chocolate hazelnut gianduja blondies


Welcome to the new, fully revamped Hummingbird High! New features include larger, easier-to-read san-serif text! A sticky navigation bar!! Less sidebar clutter!!! A fully responsive design, with different views for the desktop, tablet, and mobile!!!!

If all of the above didn’t make any sense to you at all, no matter. All you need to know is this: BIGGER photos!!!!!

Now that I’ve finished my somewhat manic announcement (because when I typed that out, it was with a booming radio announcer type voice — I hope you read it in that way too), let me explain the redesign. Truth be told, I’d been unhappy with my old blog design for a while. It was cute and all, but it seemed a little too… 2013. The internet, like anything else, has its own trends with styles that go in and out all the time. What was cute two years ago just looks clunky and dated today. Just like that “natural” ombre dye job of yours. KIDDING.


And as someone who spends most of her time on the internet for both work and play, I can go on and on about these trends (I mean, the last time I redesigned my blog back in 2013, I actually published two posts on the process!). But I'll spare you the boring details and just provide a quick summary: right now, I’m kinda into the whole less-is-more thing. It was hard to let go of the cute colors, fun sidebar widgets, and quirky typography of my old design, but all that stuff just distracted from the main event: the food, the desserts, and the baked goods. And that’s what everybody is here for in the first place right?

So with that, allow me to take you on a tour of the new site, where the focus is really all about the photos and the recipes. There's a new navigation bar that lets you access All The Recipes wherever you are on the site without having to scroll back up to the top of the page (because we are lazy and terrible humans). There's larger, cleaner font to allow you to read from your device as you bake from one of my recipes. And finally, much, much, much BIGGER photos to inspire you further and give you a close and personal look at textures, ingredients, and whatever else.

Oh, and also a new profile photo too. Because I stopped Crossfitting, lost most of my scary Hulk muscles (along with the ability to deadlift 225lbs, sigh), and am back to my somewhat regular size. Though I still have huge latissimus dorsi and deltoids from rock climbing. Insert bicep emoji here. And yes, I know my muscles, no shame. Mostly 'cuz Erlend's currently studying to be a physical therapist, but shh.


But enough about my muscles and the website redesign. Let's take a look at these blondies in all their beautiful, chocolatey glory. A few weeks ago, I picked up a huge block of Callebaut gianduja milk chocolate from the Whole Foods on Potrero Hill (Sincere question — who besides a desserts blogger would pick up a $12 brick of obscure chocolate from Whole Foods??? Seriously — who else buys these things?!). If you’re unfamiliar with gianduja, it’s basically a type of Italian chocolate that originated from Turin and consists of 20 to 30% hazelnut paste mixed into the chocolate. The chocolate is slightly softer in texture and paler in color. But really, think: Nutella, in legit solid chocolate bar form.

Not wanting to distract from, you know, the phenomenon that is basically Nutella fudge, I just chopped up my giant block of gianduja and threw them in some blondies. Except I replaced some of the flour with some hazelnut meal to add some nutritional value (fiber and protein, right, right), a more toothsome crumb, and a little bit more hazelnut flavor to pair with the gianduja and hit that chocolate hazelnut combo home. Oh, and I also swapped out regular butter for brown butter ‘cuz… okay, I don’t have an excuse for that one. Except that it’s tasty.


Some baker’s notes:
  • Gianduja baking chocolate is available from Amazon in bulk for scary prices, or the Whole Foods in Potrero Hill. I’m semi-kidding about the Whole Foods thing (I know that not all of you guys live in San Francisco), but seriously, you can find them in some Whole Foods but not others! There was never any at any of the Whole Foods in Portland, or even the Whole Foods in my current neighborhood. I don’t know what’s up. If you can’t find gianduja or are just a sane person who doesn’t want to pay that insane price for designer chocolate, swap out the gianduja for just regular dark chocolate for classic blondies in the style of Phyllis from Dash and Bella.

  • If you can believe it, it took me a long time to figure out how to brown butter. For a long time, I was actually just melting butter, thinking it was brown butter, and not knowing what the big deal was. I know, I’m stupid, lol. But seriously — to do it right, it often takes longer than you think it will, so trust the recipe. Use low heat and a light-colored pot so you can see what’s happening. And trust your nose — the smell of browned butter is nutty, wonderful, unique, and unmistakable. If you don’t smell anything, you’re just not there yet. Here’s a great post from Serious Eats for visual guidance of the process.


Chocolate Hazelnut Gianduja Blondies
(inspired by this Food52 recipe)

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Ingredients

For the Chocolate Hazelnut Gianduja Blondies:
(makes one 8 by 8-inch square pan)
  • 1 cup (8 ounces // 2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups (7.5 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (1.5 ounces) hazelnut meal
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 3/4 cups (12 ounces) dark brown sugar, tightly packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 8 ounces gianduja chocolate, roughly chopped into 1- and 2-inch chunks

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Recipe

For the Chocolate Hazelnut Gianduja Blondies:
  1. First, brown the butter. Place 1 cup unsalted butter into a lightly colored, heavy-bottomed pan over medium-low heat. Melt the butter, swirling the pan occasionally, until the butter starts to foam and splatter. Use a heatproof rubber spatula to scrape the sides and the bottom of the pan occasionally to prevent the butter from burning. After around 5 minutes, golden flecks should appear in the butter, and the butter should smell nutty and toasted. When scooped into a white plate, the butter should be a light to dark brown amberish color. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature completely on a wire rack.

  2. Once the butter has cooled, it's time to make the blondies! Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350 (F). Prepare an 8 by 8-inch square baking pan by spraying with a light coating of cooking spray. Line the bottom and sides of the pan with parchment paper (Food52 has a great guide on how to do this perfectly). Set aside.

  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup hazelnut meal, and 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt until well combined. Set aside.

  4. In the bowl of a freestanding electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine 1 3/4 cups dark brown sugar, 2 large eggs, and 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes, before lowering the mixer speed to its lowest setting and streaming in the cooled brown butter (from the 1st step). Continue mixing until the ingredients are well combined and a pretty, amber color, before adding the dry ingredients (from the 3rd step) all at once and beating until just combined. At this point, it's okay to have a couple flour streaks still visible in the batter.

  5. Remove the bowl from the freestanding electric mixer and scatter 8 ounces chopped gianduja chocolate over the batter. Use a heatproof rubber spatula to hand mix the chocolate into the batter. 

  6. Once the chocolate is evenly distributed, transfer to the prepared baking pan and use an offset spatula to smooth the top. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the edges of the blondies are set but the center still looks a little gooey (the blondies will continue to cook in the pan). Allow to cool on a wire rack slightly before consuming in all their delicious glory. Don't forget the milk!
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