Major Decisions: The Great Blondie Debate

Photo: Nathan Davison


If this were a question on your admissions application, it could be the deciding factor in determining whether you get into your dream school. It’s one of those questions that immediately draws extreme reactions. Like talking about politics and religion, you shouldn’t even broach the subject in polite society, but I can’t help it. I need to ask. I must.

Fudgy or cakey?

Don’t answer too quickly. The wrong word could alter your life forever, causing you to forgo years of happiness, all because you had the wrong preference.

Okay, that last line sounded ridiculous, didn’t it? I mean, I take my sweets pretty seriously (fudgy!), but can you imagine investing that much weight into one little decision?

Yet we do it all the time, in three critical phases throughout college: getting in, getting a degree and getting a job. During the two years I spent as a student adviser, dozens of freshmen spoke to me about the first two. They worried whether they chose the right campus, and later, the right major — the one that would connect them with the right courses and the right network so they could land the right job.

As silly as it sounds, it’s kind of like the cakey/fudgy blondie debate — everybody is so quick to weigh their opinions that sometimes it can be hard to judge for yourself. Though with a dessert, all it takes is a couple bites to discern your palate’s preference, things get a little murkier when you’re trying to untangle what you want from what everybody else wants for you.

I stumbled into the haze of making the “right” choices when I graduated from college. Suddenly, every job opportunity delighted and confused me. I saw a thousand parallel-universe versions of myself running down different roads, but I couldn’t seem to tell which was the “right” one for me.

Little did I know that looking for what’s right is all wrong.

At the end of the day, I had to ask myself what I meant by “right.”

I believe that you make your own luck, just like happiness is a daily choice. Sure, you got stuck with a gooey, fudgy blondie when you really wanted the thick, crumbly, perfect-for-dunking-in-milk one, but does that mean you’re doomed to a bad day? Heck no! So why should the fact that you didn’t get into your dream school mean that you’re doomed to a lesser existence now? That great life you envisioned for yourself at Harvard didn’t evaporate forever just because you were rejected. It just means you have to find another road to it.

I tried cakey blondie, and it wasn’t so bad. Top it with a scoop of ice cream and a river of caramel sauce, and that’s pretty close to bliss.

This week, as I start to obsess over my goals, deadlines and all those other workaholic Type-A tendencies, I’m going to push them aside and focus on life, one bite at a time.

Fudgy Blondies

Recipe from Smitten Kitchen; The secret behind this dish? Melted butter — so much easier to work with!

Kitchen gadgets needed: pan, stovetop, mixing bowl, spoonula, whisk, measuring cups, oven, oven mitts


  • 8 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 ounces white chocolate morsels
  • 3 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

Time commitment: 10 minutes to prepare, 20-25 to bake


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter an 8″x8″ pan.
  2. Next, melt the butter on the stove top, whisking in the brown sugar until it’s smooth. Take the butter mixture away from the heat, let it cool for a couple minutes, then beat in the egg and the vanilla. (Otherwise, the egg will start to cook. Scrambled blondies is the one category everyone can agree on: Gross!)
  3. Mix in the rest of the ingredients, then pour it into the 8″x8″ pan and bake it for 20-25 minutes.

Cakey Blondies

Recipe adapted from Food Network magazine; no nuts

Kitchen gadgets needed: electric mixer, measuring cups, large mixing bowl, medium bowl, spoonula, 9″x13″ baking pan, oven, oven mitts


  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 3 ounces white chocolate chips
  • 3 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

Time commitment: 15 to prepare, 20-22 minutes to bake


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. While it heats, grease the bottom of a 9″x13″ baking pan.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl. Then, in a separate bowl, beat the brown sugar and butter together until its fluffy (which takes about two minutes). Beat in the eggs one at a time.
  3. Beat in the vanilla, then stir in the dry ingredients just enough so everything’s combined.
  4. Fold in the white and semisweet chocolate chips.
  5. Though FNM suggests baking for 30 minutes, 20-22 was enough for my batch. (To test it, let the blondies cool for a few minutes, then gently press the top of ’em. They should spring back up, and have a light golden hue. Be careful not to burn your fingers!)

1 Comment

  1. Zelikha Shoja says: Reply

    I’m glad I came across your blog. I made fudgy blondies that were wayyy too sweet and gooey. I tried editing that recipe to be more cakey, but you saved me the headache. The blondies were very light and fluffy! I added caramel bites and walnuts to mine as well. I didn’t edit anything else ^__^

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