Blondies

BY JULIA STEWART

Julia's Blondies, The More You Nom

"Browned butter." It just doesn't sound that promising, does it? When I first heard the term, I thought it must mean something very serious. I thought it meant spoiled butter, or stinky butter, or butter that had been foolishly tampered with by some reckless cook. A bad accident, if you will. A     very bad accident. Nope!

Julia's Blondies

Browned butter may, in fact, change your life. Let me tell you the truth about it. It is butter whose flavor is amplified by cooking it on the stovetop until the milk solids float to the top, and then float back to the bottom where they turn golden and fragrant. The butter starts to foam and sizzle, and smell nutty. The scent intensifies, fills the room, then inspires the cook to shimmy back and forth across the kitchen floor, thrice. At least, this has been my experience. Sometimes only two bouts of shimmying are possible before the butter starts to scorch.

Julia's blondies, The More You Nom, 2015

Anyways, it's really good stuff, and totally delicious in any baked goods in which you want to bring out the flavor of butter. And it's easily executed; check out these fool-proof directions from Joy the Baker. Bam! Nothing to it. 

These browned butter blondies are a snap to make. They are also quite adaptable. Add your favorite toasted chopped nuts, or swap out different chocolates for the bittersweet. You can also use plain brown sugar in place of the coconut sugar. I am a huge fan of coconut sugar for it's molasses-y taste and the fact that it's less refined, but to each his own.

As for the flour, I use Pamela's bread flour because it has some good substances, isn't grainy or gummy, and holds together well. You may have another preferred flour blend, which would likely work just fine. And for those who can stomach it, all-purpose flour works beautifully, too.

Julia's Blondies, The More You Nom

INGREDIENTS

3 sticks unsalted butter (Did I mention these bars are delightfully low fat? Truth!)

3 cups GF flour (I use Pamela's bread flour), or all-purpose flour

2 tsp. sea salt, plus more to sprinkle on top 

2 eggs plus 1 egg yolk

1 tablespoon vanilla extract (please refrain from the fake stuff! Bleh!)

1 2/3 cups coconut sugar (can be purchased at Target or any health food store)

1 1/2-2 cups bittersweet chocoalte chips

 

DIRECTIONS

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9X13 pan with aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on all four edges. No need to grease the foil; check the amount of butter in the recipe if you need convincing!

Brown yo' butter a la Joy's method. Be sure to let it cool completely so that it doesn't melt your chocolate! Alternatively, use it warm to get some swirled chocolate action. Up to you.

Whisk flour and salt together. Set aside.

Pour cooled brown butter into a large bowl. Add the sugar and whisk well. Add the eggs and yolk, followed by the vanilla. Mix well.

Add the flour mixture in with the wet ingredients. If using GF flour, mix the daylights out of it! You do not have to worry about the batter becoming tough. If using glutinous flour, caution yourself against overtaxing so as to avoid blondies that are leather-like in texture. This is never pleasant.

Folkd in your chocoalate/nuts/whatever other little goodies you've got in mind.

Pour your batter into the prepared pan, sprinkle with sea salt, and bake for about 27-30 minutes. GF blondies can take a bit longer to bake. Either way, look for golden, crispy edges and a softer middle. Allow the bars to cool and firm up a little, and then dig in and enjoy!

*Chef's tip*- These little munchkins pair beautifully with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of homemade salted caramel

Julia's Blondies, The More You Nom

Candied Ginger

BY MARIA DI MEGLIO

Yum

Hello, World!

For those of you who don't know, I tour in the folk trio Harpeth Rising. We just came back from a music conference called NERFA (Northeast Regional Folk Alliance), where we spent 36 hours performing, networking, performing some more, then networking, then performing and networking at the same time o_0, you get the idea.  I left the conference with names of new artists that I'm excited to check out, as well as this awesome recipe for candied ginger. It was given to me by a fantastic musician, Bill Isles, who we had the incredible good fortune to hang out with and perform with. Bill and his wife Kate are based out of Duluth, MN, which is an exotically far away and cold land. He makes these homemade candied ginger bites, which is the perfect pick-me-up to a cold winter's day. Bonus- you can use the leftover syrup for a myriad of things, which is another great tip from Bill. 


INGREDIENTS

1 pound ginger

1/2 cup sugar

2 cups water  
 

DIRECTIONS

Peel ginger and slice into small pieces. You can peel by scraping with a spoon, using a vegetable peeler, or sharp paring knife. Place sugar and water into medium saucepan, and bring to a gentle simmer. Add ginger, cover, and simmer gently for three hours. Simmer on low to preserve the ginger pieces, and keep it covered to prevent the water from evaporating. Stir every once in awhile. After three hours, remove and place ginger pieces on cooling rack. Pour syrup into jar and let cool. Roll ginger pieces in sugar, and store in an airtight container. 

*Ginger syrup- you can use to flavor tea, cookies, cakes, or anything else that you fancy! Suggestions welcome in the comments below. 

Chocolate Truffles

BY MARIA DI MEGLIO

 

LAVENDER TRUFFLES

1/2 Cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons edible lavender buds

8oz semisweet chocolate, chopped

Cocoa powder for rolling (you could also try toasted 

unsweetened coconut flakes, or chopped toasted walnuts)

 

KAHLUA TRUFFLES

1/2 Cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons espresso powder (I just used what I had- 2 tsp of ground coffee beans)
2 tbl (1 oz) coffee liquor
9 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 cups finely chopped toasted walnuts

 

DIRECTIONS

Heat cream in small saucepan, bring to simmer. Add lavender, and cover. Move to a cool burner and let sit for 30 minutes. Strain the cream, and bring back to a gentle simmer. Pour over the chocolate, stirring to melt. Once the chocolate is melted, pour it into a shallow container, cover, and refrigerate until firm, at least four hours.


Once the chocolate mixture is chilled, you are ready to roll them out. You may need to let it sit for 15 minutes to bring to a workable temperature. Set up two bowls- one with toasted chopped walnuts, and another with toasted coconut. Using a small melon baller, scrape the chocolate out and roll into a ball with your hands. I had originally started out using a small ice cream scoop, but I found that for the consistency of my lavender ganache, (a little harder than usual) it worked best to flake the chocolate with a spoon, and gather the flakes into a small ball. Work off of the consistency of the chocolate- it will be a little different every time!

 

If you place the rolled truffles into the fridge for about 30 minutes they'll develop a "skin", and it will take less cocoa powder to adhere to the truffles. If you're dipping them in nuts or coconut flakes no need for this extra step. This is just to prevent dark cocoa spots and too much cocoa powder on the truffles. 

Yum

Hello, World!