Archive for December, 2012

Pipe Dream #158: To Cease Sugaring??? – Brown Butter Caramel Blondies

Blondies are the jam. I’ve posted about them a couple time before, and I think I have found a real solid recipe.

This is not that recipe. I was intrigued because I saw some blondies floating around that used browned butter. In the blogging world, browned butter is super trendy right now. It is also super delicious, so I don’t even feel bad about giving in to it’s trendiness. Do you ever feel like you give in to trendiness? Does it bother you? I’m probably just weird. Ah well.

Because this is not the perfect blondie recipe, I found fault with it. Mostly, there was just too much sugar involved, I think. Thee blondies turned out a little more chewy than I would have liked, owing to the sugar. And gosh, they were sweet. Like, a little too sweet. And you know that if I am calling something too sweet Well…

Try reducing the sugar and upping the flour. See how it goes! Or, just make the other blondies. You know, whatever you like.

Tres jolie, n’est pas? Good effort on the pretty points, L, but no cigar.



Browned Butter Caramel Blondies

Inspired by Joy the Baker and Tasty Kitchen

16 tablespoons unsalted butter, browned and cooled
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 whole egg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
14 Kraft caramels, unwrapped + a splash of heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Spray a 9×13 inch pan with nonstick cooking spray.

In a small pan on medium heat, melt the butter, stirring occasionally. Cook the butter until it begins to turn brown and smell nutty. Continue cooking until the butter turns deep amber, then remove from heat. Try not to burn it, though. Set butter aside.

Whisk 3/4 cup flour, baking powder and salt together in a small mixing bowl. Set aside.

In another medium mixing bowl, combine the browned butter and brown sugar until blended. Add the egg and mix well. Blend in the vanilla and mix just until incorporated. Fold the dry ingredients into the butter mixture just until combined. Do not overmix. Transfer batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface.

Combine the unwrapped caramels with a tablespoon or two of heavy cream in a microwave safe glass bowl. Microwave for 30-second intervals, stirring between each, until the caramel is melted and combined with the cream. Drizzle (or glob) the caramel onto the blondie batter, then use a toothpick (or fondue fork, in my case) to swirl the caramel into pretty patterns.

Bake until the top is shiny and golden brown, 22-24 minutes. Do not overbake.

Cool the blondies in the pan, then cut into squares.

Banana Bread: An Ode

Oh Banana Bread, humblest of quick breads

Made from the lowliest of fruits

Freezed, macerated


With careless abandon

Forgotten by your keepers.

You are neither significant nor original,

But you may lay your weary cream cheese burden down

At the gateway to my gullet

Any day.


P.S. This is the first banana bread that I have ever had work out for me. It’s like the easiest thing to make in the world, but I couldn’t make it work before! Classic Midwest woman points coming my way on this post…

Best Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips and Cream Cheese Frosting

Adapted from allrecipes

2 eggs, beaten

1/3 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup canola oil (or vegetable oil works)

1 cup well-mashed bananas

1 1/2 cups white sugar

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup chocolate chips

cream cheese frosting

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Spray one 9×5 inch loaf pan with nonstick spray, or line with parchment for easy removal of the bread.
Blend together the eggs, buttermilk, oil and bananas. Sift together the sugar, flour, baking soda and salt. Add to banana mixture and stir in chocolate chips. Mix well, and pour into the prepared loaf pan.

Bake 1 hour, then check the bread for with a cake tester. If the tester comes out with batter on, bake for another  20 minutes. The top should be a deep golden brown. Let cool, then frost with the cream cheese frosting.

Pipe Dream #157: More Nutella? Things Work Out – Nutella Frangelico Cupcakes

I think this is the last post regarding my freak out Saturday baking days. Rather than posting all those babies at once, I’ve tried to spread them out so that you didn’t get overwhelmed with chocolate cupcakes (heh, as if that could happen). In review, we have tried:

Homemade Ding Dong Cupcakes and

Brownie Oreo Earthquake Cupcakes

On the other hand, is it possible to get overwhelmed with chocolate cupcakes? Maybe. But not if they also include Nutella fillings. Or Frangelico frosting fillings. So I guess we’re a go!

I used that one-bowl chocolate cupcake recipe. Go figure.

But the frosting gets real crazy. I whipped up a standard quick buttercream, and then swirled in Nutella and Frangelico to flavor it. If you think it is possible to somehow get that wrong, do not be discouraged. There is no way to get that wrong. This is one situation in which quantities don’t matter. You can literally add as much Nutella as you like, and the frosting will turn out. In fact that might be a new rule of thumb for my life:

No matter how much Nutella you add, things will always turn out.

For those of you who don’t prefer big swirls of frosting, I took pity and spread a few with straight Nutella. New rule of thumb in action.

But for everyone else, I went crazy with the swirls.

Cheering up, buttercup,


Nutella Frangelico Cupcakes

For the chocolate cupcake recipe,  click here.

For the frosting:

2 1/2 – 3 cups powdered sugar, depending on desired consistency

8 tablespoons (1 stick butter), softened

1 tablespoon Frangelico, to taste

1/3 cup Nutella, to taste

Whip butter with paddle attachment on a stand mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in powdered sugar, one cup at a time, until incorporated. Beat in Nutella and Frangelico, adjusting until you get to your desired consistency and flavor. For a stiffer frosting, add more sugar.

To assemble:

Fill cupcakes with Nutella or buttercream Frost as desired, using toasted hazelnuts as a garnish.



False Favorite Shots: The Fourth Dimension

This is not actually a particularly favorite shot, but I just wanted to show you the cool filter I discovered. It is like I am being pulled into the fourth dimension or something. It’s like Star Trek.

Also, hooray for 60 degree days in November. Whatta life.


Pipe Dream #156: To Test Bless, Probs Less – S’mores Cookie Bars

I feel like I have had a lot of marshmallow/chocolate posts recently. Do you mind? I think it is my fix. Going crazy on a Wednesday night like, “I need marshmallows!”

Or in this case, and ultra-thick, brown sugar cookie with toasted marshmallows topped with dark chocolate and grahams that just so happens to slice nicely into massive bars. I found this recipe and died. And then I made it and died again. It is better than my previous obsession with s’mores bars. The thing is, it doesn’t really even taste like a s’more. The graham crackers on the top are really just a nod to that flavor. All the same, let’s call it a s’mores bar. Why not?

Some high quality good there. For some reason, the second time I made this, the chocolate split when I added the milk. I think I burned the chocolate. Lame sauce, lit.

I am sorry. OMWORD the toasted marshmallows. The original recipe called for regular marshmallows, but I opted for the giant kind, which I sliced in half and squished in. As you can see below, I felt the need to “smooth out” the tops of the bars by eating picking off all of the offensively sticky-outy toasted tops. It worked out.

Also, Wonk-esque. My blog stats show which different Google searches refer people to my blog. Among the top searches: “Opening scene from Willy Wonka.” I’ve never been more proud.

These keep well and travel well, so bless someone you know with these bars. After, you know, test-blessing yourself a couple of times.


S’mores Cookie Bars

Adapted from Heather Likes Food

For the base:
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1-½ tablespoon vanilla extract
2 whole eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1-½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoons salt

For the filling:
16 whole extra large marshmallows, or 32 regular ones

For the topping:
1-½ cup chocolate chips
1 tablespoon butter
¼ cups milk
½ cups graham cracker crumbs

Preheat oven to 350°F.

For the cookie base:

Melt butter in a microwave safe bowl until liquefied. Using a sturdy spatula, stir in both sugars and vanilla extract. Add in eggs and stir until well combined.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Stir flour mixture into the wet ingredients and stir until no dry spots remain. Spoon cookie dough into a greased 9×13″ baking pan and spread into an even layer.

Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out with only a few moist crumbs. While the base is baking, cut the extra large marshmallows in half the hamburger way. Remove pan from oven and top with the marshmallows, however many you can fit over the top.

Return cookie bars to the oven and bake for an additional 5 minutes or until the marshmallows are puffy and melted. Remove pan from the oven and let cookie bars cool completely. (I didn’t let them cool completely. It was fine.)

For the chocolate topping:

In a microwave safe bowl, combine chocolate chips and butter. Begin to melt in the microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring between each additional 30 second heating. Continue heating until almost all the chocolate is melted, then stir stir stir to melt the last bits. I made these twice and burned the chocolate the second time. Don’t be like me. Once the chocolate is melted, stir in the milk.

Spread chocolate mixture over the cooled (or not) cookie bars. Top with graham cracker crumbs. Allow the chocolate to set before slicing into squares.

Pipe Dream #155: To Doctor It Up – Chocolate Frangelico Lava Cakes

I tried really hard with these. Company’s coming, and I wanted to do something nice. Plus, I had a bottle of Frangelico burning a figurative hole in my figurative pocket where I keep Frangelico.

This recipe is a wonderful example of a life lesson that is not commonly taught in elementary school: Sometimes, our best effort is actually not good enough. And that is ok.

I looked at probably dozens of recipes, finally settling on a Food Network recipe that I altered. Overthinking is clearly not a problem.

And then, after all that thinking, I overbaked them, which is the complete opposite of the point of a gooey, luscious lava cake.

And lava cakes, on their best day, really are fab, so you should try these sometime, at least in a restaurant.

In order to compensate for what turned out to be a somewhat dense but flavor-light cake, I doctored it up with fat, nuts, and sugar.

So what might have been a total disappointment, ended up being all right Plus, we were having frangelico drinks, too, so that might have helped matters.

No worries,


Chocolate Frangelico Lava Cakes

Adapted from

4 ounces good quality semisweet chocolate (not chocolate chips, mind)

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter

2 cups powdered sugar

4 eggs

1 tablespoon Frangelico

Whipped cream, chocolate sauce, powdered sugar, toasted hazelnuts, etc. for serving (optional)

To toast hazelnuts (if using), throw them in a pan over medium high heat, stirring frequently until the dark skins loosen. Let cool on a paper towel, then rub the skins away, and give the naked nuts a rough chop. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Generously spray eight small ramekins with nonstick spray, and place on a baking sheet.

Heat the chopped chocolate and butter in a large glass bowl resting over a pan of boiling water until butter is melted. Whisk until the chocolate is completely melted, then whisk in the sugar. Blend in the eggs, one at a time, whisking well after each addition. Stir in the Frangelico and then the flour.

Divide batter evenly among the prepared ramekins, about 2/3 full, or a bit more. Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until sides are firm but centers are soft. Let stand 1 minute.

Invert cakes onto dessert dishes and top with a little more Frangelico, whipped cream, powdered sugar, chopped hazelnuts and chocolate syrup. Serve immediately.

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