My secret career fantasy is to sell bar cookies on the local farmers market circuit. I can just see myself hawking misanthropic brownies and bella bars early Friday mornings as the sun slowly burns off the fog at the Venice Farmer’s Market. Then on Saturdays I’d move to Santa Monica or Playa Vista. Sunday would definitely be Brentwood. There’d be no store front, at least in the beginning. But, I’d do a brisk online business.
I even have a name for the little operation (but I’m not going to tell).
And while this truly is a fantasy (someone has to pay the homeowners insurance and keep the Kitchen Gods deep in kibble), I’ve always got my eye out for new bar and square recipes. In the name of research of course.
This one is inspired by the butterscotch blondie recipe in the newly published Lemonade Cookbook. Lemonade is an addictive southern California boutique chain that pairs seasonal ingredients with old-school cafeteria-style service. I’m embarrassed to admit there is a location mere yards from my office at USC but the anxiety of selecting what I wanted on the fly kept me from ever trying it while I worked there. Stupid for my tastebuds. Probably pretty smart for my wallet.
In addition to the dozen or so creatively prepared salads–think watermelon radish and ahi or Israeli couscous and truffle oil–they also do decadent sandwiches and have a whole station of slow-cooked delicacies displayed in a rainbow of Le Creuset dutch ovens. Your tray-push ends in a display of house-baked treats and, of course, half a dozen varieties of lemonade. Don’t get me started on the cucumber mint. Even if you don’t live in L.A., Lemonade has a presence in the LAX Delta Terminal.
I’ve never actually tried Lemonade’s butterscotch blondie in-store. But, they had me at coconut on the ingredient list.
Like many kitchen-sink style recipes, this one begs for variation. Here, I swapped the pecans for almonds and the golden raisins for actual butterscotch chips. I’m also working on a holiday version that could make an appearance as a featured player in the Misanthropic Bake-a-palooza.
from The Lemonade Cookbook
- 2 C all purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 3/4 C (1 1/2 sticks, 12 TBS) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
- 1 C dark (I used golden) brown sugar, loosely packed
- 1 1/2 C granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs at room temp.
- 1/2 C white chocolate chips
- 1/2 C pecans toasted and coarsely chopped
- 1/2 C golden raisins
- 1/2 C shredded sweetened coconut, toasted
- *Obviously I think the last four ingredients are open to interpretation. In this iteration I used butterscotch chips, white chocolate chips, toasted coconut and toasted almond slivers.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9X13 inch pan with parchment and spray with non-stick cooking spray.
- In a medium bowl sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
- In a small heavy-bottomed sauce pan add the butter and swirl it around over medium heat until is melts and foams. Continue to cook it gently until it is a brown-amber color and smells nutty (about 5 minutes).
- Add the brown and granulated sugars. Stir to combine fully. Remove from heat and let cool for 5-10 minutes.
- Add butter mixture to a large bowl, beat in eggs (you don’t need a standing mixer for this).
- Fold in flour mixture until just incorporated.
- Fold in remaining ingredients. Pour batter into prepared pan smoothing the top with a spatula.
- Bake until the top is lightly brown and firm, 25-30 minutes. Cool completely in the pan on a rack. Cut into 2-inch bars.
Pumpkin it seems, is all the rage this fall. So much so that I’m surprised Pinterest hasn’t added it as a category. The funny thing is that I kind of think it’s actually the spice profile people love about pumpkin and not the actual gourd itself. Of course, I’m basing this off of the fact that Starbucks’ pumpkin spice latter doesn’t actually have any pumpkin in it. Or maybe it’s my well documented “not love” for all things squash coloring my belief that anyone could love pumpkin as a food.
But what can I say, I’m a sell-out and felt obligated to include at least one pumpkin-based goodie in my baking line-up this fall.
This pumpkin blondie, while not exactly healthy, is a little less indulgent than, say, a regular blondie. The pumpkin replaces about half of the butter and eggs without missing a beat.
And while these are just fine as is, I think this recipe begs for additions. How about some roasted pepitas? Extra white chocolate chunks…ooh…or maybe some butterscotch chips? If nothing else, I recommend a dusting of powdered sugar before serving these very autumnal squares.
this is a Misanthropic Hostess recipe
- 1 scant TBS cinnamon
- 3/4 tsp ginger
- 1/2 tsp all spice
- 3/4 tsp nutmeg (freshly grated if you can)
- 3/4 tsp kosher salt
- 2 + 1/4 C all purpose flour
- 1 C golden brown sugar
- 1/4-1/2 C granulated sugar (depends on how sweet you want these)
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 1 can (usually about 14 ounces) pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
- 8 TBS (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 11 ounces white chocolate chips or chunks
Other things to add-in:
- Roasted, salted pepitas
- Spiced pecans
- White chocolate chunks
- Dried fruit (cherries would be the bomb)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 9X13 inch baking pan with parchment, butter pan and parchment.
- In a medium, heavy bottomed sauce pan melt butter over low heat.
- Once butter is melted, remove from heat, add white chocolate, swirl to cover and let sit for 3 minutes. Whisk butter and chocolate together until smooth and allow to cool.
- In a medium bowl, sift together first 6 ingredients. Set aside.
- In a larger bowl, whisk together sugars and eggs until combined. Whisk-in vanilla.
- Whisk-in pumpkin. Then whisk-in cooled buter and chocolate mixture.
- Switch to a spatula and gently fold-in flour mixture.
- Transfer batter to prepared pan and cook for 30-40 minutes (they were done at 34 minutes in my oven) until an inserted skewer comes up clean and sides start to pull away from pan.
- Allow to cool completely. Cut into squares.
Why yes, it is Wednesday. As you read this, TD and I are on a teeny tiny plane headed to Montana. If his predictions are correct, at some point we will get snowed-in. To hear TD explain it, this will trigger the zombie apocalypse whereupon only the strongest (or least best tasting) will survive to see spring. Yeah, I don’t really understand either. But, just in case, here is this week’s post.
Depsite my agonizingly detailed planning, about 2/3 of the way through my holiday baking, it became clear to me that I was going to need a bigger boat. And by bigger boat, I mean more baked goods. As my caramel crunch square supply quickly dwindled, I sprang into action with a recipe I’ve been playing with for a couple of months: the brown butter blondie.
Here is the flavor profile: brown butter, roasted walnuts, white chocolate. The BBBs also have the added benefit of a neat cut. You know what I mean, no sloppy edges or oozing middle (not that, provided the appropriate context, sloppy edges and oozing middles are a bad thing). This is a slightly fancy bar that comes together relatively quickly and is made from ingredients that are generally on-hand. Plus and plus. In fact, these went together so easily that I knocked out two batches in the early morning hours before work.
I am officially signing-off until the 28th. That’s assuming I’m not lobotomized by a brains seeking Santa Claus along the way. Which would be sad because I’m all set to pontificate on the 2013 Pantone color of the year and what it has to do with a cognitive condition I never knew I had until TD scientifically proved I am statistically weird.
Brown Butter Blondies
- 1/2 LB (16 TBS) unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 C golden or light brown sugar, packed
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 1/4 C all-purpose flour
- 10 ounces chopped white chocolate or white chocolate chips
- 1 C roasted walnut pieces
- To brown butter: in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, add butter. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the butter takes on a deep golden color. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temp. This step can be done in advance.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9X13 inch baking pan with parchment and butter the parchment and sides.
- In a separate bowl, sift together flour, salt and baking powder. Set aside.
- In a standing mixer, add sugar to brown butter and cream until smooth, roughly 2-3 minutes. You will not get the same consistency as you would with regular butter straight from the stick. Don’t worry about it.
- With the mixer running on medium, add eggs one at a time allowing them to be completely incorporated after each add. Let the mixer run for another minute and add vanilla until mixed- in.
- Add-in flour mixture. With the mixer on its lowest setting, run until the flour is just incorporated. Watch carefully, this will happen quickly.
- By hand, fold-in chocolate and walnuts.
- Gently press the dough into the prepared pan.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the top is pale gold and the edges are just starting to turn a deeper gold.
- Allow to cool completely before cutting.
Okay, okay, I stole this idea from one of the 20 million holiday catalogs we’ve gotten since August. Having both candied orange peel and almonds in the house, I decided to see if I could come up with a recipe.
I started by toasting about a cup of almonds. I used blanched because that’s what I had but I don’t see any problem with using skins.
Then, I couldn’t find my camera. So a bunch of stuff happened that didn’t get captured digitally. Here is the short of it though: I melted together butter and white chocolate. Incorporated the usual suspects: eggs, sugar, flour and a healthy does of vanilla (no silly, not in that order). Finally, I folded-in the toasted almonds and orange peel. Into the oven. And.
This is what came out. The orange peel sort of melts into blondie and the result is a sweet/zesty/nutty treat. Sort of like me.
Once cut, I packaged them up and took them to a cookie decorating party.
Glee Christmas on Pandora, because I’m perfectly confident with my manhood.
Candied Orange Peel and Toasted Almond Blondies
- 2 C sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 C (16 TBS) unsalted butter
- 6 ounces white chocolate, chopped
- 4 eggs
- 1 TBS vanilla
- 2 C flour
- 1 C chopped candied orange peel
- 1 C roasted and chopped almonds
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9X13 inch pan with parchment and butter or spray the pan and parchment.
- In a heavy saucepan, melt butter and white chocolate over low heat, whisking until combined. Take off heat and set aside. Butter and chocolate will want to separate. That’s okay, just give it a good whisk before adding to the batter.
- In a large bowl, whisk together sugar and salt. Add-in eggs one-at-a-time. Then whisk in vanilla.
- Fold-in butter and chocolate.
- Fold-in flour until just combined.
- Fold-in orange peel and almonds.
- Bake for about 40 minutes or until an inserted toothpick come-out clean but with a few crumbs stuck to it.
- Let cool completely, cut and enjoy.