Monday, September 03, 2018

Dusky Blondes

It felt a little bit like fall today, which is great. I've always liked the season of fall best of any season. It wasn't too hot this morning, so Sweetie and I went downhill to the pear tree and picked some pears. They are colored greenish gold and gold, but still hard, which is exactly right. I'll wrap them in newspapers and check them regularly until they are the perfect, juicy ripeness. If you pick them off the tree when they are ripe the inner part of the pear is usually gritty and overripe. Picking them early solves that. We also picked some Gravenstein apples from the two trees that are left. When we moved here there were more apple trees, but they were pretty old. I plan to make applesauce and maybe a pie or apple crisp. I love them baked, too. They tend to turn very soft when cooked, but have a wonderful, sweet-tart flavor.

Gravenstein apples are part of the Slow Food movement because they are dying out. People want apples that they can store and that ship well. Gravensteins are easily bruised and don't keep well at all. If you can find them, do enjoy some fresh or baked into your favorite treat. But this post is actually about cookies that are almost, but not quite, as dark as brownies.

Yesterday I baked  a version of blondies bar cookies. This time I added some espresso powder, which made them almost as dark as brownies, but not quite...I'm calling them Dusky Blondes. The flavor is still richly butterscotch, but the addition of coffee makes them more sophisticated. The coffee addition inspired me to use prunes for the dried fruit and walnuts for the nuts. I used only dark chocolate chips and the results were absolutely wonderful...and sort of fall-like. The chocolate is a supporting player here so they really aren't at all like a brownie. They are moist, rich, chewy and addictive. I froze about half of them so that I will limit how many I eat. Straight Shooter is visiting, so I know he will eat four or five of them this weekend and Sweetie likes them, too. Bet you will too, if you make them!

Dusky  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 or margarine
2 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1/4 cup plain applesauce
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons espresso powder

1  cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup dried plums (prunes), chopped
2 cups 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, applesauce, vanilla and salt.

In another bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder and espresso powder.

Slowly whisk the cooled butter and sugar mixture into the eggs mixture just until combined. Whisk in the flour mixture 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, chopped prunes, and dark chocolate chips into the cooled batter.

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. We had cherries and plums this year; I envy you your pears and apples! Our figs are going great guns, but we are at war with a.) the squirrel, as always b.) the crows!!! c.) the nephews. It is hard to get a ripe piece of fruit off a tree around here!

    I am holding out for the satsumas, myself. No one fights me for a tree with thorns...

  2. I envy you your plums...ours were rained out this year. There are still the walnuts...soon...but the Meyer lemons will take until the winter I think. Last year I didn't get any of them due to weather. Fingers crossed. It's true that sometimes the critters get the harvest before we get a chance.