from the onset, my younger sister had it all. towheaded and adorable, adults doted on her. they’d bend down and swoop her into their arms, gushing, oh, isn’t she cute? (she was, of course.) and then look directly at me and say, and you’re very smart and so grown up. aside from the long-term self-image issues best addressed by a professional (don’t worry, i got over it on my own), the adults didn’t realize what an utter imp my sister truly was.
already beginning to turn from towhead to brunette.
tasked with watching her during outdoor play time, she’d constantly vanish: one minute in the yard, the next, gone. when i first experienced these disappearing acts, i’d panic. i am the responsible scout; i let her out of my sight. i would scour the neighborhood on foot or by bicycle in my quest to locate her. what i would have given back then for an electronic tracking device and matching ankle bracelet. (anyone who knows my sister knows how much she loves to accessorize.) i’d discover her a few doors down, then a few blocks, then a mile. like Monopoly and Scrabble, this game became one of our family rituals. i imagine we were a lot like other siblings: the youngest would break something and look innocently and adorably at the parents with wide eyes and say the eldest had done it. uh-huh.
we got older. my sister’s hair got darker. and our lives went in entirely different directions. eventually, she matured—mostly—and found her own true north. now, we talk often, and look fondly and wistfully back on our childhoods. i’ve almost forgiven her for bobbing all my dolls’ hair. but not quite. former little blondie, this one’s for you.
the blondies are an easy-to-make, rich, sweet treat. delightful with a cup of tea. or for my dear Seattle friends, a robust cup of freshly brewed coffee.
per the recipe’s instructions, be very careful not to overbake; blondies dry out easily and will turn hard (ack). begin to check the oven several minutes before the bars are supposed to be done (mine baked in 20 minutes).
1 cup pecans or walnuts
1 1/2 cups unbleached organic flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons butter (1 1/2 sticks), melted and cooled
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 ounces white chocolate bar (1 cup), chopped or 3 ounces each white chocolate (e.g., El Rey Icoa/White) and semisweet chocolate (e.g., Scharffen Berger) bars, chopped
adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 350F.
spread nuts on large rimmed baking sheet, and bake until golden brown, about 10 minutes.
transfer nuts to cutting board to cool; chop and set aside.
(i followed this guidance, but after tasting the blondies, i would have preferred not to toast the nuts; clearly a personal choice.)
while the nuts toast, line a 13 by 9-inch pan with non-stick foil (more complex directions available from Cook’s Illustrated), so the blondies can be lifted out of the pan after they’re baked.
whisk flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside.
whisk melted butter and brown sugar together in a medium bowl until combined.
add eggs and vanilla and mix well.
using a rubber spatula, fold dry ingredients into egg mixture until just combined. be careful not to overmix.
fold in chocolate and nuts.
turn batter into prepared pan, smoothing top with spatula.
bake until top is shiny, cracked and a light golden brown, about 22 – 25 minutes.
(would like to reiterate that mine came out perfectly after 20 minutes.)
cool on wire rack to room temperature.
remove from pan by lifting foil overhang and transfer to cutting board.