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Mmm, Blondies for Young Bakers

By Jackie Burrell
Wednesday, January 21st, 2009 at 7:19 am in Cuisine.

Date-Nut Blondie
Bake sales have always stirred a certain maternal angst. There’s the time factor, the pride factor and the skill factor – and you want to make sure your lovingly baked whatever sells. So maybe some people are relieved by the impending extinction of school bake sales.

Seems that in many schools, state nutrition standards now extend to home baked goodies sold on campus. The New York Times did a piece last fall describing the Piedmont High boys’ water polo team, who ended up “selling cupcakes, caramel apples and lemon bars off campus in a flagrant act of nutritional disobedience.”

We’re all in favor of moderation, but frankly, a world without cookies isn’t one in which we care to dwell! So we’re opting for delicious baked goods, cut in very small portions and bearing some nutritional punch. And we thought we’d share this recipe for Date-Nut Blondies (pictured above)…

from Lauren Chattman’s “Mom’s Big Book of Baking: 200 Simple, Foolproof Family Favorites for Birthday Parties, Bake Sales and More” (Harvard Common Press, $21.95). It’s simple, fast and easy enough for kids and beginning bakers to tackle. And if one of your New Year’s resolutions involves eating more healthfully or you have a school nutritionist breathing down your neck, you could try substituting applesauce for half the butter and a portion of the sugar, which drops the calorie count by 40, and the fat by 3 grams. Leave out the nuts — a flavorful addition that adds 2 grams of protein – and you’ll trim another 40 calories and another 3.5 grams of fat, per serving.

But these blondies are kind of perfect, just the way they are.

Date-Nut Blondies
Makes 16 bars
¾ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
¼ cup old-fashioned, rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ cup unsalted butter
1 cup firmly packed, light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup chopped walnuts or pecans
½ cup chopped dates

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil, making sure the foil is tucked into all the corners and there is at least a 1-inch overhang on all sides.

2. Combine the flour, oats, baking powder, salt and spices in a medium mixing bowl.

3. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat, and stir in the brown sugar until dissolved. Quickly whisk in the egg and vanilla. Stir in the flour mixture until just incorporated. Stir in the dates and nuts.

4. Pour the batter in the prepared pan. Bake the blondies until they are just set in the center, 20 to 30 minutes. Let them cool completely on a wire rack.

5. Grasping the overhanging foil, lift the blondies out of the pan and place them on a cutting board. Cut into 16 squares. Date-Nut Blondies will keep at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

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