March 31, 2014 at 1:00 am

Maureen Tisdale

Let's Talk Food: Snickerdoodle Blondies, and what are your favorite giveaway goodies?

Cut back on the baking time a bit to keep the bottoms from burning. (Maureen Tisdale / The Detroit News)

My friend Aaron, with not inconsiderable help from his wife Meghan, became a father just over a week ago. He has a weak spot for snickerdoodles, those soft, cinnamony cookies, and I decided to take advantage of that to meet one sweet little newborn. (Oh, and he’s a looker, that baby. I didn’t snatch him from his grandma’s arms, but I sure wanted to.)

Anyway, I had been waiting for the opportunity to try to make better Snickerdoodle Blondies, which take the cinnamon treat up a notch; I used to love brownies’ chocolate-free, chewy brown-sugary cousin, the blondie. I’d never made a batch of Snickerdoodle Blondies where the bottom wasn’t too brown — OK, burned. But last time I made them, my copy editor friend Eric (you remember him from, most recently, the two-box brownies Let’s Talk Food) gave me pointers for the future about parchment paper and lessening the bake time for the type of heavy metal pan I have.

So this time I decided to give Eric’s tips a try, but I had to call my husband for moral support after I took the Snickerdoodle Blondies out of the oven Wednesday morning. I told him they were out 10 minutes shy of the shortest bake time recommended in the original recipe, but I was concerned.

“Why?” he asked.

“I’m afraid they’re going to be underdone,” I said. He should know this. It’s my biggest cooking anxiety.

“You should be afraid of burningthat’s a legitimate fear,” he said. “Why aren’t you ever afraid of burning?”

“Because that’s familiar — it’s the devil I know!” I told him. He laughed, and I told him we were writing the next Let’s Talk Food as we spoke.

Snickerdoodle Blondies have become one of my favorite care-package goodies, and I love me some care packaging. When I was single, I baked quite a lot even when I wasn’t eating the stuff. So I’d share the results with friends, ship them off to relatives or bring them to work — to mixed reception. I remember my sister-in-law Shelly gently letting me know perhaps pineapple upside-down cake isn’t the best mailing gift, as it arrived moldy; her husband, my brother Bill, still talks about the cookies I made him while bored after a tonsillectomy — I left the flour out of them, a bit loopy from pain meds. As for work, I remember a former coworker shaking his head at all the stuff I brought in and telling me I needed a man to cook for. Ha!

Anyway, I’m happy to report that thanks to a shorter cook time and using parchment paper, these chewy squares came out just right and were a hit with Aaron (and I hope, with Meghan; she’s a little too busy with new mommyhood to feel comfortable asking for her take on a baked good), plus the co-workers with whom I shared some extras. Eric even wanted the recipe — woo hoo!

If you have care-package favorites, please share — but if you’re looking for something to try, give these a shot. They’re Aaron- and Eric-approved. My toddler son also jabbered animatedly when he spotted them, and gobbled the morsels I allowed him — but I think you can trust Aaron and Eric more.

Do you have any favorite goodies to bring new parents or send friends or family? We’d love to hear about it them in the comments below the recipe. You need a Facebook account to add comments, but they’re easy to sign up for, and free. Detroit News Food Editor Maureen Tisdale will respond to comments or questions in the next few days. You also can follow her on Twitter @reentiz. Join the discussion!

Snickerdoodle Blondies

From “The RecipeGirl Cookbook.” The original recipe said it made 12 blondies. Sure, if you want gargantuan blondies. I made 16 then still cut them in half, though those ended up quite small; I think 20 would be perfect.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 2/3 cups packed light brown sugar

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) salted butter, at room temperature (best left out overnight)

2 large eggs

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup cinnamon chips (these can be hard to find — Hershey’s makes ’em, and I’ve only found them locally at Value Center Marketplace after multiple calls)

Topping ingredients:

2 tablespoons granulated white sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-inch square baking pan with nonstick spray. (For my heavy metal pan, I also put down parchment paper and sprayed that before putting dough in. Parchment paper, where have you been all my baking life?)

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, cream of tartar and salt.

In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to combine the sugar and butter. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until well combined. Gently stir in the dry ingredients until incorporated. Stir in the cinnamon chips. Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Combine the topping ingredients and sprinkle evenly onto the batter.

Now here’s where it gets tricky; the original recipe said bake 45 to 50 minutes. Those came out burnt for me. Thirty minutes, being allowed to rest a few (10?) minutes in the pan, made them come out perfectly for me. The original recipe suggests you bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out somewhat clean. The blondies will feel firm when done, but the inside will be moist and tender.

The recipe also said to keep an eye on them and cover the top of the pan loosely with a piece of foil if the blondies are browning more quickly than you’d like them to; I might try this next time.