May 9th is National Butterscotch Brownie Day, also called a blonde brownie or blondie. The difference between a brownie and a butterscotch brownie / blondie is a yellow (blonde) batter: flour, brown sugar, butter, eggs, baking powder and vanilla. A brownie is made from a chocolate brownie batter, which adds cocoa powder or melted chocolate.
A butterscotch brownie (a.k.a. blondie) has a butterscotch flavor, from the brown sugar. Some might call it a caramel flavor.
There can be a slight difference between butterscotch brownies and blondies. Blondies typically include chocolate chips and nuts. Butterscotch brownies add butterscotch chips (chocolate chips and nuts are an option). Some recipes use toffee bits instead of butterscotch chips.
According to Food Timeline, blonde brownies predate the chocolate version by about 10 years.
Around 1896, a molasses-flavored bar cookie (no chocolate, cocoa or chocolate chips) called a brownie appeared. The name honored the elfin characters featured in popular books, stories, cartoons and verses of the time by Palmer Cox (the Eastman Kodak Brownie camera was also named after these elves).
After the later introduction and popularity of chocolate brownies, the bar became known as a butterscotch brownie (history of the brownie).
The name “Blondie” surfaces in the 1980s. It was not named for Dagwood Bumstead’s wife.
In this recipe, cookbook author Dorie Greenspan uses toffee bits instead of butterscotch chips. She also adds some coconut, which you can keep or omit.
The recipe is from Dorie’s book, Baking: From My Home To Yours. It makes you want to get an invitation to Dorie’s home, ASAP.
1. CENTER a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Butter a 9×13-inch baking pan and put it on a baking sheet. Prepare a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or a hand mixer and a large bowl.
2. WHISK together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
3. BEAT the butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add both sugars and beat for another 3 minutes, or until well incorporated.
4. ADD the eggs one by one, beating for 1 minute after each addition; then beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing just until they disappear into the batter.
5. STIR in the chips, nuts and coconut, using a rubber spatula. Scrape the batter into the buttered pan and use the spatula to even the top as best you can.
6. BAKE for 40 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center of the blondies comes out clean. The blondies should pull away from the sides of the pan a little and the top should be a nice honey brown color.
7. TRANSFER the pan to a rack and cool for about 15 minutes before turning the blondies out onto another rack. Invert onto a rack right side up and cool the blondies to room temperature. Cut into 32 bars, each roughly 2-1/4 x 1-1/2 inches.
Both start with sugar, butter and water. Then, it’s a question of the heat and any added ingredients.