Alex’s birthday is three days before Owen’s. Two years ago, when I was 100 months pregnant and probably already a little bit in labor, I baked him an outrageous cake covered in chocolate ganache and decorated with chocolate- and toffee-covered pistachios. It was a cake to end all cakes. Literally–I haven’t baked him another one since. With Owen’s birthday just 72 hours later, it always seems like too much. For the past two years, Alex has had to wait and “share” Owen’s cake, and instead of grown-up flavors like dark chocolate and nuts, we’ve had banana and M&Ms.
But this year, Alex turned 35 years old. 35! It’s kind of a big deal–definitely worthy of a special dessert. Once again I couldn’t quite bring myself to bake back-to-back cakes, so I decided on blondies loaded with pistachios and dark chocolate chips. They might not have looked quite as impressive, but topped with a scoop of chocolate sorbet and some fresh raspberries, they were every bit as delicious.
These blondies can be a bit sticky, so don’t skip the foil and parchment paper!
Blondies with Pistachios and Dark Chocolate
Makes 9 large blondies
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup coconut oil (solid at room temp) or Earth Balance vegan shortening
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 large ripe banana, mashed
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegan dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup roasted salted pistachios, chopped
1/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line an 8 x 8-inch square baking pan with foil so it extends up the sides. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper. Spray the pan with nonstick spray, dust with flour, and tap out the excess.
In a small bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt.
In a large bowl, beat the coconut oil or Earth Balance and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the banana, almond milk, and vanilla. Gradually beat in the flour mixture. Stir in the chocolate chips, pistachios, and coconut (if using).
Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan. Bake until the top is golden-brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool completely, then cut into bars. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator.