The great thing about working at a magazine that they don’t tell you about in school is the sheer amount of free stuff you end up with. Things sent for photo shoots, things sent unsolicited, things sent to other people that appear on kitchen tables and bookshelves on a regular basis. Most of the time, it’s manuscripts and books, screeners for TV shows, and my favorite, food. But the other week, the mother lode arrived: cookbooks. One food editor leaving is one food lover’s gain, and despite my careful selection, I still filled my tote bag with new volumes. Don’t be surprised if you get a cookbook for your next birthday.
One of the books I was most excited about was from Fat Witch Brownies in Chelsea Market. Their blondies are so good that when I worked near a deli that sold them I would eat a mini one almost every day. They taste like if a chocolate chip cookie had a love affair with cake–my dream child. Finally, I have their secrets, I thought!
Except when I started cooking, dreams did not come true. The batter was first impossibly thin and slightly curdled looking. I ran out of all-purpose flour and had to throw in a few tablespoons of whole wheat to get enough flour. Once it came together, it looked okay, but when the blondies came out of the oven…they were not blond. I knew I hadn’t used enough whole wheat to cause a color change, and I knew I hadn’t overcooked them, as I had regularly tested with toothpicks. They tasted fine–delicious in fact–but it still bothered me that mine didn’t look like the “real” thing.
I didn’t discover the problem until two days after I made them, when I saw my world’s-best-cook nana and gave her one to try. It turns out Fat Witch’s secret ingredient was to blame: molasses. That’s what keeps the blondies impossibly moist and chocolate-chip-cookeie-y, but it makes the brownies almost brown–hence the name dirty blondies. For non-dirty blondies, I’d recommend using light molasses, if your grocery store carries them. Either way, these might just replace your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe.
Dirty Blondies (makes 12-16, adapted slightly from Fat Witch Brownies)
one stick salted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
1 tablespoon molasses
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8×8 baking dish with foil in each direction, leaving an overhang on all sides. Grease foil.
In a medium bowl, add the flour, salt, and baking soda. The original recipe calls for you to sift these together; I just whisked them to combine and it was fine. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixter, cream the butter and eggs together*. Add the sugar, molasses, and vanilla and beat until well mixed. Add flour mixture and beat at low speed until well combined. Fold in the chocolate chips, and make sure all the dry ingredients have been incorporated while you’re doing this. Pour into pan, smooth the top, and bake for about 30 minutes. When blondies are ready, a toothpick inserted into the middle should come out with only a few moist crumbs attached. Cool in pan for ten minutes, then move to a rack to cool completely. Cut into 12 or 16, pour a glass of milk, and dig in.
*I thought this was weird too, but the batter comes together in the end. Don’t be alarmed when it looks weird at first.
**Thanks to my friend Rachel for coming up with the perfect name for these!