Birthday Blondies with frosting and sprinkles

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This week’s recipe is inspired by birthdays. Mine! And never one to pass up an opportunity to make a giant spread of food, I made myself some blondies.

My friend helped fund a salted pretzel cake from local baker Wandering Whisk Bakeshop for my celebration. But I wanted to have a couple other treats available at the celebration in case we ran out of cake, or family members with dietary restrictions (or picky palates) wanted something else.

Honestly, it was really just an excuse to bake a lot of things I would never eat myself. And to bust out the sprinkles.

Blondies resemble, well, blonde brownies, but they remind me more of chocolate chip cookie dough without the chocolate chips. A dense dough sweetened with brown sugar, they hold up well to lots of festive toppings.

Make them in a nonstick square pan, like you would use for brownies. And make sure you line your baking vessel with parchment paper on the bottom, which makes it much easier to remove the blondies from the pan — they’ll continue to cook the longer they sit in there.

These have the effect of those chocolate chip cookie cakes I always begged my parents to let me order from the mall for birthday parties. Now, with the help of sprinkles and a stand mixer, I can make my own.

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Birthday Blondies

For the blondies:

Nonstick cooking spray

2 cups flour

2 cups lightly packed dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup olive oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 large eggs

For the chocolate frosting:

1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup cocoa powder

2 tablespoons heavy cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

A pinch of kosher salt

Sprinkles, for topping

Make the blondies: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-inch square pan with cooking spray and line with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, salt and baking powder. In a separate bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vanilla and eggs. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and pour the mixture into the pan, spreading it out evenly.

Bake until the center is set; begin checking for doneness at 35 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes, then remove to the rack and cool completely.

Make the frosting: Use an electric mixer to beat together the confectioners’ sugar, butter, cocoa powder, heavy cream, vanilla and salt.

Spread the frosting on half the blondies, top with sprinkles and cut into squares. Drizzle the caramel on the other half, then sprinkle with crushed pretzels.

Makes about 12.

Source: Michelle Stark, Tampa Bay Times; blondies adapted from Molly Yeh