That's when I turn to blondies. Blondies are not the same thing as chocolate chip cookies, but they come close enough, and they demand so much less energy. A chocolate chip cookie is a thing of perfection- round with a crispy edge and a gooey center, a deep caramelized brown sugar flavor, chewy and oh-so-chocolaty... but a blondie only takes about 10 minutes of active involvement, and one bowl. They are infinitely adaptable, the list of ingredients is so short that normally you will have everything on hand, and they come pretty dang close to satisfying that craving.
I've used the same base recipe for blondies for several years, and I think it's hard to improve upon, based on pure simplicity and flavor. The two things that I must insist upon, however, are using good brown sugar and real vanilla extract. This comment is mostly for my readers living outside the U.S., where these ingredients are difficult to come by. I actually buy a big bottle of vanilla extract in the U.S. whenever I visit. You can find vanilla extract in Germany, usually at upscale department stores like Karstadt or KaDeWe in Berlin, but it's very expensive. Brown sugar is easier to find - you just need to know where to look. Almost all Asian grocery stores have brown sugar. Please note that the brown sugar that I refer to is not the "Braunzucker" that you find in German grocery stores, which is a form of sugar crystals, like the brown sugar that you mix into your morning coffee. No no no. You need to get the soft brown sugar that is made by mixing white sugar with molasses. This sugar imparts a rich caramel/molasses flavor that is key to a true American-style blondie.
And now that we've sorted that out, here's the recipe:
I make a different variety of these almost every time I make them, generally mixing in whatever I have on hand. A traditional blondie just has chocolate chips, but I think they are great with a combination of chocolate chips, shredded coconut, nuts, and dried fruit.
1 stick / 110 g unsalted butter
1 cup / 220 g light brown sugar (dark brown is okay if that's all you have)
1 tsp / 5 ml vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1 cup / 140 g white flour
Endless Mix-In Options:
chocolate chips or a chocolate bar sliced into small chunks
nuts- walnuts, pecans, peanuts, etc.
- Preheat oven to 350 F / 175 C.
- Cream together butter and brown sugar with a stand mixer or hand-held mixer. Mix for a few minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy.
- Mix in the egg, vanilla extract, salt, and flour.
- Add in all your mix-ins, a handful, at a time, until it is just how you like it.
- Scoop the mixture into a square baking pan and spread evenly in the pan.
- Bake for approximately 20 - 25 minutes. The edges should be slightly golden and the middle should look like it is set, but still soft and gooey. Basically, you want it to be gooey straight out of the oven, but solid enough when it cools to slice into neat squares. That is, if you can wait long enough to let it cool!