Today is my eldest’s daughters last day of kindergarten. Waves of nostalgia have been washing over the family for the past week, mostly from my urging. Her first day. Her first friend. Her courage and her optimism. Her never-ending enthusiasm for crossing the monkey bars. The armloads of art that she proudly brings home.
We’ve read through her school yearbook and noted the future plans of fellow students graduating from senior kindergarten (my favourite, one sweet boy wrote that his future plans included being a dad and Spiderman). We’ve made cookies and cards for her wonderful teachers. She chose her favourite “party dress” to wear today.
At some point during this past year she went from hugging me goodbye at the school drop-off to seeing her friends and excitedly walking away with them while I watched her go. It is not something that we talked about, it just happened. She no longer needed that last bit of encouragement from me, but I didn’t realize how much I enjoyed this little routine until it was over.
I made these blondies the evening before my son’s birthday party. At 9PM, I had a sudden fear that the 3-layered cake that I had made was not going to feed everyone. Since I’m positive that running out of cake is either bad luck or bad karma, I headed back to the kitchen. I had purchased Belgium dark chocolate fèves (chocolate discs that are used instead of chocolate chips to create a richer chocolate “chip” cookie) in the past week as it was the first time I had noticed them at the local bulk store. So, with those in mind, I set bake a treat that could be eaten in one or two bites. Since I didn’t plan on baking, I just used what I had available which was regular, salted butter. The chocolate fèves add a lovely layering effect and the bars are studded with small pops of peanut butter flavour. High quality chocolate and vanilla extract are important in this recipe.
Brown Butter Chocolate and Peanut Butter Blondies, my way
Time: Prep time (30 minutes) + Baking time (30 minutes) + Cooling/Inactive time (a couple hours or overnight)
Makes: 20 cm x 20 cm (8 x 8 inch) pan of blondies
1 cup (225 g) salted butter
2 cups (250 g) all-purpose flour
½ tsp coarse kosher salt
2 large eggs
3 tsp good-quality vanilla extract
1 ¾ cups (350 g) brown sugar
¾ cup dark chocolate fèves *
1/3 cup mini peanut butter chips*
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line a 20cm x 20cm (8 x 8 inch) pan with butter and parchment paper. The parchment paper should overhang on the sides.
2. Melt the butter in a medium sized saucepan on medium heat. Grab the handle and gently swirl the pan. Keep a close eye on it as the butter will start to foam and sputter (this is good and a sign that the flavour is changing). I was cautious during this step as I want to ensure that I didn’t crank the heat up so high that it became burnt. The idea is to brown the butter not to blacken it! Once you see brown bits forming on the bottom of the pan, remove from the heat. Pour it into a heatproof bowl and set aside for about 5 minutes.
3. Mix the flour and salt together (I do this in a 2-cup measuring cup). Whisk the eggs and vanilla together.
4. Add the brown sugar to the browned butter and mix vigorously with a wooden spoon. Add the egg-vanilla mixture and mix again. Add the flour mixture and slowly mix until there is a tiny bit of flour left. Fold in the fèves and peanut butter chocolate chips. Pour the dough into the prepared pan and smooth out with the back of the spoon. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the top is just cracking. The edges should be browned and there may be little bubbly bits on the top. Allow to cool on the countertop overnight.
5. Remove the blondies by pulling up on the overhanging parchment paper. Place onto a cutting board. With a sharp knife (no butter knives, please), cut into bit sized squares for your party about 2.5 cm (1 inch). Serve on a beautiful plate beside a plate of fresh-picked strawberries.
* Both chocolate fèves and peanut butter chips are difficult to find in Canada. I found these at my local bulk food store (called, the Bulk Barn). I haven't been able to find peanut butter chips in a regular grocery store for over 10 years.
Recipe adapted from Food52