- 4 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 cups lightly packed light brown sugar
- Scrapings of 1 vanilla bean
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 large eggs, separated into whites and yolks
- 6 tablespoons whole milk
- 1 1/2 cups crunchy Valrhona dark chocolate pearls (see headnote)
- 2 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease an 11-by-14-inch baking sheet with cooking oil spray, then line it with parchment paper. Grease the paper as well.
Sift together flour, baking powder and baking soda on a sheet of wax paper.
Combine the butter, the granulated sugar and 1 cup of the light brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer; beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Stop to scrape down the bowl. Add the vanilla bean scrapings and salt; beat on medium speed for 1 minute, then add the egg yolks; beat (medium speed) until well blended. Stop to scrape down the bowl.
Add the milk and beat on medium speed until well incorporated; stop to scrape down the bowl, then beat (medium) for 30 seconds. Stop to scrape down the bowl.
Add the flour mixture. Beat on low speed until combined. Stop to scrape down the bowl. Add the Valrhona pearls and beat (low speed) just until distributed.
Place the egg whites in a separate, clean bowl of the stand mixer fitted with a balloon-whisk attachment or use a hand-held electric mixer; beat on medium speed with 1/3 cup of the remaining light brown sugar. Once the mixture becomes frothy, add another third of the light brown sugar; beat (medium speed) to soft peaks. Add the remaining third of the light brown sugar; beat (medium) to somewhat firm peaks (a meringue).
Press the cookie dough onto the baking sheet in an even layer, within a half inch or so of the baking sheet edges. Spread an even layer of the chocolate chips over the cookie dough, then spread the meringue evenly over the chips. Bake for 30 minutes, until the meringue layer is golden brown. Cool completely.
To cut perfect squares, freeze the entire baked sheet. Loosen any edges stuck to the baking sheet corners, then release from the baking sheet. Discard the parchment paper. Use a sharp, clean knife to trim the edges before cutting into 24 or 30 squares (while still frozen).
These chewy squares with a marvelous baked-on meringue topping are a definite step up from blondies. They are named for pastry chef Alex Levin's grandmother ("savta" is Hebrew for grandmother).
Make Ahead: The baked squares can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days; bring to room temperature for 1 hour before serving. Or the squares can be layered between wax paper and frozen for up to 3 weeks. Defrost completely before serving.
Where to Buy: Valrhona crunchy dark chocolate pearls are available at some Whole Foods Markets, at some chocolate shops and via online purveyors. Godiva chocolate pearls are available at Balducci's.
Makes a whole tray - good for a crowd, or a weekend full of house guests.