Well, it’s official! Boston, watch out. I’m here. Just kidding. Kind of?…
Anyway, I’ve still got a bunch of small stuff after the move like boring paperwork, so I’ll keep this post mostly short and sweet. I love a good blondie—soft, dense, and moist in the best possible way. They’re like more fulfilling cookies packed with flavor.
And these babes? They’ve got a couple of my favorite things! First, they’re topped with pistachio butter which is like the best thing ever right now. And so easy because you don’t have to make a frosting. (Plus salt brings out the nuttier qualities preventing the blondies from becoming too sweet)
But the other magical ingredient? Olive oil!
Olive oil is great because it’s got that grassy green quality that adds depth when compared to other oils. Brings baked goods to a whole other level. Olive oil, however, is also pretty darn special because of another quality. It is pungent and astringent.
I’ve mentioned astringency in wine and chocolate, but I realized I’ve never really written what that is! Well remember the hot feeling from capsaicin and the tingling from ginger’s zingerone? Astringency is similar.
Astringency is a chemically-induced, tactile sensation part of the class of sensations called chemesthesis. While researchers aren’t entirely sure how it works, (protein complexes in your saliva is the most widely accepted hypothesis, but I won’t get into that!) it creates a drying, roughing, puckering sensation in your mouth. It can be confused with the sour taste because things like cranberry juice have both prevalent.
Olive oils have polyphenols from the olives which cause the astringency just like that red wine I mentioned earlier. While a very astringent olive oil can indicate low quality, an olive oil with a balanced astringency profile is wonderful.
Another big part of olive oil’s profile is the burning sensation and peppery-ness. Take a sip of high quality olive oil, and you’ll notice a lingering burning in the back of your throat in addition to the astringency. This is also considered to be chemesthetic in nature by researchers—primarily caused by a couple of main components.
I used California Olive Oil in these blondies which has a great pungency and astringency profile. You can just barely detect that sensation and the chemesthetic nature in the finished product which adds a small amount of savory to the game. Plus that salty pistachio butter? You’ve got yourself a winner.
Feel free to swap out the pistachio butter for tahini or almond butter if you wish, though the pistachio butter has some green, herbaceous notes as well that brings out the olive oil in the blondies. Enjoy! Hooray for sensory science!
Olive Oil Blondies with Pistachio Butter
Adapted from My Name is Yeh
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups lightly-packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¾ teaspoon baking powder
1 cup olive oil
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Pistachio butter (about ¼ cup)
Fleur de Sal or other coarse salt
Roasted, Chopped pistachios
- Preheat oven to 350⁰F. Prep an 8 or 9” square baking pan with grease and a parchment paper sling.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the olive oil, eggs, and vanilla extract.
- Fold the wet ingredients into the dry, making sure there aren’t lumps. Pour the mixture into the prepped pan and spread it evenly.
- Bake until the center is set, 35-45 minutes.
- When done baking, remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes or so. Remove the blondies from the pan, using the parchment sling to pick them up, and let cool on a baking rack.
- When completely cooled, spread the pistachio butter on top of the blondies. Top with a few pinches of fleur de sal and chopped pistachios. Cut into 9 generous slices and serve!
- To store, tightly seal and keep in fridge if keeping for more than one day.