When I came home from work on Friday feeling sluggish, I needed to bake something to rejuvenate my senses– and my guilty pleasure was to use snow white chocolate– but– it had to be ‘Good’. To clarify, when I say, “Good” I’m actually being too subtle for my own good (no pun intended). I demand only high quality, white chocolate for eating and baking. I am decidedly snobbish about this for good reason too. Too often, people scrunch their face in disgust at the mention of it, but that’s because they have only exposed themselves to the throat choking variety whose chalky nature would make anyone pick up their heels and run. Not only that, but to bake with it would only exacerbate the horrible condition of the chocolate further by ruining the texture and taste of your baked goods. Typically, these unappetizing goods are found in confectionery candies (who shall remain anonymous) masquerading as “white chocolate” bars. It takes a bit of scouting, but with perseverance, certain grocery stores do carry high quality brands. If not, there are always online baking stores.
Although you probably question my reasons for why my nose is stuck up in the air because chocolate connoisseurs would not consider white apart of the chocolate family ( it contains no actual cocoa solids), I do not believe we should shun it. When melted, its glossy ribbons can be folded into batter to bring an alternative sweetness to any dessert you work with. When tempered, it can also serve to amplify the beauty in your plated desserts.
Admittedly, white is startlingly sweeter than dark and bitter-sweet chocolate, but a good dose of cocoa butter does help to temper all that sugar and ensure that you will have something with a velvety smooth texture when you work with it. High quality, white chocolate will not be grainy nor too headache-provokingly sweet.
Used in thoughtful ways, you can have just as much fun baking with white chocolate as you do with the gold standard varieties of dark and bittersweet.
So, back to the recipe: These squares were born out of a desire to fuse my love of blondies and white chocolate together. With a bit of tinkering in the kitchen, I came up with this addictive recipe. The blondie’s texture profile is akin to the aromatic frangipane you find in its namesake tart. Added to this is the dessert’s ability to straddle the chewy and dense realm, but the small addition of baking powder gives this blondie just enough oomph to rise slightly and prevent it from appearing squat, or taste raw and gummy. Its high-rise appeal is also extremely palate pleasing. You bite into the square’s scraggly, tissue -paper crust, then down into the tightly woven crumb– and pull as if you were tearing taffy with your teeth; the blondie’s chew is soft and welcoming. As you savour it some more, your taste-buds will absorb the floral sweetness from the chocolate that dances in the background, while the sweetness of butter declares itself in the foreground. The ragged edged pieces on the perimeter of the pan are always fought over in my household. They adore biting into the caramelized, brown- buttered crust.
Like a warm hug, these elements embrace one another with pleasure. The final touch are the toasted, mahogany pecans which lay atop of the batter and lend a crunchy nuttiness that balance the indulgent levels of this mood enhancing treat.
The recipe was created by lil’ ol me and adapted loosely from Anna Olson. Hope you will try it and let me know how it goes!
Indulgent White Chocolate Blondies
1/3 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
6 ounces white chocolate, chopped (use a high quality white chocolate such as Callebaut)
3 large eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4- 1/2 tsp almond extract (optional)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup pecans (or walnut) pieces, lightly toasted
Preheat oven to 325 F.
Butter and line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment. Set pan on a baking sheet. Set aside.
Over a pot of simmering water, melt butter halfway. Add white chocolate and stir until melted. Allow to cool to room temperature. (If it separates, do not worry, the eggs and dry ingredients will bind everything together)
Using a wire whisk, whip eggs, sugar and vanilla until pale and thick. Add chocolate mixture in a steady stream whisking constantly till you get a homogeneous mixture.
In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Stir dry ingredients into egg mixture just until everything comes together and you do not see any white flour streaks. Do not overmix. Batter will be a little thick (what you want). Spoon into prepared pan and even out using an offset spatula. Scatter pecans evenly over the top.
Place square pan that is on the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 32-40 minutes. Halfway through, take the pan out and rap it hard on the floor or on a sturdy surface to release any air bubbles. Return to the oven and finish the baking time. Blondies are done when the top feels dry, the edges are tinged a golden brown, and the middle feels just the slightest bit squishy when you press into it (do not overbake!).
Take pan out of the oven and let it cool completely on a wire rack. (Since my oven temperature can be unpredictable, I like to err on the 32 minute side because once taken out, they will continue to cook due to the residual heat from the pan. Please note that for me, the sides and perimeter pieces were cooked perfectly. The 2 or 3 middle pieces were the slightest bit gooey (a good thing if you’re like me and adore noshing on soft cookie dough).
Run a knife around the edges and lift blondies from the pan. Cut into 16 pieces or 9, if feeling ravenous.
Leftovers can be sealed in an air-tight container at room temperature ( in a cool, dry spot) for up to 3 days. Otherwise, you can freeze the squares for up to 2 months (just make sure you wrap them in freezer bags and place them away from items with strong odours)