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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.
For the last couple of years, my yearly lists of goals have included trying a certain number of recipes from a cookbook I’d purchased. This started in part because I was one of those people who bought books and very seldom used them, and also because I wanted to be more intentional about the things I was bringing into my life (books included). For years 30 and 31, I picked books that would force me to stretch my abilities and push me further out of my comfort zone, but this year I wanted to try something different. With me starting to write recipes of my own, I wanted to go back to the basics and really work on refining my scratch baking. Also, regardless of how I look, I am southern, and I think it’s a bit embarrassing that I bake and I’ve only made biscuits once or twice. So I took to Amazon and found Muffins and Biscuits, and just a few days after my 32nd birthday, I tried my first recipe: Blueberry Muffins. I am hoping to alternate and make their basic biscuits the next time around.
- Yummy, yummy muffins! And the streusel recipe for the topping!? These are great without it, but it really elevates the whole muffin.
- I split the difference between 12 regular muffins and 6 jumbo muffins, and settled on 9 muffins in a regular tin, but just really full. My baking time increased by 5ish minutes, but they turned out just fine.
- Don’t be afraid to really layer in the fruit. I got a bit jumpy, and I didn’t use the full 2 cups of blueberries because everything was looking a bit crowded as I assembled, but they puffed up quite a bit and, while delicious, would have benefited from the additional fruit.
With my birthday mere days away, I had to write one more recipe to cross #7 off my 31 before 32. This weekend’s trip to the VegFest inspired me to create a vegan dessert. I did some research, cobbled together bits and pieces of some things that I found interesting, and came up with this recipe.
- 2 cans of full fat unsweetened coconut milk
- 2/3 cup of sugar
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 2 tbsp vanilla extract
- 2-3 bananas
- 1 box vanilla wafers
- 1/3 cup melted vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)
- Pre-heat over to 350 F and spray pie tin with nonstick spray.
- Crush all the cookies into crumbs and mix with the vegan butter.
- Pat the crumb mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 10 minutes.
- While your crust cools, pour the coconut milk into the pan and heat, ultimately to a boil.
- As your coconut milk heats, combine cornstarch with 1/4 cup of the heating milk.
- After the cornstarch has completely dissolved, add the sugar and stir.
- Right as your coconut milk beings to bubble, whisk in the cornstarch mixture.
- Once the mixture again reaches a boil, remove from heat and whisk for 2 minutes while it thickens. Set aside to cool slightly.
- While your “custard” cools, slice your bananas and layer them on your cooled crust.
- Pour the custard over your sliced bananas and place the entire pie in the fridge for at least an hour to set.
* To take your pie to the next level, sprinkle with toasted coconut when you serve it 😉
All in all, not bad for my first vegan custard.
I consider myself a fairly competent amateur baker, and I have made some really delicious things, but every once in a while I surprise even myself. That’s how I feel about these Lightly Lavender Lemon Meringue Cupcakes I made this weekend. I’ve wanted to frost something with simple meringue ever since I tried this recipe a few weeks ago. The meringue was so pretty and glossy, and the flavor was lovely on its own. Perfect for a spring cupcake. We all know lemon is a time honored companion for meringue, so figured that would be a safe bet for my main flavor. Last year, I had lavender in lemonade so I decided to make that the “something special” that would take these cupcakes up a notch. Honestly, I think it’s one of the best things I’ve ever made, and my taste testers RAVED about them. I am so excited to share this recipe with you guys, and I hope you love them as much as I do.
- 1 box King Arthur Gluten Free Yellow Cake Mix
- 1/2 cup butter
- 2 tbsp veggie oil
- 4 eggs
- 2/3 cup of milk
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 2 tsp lavender extract (optional)
- 2 tsp chopped or pulverized lavender buds
- 1 jar of lemon curd (I used Wilkin & Sons, Ltd)
- 5 egg whites
- 1 1/2 cups white sugar
Special equipment: Kitchen torch
- Preheat oven to 350ºF
- Combine cake mix, butter, veggie oil and eggs in mixer until combined.
- Mix in zest, milk, extract and mix until thoroghly combined
- Fold in chopped buds.
- Fill cupcake liners
- Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden and inserted toothpick comes out clean.
- Allow cupcakes to cool.
- Using a knife or a cupcake corer, create a hole in the center of each cupcake.
- Transfer lemon curd to ziplock bag and clip off one corner. Use to fill cored cupcakes.
- In a double boiler, heat 2 inches of water in the lower pot. When water boils place top pot over boiling water carefully so that the boiling water doesn’t touch the bottom of the upper bowl.
- Combine egg whites and sugar in top bowl.
- Whisk gently over heat until mixture become slightly more opaque and the sugar has fully dissolved.
- Transfer the mixture to a mixer and whip on high for 10 minutes until it doubles in size and reaches stiff peak stage.
- Pipe your meringue onto your filled cupcakes.
- Toast meringue lightly (and carefully) with kitchen torch.
- I’ve doubled the amount of lavender called for in my first trial. Lemon is a strong flavor, and my first batch only had the passing hint of lavender. Don’t over do it though; too much lavender will leave your cupcakes tasting like soap.
- I recommend chopping or pulverizing the lavender buds before incorporating them into your batter. A whole lavender bud in a single bite can be off putting for a lot of people. I usually crush mine with a mortar and pestle. Same flavor, just a little more diffused throughout the mix.
With a month to spare, I have finally completed #3 on my 31 before 32 and made the last of the 12 recipes from my Sweet & Vicious cookbook! There are so many great recipes I still can’t wait to try out, but I am happy to have the ones I “had” to do behind me. Since I’d done a few of the main recipes and a couple of the extracts, I wanted to try something from the back of the book. The frosting area seemed as good as any so I decided to tackle Swiss Meringue Buttercream.
So light and wonderfully fluffy! It made for some very pretty cupcakes.
I took some pictures of the process, just so you’d have an idea of how things were going to look as you went along. I find that sort of thing helpful whenever I’m trying out a new recipe.
The egg white/sugar mixture when I put it on ⇑ and took it off ⇓ the double boiler.
How the meringue looked when it was ready for the butter.
- I think the thing I liked best about this was the sweetness. I like sugar as much as the next pudgy American, but I hate frosting that is sickly sweet. Standard buttercream is easy to make, but usually it’s a bit much and has ruined many a cupcake for me. It’s really nice to have this in my back pocket for future baking.
- This recipe also pipes like a dream; I had wonderful frilly frosted cupcakes with minimal piping bag manipulation, and it held its shape and didn’t dry out overnight.