Friday, May 20, 2011

toffee blondies in a jar

A few weeks ago, I was having a conversation with MattMatt about personality types and the like, which is somewhat unsurprising given that the two of us often speculate on the nature of mankind together [when I'm not teaching him how to virtually assassinate Templars on an HD console]. I'm not actually quite sure how the topic came up to begin with, but it panned out interestingly.

[For example, how between the middle of high school and now, my personality has almost completely flipped from an ENTJ to an INFJ, both of which were highly accurate given their respective time periods. And how Matt's an ENFP (from what I remember), which to me is also spot-on.]

Regardless, I remember Matt telling me how there are five primary ways that we [humans] express love and affection.
  1. spending time together
  2. verbal exchanges of affection
  3. physical exchanges of affection
  4. physical actions to show affection
  5. buying and giving gifts
I found this quite interesting. One, because I had never heard it before; and two, because I think humankind is such a fascinating entity. An entity which I'm always trying to figure out, at least when I can shove my cynicism aside, though for the most part one that I think will always remain, in some ways, an enigma.

Not to mention that philosophy, although enlightening in regards to many areas of contemplation, has only made me more skeptical about how I think about the matter. But perhaps that's the point.

Anyway, I digress. If I had to choose, I think I'd fall into categories 4 and 5 of the above. Doing things for others and giving things to others. Not that I'm morally opposed to the other three in any way, I am just more of a doer than a...speaker? Cuddler? Extrovert? I could also be completely misguided as to my own character, since I'm always learning new things [both positive and negative] about myself, but it doesn't change the fact that I do love giving gifts. At least, those with some shred of sentimental value.

Which is why I bake, of course. It's not like I do it for my own health [quite the contrary, in fact, seeing as how it's just about the worst thing I could be doing for my own health], but I like to see others' faces light up when I give them something I've made just for them. I put a lot of thought into what I decide to bake for others, based on their personality or our friendship, what they like and what they don't, their hobbies and interests, etc.

And yet, sometimes I get bored with the baking. Especially for my good friends. Not that they dislike dessert, but sometimes I just want to do something different. And so I decided to try.

In a few days' time, I will be boarding a plane. It will be my first time on a plane in two years, I believe, which is somewhat of a long time for me [given how my family used to travel to Pakistan every other year to see family before the political climate became somewhat unfavorable and Yusra and I started having to do real schoolwork]. This time, though, I'm leaving for Europe, Valencia to be precise, to hone my fluency [or lack thereof] in the Spanish language. I'll be living with Liz in a homestay, one street away from Zach, and attending university five days a week, studying history of modern Spanish art and phonetics. A short visit, granted, but 4 weeks is all I need to fall in love with a country and make a vow to return.

I realize that I'll be back home before I know it [much to my dismay], but as soon as I am I'll be helping my parents move into their new house, and it'll be scarcely a week after that I'm back at my apartment, interning and working part-time [with frequent, short trips back home on the weekends, of course] until the fall semester begins. Not a whole lot of time to be spent with friends, unfortunately. So before my departure, I decided I wanted to leave a few parting gifts to the Fab Four, of the dessert variety, because at this point they expect nothing different from me, though this time with a small twist: toffee blondies in a jar.

I've seen this done in the past, though I myself had never tried it prior to this past weekend, when I prepared a jar to give to Brinay as a gift. It turned out much better than I thought it would [I also anticipate the worst, most of the time], and she seemed to love the idea, so I knew I had discovered something pretty neat. The concept is simple: layer all of the dry ingredients artfully [i.e. alternating colors, somewhat akin to sand art] in a quart-sized mason jar, and attach a small card with the appropriate quantities of wet ingredients and baking directions, so that the receiver is actually the baker. An inversion of my traditional baked-good-present, but one that I think is really fun for whomever I'm giving it to. Plus, it's easy as peas to bake: all you need to do is dump the contents of the jar into a large bowl, whisk the wet ingredients together, and mix them with the dry ingredients until they come together in a batter. Pour the batter into a prepared pan, and bake in a preheated oven for half an hour for deliciousness.

Toffee Blondies in a Jar
Adapted from bakedbree
Recipe makes one mason jar

You'll need:
  • 1 quart-sized mason jar [can be found in any craft store]
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips 
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 1/2 cup toffee chips
  • 1/4 cup [1/2 stick] butter, melted
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla

To prepare the mason jar:
Carefully layer the brown sugar, chocolate chips, flour, baking powder, salt, chopped nuts, and toffee chips. This is most easily done with a 1/4 cup measure, as this will pour the contents most effectively through the opening of the jar. Try to gently level out the ingredients with each addition.

To prepare the blondies [note: this is what you'll want to write on the notecard, along with the measurements of the wet ingredients]:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line and grease an 8x8-inch square pan.
In a large bowl, whisk the melted butter, eggs, and vanilla until blended. Dump the contents of the jar into the bowl, and mix with the wet ingredients until fully incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until blondies start to pull away from the sides of the pan. Cool in the pan and cut into 16 bars.

I love how these things look; they're just adorable. Nitya, Hannah, and Noosh loved them as well, and so I was more than pleased. I'm sure they'll taste divine too, though perhaps in future I'll add a layer of coconut flakes. Or peanut butter chips. Cocoa powder for brownies, too.

Oh! The possibilities are endless! This is definitely a treat I'd like to expand upon in future.

Hope you enjoy them as much as we did :)


  1. I loved it! I'll put up photos of my baking endeavors soon!


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