Browned Butter Flavor, Loud and Clear: Brown Butter Apple Blondies

Even though it's not apple season, I've been keeping baking apples on hand -- I'm up for an apple dessert any time of the year! So with a bunch of golden delicious apples in the fridge, I decided to try the Brown Butter Apple Blondies from Sally's Baking Addiction.

Step one in the recipe is to make browned butter, which is a component of both the cake and the icing. Oddly enough, the recipe assumes that the volume of butter you start out with and the volume of browned butter you end up with will be the same -- which definitely isn't the case. Browning butter cooks off the water in the butter and reduces the volume. I didn't notice before I started that this would be a problem, so I browned two and a half sticks of butter and was a few tablespoons short of the 10 liquid ounces of browned butter required for the recipe. I decided to use the full amount of butter specified for the icing and to short the amount of butter in the blondie.

To make the blondie batter, you put the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg) into one bowl; combine the liquid ingredients (browned butter, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla in another; mix the wet into the dry; and fold in apples that have been cooked with maple syrup and cinnamon. The recipe calls for two cups of chopped apple and for me that turned out to be 280 grams. I spread the batter into a parchment-lined 9-inch by 13-inch pan to bake.
After the bars were completely cooled, I made the icing. It's a mixture of browned butter, powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla. I tasted it and it seemed a little sweet, so I also added a generous pinch of salt. I was expecting the icing to be beige (like the icing in the photos accompanying the recipe), but mine was ivory -- although you could see small brown specks in it, since I didn't strain the browned butter.

These bars were quite sweet, and I'm glad that I added some salt to the icing. Even though I tend not to like very sweet desserts, I liked these bars a lot. Most of all, I loved the strong browned butter flavor of the icing. I make a lot of baked goods using browned butter, and generally if you add browned butter into cake batter or cookie dough, it's impossible to pick out the browned butter as a distinct flavor in the finished product. But in the uncooked icing, the taste of the browned butter came through loud and clear, and it was so good.

The cinnamon-apple flavor in the bars was also nice, although softening the apples before adding them into the batter meant that they didn't have much texture in the finished product. Also, I thought that the texture of the bars could be described as something of a hybrid between a cake and a blondie -- they were not as chewy as I was expecting. Even though I enjoyed these blondies, I think I prefer the Gooey Brown Butter Blondies with Pecans from Bon App├ętit. But the browned butter icing from this recipe is bananas good -- I'm sure I can find other uses for it!

Recipe: "Brown Butter Apple Blondies" from Sally's Baking Addiction.

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