October 10, 2017

Maple Walnut Blondies

One of the most underrated Wisconsin products is the maple syrup. Yes, we have beer and cheese (and cheese curds) and bratwurst and buckets of ice cream, but are any of those acceptable breakfast foods? Ok, I'm in college so some of those are considered breakfast BUT nothing is better than some good maple syrup on your morning pancakes or French toast or waffles or what have you. My problem is that I think of all of those tasty breakfast foods, buy a big jug of local maple syrup at the farmers' market, and end up with tons left over. 

Since the end of the farmers' market is approaching and I have a tendency to impulse-buy things this may or may not be a particularly relevant problem right now. That's why I look for recipes that use maple syrup as a main ingredient and star flavor; I get my fill of maple and get to have more than just pancakes. These blondies are packed with maple flavor plus some addictive maple-candied walnuts, making them the perfect fall twist on one of my favorite desserts.

The first step is to make the candied walnuts. Typically, you heat sugar in a big skillet until it reaches a certain temperature and add your toasted nuts and cool it quickly. However, as I've learned in my candy science class over the past few weeks, this is much harder than it looks. I much prefer this cheat method, which entails tossing the nuts in the maple syrup and roasting until fragrant. Once cool, this yields reasonably crunchy bits of candied walnuts with a hint of maple flavor. It doesn't matter if they're not perfectly crisp since they'll be baked into the bars anyway. Of course, if you want to skip the candying stage and just toss in some toasted nuts it will still taste delicious.

The blondie batter is pretty simple as well; you don't even need a mixer. I start with brown sugar instead of regular granulated for that subtle molasses flavor and extra color. That gets whisked together with some melted butter since there's no need to incorporate air by beating softened butter and sugar together. These bars are dense and proud. From there, I add the eggs, more maple syrup, and vanilla then stir in the dry ingredients. Lastly, the walnuts are crumbled and folded in. Sometimes I reserve a handful for garnish, too. Ok, I lied. They're for snacking, so make extra.

The main tip I have for these bars is using good maple syrup. In case you weren't aware, the cheap bottles are called pancake syrup (or something similar) instead of maple syrup for a reason. If it contains corn syrup and flavorings instead of the real stuff, it legally can't be called maple syrup. These are the useful facts we learn in food science classes. It's worth the splurge on actual maple syrup, especially from the great state of Wisconsin. Midwest is best, y'all.

1 Cup Chopped Walnuts
3/4 Cup Maple Syrup
1 Stick Butter, Melted
1 Cup Brown Sugar
2 Eggs
2 tsp Vanilla
2 1/4 Cups Flour
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt

Heat oven to 375F and line a baking tray with parchment. Line a 9x13" pan with parchment.

Toss the walnuts with ¼ cup maple syrup and a pinch of salt. Spread into an even layer on the cookie tray and roast in the oven for 10 minutes or until golden and fragrant. Set aside to cool and break into small pieces.

Reduce the oven temperature to 350F.

Whisk the butter and brown sugar together. Add the eggs, remaining maple syrup, and vanilla. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and remaining salt together, then stir into the batter. Fold in the walnuts.

Spread the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until cooked through.

Makes 16
Recipe Adapted from Something Swanky

No comments:

Post a Comment