Nick Malgieri's Chocolate baking book is what it sounds like: recipes featured around chocolate. So it's with a sense of irony that I not only chose a blondie recipe to try but I deliberately omitted the chocolate chips that were in the original recipe that had qualified this as something with chocolate for the baking book. I didn't do it to be willful but I needed a blondie recipe to experiment with to make dulce de leche bars and this was in the "Still Need to Make" file ready to go. So I went.
Ever since I did the Peanut Butter Crunch Brownies and the Nutella Crunch Brownies, I've been wanting to make a dulce de leche version of the same but sans chocolate. Usually I'm sparing with dulce de leche because I normally buy it from Williams Sonoma and at $10 for a 16-ounce jar, I want it to last or at least be able to use it for more than 1 recipe. But, in my typical addiction to shopping at amazon, I found a more reasonably-priced option for dulce de leche that lets me be a little more creative with it more often. The quality of the Nestle version isn't quite as good as the Williams Sonoma jar but for the amount of baking I want to do with it, it's a reasonable alternative.
I left out the chocolate chips in this recipe only to stick to a pure blondie bar. The original recipe is below in case you don't approve of my changes and want to make the blondies as Nick Malgieri intended. If you want to go on my caloric ride, here's what I did: Make a half recipe of the below and bake in an 8 x 8" square pan. Omit the nuts and the chocolate chips. Bake until the bars are golden brown. In my oven, that took slightly under 30 minutes.
Warm up a 13.4 oz can of dulce de leche until it's liquid and spreadable (careful not to burn it; I microwaved mine for 30 seconds and that worked fine). Add 1 to 1 1/2 cups rice krispie cereal and stir to blend. How much rice krispie cereal you add is up to you. If you prefer more crunch, add more crispy cereal. If you prefer less crunch and more sweet, add less cereal. Spread over the warm blondie shortly after it comes out of the oven and let set. Eat. Workout. A lot.
Nah, in all seriousness, my little experiment didn't turn out. The rice krispies softened in the dulce de leche so there wasn't the crunch I had hoped for like there was in the chocolate brownies. It was more chewy or soggy depending on your viewpoint. Which is disappointing because I was going for crunchy. And yes, my Rice Krispies were still fresh and crispy before I added them to the dulce de leche. Bummer. On the positive side, the blondies themselves were quite good, like dark brown sugar bars. So they still made a good base for the blondie. It's just the topping that didn't turn out, at least not with the cereal. I think the rice krispies absorbed the moisture of the dulce de leche so they lost their crisp. FAIL. Back to the drawing board.
ETA: it occurred to me that what would make these blondies a success instead of a failure is to substitute coconut for the rice krispies. They would add flavor and chewiness to the dulce de leche blondie. The blondies themselves taste great and using coconut instead of rice krispies wouldn't add crunch but they wouldn't get soggy either.
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
¾ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
One 10 x 15 x 2-inch jelly roll pan, buttered and lined with buttered parchment or foil
1. Set a rack in the middle level of the oven and preheat to 350˚F.
2. In a mixing bowl stir together the flour, salt and baking soda to mix.
3. Beat the butter with the sugars until combined. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and finally the vanilla extract.
4. Stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture, then the nuts and chips.
5. Spread the batter in the prepared pan and bake for about 30 minutes, until well risen and firm to the touch. Cool in the pan on a rack.
6. After the cake is cool, invert onto a cutting board and peel away the paper. Cut into 2-inch squares.
Storage: Keep the blondies in a tin or plastic container with a tight fitting lid. Or wrap individually and freeze in a tightly closed plastic container.