This “blonde” version of brownies has always been so popular, but for the longest time I didn’t get what the big deal was. To me, blondies always tasted overwhelmingly sweet, and I preferred the old-fashioned chocolate brownie over traditional blondies, which are loaded with brown sugar in place of the cocoa. I decided that there must be some truth to the hype, so I took matters into my own hands and tinkered with the recipe until I came up with a version that fit my standards. The result was a chewy, rich and decadent bar that had just the right amount of sweetness and molasses flavor. My secret is to brown the butter, use dark brown sugar and toast the walnuts beforehand. For the holidays, I like to substitute chopped smokehouse almonds for the walnuts, white chocolate chips for the chocolate and dried cranberries for the toffee. These bars are perfect for holiday gatherings at the family beach house– enjoy a bar (or two!) with a mug of a milk while watching the sun set over the horizon.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-inch square pan and line it with two criss-crossed sheets of parchment leaving a 2-inch overhang on each side. Set aside.
- Toast the walnuts on a sheet tray for 6 to 7 minutes until fragrant. Set aside to cool.
- Brown the butter:
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, boil the butter stirring constantly until browned, about 2 minutes. Pour into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Cream the browned butter and sugars on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla extract. Mix on medium speed until combined. Add the flour, salt, walnuts, chocolate chunks and toffee bits. Mix on low until all ingredients are incorporated.
- Spread the batter into the prepared pan and smooth out the top. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until a toothpick comes out relatively clean. Do not overbake. Let cool completely at room temperature before cutting.