Rich salty-sweet blondies with a light crackly crust and squidgy centre, fragrant with palm sugar and nutty brown butter.
If you’re reading this, you probably understand that unlike brownies, the point of a blondie isn’t that it’s supposed to be more chocolatey that chocolate itself; its joy lies in the cookie dough-like body–warm butterscotch and vanilla, sweet and rich, well-tempered with salt.
Since the point of blondies is flavourful unrefined sugar, I thought palm sugar, with its almost fruity sweetness, would work. And I was right–but, if I’m honest, I like the usual brown sugar just as much. Since palm sugar is unusual, though, this is the recipe I will give.
A note on palm sugar. If you buy palm sugar from an Asian shop, it might be different to what you’re used to. We generally don’t bother with granulated palm sugar; it comes in tubs and cakes. In warm, humid environments, the tubs of palm sugar may become sticky and scoopable. This is the case with mine, and it’s actually closer to what its texture ought to be. On the other hand, it’s totally fine if your tub is solid or you can only find cakes. Simply remove any packaging, turn it out onto a chopping board, and carefully saw away at it (a serrated knife is ideal), weighing out chunks before breaking them down into smaller pieces with a knife or bashing in a mortar. You want smallish shavings or crumb-like bits. Return any remaining palm sugar to an airtight tub.
That is essentially the only fiddly preparation; otherwise, this comes together very simply and keeps very well in the fridge. Additions are highly recommended; I actually like good quality white chocolate in this, such as vanilla-speckled Green & Blacks, or hazelnut milk chocolate.
However you make it, this is really good at any time of day. I spare some for Mr. Pear to take to work, but I mainly hoard it for myself to have with a mug of good, malty tea.
SMALL BATCH PALM SUGAR BLONDIES
Makes 6 – 8 smallish squares, about 1 inch thick. Keeps for 3 – 4 days; I keep it chilled for neater slices, but it’s no big deal, I think.
If you can’t find decent palm sugar (order online or try a health food shop), this is perfect with the same amount of any brown sugar you want. I like 50/50 light and dark brown sugar.
84g/6 tbsp unsalted butter, diced
100g/3/4 cup plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp fine table salt (or 3/4 tsp flaky sea salt)
150g/5 oz (approximately 3/4 cup, packed) palm sugar, finely chopped/pounded if solid, scooped as best you can if soft
1 UK medium (US large) egg, lightly beaten
2 tsp vanilla extract
Additions (optional): 75g/heaping 1/2 cup toasted chopped pecans or walnuts; 85g/3 oz/1/2 cup milk or white chocolate (or both!)
Prepare your additions, if using, and brown and cool your butter: melt and cook the diced butter over a low heat until the sizzling calms and you can see light brown specks beneath the foam. This will take a few minutes; watch carefully. Quickly scrape all the brown butter into a small heatproof bowl and leave to cool til near room temperature. It’s very hot and can take a surprising amount of time, particularly in warmer weather; this can be hastened by plunging bowl into cold water bath, stirring occasionally; about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 180 degrees C/160 fan (350 F). Line a 2 lb/9 x 5 inch loaf tin (or similar) with a sling of foil or paper, leaving a little overhang for blondie-lifting later.
Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in medium bowl; set aside. In another medium mixing bowl, carefully work the brown butter and palm sugar together with a fork until the sugar softens slightly; mixture may look very split and lumpy, but this is fine. Add egg and vanilla, beating well for a minute or two with your fork until completely smooth and slightly paler in colour.
Using rubber spatula, fold dry ingredients and any additions into the egg mixture until just barely combined.
Scrape and evenly spread batter into prepared pan. Bake until top is puffed, cracked, and light golden brown, 19 to 22 minutes; definitely err on the shorter side to avoid over baking.
Cool on wire rack to room temperature. Remove from pan by lifting the lining overhang. Cut however much you like, storing leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge. Try them cold…