It'd be a shame to cook Southern food all week and skip dessert. Given many Southerners' propensity to add sugar to everything except cornbread, sweets play a huge role in most down-home cookbooks. Rebecca Lang's Around the Southern Table is no exception. There are baked, sugary treats in both the breakfast and the desserts chapters, bookending the savory entrees. And while pies and cakes are good examples of sweet Southern generosity, a hand-held blondie seemed like the perfect way to end a week of casual classics. Lang's blondies are no chocolate-chip laced confections, however. She turns the blondie elegant by adding a thin graham cracker crust and copious pine nuts for savory crunch.
Why I picked this recipe: Blondies are often too sweet for my taste, but the idea of adding subtly savory pine nuts to the dessert was too intriguing to pass up.
What worked: The brown sugar, butter, and pine nut combo is killer, and the graham cracker crust adds an importantly distinct textural contrast to the cakey blondies.
What didn't: Be sure the the butter-brown sugar mixture is not too hot when adding the eggs; you don't bits of scrambled egg in your blondies! I thought the (ultra-specific) 38-minute baking time was a little bit too long here. Start checking at 30 minutes.
Suggested tweaks: If you're not into pine nuts (or their price), you could sub in an equivalent amount of chopped walnuts or pecans. Lang calls for light brown sugar here, but dark would add particularly nice molasses notes to the blondies.
Reprinted from Around The Southern Table: Coming home to comforting meals and treasured memories by Rebecca Lang. Copyright 2012. Published by Oxmoor House. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.
- Yield:makes 2 dozen
- Active time: 20 minutes
- Total time:2 1/2 hours
- 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 10 graham crackers, ground)
- 1/3 cup melted unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter
- 3 large eggs
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup pine nuts
Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 13- x 9-inch pan with aluminum foil, allowing 2 to 3 inches to extend over sides; lightly grease foil.
Combine graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, and granulated sugar in a bowl. Press mixture on bottom of prepared pan.
Cook brown sugar and 3⁄4 cup butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly, 2 minutes or until butter melts.
Remove from heat. Add eggs, 1 at a time, to brown sugar mixture, stirring quickly after each addition. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to brown sugar mixture, whisking until mixture is blended and smooth. Stir in vanilla and pine nuts. Immediately pour batter over graham cracker crust.
Bake at 350° for 38 minutes. Cool blondies completely in pan on a wire rack (about 1 hour and 30 minutes). Lift blondies from pan, using foil sides as handles. Cut into 24 squares.