Chocolate Swirl Blondies

FMFY_Blondies

Brownies are hands down my favorite dessert to make for an easy, crazy delicious sugar fix. They please crowds, dry tears, and aid in creating that necessary layer of winter blubber. Normally I make my tried and true recipe I got from the Black Apple, with the edition of sea salt on top. Ever since this recipe entered my life years ago, it’s been bliss. But recently I’ve been craving blondies – brownies pale, caramel-y tasting cousin. If you’ve never had them they are essentially brownies without the chocolate and lots of brown sugar. As a kid my mom would make me bake them for her when I was in trouble. This is something I can laugh at in hindsight and store in my back pocket for future tweens and teenagers that may be in my life, but for a long time I couldn’t look at them due to overly dramatic teenage negative connotations. But I decided 15 years was enough space and gave them a go. But most of the recipes didn’t do it for me and involved a blender, which I think is pointless with brownies. So I thought, what if I used my classic brownie recipe but just turned it into blondies? What if blondies are kind of boring and need chocolate chips? What if you guys, what if?

Answer: delicious. I’ve tried them a few different ways and my favorite is using semi sweet chips as they melt into the batter and create a chocolate swirl, but you can also chop up hunks of a chocolate bar and get more chunk than swirl. Your choice. They are caramel-y, with bits of chocolate, and you will need to hide them from yourself.

Chocolate Swirl Blondies (Or chocolate chunk, if you want)
recipe base thanks to The Black Apple

You need: 1 medium sized pot, parchment (optional), and an 8″ sq. baking pan/dish

Ingredients:
1 stick butter (8 tbsp)
1 1/2 C brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/4 C flour
Pinch salt + more for dusting
Tbsp vanilla
1 C semi sweet chocolate chips or chunks of chopped chocolate bar.

Preheat oven to 390 F (yes, that’s right). Melt butter in a medium pot over medium heat. I like to brown the butter, but it’s not entirely necessary. Remove from heat and let it cool slightly. Add brown sugar to the pot and mix well. Add eggs, flour, salt, and vanilla. Once well mixed, fold in your chocolate chips. Mix until the chocolate melts a bit and swirls in, but don’t overmix to entirely melt it.  Pour into a buttered baking pan or a parchment-lined baking pan. Sprinkle the top evenly with sea salt or kosher salt. Bake for 20-25 minutes. They will be gooey and should rest, if you can help it, for at least an hour before you dive in. They will be even more delicious the next day. Store them covered at room temperature, preferably in an airtight container.

Banana Bread, reexamined

FMFY-bananbread

One could probably argue there isn’t much of a need for another banana bread recipe in this wold, but it’s one of my favorite things on earth that I feel deserves attention and variations. Sometimes I have bananas around and the stars align so that I happen to have all of the ingredients to make it, and recently I had all that and a few more things I thought could be added so I gave it a go. Here are some things that make this recipe different: honey instead of refined sugar, browned butter, a bit of rolled oats, chopped dates, and a pistachio and sea salt topping. The topping is probably what makes it, but no topping would make a gross bread delicious, so.

  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup butter, browned
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom (not super important if you don’t have it)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup ripe banana, mashed
  • 1/2 cup medjool dates, chopped
  • 1/2 cup pistachios, finely chopped
  • corse sea salt for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Melt your butter in a skillet until it foams, swirling the pan, until the foam disappears and starts to brown – it’s done when it turns a caramel color, don’t let it go past this or it will burn. Pour into a bowl with the honey, mix well and let it cool for a minute. Add mashed bananas, vanilla, and eggs. Add the rest of the ingredients (dry + dates) and mix until just combined. Pour into a greased loaf pan (I used 3 mini pans) or muffin pan. Sprinkle the pistachios across the top(s) and then sprinkle sea salt across the top – more or less depending on your preference (I like a lot!). If your pistachios are salted, you will only need a tiny bit of sea salt. I find baking times for breads all over the place, so, 50-60 minutes for a regular loaf, 35-45 for mini loafs, 25-35 minutes for muffins. The toothpick test isn’t always accurate as you want them to be a touch wet as they will solidify on your counter, so just see if you can lift the loaf a little in the pan to see how brown the edges are and if the bottom is done. Baking intuition!

This bread is amazing plain, but also smeared with peanut or almond butter, or a fried egg on top.

 

Kitchen experiments

I’ve been feeling a bit more inspired than usual in the kitchen lately, experimenting with making things at home I hadn’t considered I could make myself in the past. First up: pickled daikon and carrots. I had a little vietnamese phase (as I do often) and got to thinking that it must be ridiculously easy to make. Easy doesn’t even quite describe it. Then I looked around for what else I could pickle, so I pickled some green beans.

Next on my list was to make Japansese marinated eggs, ajitsuke, after becoming obsessed this past year with finding the best ramen, and the best ramen always has marinated eggs. Not that hardboiled egg BS. No, no, and no. Gooey, delicious marinated eggs. I did some research and discovered they are really easy to make once you gather the ingredients and make them in the morning, then take them out at night in time for dinner. When Will and I sliced into them I almost cried they were so beautiful and delicious. I made a stir fry with my pickled veggies and some other veggies in the fridge, then used the egg marinade to cook some chicken in, and we ate it all with some farro (what I had around) and barely spoke we were too busy inhaling our food. I didn’t even get a good photo! Here’s an instagram.

Here’s the thing about marinating eggs: you have to be good at soft boiling eggs and peeling them. Which I’ve been doing a lot lately, so I thought I was a pro. But I made a rookie mistake and bought farm fresh eggs and immediately soft boiled them. Recipe for disaster. Old eggs are better because they peel easier, and farm fresh eggs often don’t peel great, they just fall apart and it’s tragically sad. So I found myself with three intact yolks and it felt like such a waste to toss them. So what’s a girl to make?

Duh, mayonnaise. Typically you use raw yolks, but since these were soft boiled and the yolks were quite runny, I figured it would be fine. I found a recipe and just substituted the canola oil, which I avoid at all costs, with olive oil. I never see mayonnaise with 100% olive oil (usually it’s a mixture) so I figured it was because it doesn’t work out or tastes weird. Wrong, it was perfect! It’s kind of magical to watch it come together in the food processor. It’s really not an unhealthy condiment like this, either.

So the other day I found myself with pickled daikon and carrots, cilantro, chicken, and mayo. I hope we’re on the same page.

Makeshift Banh-mi, boom. It was heavenly. Gluten-free sliced bread isn’t quite the same as a crusty baguette, but it was still great.

Pickled Daikon and Carrots
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
1/4 cup  sugar
1 small carrot, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1 daikon radish, peeled and cut into matchsticks
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
A few shakes of crushed red pepper (optional, a little goes a long way!)
A dash or two of salt

Dissolve the sugar and vinegar in a small saucepan, remove from heat and let cool and stir your spices in. Pack your carrots and daikon into a jar. Pour your cooled liquid into the jar on top of the vegetables. Place in the fridge for at least 4 hours. I pour the liquid out into a new jar of pickles one time before tossing the liquid. You can use this exact same recipe on other vegetables, too!

Japanses Marinated Eggs (Ajitsuke Tamago)
1 cup water
1 cup sake
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup mirin
1/2 cup sugar
6 eggs

Combine all ingredients (expect for the eggs) in a bowl and set aside. [Now this is how I soft boil eggs, feel free to use your own method!] Fill a small pot of water 3/4 full of water, bring to a boil. Carefully lower your eggs into the pot using tongs. Set your timer for 6 minutes and turn the heat down so they are very gently simmering. Use your tongs to remove your eggs and place them in a bowl with cold water. I like to peel them under water to avoid burning my fingers and it creates a kind of lubricant for peeling. Once the eggs are peeled, stir the liquid you set aside to make sure the sugar is dissolved and distributed and place your eggs in. You want them to be snug. You need to keep the eggs submerged so place a double-layer of paper towels on top and push down until they are saturated in liquid to keep eggs submerged and marinated. Place the bowl in the fridge (I recommend putting it on a plate to avoid a mess) for at least 4 hours, but 10 is best. No more than 12.

Mayonnaise
3 large egg yolks
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1 chopped garlic clove (optional)
1 1/2 cups olive oil

Place everything except the oil in a food processor and blend. Very slowly pour the oil in until it’s all incorporated and magically transforms before your eyes.

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PS. Totally unrelated, but I didn’t want to dedicate an entire blog post to say that my sale on cast bronze necklaces is on until Friday before I close the shop for a bit! Get ‘em while I still have my sanity, for the wedding is in 10 days. Eeep.