National Theatre Espresso Bar II: Just One Of Them Blondies

Brownie Basics

Remember how a while ago I got an okay brownie from the National Theatre? I still get coffee from there, and recently it seems they’ve slightly changed up their baking. This is the peanut butter blondie they have on offer.

Not pictured: the peanut butter (well, not really)

Brownie Backstory

I’ve covered a blondie before, so I’m going to avoid repeating all the things I said in that entry. What I do find interesting is that I’ve now had the opportunity to try two blonde brownies and both of them seem to have been made to the same recipe: peanut butter and dark chocolate chips. This isn’t a requirement for a blondie, by any means. I’m pretty sure the first blondie I ever ate had white chocolate as its main additional ingredient, and I can think of a whole bunch of other ingredients that would probably work. Nonetheless, for better or worse, this is directly comparable to Galeta’s blonde brownie: right down to the brown sugar sprinkling on top.

I’ve been thinking about brownie texture recently. It occurs to me that you could technically make something that you can call a brownie with cocoa powder and no melted chocolate. In my studied #opinion, this would be a mistake. One of the main requirements for a good brownie is that delicious fudgy texture, which (as far as I can tell) you basically only get by adding a sufficient amount of chocolate or similar ingredient into the brownie batter. A brownie made only with cocoa seems doomed to become a failed chocolate cake, which is a term I’m quite proud of and will now apply to brownies I hate.

Getting a ‘good brownie texture’ in a blondie must be quite a lot trickier. A straightforward option might be to substitute in melted white chocolate, but I reckon a blondie purist would object to having even white chocolate in the recipe. This suggests that you’d have to add something else that was vaguely fudge-like in texture, like caramel or toffee or… maybe peanut butter. Perhaps this is why it seems to be such a common ingredient in blonde brownies.

Alternatively, peanut butter is delicious.

Brownie Points

Taste: The taste is very good: peanut butter, high-quality dark chocolate, vanilla and sugar all come together to deliver a tasty treat. 8/10

Texture: As per my musings earlier, I get that the texture of a blondie is harder to pull off. This isn’t bad, but I think it’s dried out more than I’d like. Parts of it honestly feel almost like a flapjack, and the edges are pretty crunchy. Still, while that’d probably be fatal for a chocolate brownie, the different flavours here mean it’s more forgivable. 7/10

Presentation: There’s nothing very special here. It looks fine. 3/5

Value: At £3.75, it’s a bit pricey! Certainly quite a lot more than the standard brownie at the NT, and if anything it’s a little smaller. I think even £3.50 would be ok, but this is pushing into the range of “too expensive for what it is”. 4/10

Fudge Factor: I’m happy that these guys have broadened their bakery selection a bit. I’m excited to try their new chocolate brownie soon. The barista who served me today was stunningly beautiful. 3/5

Final Total: 25

Should I Buy And Eat This Brownie?

It all comes down to whether or not you think £3.75 is too much for what this is. If you think that’s a reasonable amount of money to spend on an average-sized square of peanut butter blondie, then there is no reason not to buy it.

Closing Thought

I’ve just realised that the barista was blonde as well! FATE


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