Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Cream Cheese Blondies . . . with Milk and Dark Chocolate Chips and Honey Roasted Almonds

It's a quiet, rainy Wednesday morning here in Berkley, Michigan. My 13 year old son's skateboarding camp has been cancelled for the day, so I let him sleep in. He just rolled out of bed, at his leisure. (I guess skateboarders don't ever like to skate in the rain--something about ruining the "grip tape," according to my little resident expert.) My older son, the 16 year old, is still snoozing. He's a lifeguard at an outdoor pool and I have a feeling, what with the soggy weather, that the pool will be closed. Only a couple more weeks until school starts again for the boys, and for me.

I'm looking forward to it because, though I enjoy and appreciate the lack of structure that summer brings, I also think that I function better overall when I'm adhering to a more predictable schedule. I just start to feel more productive and on top of things once autumn rolls around again. Something about fall, here in Michigan, is particularly appealing. Aside from the cooler temperature, the air is just different somehow and so is the daylight. Is it like that everywhere? I don't know . . .

It seems to be ingrained for a lot of adults that autumn still signals the beginning of a new year, don't you think? We were so well indoctrinated to think that way as kids. Makes a person want to go out and buy a whole box of those wonderful, orangy-yellow, Ticonderoga pencils, doesn't it? I love those--they just smell like childhood. And a couple of big spiral-bound notebooks. Maybe a new Pink Pearl eraser too. There's something alluring about the idea of a bright blank page in front of you, with lots of freshly sharpened pencils close at hand, and that cute, rubbery, pink eraser standing by.
One thing I don't like about school starting? Packing lunches. Which somehow or other brings me to the blondies . . .

There are loads of recipes out there for blondies with just about every variation you can think of. And yet, when I was attempting to choose one such recipe yesterday, I couldn't locate what I felt was the perfect specimen. Aside from all the potential "add-ins" (nuts, chips, dried fruit, coconut, various flavorings, even enhancements like rum, etc.) I was more concerned with the dough itself. Some doughs require chemical leavening and some don't, while some contain eggs and others don't. Some require melted butter and some solid butter or shortening. And so on and so forth. Sitting amidst a small field of open cookbooks, I finally decided I'd better just devise my own recipe, so that's what I did.

And, lo and behold, it was good.

Cream Cheese Blondies with Milk and Dark Chocolate Chips, and Honey Roasted Almonds

(For a printable version of this recipe, click here!)

10 Tbsp. of unsalted butter, softened (one stick, plus 2 Tbsp.)
3 oz. of cream cheese, room temperature
2 cups light brown sugar, firmly packed
3 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups All Purpose flour (I used unbleached)
3/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup milk chocolate chips
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips (bittersweet)
3/4 cup honey-roasted almonds, coarsely chopped

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line two 8" x 8" pans with parchment so it overhangs two opposite sides (you'll lift out the cooled blondies by those "handles") . Spray the parchment and the two bare sides of the pans with baking spray, or grease the parchment and the two bare sides of the

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixer bowl, using the paddle attachment, on medium-low speed, cream the butter, cream cheese, and brown sugar until very well blended and smooth; about two minutes or so. Scrape the bowl and paddle.

Add in the eggs and vanilla extract, beating on medium until well combined and smooth.

Add in the flour mixture gradually on lowest speed, beating just until blended.

Add in the chocolate chips and nuts on lowest speed just until mixed in.

Divide the dough evenly between the two pans and smooth it out with a spatula.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Check the blondies early to make sure they're not overbrowning; cover lightly with foil if they are. Remove them from oven when they're golden all over the top and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool the blondies in their pans on a rack for about 20 minutes. Lift them out of the pans using the parchment handles, and cool them further, still on the paper, on the rack.

When they're completely cool, cut them with a really sharp knife.

Okay, now taste one of the blondies, and be happy.

(If you'd like to comment on this post or to read any existing comments, click on the purple COMMENTS below!)


Keith said...

Jane - I will be making these this weekend! They sound soooo good. Do you think I could use pecans in place of the Almonds?


Jane said...

Hi Keith-- I'm sure you could use chopped pecans, walnuts, or if you're going the honey-roasted route, peanuts instead of almonds. I hope you like them! Let me know how yours turn out, okay?

:) Jane

Melissa said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog. These Cream Cheese Blondies are to die for!

Cookie said...

I love blondies but I've never had them with cream cheese inside. They look amazing! I think we actually have some honey roasted almonds laying around somewhere and I can't wait to make these!

Jane said...

Hi Melissa --
Thanks for visiting! Yep, they are indeed to die for(iguratively speaking, of course)! ;)

Hi Cookie --
I think the addition of a little cream cheese in this kind of dough adds a bit of zing to the flavor, and I also think that it affects the texture in a nice way. That's my unscientific observation. I also have a chocolate chip cookie recipe in the blog ("Failsafe Chocolate Chip Cookies") that uses a small amount of cream cheese to the same effect. (You're in such good shape, based on your blog photos and profile info, you could eat the whole pan if you wanted to with no scary repercussions! :)


Donalyn said...

I love blondies and bar cookies - will give a try for sure. Gave this a Stumble as well!

Jane said...

Hi Donalyn, Thanks very much! I just visited your blog and it's really beautiful. Your photos are wonderful. (I see you've got a fabulous new Nikon camera; I was reading about it and I am completely and utterly green with envy!) ;)

I've bookmarked your site and I look forward to returning to it!


NikiTheo said...

These look amazingly fantastic! I'm going to have to try them soon! Thanks!

HanaĆ¢ said...

I'm normally not a big blondie fan but these look chewy and amazing. I'm very much intrigued by your use of cream cheese. I have to admit, I'm a kitchen-scale addict. Did you happen to weigh your ingredients (especially the flour) or could you otherwise provide how you measured the flour (dip & sweep vs lightly spooned)?

I found your blog via Heather's Scootabaker blog and I'm glad I did. I'll be coming back. Good luck with your culinary education.

Jane said...

Hi Hanaa, About the flour, no I didn't weigh it for this recipe (though I do have a nice digital food scale that I am coming to use more regularly and truly love!). i usually just fluff up the flour in its container first, with a fork, then I use a really big round spoon to scoop it out gently and put it into my measuring cup, which I then level off with the side of a knife. I tend to be pretty careful this way when I'm making something like a cake, but I'm not quite so fanatic if I'm throwing something together that I've made before and that's more forgiving. I didn't weigh the cream cheese either, but just estimated 3 oz. based on a full 8 oz. brick. If I were dealing with a partial brick, I might actually do the weighing to make sure my amount was accurate (especially if I were making something skittish like a special cheesecake, etc.). Yes, these blondies are indeed chewy and hard to resist!

Thanks very much,

HanaĆ¢ said...

Thanks Jane. I can't wait to make them! I have a potluck coming up in 3 weeks (you can't imagine how much agony I go through to pick something to bring - obviously everyone expects dessert from me - but there are so many good recipes to choose from) :o)

Tracy said...

Jane- Do you think these could be done in a 9x13 instead of the 2 8x8s? Thanks!

Jane said...

Hi Tracy -- I assume that would work with no problems. I figure it would make the blondies a little bit thicker, but there's nothing wrong with that! And I figure they'd need to bake slightly longer to compensate.