pine nut blondies

 
Pine nuts in dessert. Yep. For some reason, ever since I first saw this recipe on Serious Eats, the idea stuck in my head. I almost made them a week ago, but finals put a crimp in those plans and all other blogging plans. It was sad to upload these photos and realize I had two other sets of photos that I never got around to posting.
 
But now – spring break! And blondies! Chuck full of pine nuts. And a whole lot of butter and sugar. No apologies, my friends. You may be spending the week in some tropical country in swim gear, but I was in NYC and now Chicago, where spring is nothing but a cruel lie. I had an amazing time in NYC – my friend Jen can fill you in on the details – but it was snowing on Monday. Actually sticking to the ground, making it hard to read street signs, I did not pack the right shoes for this snowing.
 

So it seemed like a good time for a Southern recipe. The blondie batter looks like caramel sauce, and unsurprisingly has a strong buttery caramel taste when baked. At first, the graham cracker crust made me raise an eyebrow (as in, do we really need this?), but the crunchy contrast is delicious. Sometimes I pretend things are healthy or have redeeming nutritional value. This has over two sticks of butter and a cup of pine nuts. And I don't even care.

pine nut blondies
Adapted from Serious Eats, via Around the Southern Table

Notes: Pine nuts can go bad quickly. To keep them fresh, store them in the freezer! Careful with adding the eggs: let the brown sugar mixture cool a bit, or you'll end up with scrambled eggs.

1 1/4 cups graham crackers, ground (about 1 sleeve of crackers)
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 cups light brown sugar, firmly packed
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
3 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup pine nuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a 9×13 pan by lining with tinfoil so that the foil hangs about two inches over the side. Grease foil or spray with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine graham crackers, melted butter, and granulated sugar, stirring until well combined. Press the mixture into the prepared pan and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt, stirring with a whisk. Set aside.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter with the brown sugar, stirring with a whisk until thoroughly combined and looking like a thick caramel. Remove from heat and let cool a few minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla, and whisk until well combined.

Add flour mixture to brown sugar-eggs mixture, and whisk until just combined. Using a spoon, stir in pine nuts. Pour the batter into the pan over the graham cracker crust and spread evenly with a spoon or spatula. Careful – the graham cracker mixture may try to follow the filling if you're too forceful!

Place pan into heated oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool 10 minutes in the pan. Using foil, lift the cooked blondies out of the pan, and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

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