Tuesday, July 15, 2014

California Blondes

I was working at a drugstore in the cosmetics department when a hair coloring company found the model Cheryl Tiegs and had her be the image of the California Blonde for their ad campaign. She was immediately the 'it' girl for young women. The company sold a lot of blonde hair color kits. The song "California Girls" was in that same era, and the Summer of Love wasn't far behind. Everyone wanted that sunny California look, or to live in California. Of course the older generation saw all of the sex, drugs and rock 'n roll as a sign that California was the hotbed of degeneracy and a land of fruits (gays) and nuts. Having lived in California most of my adult life, they may have a point, but there are just as many ordinary folks here as anywhere else...the wild ones and ones that seem different just get more media attention. Being someone who often felt different while I was growing up, I like the feeling of' being accepted for who I am' that is a California hallmark, at least in much of the state.

Today's cookie celebrates the fruits and nuts, as well as the sunny because it's a blondie, the sister of a brownie because it's like a brownie without chocolate. I added fruits and nuts and used plenty of vanilla. It makes a moist, rich, delicious bar cookie, a bit on the sweet side like a young California girl. Hope you enjoy your California Blondes.

California  Blondes
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
2 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder

2  cups mixed nuts – I used half and half of pecans and walnut pieces
1 cup mixed dried fruits - I used regular and golden raisins and dried cranberries
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup semisweet chocolate 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 sugars together in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the butter and sugars 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 chopped  nuts, dried fruits, and white and dark chocolate chips into the cooled batter. (I mixed all of the "mix-in" ingredients together in a very large measuring cup before adding to the batter. That way I knew that there wouldn’t be a clump of nuts here and a clump of white chocolate there, but rather a nice mix of all the goodies.) Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula.

Bake until the top 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 16 large or 32 small bars.


  1. Oh, UGH, back when people called gay people (men?) "fruits." I can hear my ignorant father saying it now. WHAT DID THAT EVEN MEAN???? Stupid name-calling people. ::grumble::

    I like YOUR Cali-blondes; they're definitely natural blondes. I have a big old bag of walnuts I shelled and froze earlier this year and I haven't figured out what to do with them yet... this looks like one idea that will translate well to almond flour with maybe some ground flax thrown in for a little more structure... YUM.

  2. These look great and I love the sticky gooiness. All your add-ins sound delicious.

  3. I was going to comment about the bread but now I prefer to give you both a hug and thoughts to Maxwell. <3

  4. Tanita, Yes it is ugly, as are all methods of making others int "them". Hope you make the cookies...they are yum.
    Katie, I do like my cookies a bit gooey sometimes.
    Ilva, Thank you! It means a lot.