carte blondche

I’d like to share something simple and sweet with you tonight. It’s a twist on my favorite blondie recipe, the basic version hailing from Mark Bittman’s bible, How to Cook Everything. This recipe is a snap to put together and with an ingredient list that calls for “one” of everything, it’s easy to commit to memory and whip up on the fly. Best of all, it’s amenable to endless variations. A carte blondche of sorts… sorry, I couldn’t help myself.
I’ve been making these for years and have added a little something different nearly every time. The constant variable has been how delicious they always turn out. These blondies have a strong brown sugar flavor and a gooey texture that pairs well with everything from oats, to nuts, to chocolate chips, to fruit. Today’s version was inspired by a jar of homemade cherry jam from the Adkins family that I’ve been hanging onto for months, waiting for the right opportunity to use this precious good. I added oats and toasted almonds into the batter and then swirled generous dollops of jam into it before putting it into the oven. Twenty minutes later I was met with a pan of warm, soft blondies whose sweetness was offset by the slight tartness of the jam and saltiness of the almonds. This combination was a definite winner, but it’s hard to go wrong when you’ve got Adkins family jam in the mix!
Take this recipe and make it your own. Serve them warm from the oven with a dollop of ice cream as the perfect capstone to a dinner party (or a late night of studying). These also store and travel well, and have always been a welcome addition to a potluck table or picnic spread. I hope this recipe brings you many sweet memories!
Cherry Almond Blondies 
(ideas for more variations below)
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp salt
1 cup flour
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds
1/2 cup cherry jam
Preheat oven to 350. Melt butter on stovetop or in microwave. Place butter into a medium mixing bowl and allow it to cool slightly. Add brown sugar and stir to combine. Add egg and mix thoroughly. Add flour, salt, oatmeal, and almonds. Place into a greased 8×8 or 9×9 square pan. Spoon the cherry jam evenly on top and use a knife to swirl it through the batter. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean (jam will be sticky, but test the batter for doneness). Allow to cook on a rack before cutting into squares.
Note: The base recipe includes the first six ingredients (butter –> vanilla). After that, go wild with mix-ins! I often add oatmeal for a bit of chew and heartiness. Other winning combos I’ve made are chocolate chip + fig butter, white + semisweet chocolate chips, peanut butter + chocolate chips (notice a love for chocolate here?), mashed banana…+ chocolate chips, really anything! Whatever toppings you choose, I suggest adding only a total of 1 to 1 1/2 cups of toppings.

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