Hawaii Mom Blog: Zingerman's Bakehouse Review + Pecan Blondies




June 26, 2018

Zingerman's Bakehouse Review + Pecan Blondies

Disclosure: A complimentary copy was received for review purposes.

I love to bake, so I was very excited to receive a copy of Zingerman's Bakehouse by Amy Emberling and Frank Carollo  (Chronicle Books/October 2017 Hardcover/$29.95).

Zingerman’s Bakehouse, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, is an institution. In celebrating its 25th anniversary, Zingerman’s has made it possible for bakers and cooks of all levels to bring a piece of the celebrated business into their kitchens. Zingerman’s Bakehouse by Amy Emberling and Frank Carollo (Chronicle Books, October 2017), shares 65 meticulously tested, carefully detailed recipes in a beautiful hardcover book featuring more than 50 color photographs, illustrations and behind-the-scenes stories of their phenomenal business.

Since 1992, this artisanal bakery has fed millions of fans across the country with delicious breads and baked goods. But Zingerman’s Bakehouse is also part of a community of eight different businesses which includes the world-famous Zingerman’s Deli. In addition to baking up delicacies for the deli, the Bakehouse is known for their delicious cookies, pastries and coffee cakes, as well as Jewish favorites like hamantaschen, rugelach, and Jewish Rye bread. They also bake up unique variations on the traditional Challah such as Moroccan Challah and Raisin Turban Challah and a rare sabbath Cholent recipe.

Zingerman's Bakehouse is not only full of recipes, but also stories about Zingerman's Bakehouse's history, anecdotes about the people of Zingerman's Bakehouse (both the staff and customers), as well as interesting narratives about the recipes.  

Throughout the cookbook the authors share the Bakehouse's values and beliefs, helpful baking tips, and of course - many, many recipes that are perfect for any time of year and any occasion.   

Since I love blondies, I decided to make the Bakehouse Pecan Blondies, which was created by Charlie Frank, who sought out a job at the bakery in 2001.  

The blondies are full of delicious pralines, which, as the book notes, are difficult not to eat on their own.

The recipe is pretty straightforward, utilizing a lot of pantry staples, and the end result is a super yummy, moist, sweet/salty blondie.

Simply brown 2 T unsalted butter on medium heat until it "smells nutty and there are golden brown speckles in the pan."  Then add 1 c chopped pecans, 1/2 t sea salt, and 1/2 t vanilla extract.  Toast the pecans in a pre-heated 325-degree Fahrenheit oven for 12 minutes.  

Next, stir together 2 T water and 1/2 c + 1 T sugar in a small saucepan and cook over medium-high heat.  Do not stir!  Once it turns a reddish brown color, stir in the toasted pecans, and spread on a prepared 9x9 pan to cool.  Once cool, chop into irregular 1/4- to 1/2-inch pieces.

While the pecans are cooling, whisk together the 1 c + 3 T packed Muscovado brown sugar (I didn't have Muscovado on hand, so I just used dark brown), 1 c melted unsalted butter, 2 large eggs, and 1 t vanilla extract.

In a separate bowl, combine 1 1/2 c all-purpose flour, 1/2 t sea salt, 1 t baking powder.

Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and combine.  Then add the cooled, chopped pralines.

Pour batter into 9x9 pan and bake for 45 minutes.

If brownies are more your thing, give the below recipe a try!


Recipe from Zingerman’s Bakehouse by Amy Emberling and Frank Carollo
Chronicle Books/October 2017

Black Magic Brownies
  • Chopped unsweetened chocolate 1 cup plus 1 Tbsp 195 g
  • Unsalted butter 3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp 195 g 
  • Pastry flour 11/2 cups 218 g 
  • Baking powder 1 tsp 
  • Large eggs 4 
  • Granulated sugar 23/4 cups 540 g 
  • Sea salt 1 tsp 
  • Vanilla extract 2 tsp 
Magic Brownies 
  • Walnut pieces 11/4 cups 150 g 
Buenos Aires Brownies
  • Dulce de leche 3 cups plus 6 Tbsp 546 g 
  • Demerara sugar for sprinkling top 
  • Sea salt for sprinkling top (optional) 

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F [180°C]. Spray a 9-by-13-in [23-by-33-cm] pan with nonstick cooking spray.

2. In a double boiler, melt the chocolate and butter. Set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, combine the pastry flour and baking powder. Mix with a whisk to eliminate any lumps of fl our and to distribute the baking powder evenly.

4. In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, salt, and vanilla. Beat with a whisk until well combined and aerated, about 5 minutes. If you are using a stand mixer, use the whisk attachment on medium speed for this step. Add the melted chocolate/butter mixture to the egg mixture and whisk to combine evenly. Stir in the dry ingredients, using a rubber spatula. If using a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment for this step and mix on a low speed.

5. if you are making Black Magic Brownies, you are done mixing and can move to Step 6. If you are making Magic Brownies, toast the walnuts. Place the walnuts on a sheet tray in a 325-degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes, or until they’re a deep golden brown. Let cool. Add the toasted walnuts to the batter and mix gently simply to distribute them evenly, then go to Step 6. For Buenos Aires Brownies, see the directions that follow.

6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Carefully spread it to the corners of the pan in an even layer. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center is clean.

7. Remove from the oven and cool on a cooling rack for at least an hour. Cut into 12 squares, using a sharp knife to avoid crushing the top. Chilling the brownies before cutting may help the squares look more beautiful, but they taste better at room temperature.

Buenos Aires Brownies

1. Warm the dulce de leche slightly, on the stove or in a microwave. This will make it more spreadable. Place two-thirds of the brownie batter in the pan and spread evenly to cover the bottom. Spread the dulce de leche out evenly over this layer of batter. Top with the remaining brownie batter and spread to cover the dulce de leche. Sprinkle the top with Demerara sugar. If you like sweet and salty desserts, also sprinkle with a little sea salt.

2. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes. Cool and then enjoy. These cut more easily if they are refrigerated.


Unfamiliar with dulce de leche? It is a staple sweet spread, like a milk jam, used in South America in baking and as a condiment on things like bread and ice cream. It literally means “sweet of milk” and is made by slowly heating milk, sugar, and vanilla. The mixture thickens and then the sugars caramelize, and it turns a butterscotchy color. There are many recipes available to make it yourself.

Prefer to purchase it? Our favorite brand is La Salamandra from Argentina. They make it with only milk, sugar, and vanilla, no additives or preservatives. La Salamandra is located near the historic towns of Lujon and Capilla del SeƱor (50 miles from Buenos Aires). They use milk from their own grass-fed herds.

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