|Blondies amandine à la mode. © Ryan Schierling|
When it comes to "bars" I've been rather singular in my affection for brownies – the darker the chocolate, the better. Nearly any other bar seems to fall swiftly off my radar.
This year I decided to live a little and give blondies a try. Blondies are, at their essence, a brownie without the cocoa. (Why...? When the alternative is, ahem... chocolate? But, I digress.) Not everyone will agree with me on this, but every "blondie" I've encountered has had a bagged chip it in... chocolate chips, artificially-flavored butterscotch chips, wood chips... seriously, I'd rather just bake cookies.
Perhaps I should blame the hot sun and five-plus years of living East of the Rockies, but I started giving some thought to the potential that a warm, chewy, caramelized sugar bar might offer. A slew of sliced almonds was the final inspiration needed to put me over the edge. Almonds have a wonderfully delicate flavor when toasted that is divinely complemented by the sweet flavors of caramel, honey and coconut.
One could quite easily throw the kitchen sink at these bars, but I opted to maintain a focus and simplicity that honors the almonds and the chewy lightness they could offer.
My strategy was pretty simple: treat these strictly as brownies without chocolate – not like a separate bar – and adapt the old family recipe as necessary.
In fact, I even went back to the old cookbook containing our family's brownie recipe, curious if there was a blonde equivalent there. Sure enough... but it is called butterscotch brownies. Interestingly, it contains exactly zero butterscotch chips. It relies on the butter and brown sugar for flavor, but the ingredients/proportions are slightly different from the brownies. So, yep – I'd call them blondies.