Billy Green from the blog Wit and Vinegar is one of my favorite people of the internet. In some ways he’s very much like a cartoon character brought to life. Every blog post of his offers a short break from the real world, sure to brighten your day and bring a smile to your face. If you’re not a fan of Billy, I’m probably not a fan of you – Let’s put it that way. This is the guy that brought Popsicle Week to the internet, Mariah Carey gifs and all. With his cute dogs and his fun, retro design sense, what’s not to love? I have a real soft spot for fellow food bloggers with a design background. Heck, he hand-cut a stencil of the fingernail-painting emoji to decorate his Nutella Brownie Tart. (My design-nerdy self would totally get a thrill out of doing that as well.) He’s the best.
So with Billy being Billy and doing what he does, his cookbook, Whip it Up, is the same bundle of joy he brings to his blog, but in printed form. It’s bright, happy and colorful, and features recipes that anyone could “whip up” at any given time, fancy-pants skills not required. It’s the kind of food you’ll actually MAKE, like for real. These are recipes for weeknights or for weekends when your super-chill friends are staying over. It’s for late night snacks and for pool parties. These are everyday eats that are easy, fun and delicious.
You’ve got breakfast recipes featuring loaded baked potato hash and choose-your-own-adventure breakfast rolls. Lunch and dinner options include honey sriracha chicken skewers and bbq chicken pizza. There’s a whole chapter on tacos! We made his chickpea tacos which were wonderfully easy and delicious, and now we put his homemade taco seasoning mix on everything we get our hands on. He included plenty of desserts, plus a whole separate chapter for frozen treats (like popsicles, obvs). Other winners include easy recipes for staples to make yourself like pizza dough, spice mixes, brown sugar, vanilla extract and croutons. And then of course you can’t forget beverages, like his hibiscus limeade or the grapefruit mint margaritas.
A great cookbook (in my opinion) has character, and this one has the classic Billy tone running throughout the whole thing. It’s chock-full of his hair-flipping sass and sense of humor that always makes me LOL. As an example, in the headnotes for his grandma’s blackberry cobbler recipe (which I’m dying to make) he says, “If you ever have a load of blackberries and want to feel your face explode from happiness, then make this cobbler.” Tell me more, Billy! I bet his grandma is awesome, too.
I’m not usually one for blondies (I prefer to just go full-brownie), but the brown butter walnut blondies is his book kept catching my eye. I was starting to see the appeal. A good blondie can be almost as satisfying to me as a good chocolate chip cookie. (They’re kind of like bar cookies, anyway …) So my recipe for you today is my take on his recipe. I felt the need for pecans so I swapped them for the walnuts, and then I added the toffee bits because something told me I should. (It was right.) Honestly, these might be my perfect blondie recipe. They’re chewy, crunchy, caramel-y sweet and kind of salty.
Plus, they’re super easy to make. Don’t let the brown butter in the recipe scare you off. It can be a little bit nerve-wracking the first time you do it, but each time it gets easier. It’s the kind of thing where you learn the smells and the visual cues, so each time it becomes more and more familiar until you could practically do it in your sleep. (And that would be a great skill to have.) Here’s a helpful tutorial for browning butter. It’s a skill every baker should have up their sleeve.
When you take these out of the oven and start to sneak little bites of them, they might seem a bit underbaked in the middle. DON’T WORRY. That’s exactly how you want them. Once they cool completely, that gooey part will turn into chewy perfection. Just don’t over-bake these.
The first time I made them I ate almost half the pan immediately. (This is why I probably shouldn’t bake so often, but oh well.) THEY’RE SO GOOD. Please make them.
On another note, can we please talk about this dedication page?
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter, cubed
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup (125 g) all purpose flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp fine sea salt
- 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
- ½ cup toffee bits
- Heat the oven to 350°F and grease or line an 8x8-inch baking pan.
- In a medium saucepan or small skillet, warm the butter over medium heat. Whisk the butter constantly as it melts, foams and bubbles. After a few minutes it should begin to smell nutty and the butter solids at the bottom of the pan will turn a golden brown. As soon as you see brown bits on the bottom of your pan (it helps to use a light-colored pan), take it off the heat and continue to whisk for another thirty seconds. Pour into a large bowl and set aside.
- Let the butter cool down for 10-15 minutes. This is a good time to chop your nuts and prep the rest of your ingredients.
- Once the butter has cooled a little, add the brown sugar, egg and vanilla to the bowl. Stir until well combined.
- Sprinkle the flour, baking powder and sea salt over the bowl. Stir until just combined.
- Gently fold in the pecans and toffee bits.
- Smooth the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, until lightly browned and crinkly on top. DO NOT OVER-BAKE.
- If you can wait, allow them to cool completely before serving. (I never wait.) The middle will seem gooey, but it will set as it cools and become perfectly chewy and delicious.