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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.
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.
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 like making cupcakes, and I am always looking for an excuse. One of the things I’ve been doing consistently for the last few years is sending cupcakes to work with Andy for Valentine’s Day. Let’s face it, even if you’re in a relationship, the holiday can be a bit intense, and what better way to brighten someone’s day than with a cupcake? I gotta make sure my diligent taste-testers are taken care of, right? In the past, I’ve done some more traditional flavors – chocolate, chocolate-covered strawberry, strawberry, white chocolate, etc. – so this year I wanted to do something a little less expected. I liked the idea of going a little darker and more mature with the flavor profile, but I still wanted a little holiday “cheese” so I decided to pair black cherries and Disaronno. So good! Plus the cherries really did bake up almost black, which made things interesting from an aesthetic stand point.
- 1 Box Betty Crocker White Cake Mix
- 3 egg whites
- 1/2 veggie oil
- 1 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup cherry puree
- 4 tbsp Disaronno
- Swiss Meringue Buttercream (recipe here)
- 4 tbsp cherry puree
- 4 tbsp Disaronno
- Pre-heat oven to 350F
- Combine cake mix, egg whites, oil and water and mix thoroughly. Mix in Disaronno.
- Put two cups of mix into a separate bowl and mix in cherry puree.
- Fill cupcake wrapper 1/2 full of regular mix, top off to 2/3 full with cherry mixture. Swirl together with toothpick or skewer to create a marbled effect.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.
- While cupcakes cool, prepare the frosting.
- Add cherry puree and Disaronno to completed frosting and combine thoroughly.
- Frost cooled cupcakes and enjoy!.
When I was much younger, I religiously watched the Style Network. Growing up in a small town, I was determined to get out there and see the world and be just as together and fabulous as those chic accomplished ladies. One of the shows I adored was Nigella Bites. Watching the beautiful Ms. Lawson navigate her beautiful kitchen and create delectable looking baked goods was one of the reasons I wanted to learn how to bake.
Last year, a client of ours brought in a HUGE box of cook books (she was hard core dieting, and sugar and bread were the devil) and had us rummage through her collection and take whatever we wanted. I came a way with a small stack that included How to Be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson. Some how it ended up packed away, and I forgot about it until I stumbled across it again this weekend. Clearly, it was time to put its glossy pages to good use. Thus, Baklava Cupcakes.
- Super easy to throw together, and they have the added bonus of sounding impressive when you tell people what they are.
- Flavor was really good; I did add a teaspoon of ground vanilla to the batter because 1 – I could and 2 – I like vanilla in my muffins. Andy LOVED them, especially the bits of filling that baked over the edge; they were basically cinnamon pecan brittle.
- You have to be very careful not to over mix your batter. I got a bit carried away, and although the flavor of the muffins was still on point, the texture was just a tad on the chewy side.
All in all, a really positive baking experience, and I can’t wait to try out some of the other recipes.