Tag Archives: baked

Jam Studded Blondies

One thing I miss about college is the proximity of friends and the ability to text during class to meet for lunch in an hour. I took for granted my flexible schedule and being able to hang out with friends every day even if going out just meant sneaking in snacks and coffee into the library to cram for midterms together. Fortunately, when we scattered after graduation, many of my friends ended up in the same general area of California as me so I can still see them on occasion. This past weekend a few of us were free for lunch so we decided to grab food in the city.

Deciding where to eat is a difficult task for three indecisive girls–especially in a hub of delicious eateries. Somehow it usually gets pushed to me to make a decision, possibly because I am terrible at the “nose game,” but today my friend took charge and decided on Burma Superstar. I hadn’t eaten there before but I had heard only good things about the food. Judging from the spicy aromas clouding the entryway and the apparent but bearable line of people awaiting tables, it was a good choice (and worth the wait!). We decided on three entrees–a soup, a salad, and a tofu eggplant dish–and shared them. All three were delicious and though the crowded restaurant was bustling, we managed to catch up between mouthfuls of eggplant curry.

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Not wanting to show up empty-handed, I made blondies to bring to my friend’s apartment. I baked a lot during college. It was a good way to de-stress and bringing cookies to study groups generally resulted in friendship…or bewildered looks when I showed up with a truckload of tupperware containers. I was searching for a recipe that would be low-key and called for ingredients that I had on hand. Lucky for my friends and me, Joy’s Brittle and Jam Blonde Brownies fit the bill. Chewy and tasting slightly of caramel, they are everything that a blondie should be. The swirls of jam take them up a notch but don’t make them overly sweet. It’s a delicate line with blondies and sweetness, but I think these have just the right amount. Even after our three course meal, we still had room for a few blondies!


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Jam Studded Blondies

1 cup of all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp of baking powder

1/4 tsp of baking soda

1/4 tsp of salt

1/4 tsp of ground cinnamon

1/2 cup of unsalted butter (1 stick)

1 cup of packed light-brown sugar

1 large egg

1 tsp of vanilla extract

1/3 cup of jam (I used Crofter’s superfruit spread in the North America variety–it was really tasty!)

Prep: Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line an 8×8 inch baking pan with parchment paper and then butter/flour the parchment paper–these extra steps have a huge payoff after baking because the blondies come out of the pan easily and the cleanup is cake!

Start off by mixing the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon together in a bowl. Then melt the butter in a medium sized pot on the stove. Add the brown sugar to the melted butter and mix to combine. Allow the butter/sugar mixture to cool before adding in the egg and vanilla–and then mix those into the batter. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until just incorporated then pour into your prepared pan. Add the jam to the top of the batter in three dollops and use a knife to swirl in, then bake for approximately 20-23 minutes. The top should be a golden brown and the edges will pull away from the pan slightly when the blondies are done. I also used the toothpick method to check that the center was fully baked. Allow to cool in the pan on a rack–slice and enjoy!

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Recipe from Joy the Baker

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Chocolate-Chocolate-Chip-Coconut Cookies (Gluten-Free)

I started out the new year reading Eat & Run by Scott Jurek (a book I devoured in two days and one that I recommend) and promised myself that 2013 would be full of awareness of the food that I put into my body. The book is inspiring–it made me think of all the processed foods I usually consume and how when I do consciously eat better, and more locally, I feel better. I think more clearly. I feel lighter on my morning runs. And then after finishing a chapter at a coffee shop what did I do? I ran across the street to the grocery store, then promptly went home and baked these awesome cookies. So much for limiting my sugar intake…

In reality, I do hope that in 2013 I will be more aware of the foods that I’m eating but I’m not going to cut out sweets or processed foods entirely. I love chocolate way too much for that nonsense.

I went into baking these with the idea that they would taste like the cookie I bought on a whim at a Nabolom Bakery a few days prior. I hit up the bakery late in the day so there was a limited selection of sweets left behind the case. There were, however, a large platter of gluten-free chocolate cookies lying by the register so I thought, why not? They were chocolate after all and it’s hard to go wrong with that. The guy working the counter smiled and said they were his favorite but there were so many left at the end of the day that I thought he was probably just trying to make conversation. I was wrong. These cookies are amazing. The lack of flour makes them have an intense chew and the chopped walnuts add a richness that is balanced nicely by the sweet chocolate. In short, I have found a new favorite.

I used pecans in my cookies because that’s what I had on hand but I think any nut would work well (the original recipe calls for almonds). These cookies have all of the same qualities that I love in Nabolom’s. Plus they taste just as good even a day or two after baking as they do right out of the oven!

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Chocolate-Chocolate-Chip-Coconut Cookies (Gluten-Free)

3 cups confectioners’ sugar (sifted)

3/4 cup natural cocoa powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup chopped pecans (toasted)*

3/4 cup dark chocolate chips

3/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut

4 large egg whites @ room temperature

*Preheat your oven to 350°F and spread out pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake pecans for approximately ten minutes, stirring once during the baking process and keeping a close eye on them towards the end of the baking time to ensure that they do not burn. Set pecans aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 325°F. Sift the confectioners’ sugar into a large mixing bowl. Add the cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt and whisk together. Add the pecans, chocolate chips, and coconut and stir into the mixture. Mix in the egg whites until combined but be sure not to overmix the batter. Drop the cookies onto a parchment paper-covered baking sheets in rounded tablespoons approximately two inches apart.

Bake for 15-18 minutes, rotating the baking sheets halfway through the baking time. Allow to cool on the baking sheets and enjoy!

Makes approximately two dozen cookies.

Adapted from Shutterbean

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The Cookie Equation

The glass in this photo–the one with the fish on it—always makes me think of scotch or Bridge or the Brady Bunch…I dunno…something about those retro fish.  While the glasses belonged to my great grandmother, and I have no idea what her drink or game of preference were, I am certain that anything tastes better when drinking from them (especially when accompanied by chocolate pecan cookies).

I can always count on this cookie recipe to deliver and often fall back it on because it produces cookies with the perfect balance of crunch and chew. Plus, the cookies are slice-and-bake so they are perfect for making ahead of time and then baking as needed from the fridge/freezer.  The only downside that I can see to this recipe is that it requires a 24 hour rest time for the dough to chill out in the fridge–which usually results in me eating far more of the cookie dough than I’d like to admit over the course of the next day.  The cookies are worth it though–promise!

The recipe is adapted from David Lebovitz’s book, Ready for Desert, a cookbook worth investing in.  I use this book all the time, both when I need a good recipe or a drool-worth food photo to pine over.

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour

3/4 tsp baking soda

a pinch of salt

1 cup of unsalted butter — @ room temp.

1 cup of packed light brown sugar

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp of vanilla extract

2 large eggs — @ room temp.

2 cups of pecans — chopped

14 ounces of chocolate — chopped*

*Trader Joe’s pound-plus bars are awesome/affordable.

First things first–I always start off by chopping and toasting the pecans because they can sit and chill on the counter while I mix up everything else.  This way they are pretty much cool by the time I need to add them into the batter.  Soooooo….pre-heat the oven to 350° and chop up the pecans.  Then spread the chopped pecans out on a baking sheet. (I always cover my baking sheet with parchment for easy cleaning.)

Put the cookie sheet into the oven @ 350° for 10 minutes, tossing the pecans part of the way through and keeping a close eye around minute marker 8 to ensure that they do not burn.  Take them out of the oven and place them on the counter to cool while prepping the rest of the dough.

Mix the butter and both sugars until combined–you can do this in an electric mixer or by hand.  I’ve done it both ways and either works fine.  Add the vanilla and the eggs, one at a time.  In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, and salt together.  Then add the dry mixture to the wet, mixing until just combined.  Mix in the chopped pecans and chocolate then divide the dough into four portions.  Place each portion onto plastic wrap and roll out into a log ~1.5-2 inches in diameter and allow to hang out in the fridge for at least 24 hours.  These cookie logs keep in the fridge for up to a week, at which point I move them to the freezer if I haven’t baked them or eaten all of the dough–not likely but it does happen…occasionally.

When ready to bake, the logs get sliced into 3/4 inch rounds and put on a cookie sheet several inches apart.  They get baked @ 350° for approximately 10 minutes.  I take them out of the oven when the edges start to darken slightly and the centers are done and then allow them to cool on the sheet before moving them to a cooling rack.

Enjoy!

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