The Magical Ingredient That Binds Blondies and Brownies

I really love brownies. I know what you're thinking: "Who doesn't?" But I sense my ardor might burn hotter than yours. You get all the fantastic chewiness of the very center of a cookie, plus nice crunchy edges. I like how nicely they freeze, and how they don't get stale but rather get more delicious on day two and three.

Photo by Posie Harwood

Blondies can be just as nice as brownies, but often they suffer from being far too sweet. Great blondie recipes are tough to come by; this one, though, is the very best.

When you move beyond the brownie/blondie universe, bar cookies tend towards the over-the-top and overly decadent. Think Oreo-studded chocolate squares, seven-layer bars, magic cookie bars stuffed with condensed milk and caramel, and so on. They're fun, but more than I want for a simple, satisfying, everyday dessert. (Let's agree to disagree, Sarah Jampel.)

Thus, today's recipe was a pretty thrilling discovery for me. (I lead a wild life, can you tell?) A rich cocoa layer, reminiscent of a classic brownie, tops a moist mascarpone base, reminiscent of a blondie. I adapted the bars from a recipe I found in the Vermont Creamery archives; I added a touch of almond extract to the base to give the bars even more flavor. The nuttiness plays nicely with the chocolate. Mascarpone cheese is used to such fantastic effect here: It makes the bars tender, chewy, and rich.

Photo by Posie Harwood

Lest you think a two-tone dessert bar is too fancy, keep in mind that this is a simple recipe using one batter. You mix it up and spoon three-quarters of it into your pan. To the remaining batter, you add a paste of cocoa and hot water and oil, and spread this over the top.

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Nothing against brownies, or blondies, but I highly recommend you give these bars a chance. It will win over fans from both camps.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • T
  • FS
  • Posie (Harwood) Brien
    Posie (Harwood) Brien
I like warm homemade bread slathered with fresh raw milk butter, ice cream in all seasons, the smell of garlic in olive oil, and sugar snap peas fresh off the vine.


T June 3, 2017
Do you think I could substitute cream fraiche for the mascarpone? Sorry to ask about the substitution but that was all I could find 😀
Posie (. June 4, 2017
Actually I think that would work nicely!
T June 4, 2017
Thank you, Posie! Yay! I took the gamble and bought the cream fraiche. Next up, bake them 🤗
FS June 1, 2017
Your brownies last 3 days? I'm lucky to have any left the day after baking!