Friday, April 21, 2017

Patriots' Day Blondies

Because it was pouring buckets and spitting snow on our regular marketing day, we stayed inside. There’s always some sort of meal we can throw together from what’s in the fridge and pantry. But! there was nothing for dessert, a crisis of epic proportions. So I had to bake.

But I was kind of low on butter, and I didn’t feel like messing with anything fancy, so I went looking for a bar cookies. Lo and behold, the model for this recipe was the first page in the cookie section of my bursting binder of recipes—something I found online in 2008, but had never made.

One small problem: it called for dried cranberries, and I had none. But I did have dried blueberries and dried cherries, and then I realized that with the white chocolate chips (that I did have), I was making red, white and blue bars. I figured I could call it an homage to Patriots’ Day here in Massachusetts.

Daniel Chester French's
Minuteman Statue, near
the bridge where the battle
took place
In case you are completely ignorant of Patriots’ Day (no surprise, because few states celebrate it), it commemorates the battle of Lexington and Concord, which took place on April 19, 1775 (you could argue it started on the 18th, which is when Paul Revere’s famous ride took place, but the fighting started on the next day). Nowadays it’s held on the third Monday in April. (Yes, I had an ancestor or three there, and there was that other one, celebrated in family lore, who said “sorry, I need to get this field plowed,” and missed the whole thing.)

Patriots’ Day Bars

3/4 cup butter, cubed
1-1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 eggs (room temperature)
3/4 tsp vanilla
2-1/4 cups flour
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup dried fruit, coarsely chopped if needed
(blueberries didn’t, cherries did)

Dried blueberries

Dried cherries

One important note: dried fruit works better in a bar cookie or bread (like Irish soda bread, which is where I learned this trick) if you soak it in boiling water for a couple of minutes first. Make sure to drain the fruit well before adding to the batter.

6 oz white chocolate bits (or chunks, chopped)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13x2 inch pan.

Melt the butter in a bowl. Stir in the brown sugar.

Transfer to a larger bowl (if you're using a stand mixer, the bowl for that will do) and let cool. Beat in the eggs and vanilla.

Sift together the dry ingredients, and add gradually to the butter mixture.

Stir in the fruit and the chocolate bits. (The batter will be stiff.)

Spread in the greased baking pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clear (do not overbake!). Cool in the pan on a rack.

And enjoy!

My next book will be A Late Frost, the 11th book in the Orchard Mystery series, coming from Berkley in November (yes, a long time to wait!). 

It takes place in February--you know, that month where everybody in Massachusetts is ready for spring but they know that won't happen for a couple of months yet. So the town of Granford decides to start a new tradition: the WinterFare. 

Which turns out really well--until one of the organizers dies.

I'll be telling you more about it over the next few months.

And be sure to enjoy my newly polished website!


  1. What a great take on blondies -- they look delicious!

    1. They keep well too. At least, as long as they lasted. I may try dried cherries more often!

  2. “Sorry, I need to get this field plowed,” Very practical man!

    These do sound like fun, but I'll trade out the white chocolate for dark. I'm not a white chocolate fan.

    1. Yeah, he's one of my favorite (if nameless) ancestors. That's how he's been remember for how many generations?

      I've found I'm allergic to chocolate (don't tell!). Mostly it makes my eyes itch, but I have been known to eat it anyway. When I was pregnant with my daughter, I'd eat chocolate or drink cocoa and she would get the hiccups. Very odd feeling.

    2. Oh, my. Allergic to chocolate?! Take me out and shoot me now. That and red wine.
      Do you react differently to white chocolate?

  3. Yum. I love blondies. Not familiar with Patriot's Day. We celebrate March 2, Texas Independence Day. And St Patrick's. And Cinco de Mayo. Maybe we need to add Patriot's Day?

    1. Poor Patriots' Day don't get no respect. I love the stories: large numbers of British soldiers dressed up in their nice clean uniforms march from Boston to Lexington and then Concord to show those upstarts there a thing or two. They end up scurrying back to the city, with the patriots taking pot-shots at them from behind stone walls, their numbers growing as more and more local militia join the fun. Very ungentlemanly of them.

  4. I love this recipe, Sheila! Thanks. Hugs. MJ

  5. Perfect for the Fourth of July! Thank you