Oh HOLY night, it’s my favorite time of year!! While I, of course, love actual Christmas day, what I REALLY love is the month-long Christmas season that precedes it. Four weeks of the year where everything feels like a celebration, where people genuinely seem more joyful, and where goodwill reigns. Of course, it is easy to get caught up in the holiday bustle with gifts to buy, planes to catch, meals to prepare. However, the joy and light of the season always outshine all things negative, and just like Charlie Brown, people realize what Christmas is really about.
One of the hardest parts of transitioning to adulthood (besides work, bills, cleaning…the list goes on) has been being away from my family and our traditions during the holiday season. Apparently, getting an entire month off to spend at home during Christmas stops after you graduate- life is so unfair! Now, don’t get me wrong: I absolutely love the new holiday traditions Nick and I are creating in our tiny family, as well as the traditions I get to take part of with his family. However, I will always cherish the Christmas memories and traditions I share with my mom, dad and Audrey (and Gus.)
Having accepted my new reality of spending much of the Christmas season away from my family, I have had to find ways to honor our traditions and celebrate with them from afar. Baking has always been one of our primary holiday activities, which I have continued in my own house. I have baked so much in the past two weeks that I had to write out a daily cookie schedule to keep myself organized. It seems like every day I am either making, baking or decorating cookies. Let’s just say the only weight-lifting I am getting in these days is from the multiple pounds of butter that I use. Now before you get too concerned, don’t worry: Nick and I are not sitting around, stuffing our faces with the mountains of cookies. I’m not saying we aren’t eating our fair share…but most (well, many) are given to co-workers, friends, etc. to enjoy.
These holiday blonde brownies are one of the many treats that I have made this year. These are one of my mom’s crowning culinary achievements, so I thought giving them a holiday twist would be a fun way to celebrate Christmas with her from afar.
My mom’s blonde brownies are, you might say, PERFECT. The toffee gives them a rich, buttery taste that is perfectly complemented by the semi-sweet chocolate. It is impossible to not like what are essentially ooey-gooey chocolate chip cookie bars. To make these perfect treats even MORE amazing, THEY CAN BE MADE IN ONE DISH!
Note: This recipe is NOT for “blondies,” as Nick insists they be called. Rather, it is for what we have always referred to as, “blonde brownies,” minor yet important detail.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- ¼ tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. salt
- ½ package Heath toffee bits
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 package Holiday chocolate chips (or regular semi-sweet during non-holiday season)
- Preheat oven to 350. Cover 9x13 pan with parchment paper and coat with cooking spray.
- Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
- Remove from heat and add in brown sugar and vanilla. Mix well.
- Beat in eggs once butter mixture has cooled a bit (just a couple minutes) to ensure eggs don't scramble.
- Add in flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
- Pour mixture into prepared pan. Sprinkle evenly with chocolate chips.
- Bake for 35-38 minutes, or until toothpick comes out mostly clean.
- Cool entirely before cutting.