I have a slight obsession with cookbooks, mostly of the dessert variety. Since there are very few cookbooks I absolutely know without a doubt I’ll love, I often check them out from the library before buying them. It’s nice to be able to test out a few recipes first. If I find myself reluctant to return it, I’ll buy the book. A few months ago, a friend mentioned the cookbook The Boozy Baker to me. Not to sound like a lush, but alcohol in desserts? I am so there. I have a long list of cookbooks that I
need want, so I hadn’t yet purchased it. Although I wasn’t looking for it, I happened to find it at the library Saturday morning. The next day, I was making these oak bars. This one has officially been bumped to the top of the “cookbooks to buy” list.
These blondies are different than any I’ve made before. There’s only a 1/4 cup of Chardonnay in them, but don’t underestimate the flavor it provides. Oak bars don’t taste like wine. Rather, they have flavor notes similar to that of the wine. The key to getting that flavor is to use an oak aged Chardonnay (hence the name oak bars). Have you ever tasted a barrel aged wine against a stainless steel aged wine of the same variety? The difference is instantly noticeable. With Chardonnays, the oak barrels (used in fermentation, aging or both) are what provide the wine with hints of butterscotch and vanilla. I generally prefer unoaked Chardonnays, which have a fruitier flavor with a crisper finish. After trying these blondies, though, I’m rethinking that preference. They’re bold and butterscotchy, even when you get a bite without the butterscotch chips. The toasted cashews add a wonderful flavor and crunch to the chewy blondies. As you can imagine, these taste great with a glass of Chardonnay.
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup oak aged Chardonnay
1/2 cup chopped, toasted cashews
3/4 cup butterscotch chips
Preheat oven to 350º. Line an 8-inch square pan with foil, leaving a 2 inch overhang. Lightly coat with nonstick spray and set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. On low speed, beat in the egg and Chardonnay. Gradually beat in the flour mixture until just combined. Stir in the cashews and butterscotch chips.
Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the edges are golden and the center has just set. Cool completely in pan set atop a wire rack. Remove from pan using foil overhang, then cut into 12 bars. Store in an airtight container for up to four days (if they last that long!).
Adapted from The Boozy Baker by Lucy Baker