Trying Out A New Recipe: Half Baked Harvest’s Chewy Maple Brown Sugar Blondies

About a week ago, the temperature had dropped just enough for it to feel like a real fall day. Of course, now we are back up to the 80’s despite it being the end of September, but for one glorious day it was cool and breezy, and I knew I wanted to make something that encapsulated fall. At that very moment, I saw Half Baked Harvest post a recipe on Instagram for some Brown Butter Apple Blondies with Cinnamon Maple Glaze. I thought, well that sounds amazing! However, it requires real apples, so this recipe was just not in the cards at that moment in time.

Lo and behold, though, I saw a recipe for her Chewy Maple Brown Sugar Blondies instead, and opted for those. After all, it does have apple butter in it, so pretty similar at least, right?

First, the ingredients:

Ingredients laid out on the counter. Domino dark brown sugar, Kerrygold salted butter, apple butter, flour, maple syrup, vanilla extract, cinnamon, baking powder, an egg, Ghirardelli semi sweet chocolate chips, and Ghirardelli semi sweet chocolate bar.

I thought the ingredients were pretty standard for the most part. Of course, apple butter is more of a specialty ingredient that can be hard to come by. It is easier to find it in fall, though, much like cans of pumpkin. Aside from that, it’s mostly just sugar, butter, chocolate, maple syrup, cinnamon, all the best stuff!

The first thing I did was brown the butter. Which started off like this:

A blue pan containing melted butter that is bubbling and has some white foam on top.

And ended like this:

A glass PYREX container containing melted browned butter.

I believe I’ve mentioned it in a previous baking post, but brown butter is where you melt butter and let it basically cook until you’ve toasted the milk solids, which is what all this is on the bottom:

All the browned milk solids from the butter sitting at the bottom of the melted butter.

Brown butter is much richer and complex in flavor than regular butter, and using a good quality butter is really important if you’re looking to brown your butter. I pretty much only use Kerrygold, as I’m a bit of a loyalist, but there’s other good quality brands that will brown just as well.

Anyways, after I browned the butter, I mixed up the brown sugar, maple syrup, vanilla, apple butter, and egg:

A white mixing bowl containing a caramel colored mixture. There is a rainbow silicone whisk sitting in the mixture.

I added the butter, all the dry ingredients, and the chocolate to get this yummy looking dough:

A white mixing bowl containing what appears to be normal chocolate chip cookie dough. Many chocolate chips and chocolate chunks are visible throughout the dough. A white rubber spatula sits in the dough.

I like to use chocolate chips and chocolate chunks (I just cut up the chocolate bar). I think it looks better, but that’s just me. With butter, I’m a loyalist to Kerrygold, and with chocolate, I’m a loyalist to Ghirardelli. Nothing gets the job done better than Ghirardelli semi sweet.

I pressed the dough down into a parchment lined 9×13:

The dough spread out into a parchment lined dish.

And baked it! The recipe says to let it bake for 18-22 minutes, and that you want it to be kind of underdone, but I ended up baking it for closer to 25 because I think it was a little too underdone originally.

Once it seemed okay, I pulled it out:

The dough, now baked, still in the parchment lined dish.

While I waited for it to cool, I made up the maple glaze that’s supposed to go on top. I was hesitant to make the glaze, as I’ve expressed before on here that I don’t care for how powdered sugar makes things taste, but I made it anyways and it actually turned out really well!

So I glazed these bad boys:

The blondies cut into fifteen squares and drizzled with the maple glaze.

After cutting them, I noticed that they still looked pretty damn underdone:

A few of the blondies stacked pyramid style to reveal the under baked centers.

Personally, I prefer under baked, and they were really tasty, so I figured it was fine.

As I said, they were quite yummy, however, I don’t feel like they tasted like fall. Despite the maple syrup, cinnamon, and apple butter in the recipe, they just tasted like chocolate chip cookie bars. And that’s more or less what they look like, too. I’m kind of upset they didn’t really taste mapley, even with the glaze. I wanted something cozy and warmly spiced, but they mostly were just chocolate-chip-cookie-esque. They were still good, though.

All in all, it was a pretty easy recipe, and a good way to spend my time. I don’t regret making them at all, but now I really want to try the actual apple blondie recipe I originally wanted to make to see how it compares.

Do you like blondies better than brownies? Do you prefer underdone baked goods? Would you try these? Let me know in the comments, and have a great day!

-AMS

22 Comments on “Trying Out A New Recipe: Half Baked Harvest’s Chewy Maple Brown Sugar Blondies”

  1. yeah looks underdone… your stove? or relative humidity? or was the recipe wrong?

    would I try it? yes but without the glaze…

    it’s like good coffee, why add milk or sugar if its fine alone?

    Q: what recipes have you for exotic rice kripsies cubes? there was a place here in NYC that did something evil with finely minced ginger…

  2. Underdone fan here, I like them gummy rather than crispy. I understand that the British definition of a cookie is soft, while a sweet biscuit is a cookie that is hard. I thought the recipe sounded a lot like a chocolate chip cookie, and so it proved. I expect the fall taste will be in the spices.

  3. I always migrate towards the Blondies when available because I LOVE brownies and eat them all the time. I know, that sounds contradictory but it is all about opportunity cost vs. exposure. And, if the blondie disappoints I can always chase it with a brownie ;)

    That final photo would have me jumping the line to ensure I had the chance to sample those bad boys.

    Your brand commitment to butter and chocolate has me volunteering my favorite spice company (Penzey’s) for vanilla and cinnamon (I have all 4 varieties), along with their super versatile Pi(e) Spice, for your future recipes. Quality spices make the difference when baking, especially for the aroma in the kitchen while the magic is happening.

    Thanks for sharing!

  4. If I’muna have chocolate chips in ’em, I like Blondies. But I like Brownies with nuts and no chocolate chips very much. Sometimes I cut back on the cocoa in a very dark Brownie recipe, because I am not a big fan of dark chocolate. I want more milk in my chocolate.
    I would just add some “maple” flavoring to a Brownie recipe now and then, rather than the extra effort of a glaze. I was brought up on imitation maple flavor, but I do understand this is anathema to maple purists.

  5. Maybe add more maple syrup?

    The MO Ozarks are a major apple producer, and we’re awash in apple butter this time of year. I’ll send you some if you can’t find any. Let me know.

  6. Kerry Gold butter? Completely agree. Ghiradelli chocolate? Also, completely agree. Baked slightly under? Again, completely agree.

    These look great and I wouldn’t have made them any differently myself.

  7. Baking times are always changeable, because ovens vary. Looks like you hit the sweet spot. And I don’ t think they look under-done–with that much brown sugar and egg, you either have “fudgy” texture, or you have cement. Fudgy is what you got, and I think the blondies look fine. Nice job (your glazing is particularly good looking).

  8. Those look delicious! I lean more towards chewy and fudgy than caky. You are absolutely correct about Ghirardelli’s!

  9. I recently came across a tip for making parchment paper more cooperative when using it in trays etc – I imagine it’s a long known thing but new to me.
    Start by crumpling it up, open out and crumple again. That usually makes it flex enough to fit without fighting back. Apparently soaking it in water for a moment can help if you still have trouble.
    It certainly works for us.

  10. I can’t believe I’m saying this as a certified chocoholic, but I feel like sometimes the Half Baked Harvest lady (Tieghan?) adds chocolate to things that don’t need chocolate. Or at least, like this, if you add chocolate it will overwhelm the other tastes. Love her recipes overall and I really appreciate your honest reviews and recaps of the new recipes you try. ;-)
    Oh and I love blondies and brownies. No wrong answers.

  11. Those look amazing! I will have to try them when I get back to baking. Personally, my attitude towards brownies vs. blondies is
    Both. Both is good.”, though my spouse tends to favor brownies. And undercooked is the way to go.

  12. I agree with the choice of chocolate and second the recommendation of Penzey’s spices…they’re not only in our kitchen, they have great gift sets for the bakers in my life.
    I prefer my desserts a little fudgy/underdone but not so much that I can taste the individual ingredients.
    I’m more of a brownie than blondie person, and am partial to my husband’s brownies, which include a little espresso powder to make the chocolate pop (and I don’t like coffee, so I can vouch that it doesn’t make them taste like coffee).
    In terms of wanting to taste fall, we got that bug as well and my honey made homemade apple cider cake donuts…I’m a huge fan!

  13. Direct answer to your first question:

    When I used to eat sugar, YES 100% preferred blondies to brownies

    Underdone is better than overdone any day of the week. After all, with underdone, you can always pop one blondie into the oven for 3-4 minutes to both cook it a bit more, and also warm it up to then put a dollop of vanilla ice cream on it – heaven!

    To your final question – past me definitely could and would, current me can’t try your blondies

  14. … yeah, I’m on team “please, recipe writers, don’t use the expensive ingredients when you can’t tell they’re there.” Apple butter and maple syrup are so good – but this does not seem to have used them effectively. (I also don’t use the Good Butter unless there are no significantly louder ingredients – plain shortbread, croissants, puff pastry, use the good butter – don’t use it for spiced things or chocolate things – but my budget is different from your budget, and a 2% improvement might be worth the $ to you whereas I demand that $ produce at least a 20% flavor improvement.)

    Team soft-and-fudgy, also. (I like some things crisp – krumkake, esp. – but if there is a soft and chewy option, I almost always veer towards that vs. a crunchy version – I like my gingersnaps to be either tuile-thin or not texture-snappy at all.)

    I used to be Team 60% Cacao Ghirardelli, but then they shrugged and gave up on tracing and eliminating child labor and slave labor, so I swapped to Guittard, whose consumer products are fair trade (some of their bakery-supply products are as well). (but man, the melting power of that Ghirardelli 60%! Easiest dipping/melting/piping chocolate I’ve ever worked with.)

    If you ever want to do a weird taste test (or fall down an internet rabbit hole of information), look at different cinnamon varieties. Ceylon vs. cassia! Wheeeee!

    (if there’s leftover apple butter, it goes incredibly well with oatmeal scones, incidentally)

  15. I love both blondies and brownies but rarely make blondies because I’ll make myself ill eating the whole pan.

    Underdone is the only way to go.

    It take a LOT of maple syrup or maple sugar to make something maple-flavored – I usually don’t bother because it gets pricy quickly. The exceptions are breakfast oatmeal and baked apples. So no, I don’t expect to try those. I may take a hint from this recipe, and brown the butter next time I make King Arthur Flour’s chocolate chip cookie bars.
    https://www.kingarthurbaking.com/recipes/chewy-chocolate-chip-cookie-bars-recipe

  16. I love a dark moist brownie with bittersweet chocolate chips and walnuts. I’m pretty sure I would enjoy your chocolate chip blondies but wish they were even more chocolaty.

    I’m not surprised that a bunch of semisweet chocolate overwhelms the milder tastes of apple butter and maple syrup. If I was in the mood for an autumnal apple spice flavor, I would leave out the chocolate, use three times as much cinnamon as the recipe calls for, and maybe add some allspice, nutmeg, and a pinch of cloves. Or maybe I would use pumpkin spice if it was in the pantry.

  17. I’ve been a blondie fan since I was a kid – really like that butterscotch flavor more than chocolate, though these days my husband makes chocolate brownies because that’s what he likes.

    When I read the recipe I thought the chocolate chips seemed out of place and I thought about options – I have good white chocolate chips in the fridge, or maybe the cinnamon chips that I’ve seen in cinnamon scones. There’s always butterscotch chips too.

    And maple recipes never seem to as strongly maple flavored as I would like. There are different grades of maple syrup; one is darker and might have more maple flavor in baked goods, but I’ve never splurged on it.

    But it looks delicious

  18. They look delish.

    Maybe a handful of butterscotch chips to bring a little more Autumn? Beats me, I’m a consumer not a producer ;)

  19. I love reading your cooking adventures, and the comments are always so interesting. I agree that putting chocolate, especially good chocolate, in anything will overpower other milder flavors, I am not particular about my chocolate, or even the butter I use, when I bake, but I’m very fussy about spices. I agree with the Penzey’s comment, although in my neck of the woods it’s the Spice House. They’re related to the Penzeys in some way, but I think there’s some Hatfield McCoys sitch going on there.

    If I’m eating butter, like on a slice of good sourdough bread, I want it to be French or Irish. One Christmas I gave everyone in my work group a loaf of panettone and a stick of Kerrygold butter. It was one of my more successful gifts.

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