. Everything is bound up in the fat evenly. When you put all that in a big pot and slowly heat it up to, say, 180F, the whole thing melts. The water goes to the bottom, the fat sits on top (come on, you know that old saying about oil on water — it’s true!), and the proteins and sugars haggle with everyone. Some take up residence in the watery bits and some hang out with the proteins up top. This is drawn butter.
If you carefully skim the foamy bits from the top and then spirit away the fat next, leaving the watery liquid at the bottom, you have clarified butter.
To brown butter, you melt butter over high heat until it hits the magic temperature of 212F — the boiling point. Up until the boiling point the fat and friends mostly sit on top of, and hide, the watery stuff. Once you hit the boiling point, the water has had enough of hanging around with the fat, proteins, and various sugars and simply vacates the place. It just leaves. This is the first time the whole mass will rise up in the pot (use the tall pot!). Once the water has left the building all goes quiet again. The hot pot of fat with stuff floating on top will start to get nervous because the fat is getting hotter and hotter. And as the fat gets so hot that it actually deep-fries the milk proteins and all the other sugar-based bits, it will rise up a second time. The whole mass foams, the colour changes to golden as that stuff gets browned—a little science thing called the Maillard reaction — and then, at the exact same time, an absolutely wonderful, nostril-tantalizing aroma will permeate the air.
That’s right. When the butter begins to brown not only will you see it changing colour but also you will smell the distinct hazelnut aroma that makes going through all this fuss so appealing.
If you take it too far the butter will burn and turn black — not what you want here. You have to keep watch because it happens in seconds: As soon as the butter turns a nice nutty-brown colour, quickly take it off the fire and carefully pour it out of the pot. It will surely burn if you keep going. And you can’t just turn the burner off and hope for the best because if you were using anything resembling a decent pot it will stay hot and it will keep cooking what’s in there, and you’ll find yourself with a different colour and a different smell. You need to get that delicious stuff out of there — stat — and the big consideration at this point is where you’re going to put it. (Yeah, you should already have known this before you put the butter in the pot in the first place. Life lesson: Always read through a recipe before you begin.)
If you’re making brown butter as a flavour-rich fat to use in a cake or other pastry recipe, you don’t really need to strain out the solids. You just need to stop the cooking and get the brown butter out of the pot. I recommend pouring it directly into a heat-resistant measuring cup, ready to go into whatever is next.
Potentially messy and dangerous stuff, this playing with butter. It’s not dangerous in any dietary way — it doesn’t give you heart disease or add to your waddle. It just has the potential to burn you, your countertop, and all your old recipes that called for margarine or corn oil. You might also find yourself dangerously addicted.
Excerpted from Brad Long on Butter by Brad Long. Copyright© 2017 The Harvest Commission. Published by The Harvest Commission. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.