Thanks to Google Docs, I know precisely when I came up with this recipe. It was 10 years ago on a drizzly Tuesday. Ok, I don’t remember the weather, but I do remember these bars leaving a huge impression on me. They combined the pleasingly tender butterscotch bite of blondies with nearly caramelized fig jam and tangy, creamy goat cheese. The low key savory goat cheese offsets the sweetness like how you might find goat cheese paired with jam on cheese plate. It keeps you coming back for more. I served a square to my dad and he said “you could sell these at Starbucks for $4.95”. Take my word, this was a high compliment. I think you and yours will enjoy them too!
Why it Works
The soft goat cheese is mixed with just a bit of cream cheese for added creaminess (again, no dry crumbs here). The egg white and milk help to set the layer delivering more of a cheesecake texture. I found that no additional sugar was needed. Using a high quality fig jam, like Dalmatia Fig Spread delivers bold fig flavor.
The brown sugar brings with it some moisture, giving a soft little chew to the final bars. No dry crumbs here. I use light brown sugar instead of the more traditional dark brown sugar so there is some molasses flavor (it’s the brown in brown sugar) without overpowering the fig and goat cheese. When each element is layered and swirled together, you get a mix of textures in each bite. It’s a team effort, really.
Baked goods “edge people”, you’re in luck. The edges here brown a bit more and were my favorite part. It’s easy to see I’m a real fan of this bar and I can’t wait for people to try it.
So…What Exactly Are Blondies?
Don’t worry if you’ve never made or tasted this somewhat forgotten American bar cookie before. It’s basically the brownie’s cousin that never left home and remains a diamond in the rough. Blondies are blond or tan cookie bars that have a similar texture to brownies, thanks to lots of butter and brown sugar but without the cocoa or chocolate in the batter. Often times they have chips and nut mix-ins and TBH, it’s hard to distinguish a blondie from a chocolate chip cookie bar without tasting. The biggest difference is that blondies are typically 100% brown sugar as opposed to chocolate chip cookies, which have a mix of white and brown sugar.
Substitutions & Swaps
Varying the jam can totally change this dessert and opens up lot of options. I tried blueberry and it was delicious. Raspberry or blackberry sound delicious. Low sugar varieties would work as well.
Salted butter can be swapped for the unsalted butter, just omit the salt.
For those who don’t care for goat cheese, you could swap it with more cream cheese.
Goat Cheese & Fig Blondies
These bars are fun to make and eat. You get a little savory with the sweet, which is surprisingly addictive.
For thicker bars, you can use the slightly quarter sheet pan and increase the baking time.
If you don’t have parchment paper, you can grease the pan liberally with butter.
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter (1-1/2 sticks),
- 1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
- 2 large eggs, at room temp
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
- 5 oz (142 grams) soft goat cheese, at room temp
- ¼ cup cream cheese, at room temp
- ⅓ cup milk
- 1 egg white
- 1/2 cup fig preserves
Goat Cheese & Fig Layers
- parchment paper
- small saucepan or pot (to melt butter)
- medium mixing bowl
- large mixing bowl
- measuring cups
- measuring spoons
- mixing spoon
- spoon (to scoop the jam)
- butter knife
- Make the blondie base
- Line the baking sheet with parchment paper so that you have paper hanging over the long edges. Preheat the oven to 350℉.
- In a medium bowl, stir together the 1 ¾ cup flour, 1 ½ tsp baking powder, and ½ tsp salt and set aside. In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Add the light brown sugar in a large bowl, and whisk in the melted butter.
- Check that the sugar mixture has cooled and is only slightly warm to touch before adding the eggs one at a time, whisking in between. Whisk in the vanilla. The mixture should look shiny and smooth. Add the flour mixture into the wet ingredients and mix with the whisk or a spoon just until a smooth batter is formed. It will have a stiff and sticky texture.
- Transfer the batter to the prepared pan. You can use an offset spatula or fingers to smooth the surface into an even layer.
- Mash ¼ cup softened cream cheese and 5 oz. goat cheese together with a fork until it’s smooth with no lumps. Slowly incorporate ⅓ cup milk into the cheese mixture by stirring in a few splashes at a time then stir in the egg white. Spread the mixture in an even layer across the blondie base in the pan all the way to the edges.
- Stir the jam with a spoon to loosen it up then dollop it over the goat cheese layer. Use a butter knife to swirl the layers and spread the jam by gently dragging it through the three layers. Tap the tray against the surface.
- Bake the bars until the edges are browned and a toothpick inserted in a goat cheese area (not a pocket of fig) comes out clean. This will take 20 to 25 minutes in a 9-by-13 inch pan and up to 35 minutes in a smaller pan.
- Cool the blondies in the pan. One they are completely cooled (ok, they can be slightly warm if you can’t wait). Cut into squares and serve.
Make the Goat Cheese and Fig Layer
These blondies are great room temperature or warmed for a few seconds in the microwave. You can store them on the counter in an airtight container for a few days or up to a week in the fridge. They also freeze well double wrapped in foil and placed in a freezer bag.