White-chocolate Browned-Butter Beauties (aka Blondies).

(My apologies for the lack of photos, but I am working solely off my Droid until I can get an issue with my blasted Internet resolved. Try the recipe anyway, and let me know how you like it! Maybe even with photos. :) )

I have a thing for browned-butter confections with white chocolate chips, so I find it hard to believe that I’ve slipped up and not posted these blondies before. These beauties are the reason for that “thing,” as a matter of fact. I don’t remember where I found the original recipe, but I don’t suppose it matters. Without the browned butter and white chocolate chips, these are just basic blondies. I added the browned butter one day by mistake – left it too long on the burner, back when I had no microwave – and the white chocolate on a whim. The resulting creation has ruined me for life. I was once of the opinion that blondies were – forgive me – nasty, and could never surpass the chocolaty goodness that is a well-made fudgy brownies. These blondies prove me wrong. Brown sugar, already a rich, velvety flavor on its own, caramelizes further when mixed with hot, browned butter. A stick of butter, at that – these are, in no way, diet food. They are a completely other animal and so utterly worth it. They’re delicious hot out of the oven – dense, almost flat and gooey – but let them cool overnight and marry all that deliciousness together… mm, it’ll make you wanna slap yo’ mama. (But don’t – that might be rude. Just get some icecream.) If anyone adjusts this recipe (adds flour, baking powder, craisins, wheat flour, etc.), please let me know – I want to see how these can be altered for other tastes. I’m sure I’ll be trying my own adjustments at some point, just to get the rise I’m looking for without sacrificing that gooey, creamy mouthfeel.

Besides the fast cooking time, these are essentially a one-pot dessert – you can mix everything in the pot you browned the butter in before pouring it into your greased pan. Just be sure to take it off the heat first.

White-Chocolate Browned-Butter Beauties

yields 9 2½” squares

8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt*
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup of white chocolate chips

Grease or butter an 8×8″ baking pan and preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C). Brown butter over med-low heat, stirring slowly, until milkfat solids appear and butter turns a caramel color. Remove from heat immediately and combine with brown sugar. Beat in egg until mixture is thick and glossy. Add vanilla and salt, stir, and fold in flour until just combined. Fold in white chocolate chips – 1-2-3 should be enough – and pour into baking pan. Bake on middle oven rack for 20-25 minutes, or until edges have browned and/or a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in pan for at least 10-15 minutes before cutting. Serve plain, or with icecream and caramel sauce.

My first birthday cake – Belt buckle vanilla cake with fudge frosting.

First you might be thinking – first birthday cake? You’re how old, again? I’m 24, thanks, and I don’t mean this is my first birthday cake. (My first birthday cake, incidentally, happened to be a yellow cake with homemade chocolate frosting, made by Mom, and I smeared it all over my face. In the picture, I’m quite pleased with myself.) I mean that this was the first real “birthday cake” I made entirely by myself. Sure, I’ve made cakes, and one of them was even for a birthday. But this cake was a birthday cake, if you understand the difference. There are cakes for birthdays, and there are birthday cakes. This one was of the latter variety.

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French Silk Pie.

Apologies for the over week-long wait on the French Silk pie, the star of Pi(e) Day 2010. However, we didn’t even get to tuck into the pie until the middle of this week, due to an unfortunate dental issue (the husband’s, not mine). Thanks to an emergency root canal and a temporary crown (permanent cap to be installed in April – until then, no caramel for Cullen), things are all better. And naturally, we celebrated this dental salvation with big pieces of rich, homemade chocolate pie.

We’re well-known for our smart decisions around these parts.

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Hershey’s Chocolate Cake, by request.

I’ve only made this cake twice – once to try it out, which was a huge success, and the second time for Cullen’s 25th birthday, on request. It was actually quite an honor to be asked to make the cake for his birthday. Normally his aunt makes all birthday cakes for the family, but in this case (and under family circumstances), not so much. He got a piece of the first cake and was smitten from the word “go.” When we asked him what he wanted for his birthday cake, he immediately answered: “That chocolate cake you made and took to the office. It was goooood.”

How can you turn down a man with a wish for his birthday cake?

The only difference between the two was the buttercream that I used. I used a recipe for “drier” buttercream the first go-round – that’s the cake that I’ve been teasing you with for weeks on end. Unfortunately for me, I couldn’t remember where I found that particular recipe, so I had to go searching for another one. I finally settled on the SMBC from Joy the Baker, and though it was tasty, I think I screwed it up. It was very soft, and like to never set up properly. Of course, it may have been divine retribution from the Kitchen Gods for using someone else’s Cuisinart mixer versus my own loving KitchenAid to make the damn buttercream in the first place. I’m sure that’s a cardinal sin, written down in the original kitchen Bible. That’ll teach me, won’t it? Maybe next time, it’ll work out for me.

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