Buttery, rich, chocolatey and nutty. Quick to prepare, easy to slice and serve to large or small gatherings. Boom, baby! The perfect last-minute decadent vintage dessert.
If you can make a chocolate chip cookie, you can make this dessert even faster. Here’s the executive summary: Stir it up, smash it down in the pan, bake it, melt a chocolate bar over it when it’s hot, then sprinkle it with chopped nuts. Voila! Super rich and super fun to make (and eat). I know you’re busy, but you can do this thing!
And you don’t even have to chop wood for the fire to bake this little gem.
This type of brownie, quite popular in America in the 40’s and 50’s (okay, also in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s), uses brown sugar instead of cocoa and white sugar. And with so many varieties under so many names, it’s a veritable powerhouse of quick-bake options. You might know this dessert by various aliases, like: blondies, blondie bars, vanilla brownies, almond blondies, golden bars, butterscotch brownies, butterscotch squares, “blond” brownies and toffee bars.
This is one of the easiest old-fashioned decadent desserts around (in close competition with the Chocolate Crazy Cake for speediest desserts). No electric mixer required, no long list of fancy ingredients. The recipe can be doubled or tripled for serving a large crowd with easy transport/travel potential. Or divide the recipe in half for a selfie snacking party.
Instead of adding chocolate chips to the batter, we’re topping these little darlin’s with a light layer of dark melted chocolate and chopped pecans. AND we’re going to ratchet it up just a notch by using a nice quality dark chocolate and fresh-cracked pecans for this special treat.
There are so many varieties of fine dark chocolates easily available at markets these days. In the past, we’ve tried coconut chocolate, orange chocolate, hazelnut chocolate and other chocolate flavors but today we’re using a Lindt dark salted chocolate that contains a touch of Fleur de Sel sea salt crystals.
1. Heat up the oven-aytor:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and set a rack to center position and spray a small glass casserole dish with cooking spray.
Tip: My vintage Pyrex baking dish was 9-1/2″x7″x2″ but you could use a modern 8″ square glass brownie pan. A little larger (or smaller, or square) metal baking dish works just as nicely. My preference is for a thinner bar so a little larger pan makes a thinner bar.
2. Get a potato masher and a big bowl:
In a large bowl, using a potato masher (or wooden spoon), mix until fully incorporated:
1 cup golden (light) brown sugar, gently packed (making certain there are no lumps)
1 cup (2 cubes) unsalted butter, cubed, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon salt (reduced by half if you’re using salted chocolate)
1 large egg, fork beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
Tip: The batter is more like a chocolate chip cookie dough so the end result will be rather stiff.
3. Smash the dough into the prepared pan:
Deposit the batter into the baking pan and, using a fork, gently press the batter into all corners of the dish. Smooth the top of the dough with a knife or offset spatula.
4. Bake this thing!
Place the baking dish with smoothed dough into the pre-heated 350-degree oven and bake for about 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown. The total cooking time will depend on the thickness of the dough.
5. Prep the chocolate and nuts toppings:
Prepare 3 to 4 ounces of dark chocolate (we used a 3.5 ounce bar of dark salted chocolate) by breaking the bar into pieces.
Finely chop (or use a mini food processor) to achieve:
1/2 cup (more or less to taste) finely chopped pecans (substitute: no nuts, chocolate nuts, almond chocolate bar, etc.)
An alternative to chopped pecans is to use a dozen Almond Roca or See’s Candies Toffee-ettes (my favorite candy) and pulse them in a mini food processor until finely ground. Sprinkle this mixture over the bars (with or without pre-melting chocolate over the bars).
When the blonde brownies are hot from the oven, lay the squares of chocolate over the brownies, allowing them to melt. Use a pastry brush or the back side of spoon to smooth the chocolate over the top of the blonde brownies.
While the melted chocolate is still warm, sprinkle the chopped pecans (or substitute toppings) evenly over the top of the melted chocolate.
Serve these little charmers warm from the oven or haul them to the party (or over to the buffet table). Keep them covered (or keep your eyes on them to prevent family taste testers from snacking on them before they are offered to your guests). They are guaranteed to disappear quickly if not closely guarded. I like to cut them into small rectangle shapes I’ve cut small square and even small triangles.
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