I got the flu last week. In a matter of hours, the little scratch in my throat turned into pain, and my whole body became achy, worse than if I’d run a marathon (probably- I assure you, I’ve never run a marathon). It hurt to do anything, and I was coughing, chilly and miserable. I felt my internal monologue shifting towards the dramatic:
“I should have listened to my parents and gotten the flu shot in November but I was “too busy that day,” god damn, what was I even busy with? I need to get my life together. I’m a joke”
“Why does it hurt to sleep…why does my whole body hurt…I know only pain now…I am a martyr and will be known only for my suffering…this is my life forever now…”
“The joy I used to experience has fled from my life and I will never feel happiness again”
I stayed home on Thursday and Friday, semi-consciously watching infinite hours of Netflix and making myself brothy soups, honey-ginger-lemon brews, and trying to find a comfortable position to relax in. I was feeling peak sorry for myself by 3pm- I didn’t sleep the whole night before, I had had to cancel fun plans with Aaron, Julianna and John for later that day, and it hurt to lie on the couch, which was the toughest blow of all. Flu, how DARE you squeeze the joy out of my couch.
Around that time, though, two nice things happened. The first Nice Thing was that I got a bout of energy out of nowhere that would propel me up to a seated position and into the Martha Stewart website, from which I emerged with a recipe for coffee blondies. They took 10 minutes to put together and 23 minutes to bake- by far the quickest turnaround I’ve ever experienced with baked goods- and they might be the most delicious thing I’ve ever baked.
The second Nice Thing was that the timing worked out to do a Google Hangout with two of my best friends, Grace and Zoë. These days, we find ourselves in different time zones for the first time in several years, so our three-way videochats bring me infinite joy- even with a pounding head and a wildly off-putting cough. The timer for the blondies went off as we were chatting, and it felt like the many times in the past six years that we’d sit around together, watching a show, waiting for something delicious to come out of the oven.
Anyway, this post that went from slightly whiny to slightly sentimental exists for me to share the recipe for these wonderful coffee blondies. They’re chewy, they taste intensely of sweet coffee, and the edges are just crisp enough to balance the soft interior. They’re the perfect baked good, and really so simple to make. I think they also helped cure my flu*.
*this statement has not been evaluated by the FDA.
Adapted slightly from this recipe by Martha Stewart.
- 1 cup unsalted butter, plus more for pan
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 cups packed light-brown sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 3 tablespoons freshly ground coffee
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with aluminum foil so that it overhangs on all sides. Butter the aluminum foil thoroughly.
In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and baking soda.
Melt butter, and pour into a mixing bowl with brown sugar, cinnamon, ground coffee, and 1 teaspoon salt. Stir to combine. Stir in eggs and vanilla extract. Stir in flour mixture until just combined.
Pour batter into pan and bake for 23 minutes. Let cool for 20 minutes before cutting into squares and eating (if you can).
P.S. Two new friends and readers just told me that these go EXCELLENTLY with the 2005 coming-of-age classic, Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants. I wholeheartedly approve this genius pairing. (added February 13th)