Korean-ish Brown Butter Blondies

published May 12, 2022
Alyse Whitney's Korean-ish Brown Butter Blondies Recipe

Savory, then sweet — as if a butterscotch blondie and a salted chocolate chip cookie got together … then added doenjang, a Korean fermented soybean paste, to the party.

Serves9

Makes9 bars

Prep35 minutes

Cook30 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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Breaking apart cookie bar
Credit: Photo: Andrew Bui | Food Stylist: Tyna Hoang | Prop Stylist: Casha Doemland

If you don’t have a sweet tooth, this is the dessert for you. Doenjang, a Korean fermented soybean paste — similar to Japanese miso — infuses this dough with intensely savory, nutty undertones, and then brown butter takes it home. There’s an intensely fudgy, just-barely-cooked center and deep golden-brown, crisp edges that will make people fight for the corner pieces. A little flaky sea salt in the last five minutes of cooking makes it lean slightly savory — my ideal level of sweet for any dessert. 

These blondies were inspired by two of my mom’s recipes: the cookie bars she adapted from the back of the Toll House chocolate chip bag and her butterscotch blondies (made with lots of brown sugar and butter — but no actual butterscotch). I added a few modern twists and Korean flair to represent my Korean American adoptee identity and the cultures that curated my taste buds.

Credit: Photo: Andrew Bui | Food Stylist: Tyna Hoang | Prop Stylist: Casha Doemland

Brown butter makes everything better. Semisweet chocolate wafers (or discs, pistoles, or fèves) have a deeper, richer, and less-sweet chocolate flavor than chocolate chips and melt beautifully throughout the bars, and even stay slightly melty long after they cool. The dough is accented with just a teaspoon of toasted sesame oil to make people say, “Hmm, what is that?” (Think: nutmeg in a bèchamel sauce.) And a finishing of flaky sea salt adds that final touch of savoriness. 

The paste de résistance is the doenjang, my preferred fermented soybean (even though my dog is named Miso). This was my first experiment to see if doenjang would work the same as miso in baked goods, and it blew me away with the backbone of nuttiness it brings to the bar. If you’re a first-time doenjang buyer for this recipe, make sure to read the ingredients list — some have added anchovies, seafood, garlic, onion, or some combination of savory ingredients. These bars taste better with minimal-ingredient doenjang (soybeans, water, and a fermentation agent like koji) but if you accidentally grab one with ‘chovies in it, it still will be delicious — just a tidge more savory.

CREDITS

Guest Editor and Producer: Alyse Whitney
Creative Consulting: StudioHaliBey
Co-Producer: Jessica Kane
Photographer: Andrew Bui
Food Stylist: Tyna Hoang
Prop Stylist: Casha Doemland
Illustrator: Nancy Pappas
Videographer: Joel Russo
Photo Assistant: Yasara Gunawardena
Location: Dazey Bungalow

Alyse Whitney's Korean-ish Brown Butter Blondies Recipe

Savory, then sweet — as if a butterscotch blondie and a salted chocolate chip cookie got together … then added doenjang, a Korean fermented soybean paste, to the party.

Prep time 35 minutes

Cook time 30 minutes

Makes 9 bars

Serves 9

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 2 sticks

    (8 ounces) unsalted butter

  • Cooking spray or butter, for coating the pan

  • 2 1/4 cups

    all-purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon

    baking powder

  • 1 cup

    packed light brown sugar

  • 1/2 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 2 tablespoons

    doenjang (Korean soybean paste)

  • 2 teaspoons

    vanilla extract

  • 1 teaspoon

    toasted sesame oil

  • 2

    large eggs

  • 12 ounces

    semisweet chocolate wafers or discs, such as Guittard

  • 1/8 teaspoon

    flaky salt, such as Jacobsen

  • Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, for serving (optional)

Instructions

  1. Place 2 sticks unsalted butter in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the butter foams and little brown flecks form, 6 to 9 minutes. Use a silicone spatula to scrape the butter into a medium heatproof bowl. Refrigerate until cool to the touch, about 20 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F. Cut out a 9x16-inch piece of parchment paper. Coat a 9x9-inch metal baking pan with cooking spray or butter. Press the parchment paper into the bottom and up two opposite sides of the pan to form a sling that hangs over the sides. Coat the parchment with cooking spray or butter.

  3. Place 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour and 1 teaspoon baking powder in a medium bowl and whisk to combine.

  4. Scrape the brown butter into a stand mixer (or large bowl if using an electric hand mixer or mixing by hand). Add 1 cup packed light brown sugar and 1/2 cup granulated sugar. Beat with the paddle attachment on medium speed (or beat by hand with a wooden spoon) until fluffy and slightly lightened in color, about 3 minutes.

  5. Add 2 tablespoons doenjang and beat for 1 minute. Beat in 2 large eggs one at a time, letting the first one fully incorporate before adding the second, about 30 seconds total. Beat in 2 teaspoons vanilla extract and 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil.

  6. Turn the mixer to stir or the lowest speed possible. Add the flour mixture 1/2 cup at a time, letting each batch incorporate and scraping down the sides with a silicone spatula before adding the next, until just combined. Stop the mixer. Add 12 ounces semisweet chocolate discs and fold in by hand with the spatula until evenly distributed.

  7. Pour into the baking pan. Press it in evenly with your hands or a spatula so it reaches every corner of the pan.

  8. Bake for 25 minutes. Sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon flaky salt. Bake until the edges are a deep golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 5 minutes more. Let cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes.

  9. Grasping the parchment paper sling, remove the slab from the pan to a cutting board. Cut into 9 square bars (about 3-inch by 3-inch) or however large you’d like your cookie bars to be. Eat immediately while warm so you can get the contrast of crisp edges and the chewy, just-cooked interior. Top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream if you want to indulge even more.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Cut and wrap bars individually with plastic wrap and store at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. They can also be individually frozen for up to 4 months.