CHEW THIS! Perfect Blondies

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The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Saturday, December 21st 2019 edition. By: Blaise Doubman

The Secret to Perfect Blondies
Blaise Doubman

I have had so many people reach out to me regarding my last column piece and I wanted to first and foremost thank all of you for your emails, calls, texts and messages. I have read them all and responded to those that I could. Grief is a hard, odd and confusing thing to go though to begin with, but when a person goes through it twice in ten days; overwhelming may be a better word to describe what it feels like. I know that my Grandma Deloris and Grandma Barbra will always be with me, but it is hard for me to imagine a future without them being in it. There are seven stages of grief. Shock and denial are first, followed by pain and guilt, anger and bargaining, depression and reflection and loneliness, the upward turn, reconstruction and working through, followed then by the last stage being acceptance and hope. I am not sure what stage I am currently in, but it does help for me to know that I am not alone in the struggle. There was an email I read that was sent through my website from Jesse, a reader. Jesse lives in New Castle and the email shared a story of grief through the eyes of parents and through the eyes of a marriage. It is emails and messages like this that allow me to not feel as alone.

Moving forward, I would love to continue sharing my family memories, stories and recipes here with all of you. Also, I would love to hear from you, my readers, regarding your family recipes and keepsake moments! Do you have a family recipe and story you would like to share? I love connecting with all of you through my Facebook and website and would love to dive in more! Reach out to me via Facebook or my contact page, and drop me a line about your favorite family recipe and I may feature you right here in my column! It would be a fun way to get to know you all better and to share delicious and memorable recipes. Speaking of delicious recipes, I am sharing with you today my foolproof recipe for blondies! I love a good chocolate brownie, but blondies may be becoming my new favorites. A lot of the times blondies can turn out dry and tasteless, but I have a solution for that. First, fill them full of pure vanilla extract and chocolate chunks, not chips. Secondly, under bake them slightly and once cooled, wrap with aluminum foil and refrigerate overnight. They will be full of flavor and so dense and fudgy you will not believe it. Make this blondie recipe your new go-to favorite!

Perfect Blondies

These need to be made in advance to get the right texture, so prepare in advance for this recipe.

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
½ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups white all-purpose flour
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chunks
2 cups chopped walnuts or pecans, optional

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 13×9-inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray containing flour.

In a large bowl beat together the softened unsalted butter with the packed light brown sugar and white granulated sugar until soft in texture and light in color. Add in the pure vanilla extract and large eggs. Beat these into the batter and then add in the baking soda and salt.

Gently fold in the white all-purpose flour. Fold in the semi-sweet chocolate chunks.

Fold in the chopped nuts, if using.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth out the top. Bake in preheated oven for exactly 30 minutes, no longer. They may appear underdone, but they are not.

Allow them to cool at room temperature. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and place them into the refrigerator overnight. When ready to serve, remove aluminum foil and cut into desired size and number of pieces. Store leftover pieces in refrigerator for up to three days.

Ask and Answer: A few people have wondered about fruit cakes for the upcoming Holiday season and wondered my thoughts on them. I do not care for the traditional fruit cakes that are often served but do have a recipe in my first cookbook, “Blaise the Baker Dessert First” for fruit cake cookies that are delicious and fabulous! They are a personal favorite of my family, can be made in advance and make enough to share with your friends and family.

CHEW THIS! Margaret’s Double Dessert Bars

Margaret’s Double Dessert Bars

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The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Saturday, August 3rd 2019 edition. By: Blaise Doubman

A Special Recipe Dedicated to Margaret Fowler
Blaise Doubman

I love developing recipes based around some of my favorite people and this is exactly what happened with this recipe and column. I have known Margaret Fowler for years! I first got acquainted with her when my Grandma Barbra was staying at Glen Oaks after some health problems, going on five years ago. I noticed a woman sitting in the dining area and she was always eating dessert. I knew immediately this was a woman after my own heart! Ha! After my first couple of encounters with her I knew that I wanted to start bringing her some of my homemade desserts. About five times a week I would bring fresh baked goods to the staff and residents at Glen Oaks and I made it a specific point to deliver things to Margaret first. We would talk and talk and overtime, talk some more. We really got to know each other, and it became the highlight of my day to go in and talk to Margaret. Skip ahead several years and we are still very good friends! After Grandma Barbra left the facility and my Grandma Deloris moved in, Margaret and I picked right back up from where we left each other.

Margaret is one of the sweetest, wisest and funniest people I have ever known. She loves visiting, talking, giving hugs and even playing with my little fur baby, Penny. My life has been enriched knowing not only Margaret, but her family as well. Her family is some of the sweetest and nicest people and it is my honor and privilege to be able to call them not just friends, but family as well. They give me advice; we talk and laugh, and they even help give me suggestions about Penny and what to do when it comes to some of her temper tantrums! Penny and her tantrums are a whole other column! Ha! My family and I love Margaret and her family and are so thankful to have them in our lives. We share so many memories and funny stories. Anyone reading may remember my earlier column dedicated to Margaret, where I shared my recipe for some of her favorite peanut butter cookies. Well, this recipe is for sure a sweet winner because it combines blondie brownies and chocolate brownies to make the perfect dessert! Shout out and special thanks to Margaret and her family for everything – I love you all!

Margaret’s Double Dessert Bars

These are best made ahead, left at room temperature to cool, then wrapped in aluminum foil and chilled over night in the refrigerator. Once ready to serve, let come to room temperature and cut. Serve leftovers at room temperature or chilled. For an even richer dessert, top each square with some vanilla bean ice cream.

For the blondies…
2 ¼ cups white all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 ¾ cups light brown sugar, firmly packed
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chunks

For the brownies…
¾ cup white all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup white granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water
2 large eggs

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on both sides. Spray the aluminum foil with non-stick baking spray.

Start by making the blondies. In a large bowl whisk together the white all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt. In another large bowl, beat together the softened unsalted butter with the firmly packed light brown sugar. Slowly beat in each large egg. Beat in the pure vanilla extract.

Gently fold in the whisked flour mixture and stir until just combined. Add in the semi-sweet chocolate chunks. Take the batter and spread evenly, smoothing out the top, into the prepared pan. You may want to use clean, wet fingers to accomplish this.

Next, make the brownies. In a large bowl whisk together the white all-purpose flour, salt and baking soda. In another large bowl combine the semi-sweet chocolate chips with the pure vanilla extract. In a saucepan combine the unsalted butter with the white granulated sugar and water. Bring this mixture to a boil over medium high heat. Once at a boil, remove and pour over the semi-sweet chocolate chips and pure vanilla extract. Stir until the mixture is glossy.

Beat in the 2 large eggs, one at a time, and then gently fold in the whisked flour mixture.

Pour the brownie batter over the blondie batter and smooth out the top, spreading evenly. Bake in preheated oven for 37 minutes, being careful not to overbake.

Once baked, remove and allow to cool at room temperature before wrapping and chilling. Serve these at room temperature.

Ask and Answer: I have been getting a few questions about if there is a difference between using large eggs, opposed to extra-large or even jumbo eggs. Yes! There is a huge difference! I always use large eggs in all my tested recipes. Different size eggs contain different amounts of liquid, therefore potentially throwing off the chemistry that is used behind a recipe. Always use whatever the recipe suggests. If the recipe doesn’t suggest a size, more than likely the recipe was written and developed using large size eggs.