Thursday, February 2, 2012

Maple Caramel Brown Butter Blondies

If you asked my family, they would tell you that I'm not much of a maple syrup girl.  I like it, don't get me wrong.  But if you handed me a plate of pancakes I'd simply butter them and dig in.  On a stack of french toast, I much prefer a good drizzle of honey.  At any given time I have at least three different types of honey in my pantry. I have a measly one jar of maple syrup in the fridge that exists mostly for my boys' morning waffles.

That was until I a recipe for french toast with brown butter maple syrup showed up under my favorite blogs list over there in the sidebar of this page.  I loooooooove brown butter.  It's fragrant and nutty and makes any regular cookie or cake so much better than plain old butter would.  So of course I made the french toast and the brown butter maple syrup and then proceeded to not only dip my eggnog-dipped baked french toast sticks into it, but then my fingers once the french toast was gone.  And I licked the spatula I used to stir it.  And scraped the pot clean with the spatula and licked it again.  I was totally overcome with love for the caramel-like combination I had just cooked up on my stove top.
My brain started racing with ideas for more ways to use my new-found love.  This is what happens when I get an idea for a new recipe.  I get stuck- it lives in my brain and I can't think of anything else.  I forget to put gas in my car.  Making myself lunch become less of a priority.  I can't help but consider all the ways I can put the ingredients together.  Wouldn't the combination make a great frosting for chocolate cake?  Yes, please.  How about blondies?  Of course, and the sooner the better.  

That's how these blondies came to be.  This is the thoroughly pondered, tested and tasted recipe that I finally stirred up.  And here they are for your viewing and tasting pleasure.  My sons can't get enough of them.  My husband took the first test batch to work and they got rave reviews from his co-workers.  They're a hit and so darn good.

I implore you to make them.  You will be intoxicated by the aromas that rise from your stove top.  Waiting for the blondies to cool down enough to cut them and eat them will be torture.  But after the first bite, you'll be thanking me for introducing you to the world of brown butter and maple syrup, I'm sure of it.
Maple Caramel Brown Butter Blondies
Makes 24 bars

Browning the butter and reducing the maple syrup takes about 10 minutes and some additional cooling time, so you have to be a bit patient.  I tried using straight maple syrup in my first batch, but the blondies just didn't have enough maple flavor.  Reducing the syrup to a caramel-like consistency made all the difference in the world.  Once the butter and syrup are ready, the blondies are quick to whip up and don't take too long to bake.  If you'd like your bars to be a bit more cake-like than brownie-like, use one more egg than called for in the recipe.

18 tbs salted butter
1 cup maple syrup
1 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
optional add ins: 1/3 cup cocoa nibs, mini chocolate chips, or chopped nuts (such as walnuts)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Lay a sheet of parchment paper across the bottom and up the two longer sides of a 9x13 inch baking pan.  Butter or spray the parchment and exposed pan.

Start by getting your butter and maple syrup ready.  In a small pot over medium high heat, bring the maple syrup to a boil then reduce the heat to medium.  Let it simmer until the syrup reduces by half (it will become noticeably thicker in consistency).  This should take about 10 minutes.  At the same time, put the butter in a medium sauce pot.  Over medium high heat, melt the butter, lower the heat to medium and continue cooking the butter.  It will begin to foam up as the milk solids cook and the aroma will become slightly nutty.  At this point, watch the butter carefully.  It's hard to tell what's going on under the foam, so use a spoon to scoop up the liquid from the bottom to see if it has changed color.  It will start becoming golden brown after about 8 minutes.  Don't let it get too dark or the milk solids will burn.  You want a nice medium brown color.  Set both the maple caramel and the browned butter aside to cool to room temperature.

In a large bowl, stir together the cooled butter, brown sugar and cooled maple caramel.  Stir in the eggs.  At first, the mixture may look a bit strange and separated, but as soon as you stir in the eggs it will come together.  Stir in the flour and baking powder just until all the ingredients come together.  It will be a thick mixture.  If you are using any add ins, this is the time to stir them in.  Spread the batter into the prepared pan and smooth it to cover the bottom of the pan.

Bake for about 20 minutes.  You want the center of the blondies to be just set when you take them out of the oven, so watch them carefully at the end.  An over-baked blondie is like an over-baked brownie.  They still taste good, but they're dry and crumbly and not moist.  Cool the blondies in the pan for 5 minutes, then remove them using the parchment paper sling and cool completely on a baking rack.  Cut into 24 bars and serve.  They will keep for a few days in an airtight container if they last that long.


3 comments:

  1. Is it ok if you don't brown the butter? Or does it ruin the taste?

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    1. I think the blondies have enough flavor from the maple syrup that not browning the butter wouldn't be too big of a deal. I would suggest getting the butter to room temperature in that case and beating it with the cooled maple syrup. Then proceed with the recipe as written. Good luck and enjoy!

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    2. yay thanks! :)

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