When I was a freshman in college, the arrival of a plain, brown paper package at the campus post office could only mean one thing for the recipient – food from home. For me, it specifically meant baked goods and other treats that I didn’t have access to living in a cramped dorm room in a small, out-of-the-way college town. Mind you, those were the days before there was a Starbucks strategically planted in every campus quad and on every other street corner. Back then, we relied on care packages from home for our cookies, brownies and rice krispie treats. I’ll admit that by the time they made it through several days in transit, they weren’t always the freshest. But, I didn’t care. To me, they were a connection to my family. They were comfort. They were love.
In a few days, Mr. SGCC and I will be heading out to take Mini SGCC off to college. It hardly seems possible! It feels like only yesterday I was clasping my daughter’s tiny hand as I dropped her off for her first day of kindergarten. I cried. She didn’t. And, I’m sure I will again when the time comes for us to say goodbye. I can already feel the tug on my heart as I write this. But, it’s time for her to go and start making her own mark in the world. I’m both excited and scared at the same time.
Mini SGCC’s college recently opened a brand new Starbucks on campus, just a stone’s throw from her dorm. That makes me happy because I know how much she enjoys going there. Though I know she’ll be washing down plenty of lattes with Starbucks muffins and scones, I still intend to carry on the care package tradition. It’s not so much about the treats as it is about keeping that connection going. I want her to know that this is still her home even though she’s not here, and that I love and support her. She is my heart and my life. And, I’m also hoping that she’ll get that same little thrill that I did when she finds a box with her name on it at the post office – especially if she’s feeling a little homesick.
One of the things I’ll include in my first shipment is a batch of these Toffee Blondie Bites. Blondies are basically brownies, without the chocolate. They’re made with dark brown sugar, butter and vanilla, and have a slightly chewy texture and caramel-like flavor. Honestly, they are wonderful! I’ve added toffee chips to these, because really, toffee is nothing more than crunchy caramel. And, I’m a firm believer that one can never have too much caramel. – particularly in a blondie. But you can add lots of other things too, like chopped nuts, chocolate chips or dried fruit. Or, you could add nothing at all.
When I make blondies, or brownies for that matter, to send or give as gifts, I prefer to bake them in mini muffin tins. They stay fresher longer, and they’re easier to serve and eat. They make a perfect two-bite snack. And, these blondies are so darn easy to make. You just mix all the ingredients together and bake. They’re practically foolproof!
So if you have a student going off to college, bake these blondie bites and send them some love. Just make sure to keep some for yourself. If you’re like me, you’ll need a little something to comfort you while you’re crying your eyes out.
Toffee Blondie Bites
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
- 2 cups packed dark brown sugar
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 cup toffee bits
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a mini muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray.
- Pour melted butter into a large mixing bowl and add the brown sugar. Mix until well combined. Stir in the eggs and vanilla.
- In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Add to butter/sugar/egg mixture, and mix well. Fold in the toffee bits.
- Fill each muffin cup about 3/4 full, using a tablespoon or small cookie scoop.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes, until the tops of blondie bites are set and a toothpick inserted in the center is slightly moist, but not gooey.
- Place tin on a wire rack until cool enough to handle. Then remove blondie bites from the tin and continue to cool on the rack. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
- Makes approximately 36 blondie bites.