Happy November! I can’t believe October is already over! I’m kind of sad to see fall go by so quickly but I’m also very excited for the upcoming holidays, decorations and inevitable cozy family time near a fireplace. Also, I fully welcome the extra hour of sleep we got today with open arms and sleepy eyes.
I saw lots of great costumes on social media last night and was so excited to see some cute children in great outfits at my door, but alas, none came. Zero. Not a single trick-or-treater came to our apartment last night. Last year we had two little trick-or-treaters, so I was at least expecting to see them again this year, but I don’t think they had much success last year. I don’t blame the parents for pursuing bigger neighborhoods with more candy and more children, and I try to tell myself it isn’t disappointing because I should have known this was going to happen…but gosh darnit, it is disappointing. We had a candy bowl at the ready, complete with GLOW-IN-THE-DARK vampire teeth! Who can resist those?! Oh well, maybe next year. Maybe. The lack of costume clad kids left us with a bowl of uneaten candy. And what better way to get rid of candy than to sandwich it between blondies and brownies? Logically.
The batter of these brown butter blondies is so good I could eat it with a spoon. I have made a few treats with brown butter, but it is one of those tricky processes that takes a while and doesn’t always perform well in cookies unless it has cooled and hardened again, which takes foreverrrrrrr. So, while it is delicious, the impatient side of me doesn’t often set aside time to make it. However, this blondie recipe is the perfect place to use it.
The browned butter provides such a delicious nutty flavor and really makes the bars stand out from other blondies. And the best part: you don’t even have to wait for the brown butter to cool if you don’t want to! What?! I know, deal breaker! It is actually easy to wait for the butter to cool while you are mixing the rest of the ingredients, but it won’t change the outcome much if you are in a speedy mood and want to move on with the hot butter. There is your proof that you can’t go wrong with these bars.
The brownies are dense, dark and rich. Filled with deep dark chocolate, dark cocoa powder and a smidge of coffee. One of my favorite tricks in the book is to add a bit of coffee to chocolate desserts. Not to worry, anti-coffee folks, you can’t taste the coffee – it just enhances the chocolate flavor and helps make the brownies extra dark. If you have it, don’t skip it! These are also probably the easiest homemade brownies I have ever made, which makes them even better!
We throw our leftover Halloween candy from our sad sad trick-or-treat bowl across a layer of brown butter blondie, cover it with a layer of dark chocolate brownie, and voila! The perfect post-Halloween treat. I used Milky Way, Milky Way Midnight and 3 Musketeers, but Snickers, Reese’s and Twix would also be great options. Or whatever you have left in your hopefully not-as-sad candy bowl plus the Halloween clearance section of the grocery store (because we all know Reese’s isn’t the candy that gets left in the candy bowl). You can leave the candy out if you want, but definitely add the bittersweet or dark chocolate chunks! So melty and so delicious. Let’s start November right, eat some blondie-brownie bars, burn our Leaves candle and get excited about Thanksgiving (and dare-I-say Christmas?!)!
Brown Butter Blondie Dark Chocolate Brownie Candy Swirl Bars
Brown Butter Blondies
½ cup butter (1 stick)
1 cup flour
½ teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
¼ cup chopped dark or bittersweet chocolate (optional)
Dark Chocolate Brownies
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons dark cocoa powder
¾ cup sugar
½ cup butter (1 stick), melted
¼ cup flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
½ teaspoon brewed coffee, instant coffee or espresso (optional. It brings out the chocolate flavor and you can’t taste coffee in the brownies at all)
¼ cup chopped bittersweet or dark chocolate (optional)
Candy bars, chopped into pieces for assembly (optional. If you don’t use candy bars definitely use the chopped chocolate)
To make the Brown Butter Blondies
In a small saucepan melt the butter over medium-low heat, swirling it around now and then while it sizzles to make sure it is all melting. After 3-5 minutes the melting butter will start to smell nutty and begin to brown. When it stops sizzling and is an amber color with bits of brown at the bottom of the pan it is ready. Pour it into a large bowl to cool and let it cool completely. (This is not necessary if you want chocolate marbled blondies or if you are impatient. Just let it cool for about 5 minutes and continue with the recipe. The warmer butter will melt the chocolate bits)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8×8 inch baking pan with parchment paper or spray it with nonstick cooking spray and dust with flour. Set the pan aside.
In a small bowl, combine the flour and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and vanilla until combined. Set aside both bowls.
Add the brown sugar to the cooled butter and mix for about a minute. Add the vanilla and egg mixture to the butter and sugar. Mix these ingredients until they are all combined and the mixture is shiny. This should not take long. Add the flour mixture to the rest of the ingredients and mix until the flour is almost fully incorporated but there are still some patches of flour. Pour in the chocolate chunks and mix until they are evenly distributed throughout the batter and all of the flour is fully incorporated. Don’t over-mix it though!
Spread the blondie batter into an even layer in your prepared pan, top with chopped candy bars and make the brownie batter.
To make the Dark Chocolate Brownies
In a medium bowl, stir together the melted butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, salt and coffee until combined. Add the cocoa powder and flour and mix until the ingredients are almost fully incorporated but there are still a few dry spots (just like we did before with the blondies). Pour in the chocolate chunks and mix until they are evenly distributed and the flour and cocoa powder are fully incorporated. Again, don’t over-mix!
That’s it for the brownies! So easy! Spoon the brownie batter into the pan, covering the candy bars and blondie batter fully.
Bake your blondie/brownie mix for about 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the bars comes out clean. My brownies didn’t look done but the toothpick came out clean and they turned out perfectly when they were cut, so don’t doubt the pick!
Let the bars rest in the pan until completely cool (for easier cutting). If you can’t wait, grab a plastic knife (the bars won’t stick to it as easily as they will stick to a real knife) and dig in to your warm, gooey bars!
Blondies slightly adapted from here. Brownies slightly adapted from here. Candy from Halloween. :)