Blondies are a sometimes food. For me, sometimes means once a year. When I really need a baked good pick-me-up for morale, I make these. Or, each time I see Marcona Almonds at the grocery store, which seems to be about once an autumn. This time it was the double whammy of seeing Marcona almonds, and then one step further, Bob’s Red Mill almond flour. I stood there in a cramped corner of Whole Foods in a sort of sugar reverie, fantasizing an image of this special treat:
Now that they are out of the oven and filling my house with the aroma of brown butter, I am at a sugar stand still again. Bake this day, indeed.
Marcona Almond Blondies
Adapted from Food and Wine
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, plus more for brushing
3 1/2 cups light brown sugar
5 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup roasted almond butter
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups Bob’s Red Mill superfine almond flour*
2 cups marcona almonds, chopped (9 ounces)
1 3/4 cups chocolate chips (11 ounces)
Preheat the oven to 325º. Lightly brush a 9-by-13-inch metal baking pan with butter.
In a medium saucepan, cook the 2 1/2 sticks of butter over moderate heat until golden brown, 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool to room temperature, 30 minutes.
Add the sugar, eggs, almond butter, vanilla, salt and cinnamon to the butter and whisk until smooth. Stir in the flour, then fold in 1 1/2 cups of the almonds and 1 1/2 cups of the chocolate chips. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly with an offset or a nonstick spatula. Scatter the remaining 1/2 cup of almonds and 1/4 cup of chocolate chips over the top. Bake for about 1 hour, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Transfer the pan to a rack and let the blondies cool completely before cutting.
*If you wanted these to be gluten free, all you’d have to do is make it three cups of almond flour, instead of two.
And then for more snacking over a Sunday afternoon football game—
Cheese Straw Crackers
Adapted from Penzeys Spices
3/4 Cup flour
1/4 tsp. mustard powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
4 TB. butter, cold, cut in small chunks
1/2 Cup fine shredded cheddar cheese
1 egg yolk
1 TB. cold water
1/4 tsp. salt, paprika to sprinkle on top, optional
Preheat oven to 450°. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, mustard powder, salt and pepper. Add the butter and mix with forks or a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Add the cheese and toss/mix well. Add the egg yolk and water and mix with a large fork until a soft dough forms. You can make them to this point, then pat into a disc, wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a bit if you don’t want to do it all at once. Also makes rolling easier, just remove from fridge 20 minutes before rolling and baking.
Roll out gently, on a flour-dusted surface, to 1/4 inch thick and cut into 3/4-inch wide by 2-inch long portions for crackers, longer and thinner for straws. Sprinkle with salt or seasoning if desired, place on parchment paper-lined cookie sheets and bake at 450° for 10 minutes or until golden and a bit puffy.