Recipe Review

I Tried Sarah Kieffer’s “Jazzed-Up” Blondie Recipe (It’s Packed with Brown Butter and Chocolate)

updated Mar 2, 2021
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Credit: oto: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

If you’ve ever pan-banged your way to perfectly rippled, crisp-chewy cookies, you have Sarah Kieffer to thank. Kieffer is the baker behind the pan-banging cookie sensation, the blogger behind The Vanilla Bean Blog, and the author of the cookbook 100 Cookies (which is filled with brownies and bar cookies) so I knew she’d have something to say about blondies. In fact, within minutes of polling Kitchn editors for their favorite blondie recipes, Food Editor Meghan Splawn responded with a link to Kieffer’s Brown Butter Blondie recipe. Do they have what it takes to beat out the rest? I went to the kitchen to find out.

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

How to Make Sarah Kieffer’s Brown Butter Blondies

Begin by whisking flour and baking powder together, then set aside. Melt unsalted butter over low heat until the milk solids brown and the aroma is toasty and nutty. Remove the pot from the stovetop and stir in granulated sugar, light brown sugar, vanilla extract, and salt. Set the pot to the side to cool to room temperature, then whisk in a pair of large eggs plus 4 egg yolks. Combine the wet and dry ingredients, stirring just until combined, then fold in chopped, toasted pecans, chopped bittersweet chocolate, and semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Transfer the batter to a parchment-lined 9×13-inch baking pan and bake until the blondies are set and the top is golden. If you insert a skewer into the blondies, it should be slightly wet with a few crumbs. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack, then use the parchment to lift the blondies from the pan and cut into squares.

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

My Honest Review of Sarah Kieffer’s Blondies

This is a very good blondie recipe that takes every element to the next level. The butter isn’t just melted — it’s cooked until the milk solids turn golden and take on a nutty aroma. A combination of granulated and light brown sugar gives the bars a shiny, crackly crust and subtle caramel flavor. Instead of just adding whole eggs, the recipe calls for whisking in an extra four yolks. And rather than call for just one type of chocolate, these blondies have a combination of chopped bittersweet chocolate bars and semi-sweet chips for variation in sweetness, bitterness, and meltability.

With that said, I don’t think that the extra effort translates into a significantly better blondie. The nutty brown butter and bittersweet chocolate made it difficult for the classic butterscotch flavor to stand out — something I’m looking for in a good blondie. I do give the recipe points for being reliable and thorough, complete with detailed indicators on how long to bake the blondies depending on the desired texture. And I would absolutely make (and eat) them again! It’s just not my all-time favorite recipe — especially considering the extra work.

Credit: Patty Catalano

If You’re Making Sarah Kieffer’s Blondies, a Few Tips

  1. Use only brown sugar. Instead of using equal parts granulated and brown sugar (Kieffer specifies light brown in her book), use only brown sugar. The molasses in brown sugar will give the blondies a richer flavor and chewier texture.
  2. Consider using fewer egg yolks. Egg yolks add to the chewy texture of baked goods, but adding four extra yolks gave the blondies a distinctive eggy flavor. You’ll still get the benefit of the yolks by using two instead of four.
  3. Don’t use dark chocolate. The classic butterscotch flavor of blondies is easily overshadowed by chocolate that’s too dark or bitter. Instead, use a combination of semi-sweet chopped chocolate bars and chips.

Rating: 8/10

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

Have you made Sarah Kieffer’s Brown Butter Blondies? Tell us your thoughts!