Squidgy For Sure: Banana Blondies

I recently got a copy of Short and Sweet by Dan Lepard. I've seen his baking column in The Guardian online and the cookbook received rave reviews on Amazon. (I should clarify -- I purchased the British version of the book from amazon.co.uk -- apparently the American version converted all of the ingredient weights to volume, which is a senseless act I can barely fathom. At a minimum, the American version could have listed both weights and volumes.) For my first recipe from the book I decided to try the "Banana Blondies," which are filled with chopped bananas, white chocolate, and bits of nut toffee. The recipe is written to be baked in a 8-inch square pan, but I doubled it and baked it in a 9-inch by 13-inch pan.

The recipe includes a homemade Brazil nut toffee, but I never keep Brazil nuts on hand, so I used hazelnuts instead. I heated sugar and water in a pan until it was a deep golden brown caramel; added the chopped nuts; poured the mixture onto a parchment-lined pan; let it cool; and chopped it in the food processor to get small pieces about the size of coarse sand.

Once the toffee is prepared, the bars come together quickly. You melt white chocolate (I used Cacao Barry Zéphyr) with butter; add sugar, egg, chopped bananas, and vanilla; and fold in flour, baking powder, and the chopped toffee. I poured the batter into a parchment-lined pan to bake. The recipe says to bake the bars until they are golden on top and "wobbly" set.
The bars cut cleanly but they were quite damp inside; I believe the British term that best describes it is "squidgy." I was not a fan of the texture, which was so wet it seemed like it was bordering on undercooked -- but I think this is the way the bars were supposed to be, given the direction to take them out of the oven when still slightly wobbly. The bars were also very rich and quite sweet from the white chocolate, and I think they could have used more banana flavor. I also think they would have been improved with some coarsely chopped nuts in the batter, to help given them a little texture. I couldn't taste the hazelnuts at all, but that wasn't surprising since I chopped the toffee so fine.

My tasters liked these blondies, but I wouldn't make them again. Still, I am definitely looking forward to trying more recipes from Dan Lepard's book.

Recipe: "Banana Blondies" from Short and Sweet by Dan Lepard. A slightly different version of the recipe (with more sugar in the toffee and slightly less flour in the bars) is available here from The Guardian.