There is something reassuringly easy about these blondies. My children can make them with minimal input from me, and anything that gets them creating instead of screen-bashing is high on my agenda right now. One day, they will fly the nest, so in the meantime I will try as much as possible to coax and encourage them into making food for themselves, having fun with ingredients and relishing different tastes. And these are a great start.
Sticky date, chocolate and brown butter blondies
The faintest hint of cardamom, sticky date and melting chocolate is a delicious, uncomplicated treat.
Prep 20 min
Cook 30 min
Makes 9 large brownies
180g butter, chopped
200g light soft brown sugar
220g plain flour (I use white spelt)
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
3 cardamom pods, cracked open, seeds removed and ground
180g dates, stoned and roughly chopped
150g milk chocolate, roughly chopped
Put the butter in a pan – ideally one with a light-coloured base, so you can see when the butter darkens – set it over a medium heat and, once the butter has melted, leave it to simmer, swirling the pan around from time to time so it cooks evenly. You want to toast the solids in the butter, so cook until they turn golden brown and start smelling nutty (the bubbles will start shrinking at this point, too). Take off the heat and pour into a large bowl.
Heat the oven to 180C (160C fan)/350F/gas 4 and line a 20cm square baking tin with greaseproof paper. In a medium bowl, whisk the sugar and eggs until fluffy, then whisk these into the melted butter. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, salt and ground cardamom, fold this through the butter mix, then fold in the chopped dates and chocolate.
Pour the batter into the prepared tin, smooth the top and bake for 30-35 minutes, until risen and golden but still with a gentle wobble in the middle. Remove and leave to cool a little before demolishing.
And for the rest of the week …
Experiment with different varieties of flour in the base – some are lower in gluten, others deliciously nutty. And try making the blondies with a mix of dark and white chocolate, too, if you fancy.