Blonde Brownies with Walnuts and Fig Preserves

I’ve been a little busy these days.  Amidst all the holiday preparation, I found myself in need of a quick and easy dessert.  This blondie recipe fits the bill perfectly.  It’s not quite a one bowl event, but it’s close.  Butter is melted, blended with sugar and an egg, and dry ingredients are stirred in.  Then the extras that make this simple bar cookie special are added:  toasted walnuts and fig and tea preserves.   The preserves are swirled into the batter just before baking, and, along with the toasted walnuts, they make a great contribution to the taste and texture of these bars.  I imagine this formula would lend itself to all kinds of combinations; maybe almonds and raspberry preserves, hazelnuts and plum jam, pecans and lingonberry, you get the idea.  So if you need a quick sweet fix, or a little something to take to a potluck or casual dinner with friends, this is your answer.

Blonde Brownies with Walnuts and Fig Preserves
(makes one 8×8 inch pan)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup walnut halves, toasted and coarsely chopped
2-3 tablespoons fig preserves*
Preheat the oven to 350F.  Line the bottom and sides of an 8×8 inch square baking pan with parchment paper and grease and flour the paper.  Mix the dry ingredients together in a small bowl.  In a medium saucepan, melt the butter.  Remove from the heat and add the sugar.  Stir with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula to blend, then mix in the egg and vanilla.  Gently stir in the flour mixture just until combined, then add the chopped walnuts.  Spread the batter into the prepared pan and dollop 2 to 3 spoonfuls of preserves over the batter.  Swirl the preserves into the batter with a butter knife.  Bake for 23 to 28 minutes (depending on whether your pan is metal or glass), or until the edges shrink from the pan, and the top is golden and set.  Remove to a rack to cool completely, then lift the bars from the pan using the parchment, and cut into any size squares you like. 
(minimally adapted from “Joy the Baker”)

 Yes, there’s one missing; I ate it.

Great with a glass of milk.

Or a cup of tea.

*I used the Figs and Black Tea preserve from Wisconsin-based Quince and Apple small batch preserves.

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