Monday, June 3, 2013

Blondies with Dried Tart Cherries, Pistachios & White Chocolate Chunks

I have been asked to prepare bar cookies for a nephew's high school graduation party this year. The request was for simple, familiar, teenage-boy friendly kinds of bars. So, I have been making large quantities of brownies, blondies and mixed berry crumble bars. Lemon bars are still on the "to do" list. Per the request, the blondies I made are simple and typical...a brown-sugary, slightly chewy bar cookie, loaded with chocolate chips. To satisfy my own desire for something a little different, I made a small pan of the same blondies over the weekend, replacing the chocolate chips with white chocolate chunks, pistachios and dried tart cherries.

The basic recipe is a slightly amended version of a blondie that appears in multiple guises in Martha Stewart's Cookies. The main change I made to the basic recipe was that instead of baking the blondies in an 8-inch square or 9-inch round baking pan, I have spread the batter out into a quarter sheet pan (a 13- by 9-inch will work just as well) for a thinner, more "bar cookie"-like look.

I have always liked these cookies, but I really love them in their thinner form.  They still have enough heft and "chewiness" to qualify as a blondie, and they have a very nice, even texture...tender and moist from edge to edge—no raised, hard edges and no rawness in the center. They also slice beautifully and are sturdy enough to travel. Just about perfect.

These cookies are excellent when made in their "plain" form with just chocolate chips. But you can of course load them up with anything you like. I really like this white chocolate-cherry-pistachio version....they are particularly delicious. Those teenage boys have no idea what they are missing.

Blondies with Dried Tart Cherries,
Pistachios & White Chocolate Chunks

190 grams (about 1 2/3 c.) all-purpose flour
1 t. baking powder
3/4 t. salt (scant...see variations)
10 T. (140 grams) unsalted butter, softened
200 grams (1 c.) golden brown sugar
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla
4 oz. white chocolate, chopped (about 2/3 c.)
2/3 c. dried tart cherries (chopped if large)
65 grams (1/2 c.) toasted pistachios, coarsely chopped

Butter a quarter sheet pan (or, you may use a 13- by 9-inch baking pan). Line with parchment. Butter the parchment and flour the pan. Preheat the oven to 350°.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar at medium speed until smooth and beginning to lighten in color—about a minute. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Beat in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture. When almost fully incorporated, add the white chocolate, cherries and pistachios. Mix until well incorporated.

Scrape the patter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface with a rubber spatula. Bake in a 350° oven until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean (a few crumbs are OK)—about 20 to 25 minutes. Cool in the pan. Run a knife around the edge and place a baking sheet over the pan. Flip the blondies out onto the baking sheet. Peel off the parchment and flip the blondies back over onto a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, cut into 24 to 48 bars.

• Omit the white chocolate, tart cherries & pistachios. Add 1 1/3 cups semi-sweet chips.  I use a full 3/4 t. table salt with the all chocolate variation.  The original recipe called for 3/4 t. kosher salt (which isn't as strong as table salt...which is what I alway use for baking).
• Use any combination of nuts, dried fruit & chocolate you prefer.

(Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart's Cookies)

Printable Recipe


No comments: