Honey Pecan Blondies
Grand ambitions to whittle my cookbook collection down to a manageable size ended in a pan of golden Honey Pecan Blondies.
I am a self-aware cookbook addict and cooking magazine hoarder. Long ago, I ran out of space on my designated cookbook shelves and allowed my collection to sprawl into the living room, assuring myself that cookbooks make perfectly acceptable home décor. Our kitchen and coffee tables are constantly piled with whatever cookbooks and magazines I’ve been browsing the past three weeks, and my nightstand is exploding with old copies of Cook’s Illustrated.
Meanwhile, as you read this, I have six unpurchased cookbooks waiting in my Amazon cart, and I just signed up for a year’s subscription to Southern Living.
I love cookbooks. I find them beautiful, inspiring, and I wish that I had time to make everything in them (especially this cookbook and this one, as of late). At the same time, however, I also like being able to walk around my office without busting my shin on the past two years of Food and Wine. Plus, I’m in the midst of reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and I’m starting to think that the author can see glare right through my Kindle screen to my mess of a desk.
For two hours on a Thursday night, I sifted through every book and magazine in my collection, honestly asking myself which books I wanted to keep (almost all of them) and which magazines had a sizable number of recipes I could actually see myself making (many). After the first pass, I hadn’t made much progress, so I decided to cut out the magazine recipes I wanted and discard the rest of the issue, an act I reasoned would both save space and make the recipes more likely to be brought to life in my kitchen.
Of the dozens of pages I clipped and marked, the one that stuck most doggedly in my brain was a recipe for honey blondies from an old issue of Martha Stewart Living. Though I’m typically more of a brownie girl, the idea of baking the sweet, floral flavor of honey into a gooey cookie bar was too enticing to forget.
I did take a few liberties with Martha’s version to make the blondies healthier and was extremely pleased with the results. I swapped half of the white all-purpose flour for white whole wheat flour, a foolproof, imperceptible way to add extra fiber and protein. I also replaced half of the butter with unsweetened applesauce, trusting that the wonderfully wet and sticky honey would keep the blondies plenty moist—fortunately for my fellow chewy-gooey blondie lovers, my bet paid. The final pecan blondies were soft and plenty buttery, and the honey flavor truly shines in every bite.
My final departure from Martha was the generous handful of toasted chopped pecans I folded into the batter last minute, purely because I love honey and pecan together. Call it the baker’s liberty. Walnuts, coconut, and dark chocolate I suspect would all be scrumptious additions too.
My cookbooks still don’t fit on their assigned shelves, but progress has been made. A few more pans of these honey pecan blondies, and I might even find the motivation to clean out my desk.
I better bake a double batch.
Honey Pecan Blondies
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1/3 cup honey
- 3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
- 1 large egg — lightly beaten, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup toasted chopped pecans
- Place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan, then line with parchment paper, allowing the paper to overhang the edge on two sides. Grease and flour the pan, then tap out any excess flour. Set aside.
- Melt butter, applesauce, and honey in a saucepan. Stir in the brown sugar, then transfer to a mixing bowl. Stir in the egg and vanilla extract until smooth, then the white whole wheat flour, all purpose flour, and salt, until just combined. Let the batter cool 20 minutes. Stir in the chopped pecans, then transfer the batter to the prepared pan, smoothing the top and spreading the batter as evenly as you can.
- Bake the pecan blondies until the edges are browned and the center is set, 24 to 28 minutes. Set the pan on a wire rack to cool completely, then use the parchment to lift blondies out of pan. Cut into squares and serve.
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