BY JULIA STEWART
"Browned butter." It just doesn't sound that promising, does it? When I first heard the term, I thought it must mean something very serious. I thought it meant spoiled butter, or stinky butter, or butter that had been foolishly tampered with by some reckless cook. A bad accident, if you will. A very bad accident. Nope!
Browned butter may, in fact, change your life. Let me tell you the truth about it. It is butter whose flavor is amplified by cooking it on the stovetop until the milk solids float to the top, and then float back to the bottom where they turn golden and fragrant. The butter starts to foam and sizzle, and smell nutty. The scent intensifies, fills the room, then inspires the cook to shimmy back and forth across the kitchen floor, thrice. At least, this has been my experience. Sometimes only two bouts of shimmying are possible before the butter starts to scorch.
Anyways, it's really good stuff, and totally delicious in any baked goods in which you want to bring out the flavor of butter. And it's easily executed; check out these fool-proof directions from Joy the Baker. Bam! Nothing to it.
These browned butter blondies are a snap to make. They are also quite adaptable. Add your favorite toasted chopped nuts, or swap out different chocolates for the bittersweet. You can also use plain brown sugar in place of the coconut sugar. I am a huge fan of coconut sugar for it's molasses-y taste and the fact that it's less refined, but to each his own.
As for the flour, I use Pamela's bread flour because it has some good substances, isn't grainy or gummy, and holds together well. You may have another preferred flour blend, which would likely work just fine. And for those who can stomach it, all-purpose flour works beautifully, too.
3 sticks unsalted butter (Did I mention these bars are delightfully low fat? Truth!)
3 cups GF flour (I use Pamela's bread flour), or all-purpose flour
2 tsp. sea salt, plus more to sprinkle on top
2 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (please refrain from the fake stuff! Bleh!)
1 2/3 cups coconut sugar (can be purchased at Target or any health food store)
1 1/2-2 cups bittersweet chocoalte chips
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9X13 pan with aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on all four edges. No need to grease the foil; check the amount of butter in the recipe if you need convincing!
Brown yo' butter a la Joy's method. Be sure to let it cool completely so that it doesn't melt your chocolate! Alternatively, use it warm to get some swirled chocolate action. Up to you.
Whisk flour and salt together. Set aside.
Pour cooled brown butter into a large bowl. Add the sugar and whisk well. Add the eggs and yolk, followed by the vanilla. Mix well.
Add the flour mixture in with the wet ingredients. If using GF flour, mix the daylights out of it! You do not have to worry about the batter becoming tough. If using glutinous flour, caution yourself against overtaxing so as to avoid blondies that are leather-like in texture. This is never pleasant.
Folkd in your chocoalate/nuts/whatever other little goodies you've got in mind.
Pour your batter into the prepared pan, sprinkle with sea salt, and bake for about 27-30 minutes. GF blondies can take a bit longer to bake. Either way, look for golden, crispy edges and a softer middle. Allow the bars to cool and firm up a little, and then dig in and enjoy!
*Chef's tip*- These little munchkins pair beautifully with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of homemade salted caramel.