National Butterscotch Brownie Day
Well okay, I sort of cheated as these are Blondies and not Brownies. Honestly I’m not sure what butterscotch brownies are supposed to be. The idea of a thick brownie with butterscotch in it makes me feel kind of sick—way too much sugar. It’s possible that the holiday could call for brownies made with a homemade butterscotch mixture in place of the melted chocolate but then again, you’d wind up with something I think is technically qualified as a “Blondie” so I’m just going to run with this.
This recipe throws butterscotch (obviously), dark chocolate, coconut and walnuts together to make a delicious treat as chewy as a brownie but with the chocolate taking the role of a team player rather than the dominate force. Damn it, I was trying not to write about this but you know what all this just makes me think of? The Avengers. You know because of how there are 4 big flavors that unite in this bar to make something that explodes in your mouth? No? Too tenuous a segue? Tough beans buddy ‘cause that’s the way it’s gonna be! (Seriously does anyone catch on to how many lines I’ve cannibalized from film in my daily speech?)
To be fair almost anything is making me think of Marvel’s newest, record breaking film because it is just that damn good. It’s “Olivia is going to shell out money to see it multiple times in theatres” good and that almost never happens. I think the last film I saw more than once was Inglorious Basterds and that wasn’t the cause of nearly as much jubilation to my inner geek as Avengers is. Basterds was an amazing film with respect to film geekery but this movie hits me in a much more childish, nostalgic place by paying the utmost care to faithful translation of the comics to screen. If you are a marvel universe kid this movie is going to make you insanely happy.
Hulk is probably the biggest crowd pleaser in the film. That line alone thrills me to my finger tips because saying it means the movie either had to SUCK worse than Daredevil or be on par with DC’s best effort to date. Okay obviously that’s Dark Knight, do I even need to say it? Anyway the reason Hulk being a crowd pleaser could spell out badness is that he is impossible to do well in film. The character is a monster, he should terrify even the good guys and his entire premise of turning into a not so jolly green giant requires far more suspension of reality than any of the other Avengers team members. Despite my intense love and faith in Joss I wasn’t exactly sanguine about Hulk working in this movie. Oh but he does. The character was written and played out with just the right blend of humor and fear. As it was later put to me, the reason he could work well in this movie is that the Hulk finally had characters he could physically interact with that were strong enough to take the hit (i.e. Thor and giant aliens) without needing to create a second Hulk. These were also contrasted against characters like Black Widow that would be killed by a single blow and who, in an expertly crafted early scene, displayed exactly the right amount of terror at the mere thought of the monster.
If you don’t understand why they should be afraid of the Hulk, go read Ultimates Avengers which is loosely the version these movies are based on. Hulk EATS a person. Cannibalizes him. Hulk is fucking scary okay?
The other big challenge is having so many characters, big important players, and not having it feel crowded. Who can forget the clusterfuck that was Spiderman 3? There were too many villains and no one got the screen time or development they deserved. Spiderman was my greatest comic love as a child so this movie was particularly frustrating for me. How in the world were we going to have a film work with 4 huge comic heroes and 3 supporting heroes? You know how? You get Joss “I’m a genius at ensemble cast writing” Whedon. Buffy, Angel, Dollhouse, Firefly…Joss manages to create shows where there’s an entire cast that serves as a star, rather than just one central figure. He did it again. Everyone gets an amazing line, everyone delivers it perfectly and everyone is a puzzle piece that fits together to create a bigger picture.
The one flaw, the one somewhat big flaw, is that ScarJo plays the MOST American “Russian” spy I’ve ever seen. In spite of that, and because she manages to pull out a better performance than I thought possible for her…gravitational talents, the movie works marvel-ously. See what I did there?
So I’m going back for second and third helpings, first of these addictive butterscotch blondies and then a less fattening cinematic feast.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups (packed) light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips
- 1 cup butterscotch chips
- 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
- 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
Getting Ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter a 9×13-inch baking pan and put it on a baking sheet.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add both sugars and beat for another 3 minutes, or until well incorporated. Add the eggs one by one, beating for 1 minute after each addition, then beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing just until they disappear into the batter. Using a rubber spatula, stir in the chips, nuts and coconut. Scrape the batter into the buttered pan and use the spatula to even the top as best you can.
Bake for about 40 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center of the blondies comes out clean. The blondies should pull away from the sides of the pan a little and the top should be a nice honey brown. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for about 15 minutes before turning the blondies out onto another rack. Invert onto a rack and cool the blondies to room temperature right side up.
Cut into 32 bars, each roughly 2-1/4 x 1-1/2 inches.