Blondie vs. Blondie
Chocolate Crusted Banana Blondies adapted from The New York Times http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1014673-chocolate-crusted-banana-blondies?action=click&module=Global+Search+Recipe+Card&pgType=search&rank=10%3Fsmid%3Dfb-nytdining&smtyp=cur
Trader Joe’s Blondie Bar Baking Mix
Blondies put a smile on my face. And I think for most people they do too- along with the mouthwatering excitement of having one (or three).
Not gonna lie. My favorite blondie recipe is Trader Joe’s Blondie Bar Baking Mix. That’s right, a box mix. But don’t get all judgy Judge Judy on me. Trader Joe’s mix is definitely worth trying. It’s like a really good, soft, chocolate chip cookie, especially when it’s still warm. And because it’s so good – and ridiculously easy to make – I make no apologies about loving it and making multiple batches for my family and friends. And what’s good is good, right? Box or no box.
But then I came across The New York Times’ Chocolate Crusted Banana Blondies and I thought, “OK. The blondie game just got serious.” Reading the recipe, I thought it was a nice twist to add the banana to it. And I convinced myself it made the blondie healthy. But then reading about the Oreo crust turned this recipe up to 11. I couldn’t help but to think that Trader Joe’s mix might be bumped down to the #2 position.
I pulled out my gigantor food processor, which has been in hiding at the very bottom of my pantry. I literally had to squat and then deadlift the food processor out the pantry. Right off the bat, Trader Joe’s was winning points for ease. But then when the food processor made the Oreos into crumbs in a matter of seconds, the points for ease were virtually tied.
That was, until I went to put the Oreo crumbles into the baking pan, missed, and some ended up on the floor. Though I can’t blame that on the recipe. That was clearly human error and my klutziness making its at-least-three-times-a-day appearance.
Despite my clumsiness, Trader Joe’s box mix did win in the Easy Peasy category. With Trader Joe’s box mix I use one bowl and three ingredients. For the New York Times’ recipe, I used two bowls, the food processor, a skillet to melt the butter, whisks, spatulas, measuring spoons, and way more than three ingredients.
But what matters most is taste. And in this Battle of the Blondies I’m going to have to go with my first love, Trader Joe’s!
Like a lot of things in life, one size does not fit all. For people like me (aka “The Awesome People”) that like more of a chocolate chip cookie taste, Trader Joe’s Blondie Bar Baking Mix is for you. But if you like a deeper chocolate, buttery, almost butterscotch taste then The New York Times’ Chocolate-Crusted Banana Blondies is for you (and a little bit of me too).
Honesty, choosing either one is a great choice and you definitely won’t feel like you’ve wasted your time and taste buds. Having a choice is always good – especially when it comes to sweet things. And anything that can put a smile on your face – or on someone that you care about – is always a great thing.
- 2 ½sticks unsalted butter (1 1/4 cups), more for greasing pan
- 1 14.3-oz package Oreos (to make about 3 cups crumbs)
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus a pinch
- 2ripe bananas, mashed
- 2large eggs
- 2 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons dark rum or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used vanilla extract)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- about 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)
- Flaky sea salt, for sprinkling (optional)
- 1 full package of Mix
- 1 large egg
- 1 stick (4 oz) melted butter, slightly cooled
- Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with parchment, and grease with butter.
- Melt 1 stick of butter in a saucepan over low heat or in microwave. Put the chocolate wafer cookies in the bowl of a food processor and process to make fine crumbs. Add the light brown sugar, melted butter and a pinch of salt. Process until the mixture is the consistency of damp sand. Dump the mixture into the pan and press it into an even layer. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes, or until the surface is firm. Remove the pan and set aside.
- Reduce oven heat to 350 degrees.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, melt 12 tablespoons butter (one stick and a half), then let it cook until the foam subsides and butter turns a deep nut brown, about 5 minutes. Cool.
- In a large bowl, whisk together bananas, eggs, dark brown sugar and vanilla (or rum if using). Whisk in brown butter.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together flour and fine salt. Fold into batter along with the toasted walnuts (if using).
- Pour the mixture over the prepared crust and spread evenly. Sprinkle top with flaky salt if using.
- Transfer pan to oven and bake until the top is firm and a toothpick inserted in the center emerges with a few crumbs attached (or clean) but not wet, 45 to 55 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack; cut into 24 bars.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 8 x 8 x 2 baking pan bottom with parchment paper and lightly grease with cooking spray or butter. Or just simply spray the entire pan with cooking spray (I use Trader Joe’s coconut oil cooking spray).
- In a bowl, whisk together 1 large egg and 1 stick melted butter.
- Add full bag of mix.
- Mix until soft dough forms.
- Spread dough in pan, filling corners and leveling top.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes for soft bars and 25-28 minutes for crispy bars (I baked it for 19 minutes).