Almond Joy Blondies

Spring! It's a time of renewal and fresh starts, right? Well, I (Molly) am taking that to heart this Easter weekend. Next week, I will be moving back to Minnesota to start the next chapter in my life. No job or apartment awaits me...but I have a welcoming place to land in the meantime and some good friends waiting for me, and I will hope that spring breathes new life into job prospects as well. I am excited and terrified. Wish me luck!

Of course, this means that The Batter Thickens will once again be coming to you from two separate kitchens...but distance was one of our founding variables, and if we did it before, we can do it again! So don't expect anything to change around here. We'll still be going overboard with the frosting, obsessed with peanut butter, and delivering decadent treats for you to feast your eyes on all too often.

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But Easter isn't all about rebirth and renewal...obviously, it's also about chocolate. (What isn't?) Namely: chocolate eggs. They're so adorable I just want to eat them right up. Or put them in a bed of shredded coconut to look like a festive little nest. And then eat them up. Spoiler: every scenario ends with me eating the chocolate eggs.

Last year around this time, I made Almond Joy Cupcakes. They are one of my most popular recipes amongst my eaters! I wanted to make them again, but I didn't want to repeat myself...so I turned them into blondies instead.

I started with our favorite basic blondie recipe, which already uses some almond butter for chewy density, and added some almond extract to boost the almond factor. Then I swirled in a sweet and sticky coconut mixture, reminiscent of the center of a Mounds or Almond Joy bar. You can see the pockets of gooey coconut swirl above - mmmm.

On top went a generous - very generous, blame Audrey because she frosted them for me - smear of dark chocolate buttercream, before they were finished off with a chocolate egg nest. Decorative and delicious, nice.

These bars truly are a chewy, buttery Almond Joy bar. Maybe a little bit richer. Um, cut them small?

Happy Easter! What renewals or new beginnings will find their way into your life this spring?

- Molly

Almond Blondies

1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter

1 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

2 large eggs plus 1 egg large yolk

1/4 cup almond butter

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

heaping 1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Grease a 9×9-inch baking pan, line the pan with parchment paper and grease the parchment paper as well.  This recipe can be easily doubled and baked in a 9×13-inch pan.

In a medium saucepan, cook the butter over moderate heat until golden brown, about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and transfer the melted butter to a large bowl.  Allow to cool for about 20 minutes before proceeding.

To the large bowl with the butter, add the sugar, eggs and yolk, almond butter, vanilla extract, and salt.  Whisk until smooth and well combined.  Add the flour and baking powder and stir with a wooden spoon.  The mixture will be thick.

Spread the batter into the prepared baking pan. Prepare coconut swirl mixture.

Coconut Swirl

1/2 cup cream of coconut

1/2 cup white chocolate chips

1/4 cup butter, softened

1/4 cup sour cream

1 tsp coconut extract

1 cup shredded coconut

In a medium sauce pan heat cream of coconut over medium heat until it comes to a simmer. Reduce heat and add white chocolate chips. Stir until smooth. Add in sour cream, butter, and coconut extract and stir until smooth. Stir in shredded coconut. Spoon desired amount over blondie batter and swirl. (I used about 3/4 the mixture.)

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until cooked through and golden brown.  Insert a skewer in the center of the blondies to test the doneness.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before lifting from the pan and slicing.

Chocolate Frosting

1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 1/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 tablespoons milk

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/3 cup Ovaltine

Cream together butter, cocoa powder and salt. Butter mixture will be very thick. Turn off the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl and add powdered sugar. Turn mixer on low and mix in powdered sugar while adding milk and vanilla extract. As the sugar incorporates, raise the speed of the mixer to beat the frosting. Beat until smooth. In a 1-cup measuring glass, stir together heavy cream and Ovaltine. Turn mixer speed to medium and pour cream mixture into frosting in a slow, steady stream, until you’ve reached your desired consistency.  You may not need the full amount of Ovaltine and cream.  Spread or pipe onto cupcakes. 

Blondies adapted from Joy the Baker; coconut swirl from Simply So Good