Brownies or Blondies? How to Bake These Sweet, Chewy Squares

Brownies or Blondies? How to Bake These Sweet, Chewy Squares

One's brown, the other's fair. Well, that's just about the most obvious difference in these popular dessert confections. But try your hand at making these sweet, chewy, and dense bakes, and you'll find they share many buttery ties beneath their cracked surfaces

Before we plunge into the sticky, gooey world of brownies and blondies, let’s figure out which one you’d prefer first. Love the black-speckled, creamy vanilla ice cream unequivocally? Chances are, you’re all for blondies. Favor the decadent, dark richness of chocolate ice cream? Brownies will certainly suit your taste better. Frozen with indecision between both like us? Have your cake and eat it by drizzling an aromatic vanilla sauce over your Browned Butter Miso Brownie, or sprinkle some cacao nibs over the bodacious Musang King Blondie.

There’s simply no right or wrong way to indulge in these dense, chewy and fudgy sweet treats. Learn about what sets them apart and how to whip up the best of either confection below.

In the beginning, there was the... blondie? 

Make these bittersweet and creamy Mao Shan Wang Durian Blondies

Blondies came first – wait, don’t go yet brownie fans – but it was a term used interchangeably with brownies back then. Fanny Farmer, a culinary expert of the 19th century (that’s how old this dessert is!), formally introduced brownies (what we would refer to as blondies today) in The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book. She adjusted her chocolate chip cookie recipe to be more like a bar, baked in a rectangular pan. Despite calling it brownie back in 1896, her recipe had no chocolate in it!

There are various candy trails in the pursuit of the exact moment chocolate met brownie and became know as just brownie alone. One of them cite the “Chocolate Brownie” advertisement in the 1898 issue of The Kansas City Journal as the source. Another tells the story of a housewife in Bangor, Maine, who mistakenly left out baking powder in her chocolate cake batter, and was left with a flat, rectangle bar as a result.

There’s no proper evidence on how brownies and blondies got their name and differentiation, but having proof of their existence between our fingers during tea-time is definitely good enough for us!

It's all down to a question of chocolate

For a great chocolately taste, make these fudgy Milo Dinosaur Brownies with extra milo powder on top!

Today, blondies are characterized by their golden yellow coat, while brownies are a telltale deep brown in color. They are really similar in terms of texture and form, and are often presented in little rectangles or squares that are so easy (almost too easy) to pick up and enjoy on the go. Subtle variations of the amount of butter, flour, sugar, baking powder and egg influence the chewiness, crumbliness, moistness and fudgy-ness of both blondies and brownies. Throw in an extra egg and use lower protein flour for a more crumbly, cake-like feel. Introduce or swap out white sugar with brown, granulated sugar for a chewier bite. Adding more oil and reducing the baking time also helps to keep both kinds of bakes moist.

Make these white chocolate Thai Tea Boba Blondies

Taste is probably the biggest distinguishing factor between brownies and blondies. Close your eyes, sink your teeth into a soft classic blondie – the pleasant butterscotch and caramel flavors that seep onto your palette slowly will instantaneously reveal it for a blondie. Tuck into its opposite half, the brownie, and all that luscious chocolate-ly goodness starts to melt in your mouth, spreading a sticky, sweet and nutty flavors that’s a joy to behold.

The sweet scent of vanilla is usually present in both blondies and brownies. Blondies’ light, buttery notes come through more distinctly, while brownies’ earthier, fruity smells mingle with the vanilla aromas to give a heavier, nutty scent.

For traditional mix-ins, use nuts, berries or sea salt 

A sprinkle of sea salt gives these Lime and Sea Salt Brownies a savoury edge

There’s nothing like personalizing your choice of bakes with a wide variety of mix-ins or add-ons. Nuts are probably the most popular choice, and they add a really nice crunch to balance out the softness. Whether its pecans, walnuts, almonds, brazil nuts, hazelnuts or pistachios, each kind of nut also adds its unique scent and flavors to the batter. Stir in nuts gently at the last moment for them to retain their crunchy exterior (otherwise, they soak up the moisture from the batter).

Sour and tart berries like raspberries, strawberries, blackberries and physalis also brighten up your brownies and blondies, while offsetting the sometimes over-cloying sweetness of these cookie-bars. Top it off with additional berries or even a berry ice cream to elevate your brownie’s or blondie’s final look and taste.

If you’re fond of savory sweet creations, then perhaps adding a dash of sea salt to your brownie or blondie might turn it into the perfect dessert for you. Elevate the overall flavors of your salty, sweet brownies or blondies by adding a squeeze of lime or lemon to make a Lime and Sea Salt Brownie.

For those on the opposite end of the spectrum, whose sweet tooth is hard to satisfy, there’s no reason why you can’t add candy to your favorite brownie or blondie treat! From rainbow M&Ms to chocolate chips to even candy corn (ideal for Halloween), there’s really no hard and fast rule to adding candy to your brownies and blondies. Adding these instant sparkles to your decadent bars will make them super irresistible to the young (and the young at heart) after.

And for something new, bake them with Asian flavours

These Browned Butter Miso Brownies are made with a blend of dark and white chocolate, caramelised butter, and a delicious savoury swirl of miso

Finally, for a local Asian twist on everything, why not add a little spice, malt or chewy pearls to your brownie or blondie? The amazing thing about these well-loved baked goods is that they pair well with so many spices and condiments, giving you a unique sweet ending to any meal. Be it a sunny Thai Tea Boba Blondie or a Milo Dinosaur Brownie for fans of the respective drinks, decorate, infuse and celebrate these velvety, easy-to-make delights in your very own way.

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