I think I’ve jinxed us.
I remembering thinking to myself the other week, “Wow, none of us really get sick all that often. That’s kind of nice.” And then, suddenly, it was a whirlwind of illness. First my mom, then me, then my husband, then my dad, then my brother (and probably a few more people who came in contact with any of us and inadvertently caught the nasty bug, and to whom I sincerely apologize).
Thankfully my daughter was spared, and I thought to myself, “Wow, thank goodness Avery was spared from this horrible virus. That’s kind of nice.”
And she continued to be so. But then last week, she caught something else — teething. Or a really horrible cold. It’s impossible to know the culprit sometimes, but in either case, we’ve had a very sad and sick little one around the house the past few days.
I tried to take her for a walk — maybe some fresh air would do her good. It didn’t. I tried to take her to Target to look at something other than the walls inside our house (and maybe to get Mom a drink from Starbucks, who can say). She fussed. I tried to cuddle her and give her sips of water and milk from time to time. She resisted.
And so, I have resorted to giving it time. Time will heal her. And while we wait, we bake.
I had every intention of baking up these bars to give away as gifts of thanks to Avery’s day care providers who take care of her once a week for a few hours so I can hustle and get stuff done (kind of like this), but of course Avery came down with her sickness the morning of the last day of day care for the school year, and so I was left with the inability to not only thank those ladies for my sanity (seriously), but also with a full batch of brown buttery blondies studded with delicious jewels of dried apricots and sweet white chocolate chips.
I suppose you see no problem with the latter, and I guess I didn’t either until I ate one (for taste testing purposes, of course) and then proceeded to eat another one about five seconds after the first. And as I went to reach for a third one, I stopped myself and realized — WHOA. These babies just might be one of the best desserts I’ve ever baked. And so I promptly packed them up and shipped them off with my husband to work the next day. Because I was about to enter major dessert danger zone territory, wherein I eat an entire batch of blondies all in the same day. This has never happened, but that’s not to say it wouldn’t. And these bars may just have been my gateway, if I didn’t self-intervene.
Of course, the most dangerous part of all is that now I know how to make these, and that they are super easy to make, and they can even be made all in one bowl if you brown the butter in a saucepan and then beat/stir in the remaining ingredients directly to the saucepan (off the heat, obvi). Alternatively, you can leave the butter unbrowned and simply melt it in a bowl in the microwave, then beat/stir in the remaining ingredients, but is not browning the butter even a viable alternative? I think not.
What is a viable alternative is that you can switch the white chocolate chips for your favorite variety (dark chunks, milk chips, etc.), swap the dried apricots for another dried fruit (cherries, cranberries, etc.), add in chopped nuts or substitute the vanilla for almond extract, etc. etc. etc. The list goes on. In short, these blondies are easily adapted to suit your tastes. Just be forewarned — one bite of them and you may enter dessert danger zone territory yourself. So it’s best to make a double batch, or have it in mind to gift these to someone you love. He or she will probably love you even more once you do, just saying.
Avery might be too wee to enjoy one of these bars, but once she’s old enough to have one, I have a feeling they will be the cure for quite a lot of things. That, and time. (Though I’ll be honest — I’m impatiently waiting for the next time I’ll be making these.)
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 1 cup light brown sugar (not packed)
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- Pinch salt
- ½ cup chopped dried apricots
- ½ cup white chocolate chips
- Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with baking spray or butter; line with a sheet of parchment paper long enough to extend up both sides (so you can use them as "handles" to remove the baked bars). Grease parchment paper with baking spray or butter.
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, 5 to 8 minutes until butter foams, then turns a deep caramel color. Remove from heat and add to a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer along with brown sugar.
- Beat brown sugar and butter on medium speed 1 minute until smooth. Allow mixture to cool slightly, then add egg and vanilla; beat until combined. Add flour and salt; stir to combine. Gently stir in chopped dried apricots and white chocolate chips.
- Pour and spread batter evenly into prepared baking pan. Bake 25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely before removing from baking pan (using parchment paper "handles") and cutting into bars.