One Pan Blondies (and yarn)

A couple weeks ago I had a hankering for some blondies. I have a few different recipes (Vanilla Garlic, Smitten Kitchen that I go to regularly, well as regularly as I make blondies) but I had also bookmarked this recipe, and that day it caught my eye because you only need one pan. A 10″ cast iron skillet (how awesome are 10″ cast iron skillets?). I did end up using a second pan to toast my pecans, but if I had decided on nuts ahead of time I could have done that before I melted the butter.  Oh, and the other joy of blondies, it is a cookie you can make from frozen butter (I generally have a couple pounds of butter in the freezer) and it is so very adaptable to mix-ins. Since I didn’t quite follow theKitchn recipe I’m going to write out my version.

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Blondies riffed from theKitchn Skillet Blondies
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon espresso powder
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup toasted, lightly chopped pecans (or your favorite nut)
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/4 cup candied* or crystallized ginger, chopped (aim for chocolate chip size)

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Toast your nuts in the cast iron skillet in the oven. This takes around 5 minutes depending on the nut, shake a few times, sniff often. Remove the nuts from the pan and set the pan on the stove-top. Add your stick of butter and let it melt. Once it is melted add the brown sugar and stir (until dissolved says the recipe, mine never dissolved so I just made sure it was well mixed). While that happens grab everything else and chop or measure as needed. Pour and scrap the butter-sugar mixture into a bowl, let it cool a little bit before add the egg and vanilla extract. Add your dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, espresso powder) and stir together. Mix in your mix-ins. The chocolate chips will probably melt a little bit. Pour back into the cast iron skillet, you will probably need to press it down a little bit to make sure the batter is an even thickness. Bake around 20-25 minutes. Let it cool before slicing.

* I’m partial to a Trader Joe’s product called “Uncrystallized Candied Ginger” and it’s generally sold along side their dried fruits (when they stock it at all, which sadly they don’t).

I already have plans for tweaking the next batch, but one thing that is definitely staying is the candied ginger, every bite I got with a bit of ginger was so awesome (admittedly, I am a ginger-aholic – but it didn’t scream ginger to me, just a nice warmth and zing) I sliced it into 12 or 16 wedges and only had a few leftover (the picture above is the morning after baking).

What about that yarn? Well I brought these to what is normally my knit night, though that evening my LYS was hosting a yarn tasting of Shibui yarn. We got to check out sample garments and play with mini skeins of 7 different Shibui yarns. One of the sweaters caused me to exclaim, “I want to swim in a bathtub full of this!” it was so luscious and soft and drapey. I didn’t get very far on my own swatches and so I’m still quite a bit undecided about exactly what combination I want to work with the most (or what project) but I think that Silk Cloud will probably be in that mix.

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This photo below gives a slightly better representation of the three mixes I swatched so far.

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I started with Staccato, then Staccato + Silk Cloud and then Silk Cloud + Cima.

March 19, 2013. Tags: , . baking, Knitting. 2 comments.

Valentines Ducks

Why?  Why not.  I think I started this tradition when I was in college, in possession of a rubber ducky shaped cookie cutter and no occasion to use it.  So I decided to make Valentines Ducks.  And it sort of stuck (except those years I forgot of course).  This year I kept it simple.  Sugar Cookies, confectionary sugar glaze (2 cups powdered sugar + 1/4 cup meyer lemon juice + red food coloring) and sugar sprinkles.

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I finally got to use a bunch of the fun brightly colored sugar I’ve been collecting. Just a fyi, the large clear sugar crystals didn’t look all that great (middle duck, 2nd column from the right) and the large purple sugar crystals were just so so. The smaller sugar looks much better on the glaze. And I kept a few plain in case there are any sugar sprinkle hating people out there (are there?).

February 14, 2011. Tags: , . baking, Cooking. 2 comments.

Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies

I had a bag of white chocolate chips from Trader Joe's in the pantry, I also have a huge amount of dried, sweetened cranberries in the pantry (these are a pantry staple IMO).  Chocolate Chips from TJs don't come with recipes on the back, so I checked a bag of ghiradelli chips while I was out shopping to jog my memory.  Then when I got home, in a 'was it baking soda or baking powder?' panic, I checked my Better Homes & Garden's New Cook Book recipe, then out of curiosity my Kitchen Aid mixer booklet.

I didn't follow any of the recipes, this is what I decided to do:
Cranberry White-Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 bag white chocolate chips (make sure a main ingredient is cocoa butter)
1 cup dried cranberries, chopped
extra granulate sugar (optional)

Preheat your oven to 375 F. Cream the butter and shortening, add the sugar and beat untill smooth.  Add the eggs and vanilla.  In a small bowl whisk the dry ingredients together, gradually add them to the wet ingredients then mix in the chips and cranberries.  Scoop cookie batter onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper (for easy clean-up) about 1 1/2"-2" apart.  I use a cookie scoop that holds about 1 tablespoon of dough when slightly overfilled (officially it holds 2 teaspoons).  Bake for 9 minutes (my oven kept getting up to 400F so ymmv).  Remove from oven and let cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack. 

Optional step:  Roll your dough into balls, then roll into the extra granulated sugar before baking.  This gives the cookies a nice glisten and even, rounded appearance.  I only did this with the last 5 cookies but now that I've eaten both a rolled and unrolled version, I might have to go with the extra step whenever I have the time.

I swear this recipe made 85 cookies (I didn't snack on any cookie dough!) but maybe it was 65 cookies.  I was able to fit 20 cookies on each of my 12 x 17 cookie sheets.  And I think I did 4 batches of 20 plus the remaining 5 cookies.  I also just reused the parchment paper on each cookie sheet (I bake cookie sheets one at a time, letting one sheet cool and re-filling it while the other is in the oven).  I also want to experiment with my flour, fat and liquid contents to get a fluffier, chewy cookie.

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February 15, 2007. Tags: , . Thoughts. Leave a comment.