Though I know that there is no such thing as a “cooking gene,” it certainly seems to be a passion that is passed down from generation to generation. As I mentioned in my post for ricotta pie my grandmother was a great cook, as was my grandfather, and their daughter, my mother, is also an excellent cook and baker. I was raised in a house where pasta sauce never came from a jar, prosciutto di parma and parmesan cheese were staples, and book shelves had to be added to the kitchen in order to hold my mother’s ever expanding cookbook collection. Holiday meals were extravagant gourmet feasts -- while the parents of most kids I knew had Christmas or Easter catered, my mom would excitedly sort through her collection of Bon Appetit magazines to plan out the menu (appetizers, main course, sides, and dessert.)
She was known to wake up with us at 6:00 in the morning to make us pancakes for breakfast before catching the bus to school in Providence, make us beef stew on cold days so we could be “cozy,” and make us chocolate chip coffee cake for no reason in particular. When I travel back to the U.S she always has dinner waiting for us when we get home from the airport -- homemade macaroni and cheese, roasted tomato soup, caramel layer cake, or anything else you request. Yes, in short, I grew up spoiled in terms of food, raised by a mother who loves to feed her family. Needless to say my cooking “gene” has been passed down from her.
So let me get to this recipe for blondies, which are, for those of you unfamiliar, a buttery brown sugar bar cookie studded with chocolate chips and sometimes walnuts. Americans know them as the less popular but equally delicious cousin of the brownie, while our Italian readers may not know them at all, so I’m happy to be introducing this recipe to you all!
Growing up, this was one of my absolute favorite things my mom would make for my brother, sister and me. There was nothing nicer than coming home after a long day at school to find her taking a pan of these out of the oven as an after school treat. Equally delightful was getting to take a plate of them to a friend’s sleepover, or finding one wrapped in aluminum foil in my lunchbox -- I was the envy of all my classmates, who would attempt (unsuccessfully) to trade their oreos or fruit snacks for one.
Note that this is a very quick and simple recipe -- all you have to do is mix the ingredients together, pour the batter into the pan, and bake. These are particularly good when served warm out of the oven with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. Enjoy!!
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 cups dark brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chocolate chips (semi sweet or milk -- the milk chocolate will make for a sweeter blondie)
1 cup pecans or walnuts (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a 9 inch square cake pan.
Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
Melt the butter over medium in a small saucepan or in the microwave. Let cool to room temperature. Pour into a large bowl. Add the brown sugar to the melted butter, and whisk until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, again whisking until combined. Add the vanilla and stir. Add the flour mixture to the brown sugar mixture and mix everything together with a wooden spoon until smooth. Add the chocolate chips and the walnuts if you’re using them. The batter will be thick.Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread to the corners.
Put the pan into the preheated oven and bake for about 35-40 minutes, or until the top is dry and almost firm to the touch -- be sure to not overcook. Makes about 10 blondies. Note that these are best eaten the day that they are made.