Brewer’s Blondies and Browned Butter Brownies

How’s that for alliteration? I have been baking up a storm in preparation for this weekend’s MKEfoodies Holiday Bake Sale at Best Place at the Historic Pabst Brewery, 901 W.Juneau Ave. The sale is on Saturday, December 10, from 12:00 TO 4:00PM. I will be donating these two bar cookies plus a cranberry orange sweet bread to the sale in aid of the “Cookies for Kids Cancer” charitable organization. The brownie recipe is from an article written in Bon Appetit magazine’s February 2011 edition by esteemed pastry chef Alice Medrich. The caption on the front of the magazine reads:”Best-Ever Brownies, Warning: You WILL eat the entire tray”. Quite the endorsement, don’t you think? They are very good, and when I first made them my family concurred with Bon Appetit’s assessment. They are simple; a one pot recipe that uses cocoa for a deep, rich flavor. This is what you do:

Cocoa Brownies with Browned Butter and Walnuts (from Bon Appetit, February 2011)
Makes 16 brownies

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder (spooned into cup to measure, then leveled)(*I use Droste brand Dutch cocoa)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, chilled
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup walnut pieces

Position rack in the bottom third of the oven; preheat to 325F. Line 8x8x2 inch metal baking pan with foil, pressing foil firmly against pan sides and leaving a 2-inch overhang. Coat foil with non-stick spray. Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Continue cooking until butter stops foaming and browned bits form at bottom of pan, stirring often, about 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat; immediately add sugar, cocoa, 2 teaspoons water, vanilla, and a generous 1/4 teaspoon salt. Stir to blend. Let cool 5 minutes (mixture will still be hot). Add eggs to hot mixture 1 at a time, beating vigorously to blend after each addition. When mixture looks thick and shiny, add flour and stir until blended. Beat vigorously 60 strokes. Stir in the nuts. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake brownies until toothpick inserted into center comes out almost clean (with a few moist crumbs attached), about 25 to 30 minutes. Cool in pan on rack. Using foil overhang, lift brownies from the pan. Cut into 4 strips. Cut each strip crosswise into 4 pieces. Store airtight at room temperature.

The Brewer’s Blondies are named, not for our hometown baseball team, but for the malt powder and malt ball candies that add flavor and texture to the bars. The recipe is courtesy of Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, from their book “Baked: New Frontiers in Baking”.

Brewer’s Blondies

2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons malted milk powder
14 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 3/4 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup malted milk balls (Whoppers or Maltesers) coarsely chopped in a food processor
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
vanilla ice cream, to serve

Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9×13 inch baking pan. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, and malted milk powder together. In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment (or with a hand mixer in a large bowl), beat the butter and brown sugar on medium speed until completely combined. Scrape down the bowl, add the eggs and vanilla, and beat until combined. Add the flour in two batches and beat until combined.

Add the malted milk balls, chocolate chips, and walnuts and beat just to combine. The mixture will be thick. Turn the mixture into the prepared pan and spread evenly.

Bake in the center of the oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until done. Cool for twenty minutes and serve warm with ice cream.

If you would like to portion the bars into smaller pieces, allow the pan to cool completely, then turn them out on a cutting board. Trim the edges to make a 8×12 inch rectangle. Cut into 2 inch bars. Store in the refrigerator.

This will yield 24 2-inch bars.

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