Life can be a splendid tapestry of work and play and still be frustrating. There are just not enough hours in the day sometimes. This poor blog has been neglected, even though I have three new cookbooks with a bunch of recipes just waiting to be tried. Since all three books are gifts, I want to send the results of recipes to the senders as sweet gifts in thanks for sweet gifts.
This evening I finally made a recipe from Jill O'Connor's gorgeous cookbook, with the impossible-to-resist name: Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey.
The recipe is for bar cookies called Big Blondes. They bear a faint resemblance to regular blondie bars. The usual blondie bar has the same butterscotch flavor, some nuts and some chocolate or white chocolate chips. These bars are both decadent and over-the-top; chock full of nuts, shredded coconut, three kinds of chips, and toffee candy bar chunks.
Since the recipe makes 30 small bars, there are enough for us and some more that can be gifts. The book was a gift from my Mom, so, in appreciation, she will get a small box of Big Blondes for a rainy spring day, perhaps to be enjoyed with a cup of afternoon tea. My daughter is away from home on a business trip, so her package will be a little treat and a surprise, too. Bet the Big Blondes don't make it home to Seattle. Danielle of Habeas Brulee is hosting Sugar High Friday # 41 Sweet Gifts. This is my entry.
Check out the batter...very gooey!
The butterscotch batter is delicious, but what makes these special are all the added goodies. As a matter of fact, the additions (see photo above) probably have more volume than the batter. If you like sweet, nutty, chunky, chewy, gooey bar cookies, try these. Definitely worth waiting for.
A few changes were made to Jill O'Connor's recipe, including the addition of toffee coated walnuts and milk chocolate caramel swirl chips, but the heart of the recipe is unchanged.
A variation of a recipe by Jill O’Connor in Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey, Desserts for the Serious Sweet Tooth.
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
3 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
Nuts: all should be toasted in a 350 degree oven for 5 or 6 minutes, but don’t burn them
1 cup pecan halves
1 cup walnut halves
1 cup blanched slivered almonds
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1 full size (1.4 oz) toffee candy bar, such as Heath, very coarsely chopped
1 cup toffee coated walnuts (I used Emerald brand)
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
½ cup milk and caramel swirl chips
Position oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Use cooking spray to lightly coat a 9 x 13 inch baking pan.
Melt the butter and brown sugar together in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the butter and sugar are blended and completely melted and starting to bubble gently. Remove the pan from heat and let the mixture cool slightly.
In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla and salt. Slowly whisk the cooled butter and sugar mixture into the eggs just until combined. Whisk in the flour and baking powder to form a loose batter. (Make sure the batter is cool before stirring in the remaining ingredients, otherwise the chocolate will start to melt before the bars are baked.)
Stir the nuts, coconut, toffee chunks, and chocolate chips into the cooled batter. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula.
Bake until the tip is shiny and slightly crackled and feels firm to the touch, 30 – 35 minutes. A wooden skewer inserting into the batter should come out with moist crumbs clinging to it. Let cool on a wire rack to room temperature, then cut into bars and serve.
Makes 15 large or 30 small bars.