Category Archives: Brownies

Brownies and Blondies – Part 2

Chocolate Chip Blondies from Cake and the Beanstalk

Chocolate Chip Blondies from Cake and the Beanstalk

At the end of November, 2013, I investigated the popularity of Brownies vs. Blondies. (See the November 23rd Brownies and Blondies posting.) This was an eye opener for me. Before I conducted this research, I was convinced Brownies were more popular than Blondies. Surprisingly, my research seemed to refute this. But some interesting questions remained. Are Blondies a New York thing? Were Blondies more popular because the companies I spoke to were based in New York (even though they ship their goodies nationwide)?

I’m trying to answer these questions now. And that’s why I’m obtaining information from non-New York-based bakeries/restaurants.

A sign in Cake and the Beanstalk

A sign in Cake and the Beanstalk

Dan Klein, owner of Cake and the Beanstalk, a Philadelphia-based coffee bar/bakery said his Blondies are about twice as popular as his Brownies (walnut and plain combined). Blondies are available with mix-ins, and the most popular mix-in is Oreo cookies, followed by Butterfinger bars. Dan indicates that Brownie sales come closer to Blondie sales during the colder months. A sign in Cake and the Beanstalk, above, reflects the popularity of his Blondies—and after a snack of iced coffee and Blondies, I too feel that I can conquer the world!

However, as you’ll see below, bakeries/restaurants in other parts of the country appear to be much more Brownie-oriented.

Goodies from Sweets for the Soul

Goodies from Sweets for the Soul

Los Angeles-based Sweets for the Soul offers 13 kinds of Brownies. According to owner, Lilly LaBonge, the bakery is passionate about chocolate and uses Valrhona chocolate in its Brownies. The most popular Brownie is its Salted Caramel Brownie, with house-made salted caramel. A Blondie, with toasted pecans and white chocolate is available for customers that who don’t want to eat regular chocolate.

A Fudge Brownie from the Corner Bakery Cafe

A Fudge Brownie from the Corner Bakery Cafe

Corner Bakery Café is a nationwide chain of cafes offering baked goods, breakfasts, sandwiches, salads, pastas, and soups and the company’s corporate headquarters is in Dallas.  Two varieties of Brownies are on the line-up: Fudge and Cream Cheese. The Fudge Brownie is the more popular Brownie and in fact it’s one of Corner Bakery Cafe’s top three best-selling sweets. Seasonal flavors round out the offerings. The Sweets menu is Blondie-free.

Cream Cheese Brownies from Piece of Cake in Georgia

Cream Cheese Brownies from Piece of Cake in Georgia

To obtain a slightly larger sample size, I looked at the web sites of 16 bakeries.  These bakeries are located in: Arizona; California; Georgia; Illinois; Maine; Massachusetts; Minnesota; Nevada; Pennsylvania; Oregon; and Texas. 

Of these bakeries:

— 12 offered Brownies but no Blondies

— 3 offered Brownies and Blondies, but the line-up was skewed toward Brownies

— 1 offered Brownies and Blondies, but the line-up was skewed toward Blondies

What to make of this? It appears as though the Brownie is the winner, nationwide, although there are pockets of Blondie fans. And of course, since my sample size is small, it’s impossible to draw definitive conclusions.

However, to show my allegiance to Blondies, I think I’ll enjoy one tonight. 

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Brownies and Blondies

Samples of "Walnut WItches" at the Fat WItch Bakery

Samples of “Walnut Witches” at the Fat Witch Bakery

Brownie purists may debate the finer points of dense, fudgy brownies versus brownies that are more cake-like.  But I think this detracts from the wider issue—the brownie versus blondie match-up.

Before I started doing brownie/blondie research for this posting, I assumed that brownies would trounce blondies in a popularity contest.  As you’ll see below, that isn’t the case.

Blondies from Sweet Sam's Baking Company

Blondies from Sweet Sam’s Baking Company

Sweet Sam’s Baking Company offers a variety of baked goods—including coffee cake, loaf cakes, cookies, brownies, as well as blondies.  Two brownies are in the line-up: a Walnut Brownie and the more popular Chocolate Chunk Brownie.  Interestingly, over the last year, sales of the Blondie were double that of the Chocolate Chunk Brownie.  And blondies have always been ahead of brownies in sales.

White Chocolate Raspberry Brownies from the Cake Sculptress

White Chocolate Raspberry Brownies from the Cake Sculptress

As the name implies, the Cake Sculptress specializes in 3D/sculpted cakes.  However for brownie and blondie fans, 11 types of brownies and 5 types of blondies are available.  The three best-selling brownies are: Triple Chocolate; Mint Chocolate Chip; and White Chocolate Raspberry.  The Cake Sculptress sells more Toasted Coconut Chocolate Chip Blondies than brownies.  Rebecca Goss, of the Cake Sculptress, speculates that people have become a bit disenchanted with brownies, seeing them as ordinary, though tasty, and nothing more.  However, she thinks blondies will never take the place of brownies because of the nostalgia and comfort offered by brownies.  Rebecca relayed an interesting brownie trend: brownie wedding cakes made a brief appearance as an alternative to traditional wedding cakes.

Grandma's Mix-Up Bars from Broadway Baker

A “Grandma’s Mix-Up Bar” from Broadway Baker

The Broadway Baker’s “Grandma’s Mix-Up Bars” sport a graham cracker crust made from homemade graham crackers.  Perched on top of this crust:  Belgian chocolate, unsweetened coconut, and crushed pecans.  A sweet cream is then drizzled over everything.  (For purposes of this post, I’ll take liberties and classify these bars as blondies.) Jim Osorno of the Broadway Baker reports that Grandma’s Mix-Up Bars are more popular than his brownie offering, “Major Brownies.”  Also see the Dessert Surveillance Broadway Baker posting.

Wrapped "Witches" at the Fat Witch Bakery

Wrapped “Witches” at the Fat Witch Bakery

In keeping with the whimsical witch theme, at the Fat Witch Bakery, brownies and blondies are known as “Witches.” Witch types include: Fat Witch (regular brownie); Red Witch (brownie with dried cherries); Java Witch (brownie with cappuccino chocolate chips); Snow Witch (with white chocolate instead of chocolate); and the Blonde Witch (blondie).  To keep Fat Witch devotees from suffering from too much guilt, a few of the Witches are available in small sizes, known as Baby Witches.  Seasonal flavors round out the offerings: a Pumpkin Witch and Pecan Bars.  And new Witch types are planned.  Pat Helding, the founder and CEO of the Fat Witch Bakery has an interesting take on the brownie versus blondie debate: Blondies are a New York City thing so brownies will still get more points in a national popularity contest.

And of the companies above, 3 of the 4 are based in New York City, although they ship nationwide.  The Cake Sculptress is based in Massachusetts.   What does this mean?  I need to ask these questions of more companies outside of the New York City area.  Stay tuned for Part 2 of Brownies and Blondies.

And in the meantime, I have an important decision to make:  I have a brownie and a blondie in my freezer.  Which one do I scarf down now?  Hmmmm…..

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