May 20, 2012
"Almond Joy" Blondies... aka: coconut chocolate madness
Oh, hello, you sweet nugget of gooey coconut-chocolate delight. I love you.
Why has it taken me so long to develop this growing obsession with blondies? I don't know, but what I do know is that a.) I was really missing out, and b.) I will never go back.
These blondies were made for Mother's Day. My mother has always loved Almond Joys. She adores the sweet, flaked coconut enveloped in dark chocolate and topped with a crunchy, salty little almond. Needless to say, it must be genetic, because I go weak in the knees for them, too.
I could barely write this post because flipping through the pictures was bringing strong waves of craving. I need to finish this post quickly before I'm back in the kitchen baking a second batch.
Can we just get a close up, please?
Ugh. Too good for words.
Blondie batter is amazing because its mildly sweet flavor allows other ingredients to really shine. It was the perfect canvas for the coconut, dark chocolate, and slivered almonds. A brownie batter would have stolen the show with its pervasively rich chocolate flavor, but the blondie provides a perfectly buttery, vanilla-and-brown sugar backdrop that instead promotes the other ingredients to elevated status.
I used a high-cocoa content chocolate (72%) to lend a slightly bitter balance the sugary sweetness of the coconut. I loved the results, but feel free to use semi-sweet for a seriously sweet bar. Either way, get ready for a dessert that is rich and luscious. I took a tip from Ina Garten, who swears by under-baking blondies. She advises that the toothpick should not come up clean, but instead have a little bit of half-cooked batter on it. She's right on. It's how you end up with a creamy, moist bar instead of a crumbly one.
Enough chatter about these blondies. I'm getting seriously hungry and can't bear to look at the pictures a minute longer. So have fun, and play with this blondie batter by adding different ingredients if chocolate and coconut isn't your thing. I'm sure that whatever you create will be gone as quickly as these were! Needless to say, mom definitely liked them.
"Almond Joy" Blondies: makes 16 large, deep squares. If you like your blondies flatter, use a 9x13 pan.
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped (small hunks) 72% dark chocolate (I used Trader Joes Pound Plus)
2 cups sweetened flaked coconut, lightly toasted and cooled
For the top of the blondies:
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9x9 baking pan. Spread 2 cups coconut on a baking sheet and place in the oven, allowing to toast as oven preheats. Stir every few minutes until the coconut is lightly browned, but still soft and not crispy. Allow to cool completely.
Meanwhile, in a bowl with an electric mixer cream together the butter and the brown sugar. Beat well, until very light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each, then beat in the vanilla. In a small bowl, sift together the salt, the baking powder, and the flour. Add the flour to the butter mixture slowly beating while adding, until it is just combined. (Over-beating will lead to tough batter!)
Stir in the chocolate chunks and the 2 cups coconut. Spread the batter evenly in the pan, then drop the pan on the counter a few times to release air bubbles. Sprinkle the 1/4 cup almonds, chocolate chips, and coconut on top of the batter. Bake until it begins to just pull away from the sides of the pan, about 35-45 minutes, and a tester toothpick comes out slightly moist. Cool completely, then cut into 16 squares. Store in an airtight container.