I’m baaaack! I apologize for the extended radio silence – I moved from New York to Los Angeles and it took me a couple of minutes (okay months) to get settled. Anyway I’m now set up in my new kitchen and raring to go, so I created this delectable recipe to celebrate. Despite the heat here in sunny Southern California it is, in fact, Fall – aka the season for all things pumpkin. I’ve already done pumpkin bread and pumpkin cupcakes here on the blog so I wanted to do something different and a bit unexpected. Pie? Nah, too predictable. Cheesecake? I love me some cheesecake but it’s too heavy in this heat. Cookies? Nope, I’m not crazy about soft cookies, and pumpkin cookies are always soft. So what’s left?
Blondies, baby. Moist, chewy, fragrant blondies that walk that perfect textural line between cakey and fudgy. They’re firm on top, dense and rich in the center, and loaded with nutty brown butter, warm spices, and bits of white chocolate – it’s a sinfully delicious symphony of flavors, and accomplished without refined flours, starches, or gums. Your mouth won’t believe that these blondies are grain-free.
Don’t take my word for it though, bake up a batch of these beauties and see for yourself! The recipe is a pretty easy dump-and-mix process, but you do need to brown the butter first so I thought I’d walk you through that part.
Cut your butter into chunks (it melts faster and more evenly that way), drop it into a medium sauté pan, and set the pan over medium heat. Make sure the surface of the pan is stainless steel or a light color so you can see the changes in the butter as they happen. To ensure that your butter browns properly without scorching, you’ll have to shake/swirl the pan or whisk the butter constantly. Baker’s choice, whichever one makes you feel more comfortable.
As you’re whisking and the butter gets hot, it will start to bubble and foam. Take note of the cloudy/milky appearance of the melted butter at this stage, because that will change as you cook the milk solids. If it seems to be spattering a lot you can remove the pan from the heat for a couple of beats every 20 seconds or so to keep it in check.
The color of the butter will change and deepen to a rich yellowish gold, and you’ll notice that it starts to look less cloudy as the solids begin to brown and separate out. As soon as you see some of those tan or brown specks at the bottom of the pan, you’ll know you’re close. Keep whisking or swirling, and watch the magic happen as the solids turn brown and the butterfat becomes liquid gold.
Once a lot of the solids start to brown, turn off the heat and keep the butter moving, allowing the residual heat to finish the job. When your butter is properly and thoroughly browned, all the browned solids will settle to the bottom leaving clarified butter at the top. Now since you evaporated out about a tablespoon of water, add it back in CAREFULLY, whisking gently to incorporate it and keep the splattering to a minimum.
See that rich, golden, *clear* butterfat and those deeply browned milk solids at the bottom? That’s what you want. The foam is just bubbles from whisking in the ice water. This stuff smells AMAZING – like roasted hazelnuts. Set it aside to cool to room temperature while you proceed.
Once the butter has cooled to room temperature (or at least barely warm to the touch), add it to a large bowl or stand mixer along with the coconut sugar, and cream them together until the mixture looks like very dark, clumpy wet sand.
Now add the molasses and eggs and beat the mixture on high speed for about 2 minutes, until it’s light, fluffy, and smooth.
Beat in the pumpkin and vanilla to combine.
Add the dry ingredients and mix on medium-low speed until incorporated, then turn off the mixer and fold in the white chocolate with a spatula or spoon.
Spread that gloriously aromatic batter into your prepared pan, smooth out the top, and bake the blondies for 25-28 minutes. When they’re done they’ll be firm and golden on top, lightly browned around the perimeter, and a toothpick will come out with a few moist crumbs stuck to it.
Set the pan on a cooling rack for 15 minutes before turning them out to cool completely. I know it’s tempting to dive right in, but let them cool before cutting into squares – the center is still super moist and delicate, they need a little time to set up.
- 112g (8 Tbsp) unsalted butter
- 15 ml (1 Tbsp) ice water
- 60g (½ cup) finely ground almond flour¹
- 150g (1 ¼ cups) cassava flour²
- ⅛ tsp baking soda
- 1½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp ground cardamom
- ¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- ⅛ tsp ground clove
- ½ tsp salt
- 144g (¾ cup) coconut sugar
- 30 ml (2 Tbsp) molasses
- 2 large eggs
- 120g (½ cup) pumpkin puree
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 85g (½ cup) white chocolate chunks or chips
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a nonstick 8x8 baking pan and set aside.
- Brown the butter: In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, cook butter, shaking the pan or whisking constantly, until butter is deeply golden and fragrant, and milk solids are nutty and browned (about 5 minutes). Carefully whisk in water (it will sizzle and may bubble or spatter a bit). Set aside to cool to room temperature, whisking occasionally.
- Mix the batter: In a medium bowl, whisk together almond flour, cassava flour, baking powder, spices, and salt. Set aside.
- Using electric beaters or a stand mixer, cream together cooled brown butter with sugar until the butter is incorporated and the mixture looks like very wet (dark) sand.
- Add molasses and eggs, and beat on high speed for about 2 minutes until light, fluffy and smooth. Add pumpkin and vanilla, and beat to combine.
- Reduce speed to medium-low, add flour and spices, and mix until incorporated. Turn off mixer and use a wooden or metal spoon to fold in white chocolate.
- Spread the batter into the prepared pan and use a rubber spatula to smooth out the surface.
- Bake the blondies: Bake for 25-28 minutes or until surface is dry and cracked and beginning to brown around the edges and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it.
- Allow blondies to cool in pan on a rack for 15 minutes before turning out to cool completely.
- Serve or store: Cut into squares once cool. Blondies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for several months.
² I mostly use Ottos’ Cassava Flour these days and it’s pretty easy to find now, but Anthony’s is another good option.