The Pandemic Blondie Relief

Well, yes, we all have memories of our youth and in the midst of a national lock-down, comfort food is not only needed, but critical to our mental health. I started to have a hankering for Nestle Tollhouse cookies, precisely until I actually made them. Meh, they were OK when fresh out of the oven but lost any kick as they sat in the jar.

I did, however, tinker with their blondie recipe, which brought great results with the addition of brown butter, top-shelf vanilla, toffee bits, mini M&Ms, espresso powder, and a healthy dose of sea salt to finish it off – Delicious and addictive.

Whether you have a house full of kids, or adults who act like them, make a batch of these and regain some sanity…until the espresso powder kicks and everyone is jumping on the couch.

Ingredients

  • 18 tablespoons of unsalted butter, 16 tablespoons will be browned and then added to the two remaining chilled tablespoons
  • 2 extra large eggs, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon espresso powder or instant coffee granules
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract (I prefer Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract)
  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 2 cups of mini M&Ms (or regular), you can also use milk or semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup Toffee bits
  • Maldon Sea Salt

Making It

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  • Brown the butter – this is the only challenging technique in the entire recipe. Take a medium sauce pan and place over high heat. Add two sticks (16 tablespoons) of unsalted butter, cubed. In short, you are separating the solids in the butter, which will drop to the bottom and toast, creating a nutty flavor. You want to use a wooden spoon to scrape the solids from the bottom so they do not burn. Once you see that the butter has browned into a deep color (but not black), pour into a bowl with the two tablespoons of chilled butter and watch it bubble. This will stop the cooking process of the butter and also add some of the milk back into the mix. Let this bowl sit in the refrigerator for 50 minutes or until solid, then take out and use (if it gets full chilled, let it sit out until room temperature)
  • Fit your Kitchen-Aid with the paddle attachment and add the butter and two sugars into the bowl. Cream the ingredients for 5 minutes at a medium-high speed until the mix is fluffy, then lower the speed to medium low and add the two eggs. When fully mixed, add the vanilla and instant espresso powder (or coffee granules), mix fully.
  • Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, then slowly mix while scraping down the side with a spatula until fully incorporated. Mix in the M&Ms and toffee.
  • Line a 15″ by 10″ baking sheet with parchment paper and fill with the dough, sprinkle sea salt on top, bake for 23-25 minutes until golden brown, cool on a wrack, slice and serve.

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