Last Sunday was hair supervisor Monica Costea’s last day at Virginia Woolf and she aptly requested “Blondies.” Monica’s moving next door to the Shubert to work on the new musical Matilda (previews start on March 4.) But she’ll still be able to stop over and enjoy WINE AND UNWIND on Sundays.
Monica not only styled the women’s hair for Woolf, she also cut the male actor’s hair and has been a Broadway fixture for almost three decades. Her first show was Alfred Uhry’s The Last Night at Ballyhoo, and she’s worked steadily ever since, doing hair on Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake, Lion King, Wicked, The Music Man, A Class Act, Ghost, Sister Act and Hair, to name just a few.
Since she is a Southern girl, James decided to top the Blondies with a praline topping. (He would usually use pecans but Monica wanted walnuts, so he substituted.)
Chocolate Chip Blondies with Walnut Praline Topping:
nonstick cooking spray
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 Tablespoon water
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1. Heat oven to 350° F. Spray an 8-inch square baking pan with the cooking spray. Line the pan with 2 crisscrossed pieces of parchment, leaving an overhang on all sides; spray the parchment with the cooking spray.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Then, in a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Remove from heat and mix in the brown sugar and vanilla. One at a time, mix in the eggs; mix in the flour mixture until just combined (do not over mix). Add the pecans or walnuts and chocolate chips.
3. Spread the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs clinging to it, 25 to 28 minutes. Cool completely in the pan.
4. Make the praline topping: In a small saucepan, heat the brown sugar and butter over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until bubbling, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla, 1 tablespoon of water, and confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Spread over the cooled blondies and sprinkle with the nuts. Let the topping set, 10 to 15 minutes.
5.Holding both sides of the paper overhang, lift the cake out of the pan, transfer to a cutting board, and cut into 16 squares. Store the blondies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.