I like a good bourbon cocktail.
An Old Fashioned, a Sour, a Mint Julep.
But when I pull out my bottle of bourbon at home, more often than not it’s because I’m adding it to something I’m baking.
Since first unveiling a plate of these boozy bars at a friend’s house a few summers ago, they have become my go-to dessert for potlucks and parties. They’ve been packed along to ski weekends and made an appearance at a party kicking off 2013. They remain one of my most requested baked goods within my circle of friends.
Though maybe not after I reveal just how easy they are to make and everyone just starts whipping up their own batches.
I don’t remember when or how I first stumbled upon a recipe for blondies. They don’t seem quite as well-known on this side of the border as they are south of it.
So, when I put out a plate of them, I’m often asked just what they are exactly. And the answer is they’re kind of like a brownie, but minus the cocoa, which makes a brownie, well, brown.
Perhaps a more accurate description is they’re kind of bar-like cookies.
The beauty of them lies in both how easy they are to make and their adaptability.
Like brownies, you melt the butter, which makes them great for impulse baking, as opposed to most cakes and cookies, which require room temperature butter.
The addition of bourbon puts a spin on things – no pun intended. The alcohol will mostly cook off – and the amount for the entire pan is a mere two ounces, or the equivalent of one of my favourite cocktails – but the flavour remains.
To keep these kid-friendly or if bourbon isn’t your thing, simply omit the alcohol and the additional 1 tablespoon of flour. Use whatever additions feel good; I typically use chocolate chips and pecans, but have tried other nuts and even dried fruits, such as cranberries. For the bourbon, I use whatever I have on hand or, occasionally, whiskey instead.
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) butter, melted
- 1 cup (250 mL) brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) bourbon or whiskey
- pinch salt
- 1 cup plus 1 tbsp (250 plus 15 mL) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350F (180C).
Butter an 8×8-inch (20x20cm) pan and line with parchment paper that has extra to hang over the sides like a sling. (This makes for easy removal and slicing.)
In a bowl, mix together the melted butter and sugar. Beat in the egg, then vanilla. Stir in the bourbon or whiskey and mix until combined. Add the salt and then gently stir in the flour. Add the chocolate chips and pecans and stir until just combined.
Scrape into the lined pan and pat down the rather thick batter so it creates a layer that reaches the edges of the pan.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the middle has set.
Remove and cool on a rack before removing from the pan and slicing.