by Ally Martin, Bakehouse sales staff
One day while driving to visit one of our wholesale customers, this year being an election year, I started thinking about if each one of our bread, pastries & cakes were to run for office, just which one would have my vote. I didn’t need to debate long; Pecan Blondie was, without a doubt, the frontrunner. I then started thinking about what my campaign to make Zingerman’s Bakehouse Pecan Blondies America’s favorite brownie would look like…
Why I am Endorsing the Pecan Blondie
When I first started working at Zingerman’s Bakehouse, my top priority was to try as many baked goods as possible as quickly as I could. One particular pastry escaped my initial quest; until my co-worker, Katie Frank, happened to mention that she thought Pecan Blondies were our most underrated brownie and I absolutely had to try them. One small nibble and I was hooked! It’s been ten years since I enjoyed my first bite and I keep coming back for more.
Pecan Blondies Have My Family's Vote
Each year at Christmas, my father asks me to ship him a dozen Pecan Blondies. Since I hear similar requests from other friends and family, I thought he just really liked them & didn’t want to run out. That was until my stepmom informed me that yes, he certainly does love them, but he wanted them for something a little more Machiavellian than that. What he actually does is dole the brownies out to his friends on a merit basis during the holidays. Only when you make the cut do you receive a coveted Pecan Blondie. It’s like an edible trophy of friendship excellence in my dad’s circle of pals.
Pleasing The Publics Senses: Sight, Smell & Taste
For those who’ve never enjoyed a Zingerman’s Bakehouse Blondie, let’s start out with their appearance. It looks like a golden, dense, cake-like dream. Next, break it in half, that’s when you really notice the sticky goodness of the pecan praline (made fresh at the Bakehouse) at the bottom of the brownie. Right about then, you’ll become aware of the Blondie’s heavenly aroma. Now try a bite. A big burst of butterscotch dances on your tongue, its sweetness tempered by the rich, robust flavor of Muscovado brown sugar. It’s only then you notice the toasted nuttiness of fresh pecans, & that’s when, boom! A sprinkle of sea salt joins the party. Together it’s blondie bliss.
A Rebuttal to the Chocolate Brownie Camp
Now there are those out there that would argue only brownies with chocolate could truly be called a brownie. To that I present you a condensed history of the brownie. The first brownie recipe (circa 1896) was actually what we would call a Pecan Blondie. Fanny Merritt Farmer included the recipe in her Boston Cooking-School Cook Book. When you read the ingredients the list includes butter, powdered sugar, Porto Rico molasses (a very dark molasses), egg, flour & pecans. Notably absent is chocolate. It wasn’t until the 1906 edition of her cookbook that you find a chocolate version of the brownie. Shortly thereafter, in 1907, Maria Willett Howard (trained by Fannie Farmer) wrote the Lowney’s Cook Book, which included a recipe for the Lowney’s Brownie (she added an extra egg to Farmer’s recipe), it was really then that the chocolate brownie took off, making the Pecan Blondie the underdog.
Over the years, the original brownie became known by many names like Vanilla Brownies, Butterscotch Brownies, Golden Bars, Molasses Squares, Butterscotch Squares and finally around 1980, its more modern moniker, the Blondie Brownie. Zingerman's Bakehouse's Pecan Blondie, with its stunning layer of pecan praline, was brought to us by then Pastry Manager, Charlie Frank.
Helping Bring People Together
You may have noticed I mentioned two people with the same last name in this blog, Charlie Frank, as well as Katie Janky Frank. Charlie & Katie met & married while working here at Zingerman’s Bakehouse. I can’t substantiate this but; I choose to believe it was the Pecan Blondie that brought them together.
Now, I’m not promising you that if you vote for Pecan Blondie you’ll find true love, be awarded an excellence in friendship award, or even win an argument with a chocolate lover, but what I do promise is that you’ll enjoy the best darn blondie around.
by Ally Martin, Bakehouse sales staff