Compromises

Black & Tan Brownies

You get the best of both worlds
Chill it out, take it slow
Then you rock out the show
You get the best of both worlds
Mix it all together
And you know that it’s the best of both worlds
On the surface, it would seem that Miley Cyrus is probably singing about her Hannah Montana persona in this song, but I’m willing to bet that there’s actually a double meaning here and Miley is actually rhapsodizing about my Black & Tan Brownies.  Very plausible.

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Blondies are delicious, and brownies are delicious, but together, their respective deliciousnesses synergize into a result that far exceeds the sum of its parts (similar to Golpalott’s Third Law – see Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince for clarification, if needed).
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So, why have one when you can have both?  So many aspects of our lives force us to choose.  This recipe does not – you can be every bit as wishy-washy as you’d like to be!

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The trickiest part in fusing brownies and blondies into a single pan of baked Eden is making batters with compatible bake times.  Fear not though, I  hunted them down for you! Thank you cards and gifts are always accepted, just FYI.
To save dishes and time, use the same mixing bowl for both batters, and don’t even bother washing it in between!  As long as you start with the light-colored blondie batter, you don’t have to worry about any visual contamination, even if the bowl isn’t scraped 100% clean prior to initiation of the brownie batter.  It’s all going to the same place anyway!

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I like to make these bars in a square baking dish, with one pure blondie column, one pure brownie column, and a hybrid column in the middle.  This way, everybody can get exactly what they want!  If you’re baking these for an Indecisives Anonymous meeting though, you might just want to swirl the whole pan.

Black & Tan Brownies

YIELD:  16 bars
Blondie batter (make this one first!):
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, super soft, but not quite melted
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon butter extract
1 yolk, lightly beaten with ~1 teaspoon of the egg white
1/2 cup A-P flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch salt
1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
Brownie batter:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, super soft, but not quite melted
1/2 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons espresso powder
1 egg, room temp
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup A-P flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
Pinch salt
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/3 cup milk chocolate candies, optional
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and have a 9″x9″ silicone baking dish (placed on a cookie sheet) at the ready [Note:  if you use a different size baking vessel, be aware that your baking times will be different — less time for larger pans, more time for smaller pans, less time for metal pans, more time for glass dishes, etc.  Also note that metal and glass pans should be lined with parchment “slings” so that you can easily remove the baked product for complete cooling].
  1.  Make the blondie batter:  In a medium-sized mixing bowl, use a rubber spatula to repeatedly smoosh the super soft butter against the side of the bowl until it is totally smooth.  Add brown sugar, and beat with a whisk until thoroughly combined.  Add vanilla & butter extracts and beaten egg (remember, it’s not a full egg!); whisk until combined.  Sift flour, baking soda, and salt into the bowl, and fold in with the rubber spatula until just a few flour streaks remain. Quickly fold in mini chocolate chips.  Use the rubber spatula to scrape all of the batter into one side of your baking dish.
  2. Make the brownie batter:  In the same bowl you made the blondies in (no need to wash it out), smoosh out the butter again, just like you did for the brownies.  Whisk in the oil, granulated sugar, and espresso powder, until totally smooth.  Whisk in egg and vanilla extract.  Sift flour, cocoa powder, and salt into the bowl, and gently fold together until only a few streaks of powder remain.  Quickly fold in walnuts & candies, then scrape batter into the other half of the baking dish.
Use a rubber spatula to smooth the batters (use one spatula side to spread the blondies and the other for the brownies) evenly into the pan, leaving a miniscule space between the two.  Use a toothpick to swirl the interface of the two batters into a decorative pattern.  Bake 20-25 minutes (for silicone pan), removing when edges look dry & set, and the middle area has only just started to form tiny microcracks on the surface.  Place pan on a wire cooling rack.  Allow to cool in pan for 20 minutes, then carefully unmold for complete cooling on wire rack (if you cannot unmold them without breaking them, just continue to cool in the pan until you can safely unmold).  Allow to cool completely before cutting — I normally stick the whole uncut blondie/brownie mass in the fridge for an hour prior to cutting.
Store in airtight containers, with cut sides in contact with each other to prevent drying, in fridge or at room temp (whichever you prefer — I like cold!) for up to 4 days.

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