Recipe Review

I Tried Ina Garten’s Chocolate Chunk Blondies and Have a LOT of Thoughts

updated Mar 1, 2021
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Credit: oto: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

Ina Garten holds a special place in our hearts and kitchens, and it’s easy to understand why. The Barefoot Contessa’s recipes are accessible, smart, and always satisfying — we love everything from her chocolate cake to her skillet chicken and potatoes. When it came time to choose recipes for our blondie showdown, Ina’s stood out among the rest, highlighting big chocolate chunks and a different assembly approach. I had faith that a sweet treat was waiting for me, but would it be the ultimate blondie recipe? I took to the kitchen to find out.

Credit: oto: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

How to Make Ina Garten’s Chocolate Chunk Blondies

You’ll begin by creaming softened butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric stand mixer until light and fluffy. With the mixer running on low, add the vanilla and a pair of extra-large eggs and mix until combined. Whisk or sift flour, baking soda, and salt together in a separate bowl, then slowly add to the butter mixture. Fold in the walnuts and chocolate chunks with a spatula, then spread into a greased and floured pan (Ina calls for an 8x12x2-inch pan, but I used a 9×13-inch baking pan because it’s what I had). Bake for 30 minutes, then cool completely in the pan before cutting into 12 large bars.

Credit: oto: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

My Honest Review of Ina Garten’s Chocolate Chunk Blondies

When I began my search for blondie recipes to include in this showdown, I noticed that many of the ingredient lists and instructions were almost exactly what you’d expect to see from a chocolate chip cookie. The only difference seemed to be that instead of being scooped into rounds, the batter is baked into bars. I began to wonder: Was there anything else that differentiated the two?

Out of the four recipes I tried, Ina’s was the only one to use softened — not melted — butter, and I’m now convinced that this is the step that separates blondies and bar cookies. Hers tasted so much more like a bar cookie than any of the others! Additionally, because it required creaming the butter and sugar together, Ina’s was the only recipe to require an electric mixer. While this isn’t a deal-breaker, it does take extra time to wait to soften the butter and then clean the equipment.

The main complaint I had about these blondies was the massive amount (1 1/4 pounds!) of large dark chocolate chunks. To me, a blondie must have a chewy texture and a distinct butterscotch flavor, whereas a chocolate chip bar cookie has a caramel flavor, places more emphasis on the chocolate, and has a slightly more cake-y texture. These bars may have had some butterscotch flavor, but the overwhelming amount of chocolate made it impossible to tell. These bars do not deliver the flavor or texture I was looking for in a blondie recipe, but they did make a truly decadent chocolate chunk bar cookie.

Credit: Patty Catalano

If You Make Ina Garten’s Blondies, Here Are a Few Tips

  1. Know what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for a big, bakery-style chocolate chunk bar cookie, this is the recipe for you. If you want a butterscotch blondie studded with chocolate chips, you’ll have to employ the following changes.
  2. Melt the butter. Creaming softened butter with sugar is what sets a cookie apart from a blondie. Melting the butter gives the bars a dense, chewy texture, while also eliminating the need for an electric mixer.
  3. Use large eggs. One quirk of cooking Ina Garten’s recipes is her use of extra-large eggs, while most other recipes are standardized for large eggs. If you only have large eggs on hand (as I often do), you can feel confident that these blondies will turn out just fine since Ina’s ingredient amounts are comparable to other blondie recipes.
  4. Cut back on the chocolate. These bars are packed with so much chocolate it was hard to taste anything else. To experience the nuanced flavor of vanilla and butterscotch in a blondie, use only enough chocolate to accent those flavors by reducing the amount of chocolate chunks to 8 ounces.
  5. Bake in a 9×13-inch pan. Ina bakes these blondies in a non-standard 8x12x2-inch pan, but you’ll have success using the more common 9×13-inch pan.

Rating: 5/10

Credit: oto: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

Have you tried Ina Garten’s Blondies? Tell us what you thought!