Call me a contrarian. I grow my hair long in summer, cut it in winter. Order the fish at a steakhouse. Make salads in the winter... and bake in the summer. I don't know why!
Forget for a moment about the heat factor. To me, summer is about easy improvisational meals. Something on the grill. A picnic of finger foods. A cocktail of two ingredients, tops.
Baking, of course, is not improvisational. It's precise and fickle. You have to plan ahead because you can't easily substitute ingredients. But for some reason, I've had the urge to bake this summer. Just this past month I've made this tahini banana bread, these cornmeal currant thyme cookies, this "life-changing loaf", and now these -- peanut-brown butter blondies, like a cross between peanut butter cookies and toffee cake (ie: good in any season).
I adapted this from Martha Stewart's Cookies which organizes its chapters in the same way I think about cookies: light and delicate, chunky and nutty, crisp and crunchy, cake and tender, and so on.
Maybe one of these summer days I'll make these into ice cream sandwiches or sundaes (with some butter pecan ice cream as a comp... or strawberry ice cream for contrast). But for now, they're great au natural.
RECIPE: (adapted from Martha Stewart Cookies)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 9" x 13" pan with parchment, then butter and flour. Melt 2 sticks of butter until a golden brown. Remove from heat and cool.
Whisk 2 1/4 cups flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer, use a wooden spoon to mix the brown butter with 2 cups of brown sugar and 1/4 cup of granulated sugar. Add the paddle attachment and turn mixer on medium-high speed, adding three eggs. Mix until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add 2 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract while beating. Slowly add flour mixture, then add 1 cup of roasted unsalted peanuts until thoroughly integrated. Pour into pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.
Excellent warm, room temp, or cold (we've been keeping them in the fridge... steamy weather mold is no joke!)