Tuesday, November 27, 2007


The tide is high, but we’re holdin’ on.

I was born a true blonde and remained as such until the trauma of adolescence reared its ugly, mousy brown head.
To look at me, au natural, one would likely not suspect that I was ever a blonde but thankfully, I have the pictures to prove it.
These days, blonde hair is something I equate with quality home improvements; an activity I usually invest time
and money in—right before company arrives.

Recently, my not-so-blonde sister presented my siblings and me with a lovely restored photo of four generations of our family members.
In it, I am about three years old with pale golden locks
and a cheeky smile. It took some coaxing for my own children to believe it was me, and not my other thinner, blonder sister in the photo.
As we reminisced about the hairstyles of that era, the handmade clothing we never fully appreciated, and the ridiculously bushy eyebrows we sported as children (completely oblivious to the wonders of waxing), I got to thinking about my current life as
a not so blonde woman.

I recalled a recent episode of Oprah on which a guest designer remarked that all women should remember the critical importance of gold highlights, and how the simple salon procedure will take years off ones appearance and might literally, change a life.
I can tell you from personal experience that a salon visit for said gold highlights is indeed life changing.
After some cryptic communication about color, my stylist determined that I was leaning more towards a spaghetti blonde than a crème brulee (both of which confused me and made me very hungry).
By the time the two-hour neck-knotting process was complete, my hair was more like fried butterscotch and I was flat broke
(and not nearly blonde enough for it to be profitable).
Life changing indeed.

Admittedly, I am intrigued by my own occasional desire for blondeness.
The unfortunate consequences that accompany aging force us to relinquish so many of our youthful indulgences.
Societal norms demanded long ago that I give up the wardrobe, behavior, and diet of those joyful, restless years spent burning the candle at both ends, with nary a concern for cellulite or
cholesterol levels.

Perhaps a bit of blonde on my forty-something locks would indicate that although my candle burns a bit more efficiently these days, the fire isn’t completely extinguished.
And although I’ve managed to keep my wardrobe and behavior in check, my diet takes its occasional walk on the wild side.

Which brings me back to the subject of youthful indulgence.

I recall in my last days of middle-school blondeness, a cafeteria confection so sweet and chewy, I still sentimentally salivate.
If I was penny-wise enough to save weekend allowance and fortunate enough to lead the lunch line, I would find my favorite shrink-wrapped snack neatly stacked at the end of the long, sliver counter.
There it would sit, a small, rectangular bar of sweet, buttery
bliss, known as a Butterscotch Blondie, awaiting my
impatient grasp.

Over the years I have tried to recreate this indulgence almost as many times as I have argued over its origin. I believed it to be an original product of the Linden’s Company but former fellow classmates, now old and cranky (and some artificially blonde ), disagree.
We do agree however, that it is currently unavailable and sorely missed.

Ironically, that infamous day in the salon really did turn out to be life changing, but with no credit to expensive blonde highlights.

As I sat reading, under a heated dome, with my hair neatly
sectioned and aluminum foiled in classic crown-roast fashion,
I happened upon yet another recipe for blondies promising to
be the best. I was intrigued by the recipe for two reasons;
First, it appeared in a popular culinary publication which most often, features low calorie cuisine. And secondly, my familiarity with blondie recipes told me that this one called for an exceptional amount of brown sugar; Causes for suspicion on both counts.

As the back room radio blared, I hummed along with Deborah Harry to a high-tide hit song from the 80’s, and jotted down the recipe on a left-behind Starbucks napkin.
When my timer finally rang (indicating that my crown
was indeed roasted
), I slipped the recipe into my sweatshirt pocket where it remained, forgotten, for weeks.

On one unseasonably warm November day, I found that recipe, mistaking it for my grocery list, while navigating the baking aisle of my local supermarket.
As I reached for a bag of semi-sweet chips, I experienced a
not-so-blonde moment of intuition, and added a bag of
toffee chips to my cart.
With uncertainty of my brown sugar inventory, I tossed a few boxes into the cart and enthusiastically headed for the dairy aisle.
As recipes often do, a new blondie recipe was taking shape beneath my butterscotch locks and I was eager to get home to fulfill my blondie ambition.

That same evening, my husband and son were once again, the unfortunate victims of leftovers, appeased only by the promise of one bombshell dessert.
After a quick kitchen cleanup, I retrieved the pocketed recipe and rewrote my own version with a few substitutions and modifications. And in just moments, my kitchen performance was well under way.

I knew from the moment I inhaled the nutty aroma of browning butter that this recipe was different from the others. A winning combination of simple ingredients produced a blondie as close to my childhood favorite as I have ever achieved.
Like famous blondes throughout history, this sweet number would not soon be forgotten.

Once they were cooled and sliced, I presented them to my favorite TV room rock stars (of Guitar Hero fame). I bowed my
butterscotch crown as they applauded my achievement. In appreciation of my sweet sentiment, they played my favorite song.
As I listened and watched in amusement, a thought occurred to me.

As the tide of responsibility rises for those of us who conform to the demands of adulthood, we hold fast to the comforting notion
that the light of our natural-blonde and rock-starred, restless youth
still flickers.
Yet now, we live vicariously through that notion, armed with the knowledge and life experience that allow us to appreciate the simple joys of sharing a cherished family photo, or a favorite childhood confection.

And I am inclined to believe that perhaps it is the mature,
crown-roasted variety of blondes
who really have more fun.

Until Next Time,
Make Life Delicious
Share Your Food


Get your blonde on with my new favorite recipe for
Butterscotch Blondies.
This recipe is one I adapted from Cooking Light’s version.
Mine is less light—but more fun.

Butterscotch Blondies

2 Cups All Purpose Flour
2 ½ Cups Firmly Packed Light Brown Sugar
2 tsp. Baking Powder
½ tsp. Salt (I used a generous half teaspoon of Kosher salt)
10 TBS Unsalted Butter
2 XL Eggs plus 1 Large Egg
**(I realize this is an odd combination of eggs but the original recipe called for ¾ cup of egg substitute which I did not have on hand. The combination I listed measured slightly under ¾ cup but offered great results. If you prefer to use egg substitute, I’m sure it will work but might not yield the same rich results).

¾ Cup Toffee Bits such as Skor Brand or Heath Brand (do not use the chocolate variety of toffee bits)
1 TBS Vanilla Bean Paste (or the seeds from one split vanilla bean)
1/2 Cup Chopped Pecans (Optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place oven rack in middle position. Lightly grease a 13 x 9 baking pan, or line with parchment.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, level with a knife.
Combine flour, firmly packed brown sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Stir with whisk to combine.
Place butter in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Cook for about 6 minutes, stirring often (and watching carefully) until butter is lightly browned with a nutty aroma. Butter burns easily so pay close attention during this process. Pour browned butter into a small bowl and allow it to cool for 10 minutes. Add cooled butter to eggs and whisk to combine. Add vanilla bean paste (or seeds) to egg mixture. Pour butter mixture over flour and mix until just moistened and combined. Fold in toffee chips.
(Add pecans if you are using them).
Spoon batter into prepared pan, smoothing top with spatula.
Bake for about 30 minutes until top is firm and toothpick comes out clean (to be quite honest, I prefer to underbake these slightly. I remove them from the oven when the toothpick still has a few sticky crumbs—to allow for a chewier blondie).
Cool in pan on wire rack. Cut into squares when cool. Wrap individually in plastic wrap and place in airtight container to preserve moisture.

**Makes 24 servings for skinny blondes,
and about 12 servings for the rest of us


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