Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Rosemary Blondies

My friend Debbie threw an elaborate wedding shower last weekend and I helped her out in the kitchen with just a few of the many dishes she prepared. We've been getting together with another friend and baking/cooking every couple weeks or so and it's been super fun, if a little chaotic for this uni-tasker. :-) This was a recipe that I mixed up the batter for and let me tell you...so not figure friendly...but...SOOOO GOOD!!! The addition of rosemary was amazing. I skimped a little on the 2.5 Tbs, just because it sure seemed like a lot (I think I ended up with 2.25 Tbs). Each blondie was topped with a piped dollop of chocolate ganache, but I wasn't there for that step. Really not necessary in my opinion, but then I didn't try them with their over the top topping. May I remain blissfully ignorant, because these sweeties were just perfect in all their nakedness. Even the Monster, who eschews the pecan, enjoyed the heck out of 'em.

Rosemary Blondies:
(Cookie Swap)

Makes ~4 dozen 1 1/2" squares

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 Tbs chopped fresh rosemary leaves
2 tsp baking powder
3/8 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups (that's 2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs, room temp
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups pecan halves, toasted, cooled, and coarsely chopped
1 cup premium milk or semi-sweet chocolate chips (semi)

Read your recipe all the way through, so you won't measure the flour into a stand mixer instead of a food processor like I did. :-)

1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350.
Line a 10x15x1 inch jelly-roll pan with foil, leaving a 1 inch overhang around the top edge of the pan. Smooth out any big wrinkles in the foil and then lightly coat with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Combine the flour, rosemary, baking powder and salt together in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade.
Process until the rosemary is reduced to very small pieces. (If the rosemary isn't chopped before going into the processor, it will be harder to finely grind). Set aside for use in step 4.

3. Place the butter in a med. (3-qt) saucepan over low heat. Once the butter has fully melted, remove it from the heat and stir in the brown sugar, mixing until smooth. (Don't be surprised if the butter and sugar do not completely come together at this point; some separation is normal). Cool a few minutes and then add the eggs one at a time, whisking well after each addition.

4. Stir in the vanilla extract. Gradually add the flour mixture, whisking all the while to keep the batter lump-free.
Cool before stirring in the pecans and chocolate chips, otherwise the chocolate chips will melt.

Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared pan and level with a small offset spatula. The batter will be less than 1 inch thick, but it will rise to the top of the pan.

5. Bake until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out with moist crumbs on it and the brownie is just starting to pull away from the sides, about 22 to 24 minutes. Loosen the sides with a knife then cool completely in the pan.

Once cool, place pan in the freezer for ~30 minutes to facilitate cutting.
Remove from freezer and transfer to a large cutting board. Remove foil, then trim off uneven edges before cutting into 1 1/2" squares.

Optional Indulgence....a piped dollop of chocolate ganache on top of each!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Tarted Up Chocolate Avocado Push-Pop:

Success! They worked and were really quite tasty! Of the two we ate tonight I favored the one with the pear liqueur, vanilla and sea salt additions. The Monster ate and enjoyed the Ginger liqueur with sea salt pop. Will definitely make these again. Not quite the yogurt push-ups I grew up with. Superfudgygoodness!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Avocado and Chocolate Experimentin'

This post on Veggie Wedgie's blog really piqued my interest. When faced with a bag of 5 large avocados at Costco, I knew what I had to do. I'm not sure what size her avocados in Greece were so I just ended up using 2 large ones and playing with the other ingredients until it tasted "right" (I started with half of all the other ingredients, but added more). I just used Valrhona cocoa powder since I didn't have the raw cocao powder called for in the recipe.
Now if this project didn't painfully illustrate my "need" for a Vitamix blender, I don't know what else would. Took a while to get the thick mixture to blend completely in my antique, but finally, one ozone-filled kitchen later, it happened...with the aid of a spatula of course.
My mom just happened to bring me a whole slew of liquor from my grandmother's old house.
This merited an experiment! Not all of the booze is what I would deem viable...who knows how long it sat in her cupboards. The Chambord that I thought would be a winner, smelled way too reminiscent of cherry cough syrup to bother with. The pear liqueur was quite lovely though, so it went into one of the trials. The Monster has a nice bottle of Ginger liqueur that I thought might work nicely with chocolate...in it went. I think I added sea salt flakes to each of the 3 that I altered. It deepened and rounded out the flavors nicely. Had to add vanilla to one of them too. I did make one sample straight up for comparison's sake.
Here's the breakdown:

Green- straight initial recipe ingredients...avocado, unsweetened cocoa powder, agave nectar, water (although I had to play with amounts)
Pink- ~1/4 tsp vanilla extract and a pinch of sea salt flakes
Yellow- ~1/2 tsp pear liqueur added to the vanilla-sea salt batch
Orange- ~1/2+ tsp ginger liqueur + a pinch of sea salt flakes

Who knows what will come out of the freezer in 8 hours...will update with our findings!