Caramelized white chocolate and almond blondies are anything but boring. Think buttery, rich, nutty bars that are satisfyingly chewy and perfect for sharing (or not).
This recipe was originally published on December 4, 2018. It has been updated with new photos and content. Enjoy!
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 be 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!
Caramelized White Chocolate and Almond Blondies
So now that you know all about my childhood identity crisis, let’s talk about something exceedingly more fun and definitely more delicious. What are blondies anyway? Think of them like a brownie but without all the chocolate. BUT WAIT! Don’t run away just yet! I realize that to die hard chocolate lovers like myself, the idea of making a sweet treat without the magical stuff is downright blasphemous. But hold up for one, maybe two minutes, and I think I can sway you to the lighter side of things.
First of all, chocolate is not the ONLY thing that brownies have going for them. I’d argue that a brownie without the fudgy, chewy centers, and addictive corner pieces are maybe not even worth the calories. A brownie AND a blondie are at least 50% about texture after all, and these blondies have that whole sink in your teeth, fudgy as hell thing down pat. But obviously flavor is still a big factor in the success of any good dessert. And while we’re out one deep, dark chocolate component, we’ve replaced it with nutty brown butter, toasty almonds, and caramelized white chocolate – which if you’ve never had it is a revelation of toffee, butterscotchy flavor that could make a true believer out of even the most stubborn of white chocolate haters.
What You Need to Make Caramelized White Chocolate Blondies
These ingredients are pretty standard, straightforward, and can be found at pretty much any grocery store, nationwide.
- White chocolate. You won’t need a ton (one 3.5 ounce bar to be precise) but you do want to make sure that whatever you’re buying is labeled as actual “white chocolate” and not “white baking chips, baking bar, or morsels”.
- Dark brown sugar. This is the key to a fudgy, chewy blondie. The extra molasses in the dark brown sugar also gives our blondies that deep, caramelized flavor.
- Butter. Always fresh, and always unsalted. If you buy butter in bulk like me, just chuck anything you won’t use within a week or so into the freezer, where it’s less likely to absorb nasty fridge odors.
- Eggs. If you can remember, bring these out a couple hours ahead of time, as room temperature eggs blend much more easily into thick batters like this one. If you forget, just pop your chilly eggs into a bowl of very warm water for about ten minutes. Then proceed with the recipe.
- Sliced almonds. I HIGHLY recommend toasting these separately, because a toasted nut is immensely more flavorful than its pale counterpart. But if you can’t be bothered, it’s OK. The blondies will still be bonkers good.
- Coarse sugar. This is completely optional, but I really love it as a finishing touch. Just a light dusting, right before the blondies meet the oven gives you a crackly, shiny, golden, and sugary crust that just takes these to the next level.
How to Make Caramelized White Chocolate and Almond Blondies
I’m going to break this down in two parts. The blondies themselves actually come together pretty quickly, but caramelizing white chocolate is something I’m betting not a ton of you have done before, and even though it’s criminally easy, a brief primer never hurt anyone.
How to Caramelize White Chocolate
- Start with good quality white chocolate (at least 30% cocoa butter).
- Break it into small pieces and spread into one layer on a small, rimmed baking sheet
- Place into a preheated 300° F oven
- Let it melt for about ten minutes. Then remove from the oven and using an offset or rubber spatula, spread the chocolate out into one even layer.
- Return to the oven for another ten minutes and repeat this process3-4 more times or until the chocolate is a deep, caramel color (a couple shades darker than peanut butter)
- Let the chocolate cool (I throw mine into the freezer), then break into 1/2 inch pieces and store in a covered container in the fridge until ready to use.
Things to look out for while caramelizing white chocolate:
- If your white chocolate begins to darken very quickly, turn your oven down about 15 degrees – some ovens run hotter than others, and this should be a slow and gentle process.
- The chocolate will be difficult to smooth out at first and may even become chalky or grainy. That’s totally normal. Just keep moving it around (use a little elbow grease) and it will eventually slacken out and become melty and shiny. The more you work it, the glossier it will become.
- The edges of the pan will be much hotter than the center, so for even caramelization try to keep the chocolate in an even layer, closer to the center of the pan.
- You can totally make this ahead of time. Just stash the broken pieces of caramelized white chocolate in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.
How to Make Caramelized White Chocolate and Almond Blondies
Now that we’ve given our a white chocolate a little tan, let’s assemble these things and get to eating!
- Start by browning your butter in a heavy bottomed sauce pan. This takes about five minutes from start to finish but should NOT be skipped, as the flavor is beyond compare. You can find step by step directions on how to brown butter here, but it’s basically about heating the butter until it melts, foams up, and eventually browns. Keep an eye on it, swirl or stir the butter frequently, and use a pan with a light colored surface so it’s easier to see the color change. Once the butter is a dark, walnutty brown, take it off the heat immediately.
- Let your brown butter cool a bit – we want it warm, but not ripping hot. I usually do this by chucking the whole pot into the freezer for about 5 minutes. Then build the blondie batter right in that same pot. Whisk in your brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla until you have a smooth mixture. Then add the remaining ingredients, being mindful to sprinkle the baking soda, baking powder, and salt more or less evenly over the top of the flour.
- Use a spatula to bring the dough together. It will be very thick, but will come together – I promise.
- Pat the batter evenly into a parchment lined 8×8 baking pan, sprinkle with coarse sugar, and bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 40-50 minutes, or until the top is set and shiny.
- Let cool at least 30 minutes in the pan before cutting and serving.
Tips for Baking Caramelized White Chocolate Blondies
This recipe combines something super simple (blondie batter that you make all in one pot) with something a little on the fancy side (browning butter and caramelizing white chocolate). But trust me, the effort is so worth the end result. But if you’re concerned even a little – let’s walk through some tips to help you along the way.
- Preheat your oven. This is ALWAYS the first step to any baking recipe. Nothing is worse than whipping up a beautiful batter only to have it sit on the counter until the oven comes up to temp.
- Use a good quality white chocolate. No, you don’t have to break the bank for this, but opt for something at the grocery store that comes in bar form rather than chips or wafers.
- Don’t use parchment paper or cooking spray when you caramelize the white chocolate. That stuff just gets in the way, and trust me, once the chocolate has hardened it will release from the pan easily.
- Use a sturdy whisk and spatula to bring the batter together. It is VERY thick and will require a bit of elbow grease.
- Try not to over bake. The fudgy nature of a blondie (or any bar dessert for that matter) is highly dependent on how well it’s baked. These will continue to firm up as they sit, so I’d err on the side of a little under rather than a little over. If you do let these go a minute or two too long though, don’t fret. A 20 second blast in the microwave will help bring any blondie back to its chewy, jammy, fudgy self in no time.
- I personally think they get even denser and chewier in the fridge (if they’re not over baked that is) so that’s where I keep mine.
How to Serve Caramelized White Chocolate and Almond Blondies
With a tall glass of milk, or a hot cup of coffee, or perhaps just solo, standing over the kitchen sink, at 2 AM. No judgement here – blondies are delicious pretty much any way you slice em.
But if you’re looking to pair these with some other sugary goodies perfect for say, an epic dessert spread to wow everyone at your next holiday party, then check these out:
- Slice and Bake Chocolate Shortbread
- Cranberry Cornmeal Skillet Cake
- Salted Crispy Peanut Butter Bars
- Vanilla Buttermilk Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
Happy almost holidays!
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: 60 Minutes
- Cook Time: 50 Minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
- Yield: 16 Blondies 1x
- 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% cocoa butter)
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, lightly toasted
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 40-45 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.
Use a good quality white chocolate (with at least 30% cocoa butter). Make sure the packaging actually says “white chocolate” as opposed to white baking chips or white baking bar.
Don’t use parchment paper or cooking spray when you caramelize the white chocolate. That stuff just gets in the way, and trust me, once the chocolate has hardened it will release from the pan easily.
Use a sturdy whisk and spatula to bring the batter together. It is VERY thick and will require a bit of elbow grease.
Try not to over bake. The fudgy nature of a blondie (or any bar dessert for that matter) is highly dependent on how well it’s baked. These will continue to firm up as they sit, so I’d err on the side of a little under rather than a little over. If you do let these go a minute or two too long though, don’t fret. A 20 second blast in the microwave will help bring any blondie back to its chewy, jammy, fudgy self in no time.
Store these in the fridge. I personally think they get even denser and chewier in the fridge (if they’re not over baked that is) so that’s where I keep mine.
Keywords: caramelized white chocolate, blondies, unique desserts