I don't type out recipes in my blog (I mean, I'm an attorney, so there is that whole copyright thing), but I do try to link to websites that have reprinted recipes with the author's permission. Sometimes the recipes are reprinted in very random places. When I made Benjamina Ebuehi's Lemon, Ricotta, and Thyme Mini-Loaves, I found a copy of the recipe printed in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. But that find included a real bonus, because the Star Tribune printed several other recipes alongside it, including one for "Black Tea Blondies with Caramel Swirl" from from Tartine: A Classic Revisited. I still had some Earl Grey tea leftover after making Yossy Arefi's Chewy Earl Grey Sugar Cookies and the idea of combining tea and caramel seemed so intriguing, so I had to give the recipe a try. (And while I own the first Tartine cookbook, I don't own the Revisited one, so I wouldn't have come across this recipe otherwise.)
First I made the caramel sauce. You cook sugar, water, corn syrup, and salt until the mixture is amber; add a mixture of warm cream and vanilla bean seeds; whisk until smooth; add lemon juice; let the caramel cool briefly; and add butter. The blondie batter is simple. You combine melted butter with brown sugar, vanilla, and salt; add eggs one at a time; and mix in flour and ground Earl Grey tea leaves. The recipe says you should pour the blondie batter into a buttered glass baking dish, but I never bake in glass, so I used a parchment-lined 9-inch by 13-inch metal pan instead.
As I drizzled the caramel sauce on top of the batter I started to wonder if something was going terribly wrong. There is a photo of these bars in Imbibe magazine, and you can see small swirls of caramel neatly marbled into the blondie batter. I seemed to have way too much caramel. I debated what to do. The recipe doesn't say anything about reserving any of the caramel sauce to use later, so I assumed that I should use all of it. I used it all, but then I ended up with what was essentially a thin layer of caramel covering the entire top surface of the blondie batter. I tried to marble the caramel and batter together with a knife, but I still ended up with mostly just caramel on top. I crossed my fingers and put the pan in the oven.
A colleague (who loved the bars but had guessed that the bars were made with ginger, not black tea) asked me for the recipe so that she could make it for a cookie exchange. She had some trouble with the recipe and sent me a message afterwards that said in part: "I believe this recipe was developed by the big guy. Meaning Satan." (Emphasis in original.) On a more upbeat note, my friend's aunt (who had stashed her bars in the freezer) wrote a very kind note after I told her that the bars she was raving about were made with Earl Grey: "Earl Grey and caramel, genius, in 80 years on this earth I have never tasted the like. I will limit myself to one bite per day until it's gone."
Recipe: "Black Tea Blondies with Caramel Swirl" from Tartine: A Classic Revisited, by Elisabeth
Prueitt and and Chad Robertson, recipe available here from Imbibe magazine (without ingredient weights) or here from the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
- "Like a Citrus Snickerdoodle: Chewy Earl Grey Sugar Cookies," December 18, 2021.
- "If I Did Something Wrong, Do I Want to Be Right?: Espresso Carmelitas," August 27, 2021.