These soft and chewy Salted Maple Walnut Bourbon Blondies have bold maple flavor maple flavor supported by bourbon's spicy notes. Spicy, salty, and sweet, these salted blondies have it all!
Why this recipe works
- Bold maple flavor supported by bourbon's spicy notes
- Soft texture with a nice crunch from the maple glazed walnuts
- Batter comes together quickly
I remember making blondies many years ago, and they were…uhm…just ok.
My major takeaway was that they seemed to be a pale version of a brownie, like blondies were brownies without the cocoa powder. They really needed some added oomph to make up for that lack of chocolate (read: flavor).
Salted Maple Walnut Bourbon Blondies solve that problem by adding maple syrup, a splash of bourbon, and a sprinkling of sea salt to the batter. Plus, they're topped with maple glazed walnuts.
Now we're talking bold flavor!
Maple syrup designations
Before we start with the blondies, let's talk a bit about maple syrup. There's so many types to choose from now!
Maple syrup is graded by its intensity of color and flavor. Here is the current grading systems used by the USDA and Canada:
- Grade A Light Amber or Canada No. 1 Extra Light: Grade A golden color, delicate taste
- Grade A Medium Amber or Canada No. 1 Light: Grade A amber color, rich taste
- Grade A Dark Amber or Canada No. 1 Medium: Grade A dark color, robust taste (can be closer to the Medium Amber designation...it will depend on the brand)
- Grade B or Canada No. 2 Amber: Grade A dark color, robust taste
In addition, now there’s maple syrup that’s been aged in ex-bourbon barrels, like Maple Bourbon Whiskey from Smugglers’ Notch Distillery.
First, bourbon is aged in oak barrels. Next, maple syrup is aged in those barrels. Finally, the previous bourbon is aged in the maple-infused ex-bourbon barrels.
(Whoa, that’s a lot of aging!)
Aging maple syrup gives it a slight spiciness from the bourbon and a touch of vanilla from the oak barrels themselves. The effect is subtle and interesting.
What you need
I adapted a recipe from the New York Times Cooking for Maple-Walnut Blondies, increasing the bourbon for even more soft spice to counteract the wonderful sweetness of the maple syrup.
For even more flavor, sprinkle on some sea salt flakes, and you've got a salty, spicy, sweet treat in your hand.
No bland blondies here!
How to make maple blondies
Like with brownies, making a recipe for Maple Walnut Blondies is essentially a one-bowl process. There's just the added step of glazing the walnuts.
Step 1: Make the maple glazed walnuts
The first step is to toast and glaze the walnuts with maple syrup (photo 1). This adds to the maple-forward flavor while taming the bitterness that walnuts can sometimes have.
Don’t skip this step!
After allowing the nuts to cool, chop them coarsely to use for the topping (photo 2).
Step 2: Make the blondie batter
Stir together melted and cooled butter with brown sugar, maple syrup, an egg, a generous splash of bourbon, and vanilla extract (photo 3).
Add in the flour, salt, baking powder, and nutmeg and stir until just combined (photo 4).
Step 3: Bake the blondies
Bake at 350°F for 20 to 22 minutes. Make sure to under-bake these blondies slightly by taking them out just before they’re fully baked. The blondies will firm up a bit as they cool and will have a soft and chewy texture.
Sprinkle on the sea salt flakes just after they've come out of the oven, then cool in the pan (photo 6).
Cut into squares after the blondies have cooled completely. Serve chilled for optimal chewiness and flavor.
Pro Tip: Clip the parchment paper
You may notice the binder clips attached to the sides of the pan. Those help to keep the parchment paper from falling into the batter as it's being baked, leaving a smooth top.
Questions asked and answered
Here are some questions that you might have...
Maple syrup is a great flavor on its own, but when baking it's best to use a robust (dark) grade of syrup in order for the flavor to shine over the other ingredients. I look for the Grade A Dark Amber myself, but use what you like.
If you don't like walnuts, go ahead and substitute any type of nut you prefer. Pecans, almonds, or hazelnuts all would be especially good.
I like the spicy flavor the bourbon brings to the batter, but you can leave it out if you prefer. The alcohol does bake out, so this recipe is kid-friendly.
These blondies bring the flavor
Like when tasting whisky, Salted Maple Walnut Bourbon Blondies require attention to the flavor details.
Pleasantly soft and chewy, these blondies deliver strong maple and walnut flavor, with delicate hints of brown sugar caramel and bourbon spiciness, finishing up with a hit of sea salt.
(Are you giving tasting notes for a blondie? Really?)
Yes, I am, because I can now appreciate this dessert for what it is…not a bland brownie, but a richly flavored treat in itself.
Oh yes, these maple blondies, enhanced with glazed walnuts and a hit of bourbon and sea salt, really amp up the flavor here!
Move along, bland blondies.
Soft and spicy, salty and sweet, these Salted Maple Walnut Bourbon Blondies have it all!
Slainté! L’chaim! Cheers!
Bar cookies, brownies, and pie bars (aka slab pies) are all recipes that make a lot with little effort (and no individual portioning). Here are a few ideas for these yummy treats!
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Salted Maple Walnut Bourbon Blondies
For the maple glazed walnuts
- ½ cup walnuts, see Recipe Notes
- 1 Tablespoon pure maple syrup, see Recipe Notes
- ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
For the batter
- ½ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- ¾ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
- 2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup, see Recipe Notes
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 1 Tablespoon bourbon, optional, see Recipe Notes
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- sea salt flakes, for sprinkling (optional)
- Heat the oven to 350°F. Spray an 8- x 8-inch baking pan with baking spray and line with parchment paper, leaving overhang on two sides.
- Make the maple glazed walnuts: In a small sauté pan, heat the walnuts, maple syrup, and a pinch of salt over medium heat. Cook, stirring often, until the nuts are glazed, lightly toasted, and the bottom of the pan looks dry, about 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board. When the nuts have cooled, coarsely chop them.
- Make the batter: In a large bowl, combine the melted butter, brown sugar, 2 tablespoons maple syrup, egg, bourbon (if using), and vanilla. Whisk until the batter is smooth. Stir in the flour, salt, baking powder, and nutmeg until everything is just combined.
- Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and smooth with a small offset spatula. Sprinkle the glazed walnuts evenly over the top of the batter.
- Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, or until the bars are just starting to brown at the edges. They should seem slightly underbaked and will firm up as they cool.
- Sprinkle the blondies lightly with sea salt flakes (if using), then allow to cool to room temperature in the pan. When the blondies are completely cool, remove from the pan using the parchment paper and cut into squares.
- Chill the blondies for optimal chewiness and flavor. Serve and enjoy!