I’m adopted. Growing up that meant a lot of different things to me. Some years it was like a full blown identity crisis and others I really couldn’t care less. Oddly enough I found it pretty cool to look different from the rest of my family. It made me unique and special and I still think it’s intriguing not to have a blueprint for what I’ll look like in old age. But as much as I was OK being different from my mom and dad and brother, I really struggled when it came to my appearance as it related to my peers. I grew up in suburban Virginia in the 80’s and 90’s. It was mostly great, but a melting pot of cultures (at least as it was presented to me) it was not.
The conflict came I think from being a person of color who had white parents. There were exactly zero Asian girls in my grade, and maybe a handful in my entire school. Asian role models were scarce in movies and on TV (and believe you me did I cling tightly to the Connie Chung’s and Kristi Yamaguchi’s of the world). And when people played with barbies they were, well, Barbie. So there I was – jet black hair, small flat nose, and the shortest, straightest eyelashes you ever did see. And for a while it totally sucked. I wanted to be blonde. I wanted my nose to point up at the end (I even went so far as to tape it when I slept to see if it would stay). And if we’re being honest, I still want long, fluttery eyelashes. But as I got older I learned to embrace my differences. And I’m glad I did, it made me a happier person and I think a little better too for applauding the uniqueness in myself as well as others. Also it kept me from bleaching my hair and getting a nose job, which I have no issue with in principle, but can only imagine I would have regretted miserably in practice.
So no bleach blonde hair for me (at least not for the foreseeable future), but perhaps a small treat to remember the little girl who had such a hard time coming to terms with herself as she was and to celebrate the woman she eventually became. I realize I’m basically just using the internet to pat myself on the back here, and honestly I feel a little weird about that, but the holiday season seems like as good a time as any to take stock of where you’ve been and where you’re going, and be happy for both. And if I can do that with a delicious, sweet treat in one hand, well that sounds like some excellent self-care to me! So make these caramelized white chocolate and almond blondies (you get it, right?) and have MORE fun!
And if you’re absolutely dying for more sweet treats there are plenty coming, but for now these should get you through.
Caramelized White Chocolate and Almond Blondies
These caramelized white chocolate and almond blondies are rich and nutty, chewy and dense, and incredibly addictive. You’ve been warned.
- Prep Time: 2 Hours
- Cook Time: 50 Minutes
- Total Time: 2 hours 50 minutes
- Yield: 16 Blondies
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
3.5 ounces white chocolate, broken into 1 inch pieces (use a good quality white chocolate, at least 30% cacao)
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter
1 ½ C dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 C all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp baking soda
1 C sliced almonds
1 T coarse sugar (optional)
For the caramelized white chocolate:
Preheat your oven to 300° F.
Spread the white chocolate evenly on a rimmed baking sheet (keeping it away from the edges)
Place in the oven for 40-50 minutes. Every ten minutes, remove the chocolate from the oven and using a spatula, spread and stir the chocolate. It will be a little grainy and hard to move at first, but keep working it and it will smooth out. Repeat this process 4 or 5 more times or until the chocolate is smooth and shiny and has turned a light caramel color. Then remove from the oven and let cool completely. I usually chuck mine in the freezer for a couple of hours to harden. Then using a metal spatula, scrape the chocolate off the baking sheet, breaking it into small pieces, and store in an air tight container in the fridge until ready to use.
For the blondies:
Preheat your oven to 350° F.
Grease an 8×8 pan with non-stick spray and line with a strip of parchment paper cut to fit the width of the pan. The edges of the parchment should hang over the ends of the pan like a sling, which will allow you to easily remove the blondies after they’ve baked.
Brown the butter in a medium sauce pan set over medium heat. The butter will melt first, then sizzle and create big soap-like bubbles. Then it will settle into a foam. As the foam dissipates the butter will quickly begin to brown. It’s important to swirl the pan constantly at this point and keep a close eye on it. Once the butter takes on a nutty brown color and aroma, immediately remove it from the heat. You can transfer it to a bowl to let it cool, but I prefer to put the whole sauce pan directly in the freezer (making sure it has ample room on all sides) for ten minutes, or until the butter is no longer hot to the touch (warm is fine).
Add the brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla directly to the pot with the browned butter. Whisk to combine thoroughly.
Then add the flour. Sprinkle the baking powder, salt, and baking soda evenly over the flour. Then add the sliced almonds and reserved caramelized white chocolate.
Using a spatula, mix everything just until no dry spots remain. This batter will be very thick.
Spread the batter evenly into your prepared pan.
Sprinkle the top evenly with coarse sugar and bake on the middle rack for 45-50 minutes or until the top is shiny and set.
Let cool in pan for 30 minutes. Run a paring knife around the edges and then using the parchment paper sling, remove and finish cooling on a wire rack.
If you store these in the fridge they’ll be even fudgier.
Keywords: caramelized white chocolate, blondies, unique desserts