brown butter blondies- national chocolate chip day (may 15)

Did you know this day existed?  What isn't there a holiday for?  Mmm hmm, they had to squeeze it in somewhere, so why not close to Mother's Day?  Two great celebrations in one month.

For this new-to-me holiday, I baked a bar cookie: The Blondie. Bakerella posted it as The Congo Bar. (What's up with that name?  It makes absolutely no sense to me.)  The recipe piqued my curiosity and whetted my appetite. You must take a look at her photos, which are incredibly beautiful, delectable, and luscious.  Having only made these once or twice in my life, I felt inspired to bake a batch.

Don't they look fantastic?  In this case,
however, appearances are deceiving,
and they were WAAAY too cakey.

At Christmastime, I ate a fabulous blondie, baked by The Avid Baker, who is the only woman I personally know to have tackled five cookie recipes in one night.  F-I-V-E.  I believe she was up until 3 AM.  I frantically emailed her (gotta get the post out!) and she informed me that her amazing cookie recipe is from Martha Stewart: Brown Butter Blondies with Toffee Bits.  

Now these have a better texture, with a higher butter/lower flour ratio,
but they're looking a little flat.
Was it because I cooked my Congo Bars on a rainy day and these on a perfect, dry, spring day?  I do not know.  (I think it's because I halved the recipe into an 8x8-inch pan.)

So onwards I went on my mission to finding the fabulous Blondie+ (cause it ain't all blonde here) recipe, and of course, I turned to America's Test Kitchen.  I love the Internet, because I don't need a subscription to Cook's Illustrated to get the recipe, I just have to use a search engine.

Their recipe is very, very similar to Martha Stewart's, just a little less butter, a little more flour.  Except that for the same 9x13-inch pan, MS uses 1 1/2 times the ingredients.  Here is my amalgamation of the two, with just a little bit less sugar, as those toffee bits pack in a sugary, buttery punch.

Brown Butter Blondies with Toffee and Chocolate Chips
adapted from Martha Stewart's Cookies and Cook's Illustrated

2 1/4 sticks butter, plus more for greasing the pan
2 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups packed light-brown sugar
3 large eggs
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup toffee bits
3/4 cup chocolate chips, or more, if you want all that chocolatey goodness

Preheat the oven to 350º F.  Line an 9x13-inch pan with foil.  Grease the foil.

In a skillet over medium heat, cook the butter until it becomes golden brown. Remove from heat and let it cool. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Using a whisk, combine the brown butter and sugar.  Add eggs and vanilla and mix well. Gently fold in the flour mixture.  Fold in the walnuts, toffee and chocolate chips.  Transfer into the prepared pan.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.  Do not overbake.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool.


  1. so, i did a little research for you, in case someone asks the same question you did...
    what's up with the name congo bars?

    They don't have anything to do with Africa -- the Congo region has no tradition of baked desserts such as brownies and cakes, and wheat (for flour) cannot be grown in Central Africa. In fact, most of Africa has little tradition of sweet desserts.

    The name Congo Bars is a fanciful allusion to a mythical Congo, which also inspired the famous Congo Room of Las Vegas, and even the Congo Room of Canton, Ohio. Perhaps someone thought that all of the exotic ingredients (the chocolate, the coconut) might come from Africa. In New Orleans, there is a plaza called "Congo Square" (also known as Beauregard Square and now part of Louis Armstrong Park) which, in the early 19th century, was a gathering place for both free and enslaved African-Americans who met for marketing, music-making, and dancing -- and eating this variety of brownie? Who knows?

    the pictures look great. . .i think i'll have to make some today. . .

  2. OMG...they look positively sinful....what a great tribute to chocolate chips!!
    thanks for sharing


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