Sweet & Salty Peanut Butter Blondies

I’m not going to lie: sometimes baking every single week is a bit of a chore. Some weeks it’s a great excuse to try out a recipe you’ve been thinking about, or a nice quiet activity for a rainy day. But sometimes you’re coming down with a cold and you’d much rather curl up in bed and marathon¬†Elementary. So this week, I went with something without too much hands-on work involved. Still delicious, but I could just whip the batter up, put the whole thing in the oven for half an hour, and be done.

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I’ve made these blondies heaps of times, because I love peanut butter and chocolate and (sometimes) things that are easy to make. This time I changed them up a bit. Normally I would follow the original recipe exactly, just using chocolate chips and covering the top with rich dark chocolate ganache. But this time I wanted to do something different: add pretzels. Pretzels, peanut butter, and chocolate go together amazingly. So I changed the batter around slightly to be a bit richer and softer, crushed up some pretzels, and skipped the ganache. The results were excellent.

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Salted Caramel Mini Cupcakes

More birthday cakes! We had two birthdays at my work this weekend, so of course my weekly baking had to be some sort of cake. Layer cakes are a little too impractical for work, so I went with my trusty Magnolia Bakery cupcakes instead. And I had a request for salted caramel from the birthday girl, so naturally that went into the icing.

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I’ve mentioned before that I always seem to make mini cupcakes. I’m usually baking for so many people that I just can’t make enough of the normal ones. For most cupcakes, I’d make them full-size if I could. But for these ones, I think they’re best small. First because they’re quite sweet, and second because the icing-to-cupcake ratio is so much better for mini cakes than for full-size ones. And the icing for these is crazy delicious.

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Best Cocoa Brownies

I almost don’t want to post this recipe here. I’ve gotten so many rave reviews of these brownies over the years that I feel like I shouldn’t tell anyone how outrageously simple they are to make. That in fact all this time you’ve all been one bowl, seven ingredients, and about twenty-five minutes baking time away from a trayful of them. Or maybe I just feel guilty that I didn’t tell you all sooner.

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But here it is. In all its insanely easy glory. According to epicurious, these are so ridiculously tasty because all the fat is pure butter and all the sugar is straight up granulated sugar. Whereas your standard brownie recipe uses chocolate, which brings cocoa butter and sugar of its own into the mix and makes everything a little less perfect. It sounds like it could be true…but I don’t know, I’m not a scientist. Or a professional baker. I just make really good brownies.

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World Peace (Thank-You) Cookies

I’ve had my eye on this recipe for a while. Double chocolate and wildly praised by all my favorite baking blogs, straightforward, not too many ingredients…what more could you ask for? But I’m weirdly wary of a) shortbread cookies (which in my mind is what these are) and b) anything I have to chill and slice before baking. And really, there are a lot of cookie recipes in this world and I only have so much time.

Then a friend of mine helped me move some furniture around early in the morning all over Wellington and requested something chocolatey for his thank-you cookies. And, well, if they’re supposed to be good enough to cause world peace, I figured they’d make for a pretty good thank-you gift.

plate Yep.

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Not Quite Leeds Street: Caramel Cookie Cake

Lately I (along with most of Wellington) have become obsessed with the fantastic Leeds Street Bakery. True, I’ve never actually set foot inside the bakery itself, but they sell to a couple of my favorite cafes and everything of theirs I’ve tasted has been delicious. Especially their salted caramel cookies. And so I thought I’d recreate them this week. It seemed easy enough: my favorite chocolate chip cookie dough, scattered with frozen bits of homemade caramel. What could go wrong?

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Yeah, I haven’t quite cracked it yet. But I’ll keep working and get back to you. In the meantime, I decided to repurpose the dough into a cookie cake instead. So I spread it all in the pan and ended up with a sort of soft, chewy, caramel bar. They were tasty chopped up and eaten a few hours later, but would have been even tastier straight out of the oven with some ice cream on top.

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Chocolate Hazelnut Blondies

The problem with travelling is that your friends are constantly leaving you for other destinations. There’s no way around it, and you can’t resent anyone for it, but saying goodbye never really gets any easier. I’ve had two goodbyes in the past week, though luckily for me I’ll be seeing both of those people again pretty soon. And one of them was nice enough to leave behind a big jar of off-brand Nutella, which inspired these blondies. Thanks, Aidan!

gettingstartedLook at all that chocolate hazelnut goodness.

I love making blondies. They’re dead simple in the best possible way: butter, brown sugar, vanilla, egg, flour, and whatever goodies you feel like throwing in. This time I went with lots and lots of hazelnut chocolate (I swear Whittaker’s isn’t paying me to advertise – I wish – but I did use their hazelnut slab here and it was perfect). And of course, Nutella.

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