The other weekend I went on a wine tour with a big group of girls. We rented a (hilariously swanky) limo and drove out to three wineries in the Northern Virginia area. It was basically perfect — great weather, pretty countryside, fun friends, and lots of yummy wine to try. As a rule, visiting wineries is one of my favorite things to do — I’ve been winery-hopping before in Napa and Traverse City, Michigan…and now I’ve sampled a bunch in Virginia, too!
Halfway through our wine tour, we stopped to have a picnic at an especially pretty spot outside one of the wineries. We had a great spread — bread, cheese, hummus, charcuteries, fancy cookies, and of course lots and lots of wine. For my contribution to the picnic, I brought these delicious oak bars, which are basically just blondies with a secret ingredient — chardonnay!
When I first stumbled upon this recipe, I wasn’t too sure how well it would work. And when I was mixing the batter and saw the strange, lumpy texture the chardonnay created, I was even less sure. But I should have known that a little wine makes everything better, because these turned out perfectly. And it actually makes sense — I’ve always thought chardonnay had a “buttery” taste to it, so what could be more perfect in a sweet treat than some rich, buttery Chardonnay? Apparently nothing.
OAK BARS (recipe from Cook Like a Champion)
1 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup oak aged Chardonnay (I used Estancia, a California wine)
1/2 cup chopped, toasted cashews
3/4 cup butterscotch chips
1. Preheat oven to 350. Line an 8-inch square pan with foil, leaving a few inches of overhang. Lightly coat foil with nonstick spray and set aside.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, beat butter and brown sugar on medium speed with an electric or stand mixer until light and fluffy. Reduce mixer speed to low, and beat in egg and Chardonnay (batter will look somewhat clumpy). Gradually beat in flour mixture until just combined. Stir in cashews and butterscotch chips.
3. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 25-30 minutes, until the edges are golden and the center has just set (note – mine took about 35 minutes). Cool completely in pan set atop a wire rack. Remove from pan using foil overhang, then cut into 12 bars. CHOW DOWN!
I’m so glad I found the perfect excuse to make these, otherwise I might never have tried them. Crack open some Chardonnay and give these a try!