Hi All! Happy Fall!!
The combination of using black walnuts, Nocino (walnut liqueur), maple granulated sugar, and brown butter really set this apart from other blondies. It’s like everything is heightened. Blondies with oomph!
Trust me, you’ll savor every bite. If you can’t find these less common ingredients, it will still be a good blondie, but I strongly urge you to at least brown the butter. It’s such a minor step, but well worth it.
P.S., if you do want to use Black walnuts, make sure you buy them already shelled. I learned the hard way that you pretty much need to buy a special heavy duty nutcracker if you buy them with their shells intact, because the usual hand-held kind of nutcracker won’t be able to crack a black walnut shell! It is one of the hardest substances on Earth. Even squirrels have a hard time with them! Oh, and if you have to crack them open yourself, you’d better wear gloves while handling them, because the outer shells can stain your skin. You can see what they look like with the shells in the bottom left of the picture below!
Plus I ended up getting a piece of shell in one of the batches I took to work, so one of my coworkers bit into it! I’m lucky I didn’t get sued. (Thanks for not suing me, Anthony! 😉 ) My special nut cracker pictured under the recipe. Happy Fall!
maple walnut blondies
1/2 cup butter, browned preferably (if you need help on how to brown butter, go here)
1 cup maple sugar, granulated, (light brown sugar if maple sugar unavailable)
1 large egg
1 cup walnuts, English walnuts (or Black walnuts, or a combination of the two), shelled, toasted, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup Nocino, walnut liqueur
1/4 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup Black walnuts, shelled, chopped, toasted (or English walnuts, or a combination of the two)
9 walnut halves reserved for topping, optional
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1/4-1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt, depending on how salty you want it. I like the 1/2 teaspoon level myself.
1/2 cinnamon (optional)
1/4 teaspoon cloves (optional)
Brown butter and let cool slightly. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 8″ x 8″ square pan with a sheet of parchment paper 8″ by 16″ long, so that it hangs out from pan on two opposite sides. Set aside.
Add the maple sugar to the butter in a medium to large bowl and mix with a hand held electric mixer with beaters. (You can also just use a whisk to stir vigorously, if preferred.) Add the egg and beat until egg is completely mixed into the butter and sugar.
In a food processor, ground up the 1 cup walnuts, either English walnuts or Black walnuts, or a combination. If you want a strong distinct earthy flavor, go for Black walnuts. (I ended up using regular English walnuts for this part, but all Black walnuts for the later part.)
Gradually add the Nocino and maple syrup while processing the nuts to a rough paste, about 3 minutes on high. Scrape into the butter/sugar/egg mixture and whisk vigorously or continue blending with the electric mixer with beater attachments until the nut paste mixture is thoroughly blended in.
Fold in the 3/4 cup of coarsely chopped walnuts (could be any combination or one type or the other) with a rubber spatula, then do the same with the flour and salt and spices, if using. Stir or Fold with rubber spatula until none of the flour mixture appears as dry streaks.
Pour into prepared pan and top with the 9 halves (topping with 9 halves is optional).
Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, or until top looks glossy but filling is cooked in middle of pan when placing a toothpick in middle and center. Can bake a few minutes more to get some minor browning on top, if preferred. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.