Monday, May 27, 2013

Brown-Butter Toffee Blondies

This is a Martha Stewart recipe.  I was drawn to the recipe because it uses brown-butter.  I have read a number of recipes and blog posts about brown-butter but had not used it myself.  Like all hot fats, brown-butter smells amazing.  It also has a pleasant nutty flavor.

The formal name for brown-butter is beurre noisette, which means hazelnut butter.  Compared to other fats, butter has a low smoking point.  When its temperature is raised too high, it separates into butterfat and milk solids.  To brown butter, you heat it to the point where it becomes unstable.  The milk solids sink to the bottom of the pan, and these particles will eventually become brown with heat.  Clarified butter, used in the Middle East and South Asia, is only the buttermilk.  Clarified butter has a higher smoke point than regular butter.

The recipe calls for 1 1/4 cups butter, 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour, 1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 2 cups packed light brown sugar, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 3 eggs, 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract, and 1 cup of toffee bits.  It also calls for 1 cup of walnuts, but I didn't use walnuts.

While the oven was preheating to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, I prepared the pan.  The recipe asked you to line the pan with parchment paper, but I used tinfoil because that is what I had on hand.  In addition to lining the pan, you also need to butter and flour the surface.  

This is my brown butter.  As I mentioned earlier, it smelled incredible.  I cooked the butter on medium heat for about 4 minutes.  I kept an eye on it throughout the process because it was my first attempt.  The butter gets quite foamy.  The butter had cooled a bit before I took the picture, and the foam had settled.

After the butter had cooled, I added the sugars.

I beat in the eggs for about three minutes until the mixture is creamy.

Here is the vanilla.  Doesn't my batter look creamy?

I whisked the flour, salt, baking powder and salt together earlier.  After the butter, sugar, and eggs were creamed, I added the dry ingredients and toffee bits.  I am so anxious about over mixing the flour in my baked goods, I mixed with a spoon.

Delectable! The brown-butter definitely changes the flavor of this dessert.

The dough was surprisingly thick.

I thoroughly enjoyed these blondies.  It is uncharacteristic of me, but I found them a little too sweet.   The toffee bits completely dissolved in the bars, which might have increased their sugariness.    In the future, I will remake these with less sugar and no toffee bits.  The walnuts would have provided a pleasant crunch as well.

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