Monday, September 27, 2010

Pumpkin-topped white chocolate blondies

This was another delicious idea from Culinary Concoctions by Peabody. It was easier than I thought it would be (for some reason the initial read-through made it sounds like more steps than it is), and the only complaint I have is that the base is more liquid-y than the pumpkin topping, so most of it oozed to the sides of the pan, meaning the edge pieces had far more blondie than the middle pieces did. That being said, they were all really tasty and my stomach hurts from sampling bars from all over the pan.
If I make them again, I might place the bottom layer in the fridge for a few minutes to let it firm up some...and I also might use some strong cassia cinnamon in the blondie base...and maybe a bit more pumpkin pie spice still in the topping.
But all of that is not to say that there are any real weaknesses here -- the recipe below is a great way to kick off the autumn baking season.

White Chocolate Blondie Base:
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter
½ cup white chocolate, chopped finely
½ cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 heaping cup all-purpose flour (+1-2Tbsp extra if at altitude)
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup white chocolate chunks or chips
Pumpkin Top:
6 TBSP unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour (1 1/3 heaping cups if at alt)
½ tsp. baking powder (a tad less if at alt)
Pinch of salt
1 heaping tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice

Grease a 9-x-9-inch pan with baking spray.
Preheat oven to 350F.

Blondie Bottom:
Melt white chocolate and butter together in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently. White chocolate does not melt as smooth and pretty as dark or milk chocolate. Don’t worry. Set aside to cool.
Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment (or a large bowl with beaters) beat together the sugar, eggs, and vanilla together until smooth on medium high speed. Add the cooled chocolate mixture and continue beaten until well combined.
Add flour and salt to batter, and mix on low speed until combined, with no trace of the dry ingredients in sight.
Spread batter evenly in the prepared pan. Sprinkle white chocolate chunks/chips evenly over the top of the blondie batter. Set aside.

For Pumpkin Top:
Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment beat together the butter and sugar on medium high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla and continue beating until well combined.
Add the pumpkin and beat until thoroughly combined.
Add the flour, baking powder, salt, and spice to the pumpkin mixture. Mix until well combined and no trace of the dry ingredients remains.
Pour pumpkin top evenly (do the best you can) over the blondie layer in prepared pan. Bake for 30-34 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with only crumbs, not batter, on it.
Remove from oven and let cool on a rack for 1 hour.
Top with more white chocolate and maybe a little caramel if you would like.

Adpated from Fat Witch Brownies by Patricia Helding with Bryna Levin
(Taken here from CCbP)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Peanut Butter Swirl Banana Bread

I adapted this recipe from Baking Bites to be a bit healthier. I think it's a good balance between fairly healthful but still indulgent-tasting. And it's especially good served warm with a glass of cold milk, or with frozen yogurt on top.

Peanut Butter Swirl Banana Bread

Peanut Butter Filling

4-oz greek yogurt

1/2 cup peanut butter (crunchy, or creamy with some chopped nuts thrown in - I used pecans)

1 large egg yolk

1/4 cup granulated sugar

Banana Bread

1 cup all purpose flour (reduce by 1/4 cup for sea-level)

1 cup spelt flour

1 3/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground allspice

1 cup mashed banana (about 2 large or 3 small)

3/4 cup sugar

4 oz apple sauce

2 oz greek yogurt

1 large egg + 1 egg white (leftover from filling)

Preheat oven to 325F. Lightly grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan.

Make the PB/yogurt filling. In a medium bowl, beat together yogurt, peanut butter, egg yolk and sugar until smooth and fluffy.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and ground spices.

In a medium bowl, whisk together mashed banana, sugar, applesauce, yogurt, and eggs. Pour into dry ingredients and stir until just combined and no streaks of flour remain. Do not over mix.

Pour half of banana batter into prepared loaf pan. Spoon peanut butter mixture on top, spreading it into as even a layer as possible. Pour remaining banana batter on top, again spreading it into an even layer.

Bake for 40min, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean (or with a few moist crumbs) and the top springs back when lightly pressed.

Turn loaf out of the pan onto a wire rack. Cool completely before slicing.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Apple Cinnamon Roll Breakfast Bake

This is a super-easy recipe that I made up on the fly for breakfast this weekend.
Not exactly healthy, but very tasty (especially reheated with vanilla ice cream on top for dessert!)
1 can Pillsbury cinnamon rolls, cut into quarters
1 can apple pie filling

brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350.
Grease a 8 or 9 inch cake pan.Lay 1/2 of apple pie filling down in pan.
Top with cinnamon roll quarters.
Layer with rest of apple pie filling.
Sprinkle with cinnamon to taste, and add butter and brown sugar on top as desired.
Bake until rolls are cooked through, about 30min or so.
Invert onto plate and serve.

Mint Pesto Brownies

An explosion of mint in the garden sent me searching for ways to use a lot of mint in a little time.
These are delicious, even for someone like me that doesn't generally like a lot of mint in my dessert.A shortcut I'd definitely recommend is using Ghirardelli dark chocolate brownie mix -- absolutely delicious and cuts prep time down drastically.
I've made 3 batches of these so far and they've all disappeared in moments.


This is terrific with chocolate. Try it as a filling for (ice cream!) sandwich cookies or mix some into chocolate sauce for ice cream or cake.

1/2 cup macadamia nuts

2 cups packed fresh mint leaves

1/3 cup honey

1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, briefly chop the nuts before adding the remaining ingredients. Puree until reduced to a paste. If not using right away, transfer to a glass container, lay plastic wrap over the top so it is touching thus keeping air from penetrating the pesto. Store in refrigerator for up to a month.

Yield: about 1 cup


To swirl the pesto into the brownies, try placing the pesto into a small plastic bag with a corner snipped off. (Hint: it might help to microwave the bag for 10-20 sec to soften the honey and let the pesto squeeze out more easily)

Pipe lines of pesto going one direction and then run a knife through the lines in the opposite direction to swirl.

Favorite brownie recipe or mix, prepared as instructed

1/4 cup mint pesto

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Light butter or coat with non-stick spray the bottom only of an 8-inch square baking pan.

Prepare brownie batter and turn batter into prepared pan. Swirl the mint pesto into the batter by drizzling it on in parallel lines and then running a knife through the lines from the other direction.

Bake for about 25 minutes or until brownies begin to pull away from the sides of the pan. For best results, allow to cool completely before cutting.

Southwestern Potatoes

This was another recipe from The Minimalist in the NYT.
I omitted all of the oil (and also skipped the cheese on my serving) to lighten things up a bit.
Pan-roasting the potatoes without burning them was a little tricky in the absence of all that oil (I ended up sticking them in the oven to bake for about 30min so that they cooked all the way through) but all in all this still turned out really well -- the fresh jalapenos and hefty dose of chili powder definitely jazzed up an otherwise fairly ordinary recipe.

Pam or olive oil, as desired/needed

2 tablespoons minced fresh jalapeño, or to taste

1 1/2 cups corn kernels, fresh or frozen

Salt and black pepper

2 pounds new potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

1/2 to 1 teaspoon chili powder, or to taste

1 14-ounce can black beans, well drained

3/4 to 1 cup grated Cheddar, jack (or black pepper white cheddar!) cheese

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish.

1. Oil a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add jalapeño and corn, and sprinkle with salt and pepper; let sit for a moment. When corn begins to brown, shake pan to distribute for even browning. Remove corn.

2. Re-oil pan. When hot, add potatoes. Cook, undisturbed, until they begin to brown around edges and release from pan, about 10 minutes. Continue, at least 15 more minutes, turning potatoes to brown all sides without stirring too often. Add oil if needed to prevent sticking, and lower heat if needed to prevent scorching. When potatoes are tender and golden, add chili powder, corn and beans.

3. Turn on broiler. Place rack about 4 inches below. Transfer potatoes to a baking dish, sprinkle with cheese and run under broiler until cheese is melted and beginning to brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Garnish with cilantro.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings.