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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Peanut Butter Blondies

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Do you know what I've realized since being here in New York? Food is expensive. I don't just mean eating out, although that can be outrageous in this city. I'm really talking about groceries. It's really putting me in a bind. I love to buy the freshest, best quality ingredients and foodstuffs I can find, usually organic, but these sky-high price tags are making me feel a little guilty about splurging on that Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract or that carton of local, organic milk.

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Instead, I keep finding myself reaching to the bottom shelves for store brand peanut butter and the sale cereal. While there is certainly nothing wrong with bargains and deal-hunting, I do think that certain things are worth spending the extra money on. Good, fresh fruit just can't be beat. And as for chocolate, well a high quality chocolate can make all the difference in a batch of brownies or a chocolate pot de creme.

Luckily, with the help of the Serious Eats peanut butter taste test, I was able to find a peanut butter that was cheap and tasty. I usually buy the Sucker's natural peanut butter, but I went with the recommendations of my fellow Serious Eaters and bought Skippy. It worked beautifully. The peanut butter didn't taste fake, and it didn't leave a strange aftertaste, as some of the more processed brands can from time to time. It blended easily and quickly with the melted butter and sugar, making this a simple as well as addictive recipe.

The blondies were rich and dense. And perfectly peanut-y. I think the almond extract, which I added on a whim, really brought out its nuttiness. Because they are so rich, it's nice to have a glass of cold milk nearby...so that you can have another one!



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Peanut Butter Blondies
Makes one dozen blondies for very hungry eaters

1 stick, 8 tablespoons, butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 cup smooth peanut butter (go for it! buy the Skippy!)
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350. Grease a 9-by-13-inch pan. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and brown sugar together until smooth. Remove from the heat and add peanut butter. Whisk in the eggs, vanilla extract, and almond extract. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl. Slowly stir the flour into the peanut butter mixture. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until they are firm and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Try to be patient enough to let them cool, as the flavor becomes more robust when they are cool.

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