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I’ve been feeling a little bored with my standard bakes lately. They’re still good, don’t get me wrong, but they just aren’t scratching that itch anymore. After a relatively brief tour around Pinterest, I landed on a recipe from Bon Appetit for Gooey Brown Butter Blondies with Pecans. I decided to go with something that was sweet, but really highlighting more savory flavor elements like brown butter and toasted pecans, and I have to tell you I was delighted with the results.
Brown butter mixture
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 large egg
¾ cup (packed) light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon kosher salt
⅓ cup all-purpose flour
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more
2¼ cups all-purpose flour, plus more
1½ cups pecans, coarsely chopped
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
1¾ cups (packed) light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Vanilla ice cream (for serving)
Brown butter mixture
Cook butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, until butter foams, then browns, 5–8 minutes. Transfer brown butter to a medium bowl; let cool slightly. Add egg, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt and beat until mixture is light and falls back onto itself in a slowly dissolving ribbon, about 3 minutes. Fold in flour.
Preheat oven to 350°. Butter a 13×9” baking dish and dust with flour. Toast pecans on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing once, until slightly darkened and fragrant, 8–10 minutes. Let cool.
Whisk baking powder, salt, and 2¼ cups flour in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat brown sugar and 1 cup butter in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating between additions; mix until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in vanilla.
Reduce speed to low and mix in dry ingredients. Fold in half of pecans. Scrape two-thirds of batter into prepared baking dish; smooth top, pushing batter to edges. Alternating, dollop brown butter mixture and remaining batter on top. Smooth and sprinkle remaining pecans over.
Bake until blondie is golden brown and firm (a tester will not come out clean), 30–35 minutes. Let cool before slicing. Serve with ice cream.
DO AHEAD: Blondies can be made 1 day ahead. Store tightly wrapped at room temperature.
- This recipe was a little more complex than your standard dump and mix but well within the reach of the casual baker.
- Hands down one of the best recipes I’ve tried. I loved it; my husband loved it; an office full of my new coworkers loved it. One guy even told me it was one of the best things he’d ever eaten. This is a fantastic option for a situation that calls for something a little extra special.
And the search for the perfect chocolate cake continues. After a slightly disappointing recipe with the Tasty recipe, I decided to go for a slightly more traditional source and found this recipe for Good Housekeeping’s Best Chocolate Cake.
Chocolate Flavor: 9 – YAAAAAASSSSS!!! This is the best chocolate cake recipe I’ve had since THE chocolate cake.
Texture: 10 – Perfect
Frosting: 7 – A teeny bit of a let down with how amazing the cake was, but pretty good.
The “M” word: 9 – I liked these enough that I kept a few back and three days later they were still good.
Effort: 8 – A little more effort than the last recipe, but well worth the extra work.
Overall: 8.5 – Another rave from my testers, and with a different frosting recipe, I think this might be “the one”.
- 2 c. all purpose flour
- 1 c. unsweetened cocoa
- 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 3/4 c. Butter or Margarine, Softened
- 1 c. packed brown sugar
- 1 c. granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 c. low-fat buttermilk
- 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
- 1/3 cup boiling water
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine
- 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
- 12 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
- Prepare cake layers: Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease three 8-in. round cake pans. Line bottoms with waxed paper; grease paper. Dust pans with flour
- On another sheet of waxed paper, combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. In large bowl, with mixer at low speed, beat butter and brown and granulated sugars until blended. Increase speed to high; beat 5 minutes or until pale and fluffy, occasionally scraping bowl with rubber spatula. Reduce speed to medium-low; add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla until blended. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture; beat just until batter is smooth, occasionally scraping bowl with rubber spatula.
- Spoon batter evenly among prepared pans. If necessary, stagger pans on 2 oven racks, placing 2 on upper rack and 1 on lower rack, so that top pans are not directly above bottom one. Bake 22 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. With small knife, loosen layers from sides of pans; invert onto wire racks. Carefully remove and discard waxed paper; cool completely, about 45 minutes. If you like, wrap layers well and store at room temperature up to 1 day or freeze up to 1 month. Bring to room temperature before frosting cake.
- Meanwhile, prepare frosting: (see below) In small bowl, combine cocoa and boiling water, stirring until smooth. In large bowl, with mixer at medium-high speed, beat butter and confectioners’ sugar 5 minutes or until fluffy. Reduce speed to medium-low; add melted chocolate, then cocoa mixture, beating until smooth and occasionally scraping bowl with rubber spatula. If frosting is too runny, refrigerate until just stiff enough to spread.
- Assemble cake: Place 1 cake layer bottom side up on cake plate; spread with 1/3 cup frosting. Top with second layer, bottom side up; spread with 1/3 cup frosting. Place remaining layer bottom side up on top. Spread remaining frosting over sides and top of cake.
- Make the frosting: • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa • 1/3 cup boiling water • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened • 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar •12 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
Strawberry Shortcake is a summer dessert staple here in the south. Even more so here in Florida where some of the best strawberries you could ever have are grown in state. Heck, we even have a festival for it. Yeah, it’s kind of a big deal. However, all this strawberry pride has led to some overly processed sugar bombs that don’t even deserve the shortcake name. I wanted to do away with all that and bring the focus back where it needed to be – on the strawberries.
The base of my dish is a slightly sweet black pepper biscuit. It might seem a bit odd, but the tiny bit of heat you get from the freshly ground pepper goes wonderfully with the sweetness from the cream and the berries. Also, I do acknowledge that there is a bit of sugar in each component of this recipe, but I tried to use it in a way that enhances rather than overpowers. Don’t let the multiple components throw you – the biscuits are the only tricky bit to this recipe; everything else is super simple.
Biscuits (makes 9-12 depending on size)
- 1 3/4 cup of all purpose flour
- 3 tsp organic sugar
- 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 3 tsp fresh ground black pepper
- Pre-heat oven to 475 degrees F
- Combine dry ingredients in mixing bowl and whisk together with a fork.
- Pour cream into well in the center of the dry mixture and stir gently with the fork until the mixture begins to come together.
- Turn contents of bowl out onto a floured surface and shape into a rough ball.
- Fold the ball in half and press out with the heel of your hand. Turn 90 degrees and repeat eight more times.
- Pat mixture into large disk approximately 1/2 inch thick
- Use a glass with a greased rim to cut out biscuits (do not twist or the edges will seal and prevent biscuit from rising).
- Once you’ve cut out all of the biscuits you can, place them on the baking sheet and combine remaining dough and make another round of biscuits. Repeat until dough is gone.
- Bake biscuits for 13-15 minutes.
- Place on rack to cool completely before using.
- 1lb ripe strawberries
- 1 heaping tbsp organic sugar
- Slice strawberries
- In a mixing bowl, combine strawberries and sugar tossing to coat the berries.
- Store mixture in refrigerator for 2 hours to allow juices to collect.
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 2 tsps powdered sugar
- Chill mixing bowl in fridge for 1 hour prior to making the whipped cream.
- In chilled bowl, combine sugar and cream and whip on high until soft peaks form.
*Do not over whip or mixture will begin to turn into butter.
Assemble components and enjoy!
So there you go – simple, special, and perfect for summer.
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, my dislike of sweet potatoes has peppered any remarks around holiday recipes/meal planning. So this year I decided to set aside the distaste and give it another chance. I mean I eat broccoli now, and no one saw that one coming. Tastes change, right? Supposedly? Maybe? Okay, maybe not in this case. The cupcakes are good, but I’m still not a huge fan. My taste testers really enjoyed them. Oh well, at least I tried right?
- 1 cup cooked sweet potato
- 1 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla paste or extract
- 1/3 cup bourbon
- 1/3 cup butter
- 2 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- 1/2 stick unsalted butter
- 4oz cream cheese (softened)
- 1 tbsp vanilla paste or extract
- 3/4 cups powdered sugar
- 1-4 tbsp heavy whipping cream
- 1/4 cup toasted chopped pecans (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350F
- Cream together sweet potato, brown sugar and butter until smooth.
- Mix in the eggs one at a time.
- Add bourbon, vanilla, cinnamon and salt.
- Sift together flour and baking powder.
- Add milk and flour mixture alternating until everything is incorporated.
- Pour batter into cupcake liners and bake for 20-25 minutes. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
- While cake bakes, brown butter in a pan and set aside to cool.
- Cream together cooled brown butter and cream cheese, then add vanilla.
- Add powdered sugar a cup at a time until the desired consistency.
- Thin frosting with cream if it becomes to stiff.
- Frost cooled cupcakes, top with toasted pecans and enjoy!
Note: Now something I feel like needs to be said is that these are not your traditional light fluffy cupcake, they are a bit more dense. Still good, but more of a “one with a cup of tea” and less “holy crap, how did I already eat three of these”.
Breakfast/Brunch is always a lot of fun for me. I think it comes partially from when I was much younger and my mom and I would clean and make a big breakfast every Saturday morning. The week was always super busy, and we were mostly a cereal/toaster pastry family, especially in high school when my classes started at 7:15. Sunday was church day, so Saturday was the big day. The breakfast tradition carried over into college where my roommate and I threw quite a few brunches, not to mention brinners. We kicked ass at brinner.
This casserole was the result of me going to a brunch pot luck and not being able to find exactly what I wanted on Pinterest. So I combined the bits and pieces that I liked best. A brioche base here; a modified streusel topping there. It was almost blueberry, but I asked one of my friends her opinion on fruit options and she said anything but blueberry. So that put the kibosh on that. Apple cinnamon was my other contender so here we are.
1 1/4 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 lb brioche bread
1/2 cup regular sugar
1/4 dark brown sugar packed
1/2 tbsp vanilla paste
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/8 tspn salt
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/3 dark brown sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 cup chopped pecans
- 1/4 cup melted butter
- Cut brioche breads into cubes and dice the green apples. Layer into the bottom of a 13×9 casserole dish.
- In a large mixing bowl whisk together eggs, milk, cream, both sugars, cinnamon, vanilla and salt.
- Pour mixture over the bread and apples and cover. Set in the fridge for at least four hours, preferably overnight, so the bread can soak up the egg mixture.
- Bake casserole in the 350 degree oven for 45-55 minutes.
- While the casserole bakes, whisk together the dry streusel ingredients. Melt the butter then stir into the dry ingredients until crumbs form.
- 10 minutes before the casserole is done baking, pull from the oven, sprinkle on streusel topping and put back into the oven for the remaining 10 minutes.
* This recipe works even better if the bread is slightly stale. I unwrapped the loaf and left it in the toaster oven (turned off) overnight. I’ve also cheated and popped the cubed bread into a 200 degree oven for 45 minutes, turning over about half way through, to dry the bread out.