In the 80s and 90s a favorite gathering spot was the Gemini. An alternative restaurant known for a spiced house tea and daring food options like a curried chicken salad with strawberries. That is, daring for a suburb west of Denver. The house iced tea was easy to drink by the glassful, tucked into a big booth, chatting with girlfriends or doing tarot readings for each other. Wired on caffeine from gallons of house tea, we'd split a Blondie brownie. Each serving decadent, warm, and surely full of butter, chocolate chips, nuts, plus the sweet surprise of chopped dates.
The restaurant is long gone, but the craving for a Blondie happens fairly often. Blondies are a brownie's paler sibling; a bar cookie grown up to be a chocolate chip cookie's bigger, sturdier brother. This winter it was time to recreate this favored treat. Redolent with warm brown sugar, vanilla, and gooey bittersweet chocolate chips these bar cookies are an aroma therapy category all their own. Mixing up in the time it takes the oven to preheat, it is pure bliss to sit in the kitchen with a cup of tea, basking in the scent of them baking. If I'm really lucky the scent lingers in the house, rich and smooth.
One pan makes nine servings that are half-size from what the huge slabs Gemini used to serve. Lately, I've taken to quartering each serving so the pan yields 36 Blondies. What I don't eat or give away the day I bake them get frozen. Popped from freezer to the microwave for 30 seconds they instantly resurrect to gooey decadence.
No stand mixer? No problem! As long as the sugar and palm shortening are thoroughly mixed the rest of the recipe calls for minimal mixing.
3 oz or ½ cup shortening
4 oz or ½ c + 2 tbsp light brown sugar
4 oz or ½ c + 2 tsp cane sugar
1 tbsp vanilla
4 oz or 1 cup gluten free flour mix (I use Pamela's)
1 ½ tsp baking powder (corn & gluten free I use Hain)
½ tsp sea salt
2 oz or ½ cup crushed walnuts
2 oz or ½ cup chopped dates
2 ½ oz or ½ cup bitter sweet chocolate chips
Preheat convection oven to 325 (350 if not convection)
Line 9x9 baking pan with parchment paper.
Mix shortening, sugars, and vanilla in stand mixer on medium, occasionally scraping down the bowl, until well creamed, verging on fluffy.
Scrape down the bowl.
Add in eggs, beating on medium-high for 2 minutes. Scraping down the bowl.
In separate bowl whisk together flour mix, baking powder, and sea salt until well incorporated.
Add gluten free flour mix to the bowl, mix on low until just blended.
Detach paddle to hand stir in nuts, dates and chocolate chips until just blended.
Spatula into parchment lined pan, pushing stiff dough into corners.
Garnish with additional nuts, chocolate chips and dates.
Bake for 30 minutes, rotating half way through baking time. May take longer to bake at higher altitudes.
Cool for about 5-10 minutes then devour at will.