Have we talked about the days when I was a Girl Scout? No? Well it’s probably for the best. A daisy, then a brownie, a junior, a cadette, and then eventually a senior. The whole experience only took approximately five billion years.
The truth of the matter is that I was never very good. Probably the one girl in my troop that was unclear on what our motto was. Something about honoring and morals and a baking badge, I think?
I’d show up to meetings with a blank sash (and later an even emptier vest) and more interest in my troop leader’s chocolate chip cookies than the Girl Scout Law. Camping trips always found me asking, “At what point do we make the s’mores? Before or after the apple pandowdy?” Otherwise miserable in nature, or “too sick” for a retreat. Unless said retreat took place in my best friend’s troop. For those, I happily wedged my chubby self into the backseat of a Dodge caravan and sang the praises of Juliette Gordon Lowe’s mission like the gospel.
I could barely meet my cookie selling quota. Going door to door just felt wrong to me. And not just because I thought I could more easily eat my way through twelve boxes to earn the requisite badge. More because I just never felt comfortable peddling goods to my neighbors and kindly strangers on my street. I’d be at the door all, “Listen, between you and me, the Keebler Fudge Shoppe Grasshoppers blow these Thin Mints out of the water. And Pepperidge Farms’ shortbread? Forget about it. But my troop leader’s really on my case about selling these boxes. And I really don’t have any badges other than the ones for being a good friend…which I think is code for ‘you’re not very good at anything practical…let’s make something up and embroider it.’ So I guess what I’m asking you, dear neighbor, is if you’ll just let me put your name and address on this form and I’ll pay for the cookies myself. I just can’t use the same excuse as last year- that everyone on my block took a vacation at once. Because I think they’re on to me.”
It was a lot like my short-lived gig as a waitress. Not a lucrative career move for me. I just couldn’t bring myself to push the specials when I didn’t believe they were worth anyone’s time, money, or valuable stomach space. Speaking in hushed tones to my tables, “Trust me, the NY strip is a much better cut for your money. The 9oz sirloin we’re featuring is for the birds.” I could be wrong, but I don’t think servers make the big bucks by trying to cut customers’ spending. Or reminding them that the glass of wine they just ordered is $11 (in my defense- I just wasn’t sure they realized they were ordering the most expensive glass- a fine wine…at Outback Steakhouse…).
But back to the Girl Scouts. I never really left. I think I just got excommunicated. Cut off like a dead limb from a thriving troop. They’re probably all building up small communities in the woods while I’m…sitting on my kitchen counter at 7:25 am with a jar of peanut butter and a torn open bag of semisweet chocolate chips. Same as when they left me.
I did, however, get that baking badge. And for the record, if it were these peanut butter blondies with chocolate ganache that I were trying to pawn off on strangers? I’d own the whole damn organization.
They’re rich…buttery… chews screaming with peanutty flavor and they’re glazed in the most decadent chocolate ganache. Moist and luscious squares that may cause you to black out for a minute. Disarmingly rich. Like the Chi hair straightener- you knew it would change your life, you just didn’t know you’d end up not being able to go through life without it. That’s what these are. An unimaginable gift to your taste buds.
Peanut Butter Blondies with Chocolate Ganache (recipe from he lovely Smitten Kitchen)
2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 large eggs plus 1 large yolk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (9 oz)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (9 oz)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
Make blondies: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F with rack in middle. Line a 13- by 9- by 2-inch baking pan with foil and coat with nonstick cooking spray.
Beat together butter and sugar with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until mixture is light and fluffy.
Add peanut butter and beat until incorporated.
Beat in whole eggs, egg yolk, and vanilla.
Reduce mixer speed to low, then mix in flour until just combined.
Mix in chocolate chips (1 1/2 cups) then spread batter in baking pan, smoothing top. (It will be thick, almost like cookie batter.)
Bake until blondies are deep golden, puffed on top and a wooden pick inserted in center come out with some crumbs adhering, 40 to 45 minutes.
Cool completely in pan on a rack, about 1 1/2 hours.
Make ganache: Heat the cream in small saucepan to boiling on the stove or microwave it in a heatproof bowl for 1-2 minutes on high.
Stir in the chocolate chips and the butter. Stir until smooth. Set aside to cool slightly then spread over the top of the cooled blondies.
For best results, let the pan of glazed blondies sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before slicing. This will allow the ganache to firm up so that it slices cleanly. Serve the blondies at room temperature. Or just eat them right away like I did- a barbarian.