Monday, November 21, 2011

Butternut Blondies

I’ve never been a fan of blondies. They’re usually just overly sweet little blobs packed with white chocolate chunks (which I do not at all care for) and maybe some nuts. There’s no real flavor there, at least not in any of the blondies I’ve ever eaten to date, and, as a result, I’ve never been compelled to make my own.

That is, up until last week, when I somehow stumbled upon a recipe for butternut squash blondies. The recipe looked weird, though – strange proportions and the inclusion of those dreaded white chocolate chips – so I took the basic idea and set about crafting my own recipe.

I can’t take full credit for the base of this, which is adapted from a stunningly simple recipe from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything. But I made some changes, not only in proportions, but mostly in completely autumn-izing the blondie with the inclusion of a big dose of grated butternut squash (which technically makes these treats good for you, hello beta-carotene), pecans, dried cranberries, and some warm spices. I was surprised at how tasty these were – barely sweet, with a great chewy yet slightly cakey texture that I think blondies are supposed to have, and remarkably redolent of the season.

Blondies all wrapped up - my contribution to the BK Swappers Holiday Swap
Photo credit: Scott Nyerges

Even if you don’t fancy yourself a baker, these are extraordinarily easy to make. The hardest thing about this was grating the squash – not that it was difficult by any means. You can easily double this recipe and bake it in a 9” x 13” pan; increase the baking time to 28-30 minutes.

If you’re still in need of a Thanksgiving dessert but are not up to baking a pie, give these a shot. They’re quick, easy, delicious, and totally Thanksgiving-worthy.


Butternut Blondies
makes 1 8” square pan - how many pieces it ends up as is completely up to you

6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (you can substitute all-purpose flour)
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
2/3 cup turbinado sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup finely grated butternut squash (5 ½ ounces, from about 6 ounces unpeeled squash)
½ cup toasted chopped pecans
½ cup dried cranberries, chopped


Heat oven to 350°F.  Grease an 8-inch square baking pan with butter and set aside.

Add the butter to a large microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high heat for 1 minute, stopping halfway through to swirl the bowl. Set the bowl aside to let the butter cool. [If you want, you can brown the butter, either on the stovetop or in the microwave, but in the interest of ease and time, I just melted the butter. I haven’t tried this recipe with brown butter, but I have a feeling it would be awesome.]

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger; set aside.

Add the sugar, egg, and vanilla to the melted butter and whisk well to combine. Add the butternut squash and mix well to combine.

Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and whisk to just combine. Add the pecans and cranberries and use a spatula to combine.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs attached, 20-22 minutes. [It’s better to underbake these a bit – you want them to be more chewy than cakey.] Let the blondies fully cool in the pan, then turn them out and cut into 16-25 squares.
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