Cinnamon Roll Blondies
I never understood Edmund’s choice of Turkish delight when the Queen of Narnia offered whatever his heart desired on her reindeer-drawn sleigh. As a child, I often thought, Oh hey, what about cinnamon rolls? Because they are not only delicious in real time, but also perfect for snowy, otherworldly adventures—the spicy cinnamon sugar warming you right down to your toes, and the tangy icing alerting the senses in case you happened to be cozied up next to an evil witch. I’ve tried to mimic my Sunday morning indulgence here in bar form: Blondies make a perfect base, and cinnamon sugar and cream cheese are both swirled into the top to make each bite pure, deep magic.
Makes 12 large or 24 small blondies
Cream Cheese Filling
- 4 oz [113 g] cream cheese, at room temperature
- ¼ cup [50 g] granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Pinch salt
Cinnamon Sugar Swirl
- ¼ cup [50 g] brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- Pinch salt
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 recipe Brown Butter Blondies, omitting the chocolate chips, chopped chocolate, and pecans (recipe follows)
Adjust an oven rack to the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F [180°C]. Grease a 9 by 13 in [23 by 33 cm] baking pan and line with a parchment sling.
For the Cream Cheese Filling
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the granulated sugar, vanilla, and salt, and mix on medium speed until well combined.
For the Cinnamon Sugar Swirl
In a small saucepan, melt the brown sugar, butter, and salt together over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and stir in the cinnamon until combined.
1 | Make the blondie batter as directed. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan, and spread into an even layer. Dollop the cream cheese and cinnamon sugar over the top of the batter, alternating the two. Drag the tip of a butter knife through the batter, creating swirls.
2 | Bake for 25 to 29 minutes. A wooden skewer or toothpick inserted into the blondies should come out with just a couple of crumbs.
3 | Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely. Use the parchment sling to gently lift the blondies from the pan. Cut them into bars. Store blondies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.
NOTE: Leave a small space unswirled in the center of the batter when assembling. This is the spot you want to insert your toothpick to check when the bars are done, as the cream cheese and cinnamon swirl will remain wet throughout baking.
Brown Butter Blondies
- 2 cups [284 g] all-purpose flour
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 cup [2 sticks or 227 g] unsalted butter
- 1 cup [200 g] granulated sugar
- 1 cup [200 g] brown sugar
- 1½ tablespoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs plus
- 4 large yolks, at room temperature
- ¾ cup [90 g] toasted pecans, chopped into bite-size pieces
- 4 oz [113 g] bittersweet chocolate, chopped into bite-size pieces
- ½ cup [85 g] semisweet chocolate chips
1 | Adjust an oven rack to the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F [180°C]. Grease a 9 by 13 in [23 by 33 cm] baking pan and line with a parchment sling.
2 | In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder.
3 | In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt 12 tablespoons [170 g] of the butter. Brown the butter until it is dark golden brown and giving off a nutty aroma, 2 to 3 minutes (for tips on browning butter, see below). Remove from the heat and add the remaining 4 tablespoons [57 g] butter to the pot, swirling the pot until the butter stops foaming. Add the granulated and brown sugars, vanilla, and salt, and stir to combine. Let the mixture cool to room temperature. Add the eggs and yolks and whisk until combined. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Add the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Add the pecans, chopped chocolate, and chocolate chips, and stir gently.
4 | Transfer the batter to the prepared pan, and pat into an even layer. Bake for 16 to 22 minutes, until the blondies are set on the edges and the top is golden brown and just beginning to form cracks. A wooden skewer or toothpick inserted into the blondies should come out slightly wet with clinging crumbs for gooey blondies, and just a couple of crumbs for cakey blondies.
5 | Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely. Use the parchment sling to gently lift the blondies from the pan. Cut them into bars. Store blondies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.
Brown butter adds a nice, nutty flavor to many dishes, but please note, it’s not a perfect swap for regular butter in most recipes, as some of the liquid evaporates from the butter as it cooks. You can use any amount of butter for this; the process will be the same.
In a light-colored, heavy-bottom skillet, melt the butter over medium-low heat. As the butter begins to melt, swirl it around the pan with a rubber spatula. When it starts to bubble, increase the heat to medium and keep stirring the butter until it boils and beings to foam, 3 to 5 minutes. You will start to see brown bits at the bottom of the skillet, and it will begin to smell nutty. Keep stirring, making sure to gently scrape the bottom of the pan with the spatula as you do so. The butter will quickly change from light brown to dark brown at this point, so keep a close eye on the pan. Once it is golden brown, remove it from the heat, and pour the butter and any flecks on the bottom of the pan into a heatproof bowl. The brown butter can be used immediately or cooled to room temperature and stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.