This recipe comes from Matt Ratliff, the super-talented Executive Pastry Chef at The Everglades Club in Palm Beach. Though Matt spends most of his time making high-end desserts for a discerning membership, he also knows how to make some killer home-style treats, such as these butterscotch-pecan blondies. According to Matt, “There are times when I really need a brownie, but I’m not in the mood for chocolate. That’s when I want an ultra-rich dessert, without having it be over-complicated, and this recipe is just the ticket. Butterscotch Blondies are like a warm hug from grandma – they are pure comfort, and will leave you with a sense of peace and calm. These salty sweet goodies are packed with flavor, and sweet butterscotch is a great foil for the rich flavor of white chocolate. The butterscotch extract is optional – most of the flavor comes from the dark brown sugar and salt – but it will bump up the flavor a little.”
- 2 ½ cups (240 grams) pecans, coarsely chopped
- 2 ¼ cups (298 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon (5 grams) baking powder
- 12 ¾ tablespoons (180 grams) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
- 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (455 grams) firmly packed dark brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon natural butterscotch extract (available here, but this is optional)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 ½ large (121 grams) eggs (note: to measure ½ egg, break egg into a small bowl, whisk to break up, then measure out 1 ½ tablespoons/25 grams)
White Chocolate Vanilla Ganache Topping:
- 11 ½ ounces (328 grams) white chocolate (preferably Valrhona Ivoire 35%), chopped
- ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons (146 grams) heavy cream
- Seeds from ½ vanilla bean or ½ teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
- Reserved toasted pecans
- Maldon sea salt (or other coarse salt), for sprinkling
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with parchment paper, letting it extend 2 inches beyond the top of the long sides of the pan (so you’ll be able to lift the cooled blondies out of the pan).
- Spread the pecans on a baking sheet and bake until they are just lightly toasted and fragrant, about 8 minutes. Allow to cool.
- Sift the flour and baking powder into a medium bowl. Whisk gently to combine well; set aside.
- Melt the butter either on the stove or in the microwave, then place it in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. While mixing at medium-low speed, add the dark brown sugar, butterscotch extract, vanilla and salt and mix until blended. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Remove the bowl from the mixer stand and, using a rubber spatula, fold in the flour mixture and 1 ½ cups (150 grams) of the toasted pecans (reserve the remaining pecans for the topping). Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for about 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the blondies come out with a few moist crumbs sticking to it (the internal temperature should be 220˚F). Place the pan on a wire rack and let the blondies cool completely.
Make the topping:
- Place the white chocolate in a medium bowl.
- Put the cream in a small saucepan with the vanilla bean, if using (if not, you will add the paste or extract later), and bring to a boil. If you are using a vanilla bean, cover the pan and allow the cream to steep for 20 minutes.
- Remove the vanilla bean and reheat the cream until just beginning to bubble around the edges. Pour the hot cream over the white chocolate; allow to stand for 1 minute. Add the vanilla extract, if using. Using an immersion blender, blend the mixture until smooth and emulsified (if you don’t have an immersion blender, use a whisk). Refrigerate for 20 minutes, until slightly thickened.
- Spread the ganache over the top of the blondies. Sprinkle with the reserved pecans and some Maldon sea salt. Refrigerate the blondies until the ganache firms up, about 20 minutes.
- Remove the blondies from the pan, using the parchment paper as handles. Cut into 24 blondies.