Showing posts with label Dessert. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dessert. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Pear Cake with Caramel Sauce

Over the past couple of months I have incorporated a new Sunday night routine into my life. One gaining such sacred status I don't dare schedule or consider doing anything else. The routine begins with spending an hour in an 'extremely hot, sweat inducing, buckets of water dripping from your skin' room. The second hour is spent painfully stretching my body to its' limits. Much to my surprise the physical exhaustion coming from this self-inflicted torturous routine, aka my newest love-hate relationship, is actually a bit exhilarating. Because don't we all experience an endorphin rush high after surviving a 'push yourself to your limits' ordeal? I have come to discover there are endless benefits to these hot and restorative Sunday night yoga classes. But possibly none better than sharing the stamina-endurance experience with friends.

Sometimes we make this Sunday night routine a three hour experience. The third hour focuses only on rehydration. And water is always one of the options.

Not that I needed one, but I wanted a reason to make this Pear Cake with Caramel Sauce. So I surveyed the 'yoga posse' to learn whether or not they liked pears. Fortunately they all did. Our next third hour wouldn't only include hydration. There would also be cake. And not just any cake. But a cake pairing well with chilled prosecco.

Almost everything I bake is 'made from scratch'. However, when I came across the recipe for the Pear Cake with Caramel Sauce, I decided it might be okay, just this once, to channel my well-hidden inner Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee self.

The ingredients for the cake include pureed (canned) pears, pear liquid, oil, egg whites, and, drum roll please.....a box of white cake mix. Slathered in a freshly whipped cream icing, lined with finely chopped toasted walnuts, topped with pear slices, and drizzled with homemade caramel sauce make this 'semi-homemade' cake look and taste more one made from scratch. And technically, two-thirds of it is.

Baked in a ten-inch bundt pan, the cake bakes for 40-45 minutes in a preheated 350 degree (F) oven. After cooling the cake in the pan for 15 minutes, it needs an additional 90 minutes to completely cool to room temperature. Note: Remember to invert the cake onto your cake stand or platter so the top of the cake is completely flat.

The most significant changes made to the stamina-endurance recipe were to the Whipped Cream Icing. In addition to increasing the ingredient amounts (because if there is going to be whipped cream icing, there needs to be lots of it), I added sour cream to stabilize it. Freshly whipped cream has a tendency to weep and lose its' fluffy cloud-like texture after a relatively short period of time. There are essentially two ways of stabilizing whipped cream: adding unflavored gelatin or sour cream. I used sour cream, however, if you want to try making the icing with gelatin, read the Cook's Illustrated article to learn how.

The finely chopped toasted walnuts pressed into the sides of the iced pear cake add both texture and flavor. If you aren't a big fan of walnuts, you can always toast and chop hazelnuts. The nuts are one of the finishing touches guaranteed to make you look like pastry chef when you bring the cake to the table.

I used canned pears in light syrup for the cake portion of the recipe, but went with pears in heavy syrup to top the cake. The canned pear halves are cut into slices and fanned out on the top of the cake. I had thought about using roasted pears instead of the canned pears (because honestly I was still a little anxious about making a semi-homemade cake), but time constraints made the decision for me. After tasting the cake topped with the canned pears, I am not sure if I will ever top it with roasted pears. Yes, who knew canned pears could be so loved by a self-admitted fussyterian.

The caramel sauce may be this cake's pièce de résistance. Not only is it drizzled over the top of the cake, each slice of cake is placed on plate drizzled with a bit more.

The cake can be made, iced, and topped pear slices several hours before serving. The caramel sauce can be made ahead as well and kept at room temperature. Before serving, simply warm the sauce over low heat before drizzling over the cake.

Served over a bed of warm caramel sauce this Pear Cake makes for an incredibly elegant presentation. This dense, moist cake, ever so lightly pear flavored, is dinner party, birthday party, special occasion party, or rehydration gathering worthy. Nothing about this cake looks or tastes like 'semi-homemade' (which may only be important to those of us who obsess about such things). If there was ever a cake to get both unanimous rave reviews and oohs-and-ahhs, this would be the one. If you don't have a 'special' occasion coming up, create one. Because you really need to make this Pear Cake with Caramel Sauce.

Pear Cake with Caramel Sauce (several adaptations to Pillsbury's Delicate Pear Cake with Caramel Sauce recipe)

1 package (15.25 ounce) Moist Supreme White Cake Mix
1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil
1 can (15 ounce) pear halves in light syrup, drained reserving 1/3 cup of pear liquid
1/3 cup reserved pear liquid
3 egg whites (from large eggs)

Caramel Sauce
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup heavy whipping cream (at least 17% fat)
generous pinch of sea salt
1 Tablespoon vanilla

Icing and Finishing
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream (at least 17% fat)
2 Tablespoons granulated or caster sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 cup sour cream 
1 can (15 ounce) pear halves in heavy syrup, well drained (or can roast your own pears, see note below)
3/4 cup walnuts, toasted and finely chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F). Prepare a 10 inch tube pan with removable bottom.
2. Drain 1 can of pear halves, reserving 1/3 cup of the liquid.
3. Place drained pear halves in food processor. Process until smooth.
4. In the bowl of a standing mixer, combine cake mix, pureed pears, the reserved 1/3 cup pear liquid, oil, and egg whites. Beat at low speed until combined.
5. Beat at medium speed for 2 minutes.
6. Pour batter into the prepared pan.
7. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool cake in pan for 15 minutes. Invert cake onto serving plater. Allow cake to cool for at least 90 minutes before icing.

1. In a medium saucepan, combine brown sugar, butter, whipping cream and sea salt. Bring to a boil. Continue boiling for an additional 5 minutes (stirring frequently) until the sauce has thickened and is golden in color. 
2. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Stir until incorporated.
3. Allow to cool to room temperature.

1. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the whipping cream and sugar until stiff peaks form. Fold in vanilla and sour cream.

1. Drain pears (discard liquid). Cut pear halves lengthwise (should yield about 32 slices).
2. Frost the cooled cake with the whipped icing. 
3. Arrange pear slices on top of cake, slightly overlapping.
4. Press nuts into the side of the cake.
5. Drizzle 3-5 Tablespoons of the caramel sauce over the top of the sliced pears.
6. To serve, spoon 2 Tablespoons of caramel sauce onto each individual dessert plate. Top with a slice of cake. Or serve sauce on the side.

Notes: (1) Instead of topping the cake with drained, canned pears, top with slices of roasted pears. Like these Honey and Butter Baked Pears. (2) The sour cream helps to stabilize the whipped cream. (3) Serve this cake with some chilled Prosecco for an added celebratory touch. (4) The completed cake can be prepared up to 4 hours in advance of serving, however, wait to drizzle the caramel sauce over the top until ready to serve. Keep any leftover cake in the refrigerator. (5) I used the Pillsbury White Supreme Cake Mix in the making of the cake.

Outside and inside views of vacant arsenal bunkers on the grounds of the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie.

Monday, February 27, 2017

White Chocolate Popcorn

New Orleans was the first far from home place we took our then 10 year old nephew and 8 year old niece. From the steamboat ride to the Audubon Zoo and trolley ride back to our hotel to walking into almost every bead shop on Royal and Bourbon Streets in the French Quarter to seeing their sweet little faces and exhausted bodies literally fall asleep in their plates remain vivid memories. It never fails. Each year as Mardi Gras approaches, I take a short trip down memory lane. Back then there weren't any smart phones with cameras and I didn't own a digital camera. Forget about being able to edit a photo as film had to be dropped off to be processed. It took days before your photos would be ready. Somewhere in my house and in theirs is a 'memory' book filled with captions containing some of the photos capturing our weekend adventures. And more than likely they each have their bags of beads somewhere in their drawers or closets. But for me, being able to see their young eyes take in the sights and sounds of New Orleans will remain the best, most treasured souvenir.

King Cakes, jambalaya, étouffée, po' boys, gumbo, muffulettas, or red beans and rice might be the more classic, traditional Mardi Gras foods, but one always needs something a little sweet to go with all of that savory. Like this White Chocolate Popcorn with M&Ms and Honey Roasted Peanuts. And it's easier and quicker to make than pralines!

Mardi Gras is just one of the reasons to make this White Chocolate Popcorn. Actually, you don't even need a reason. Sweet, salty snacks don't ever need an occasion to be made.

Many recipes for White Chocolate (coated) popcorn call for the use of Almond Bark. This one uses white chocolate melting wafers. Some call for the use of unbuttered popcorn. This one uses 'lightly buttered' microwave popcorn. Honestly, I don't think I would make this popcorn any other way. 

At first I wasn't certain if 10 ounces of melted white chocolate would be enough to adequate coat two (3 ounce) bags of microwave popcorn. But surprisingly it was. 

Before drizzling the melted chocolate over the popcorn, remove any of the unpopped kernals. 

Two cups of M&Ms and a generous one and a half cups of honey roasted peanuts seemed to be the right popcorn to candy/nut ratio. But feel free to increase or decrease to your preference.

After the popcorn was coated with the melted white chocolate, I mixed in the M&Ms and peanuts, thinking they might stick to some of the popped kernels. Some did, some didn't. Maybe the chocolate dried too quickly. Or maybe increasing the melted chocolate to 11 ounces and working a little faster would make a difference. Or maybe it wouldn't.

I must give you a warning about this White Chocolate Popcorn. It's a little addictive. So when you make you it, make sure you have friends and family over to share it with. If you are looking for a fun snack to serve at a party, while watching sports, or an informal gathering, this easy snack would definitely fall into the 'most memorable' category.

White Chocolate Popcorn 

2 bags (3 ounce size) Light Butter Microwave Popcorn
2 cups M&Ms in your favorite colors
A generous 1 1/2 cups honey roasted peanuts
10-11 ounces white chocolate, melted

1. Make popcorn according to package directions. Spread popcorn out on a large baking sheet or pour into a large bowl. Remove any unpopped kernels.
2. Drizzle melted chocolate over popcorn. Stir popcorn until it is lightly coated.
3. Pour in M&Ms and honey roasted peanuts. Mix together.
4. Spread chocolate coated popcorn out on a large sheet of parchment paper to allow chocolate to set. 
5. Serve immediately or wrap in cellophane bags to keep fresh.

Notes: (1) I used Pop Secret Light Butter Microwave popcorn. (2) Ten ounces of melted white chocolate (I used Ghiradelli White Chocolate Melting Wafers) will give the popcorn a very light, not overly sweet, coat of chocolate. 

Food trucks on the North Shore on Oahu.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Coconut Panna Cotta with Blueberry Sauce

"Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey." (Pat Conroy) My recent and very first trip ever to Hawaii is the reason the blog has been on an unusually long hiatus. While I have been home for a little more than a week, my mind and body are still adjusting to the change in scenery, the jet lag, and the absence of the sound of the ocean. I have not yet completely lost my senses, however, I am still wondering if this incredible trip was just a dream. In spite of the fact I have hundreds of photos and a few souvenirs proving I really was in a tropical paradise. Have you ever returned from somewhere so breathtakingly beautiful you feel as if you need to keep looking at your photos to keep reliving the experience or to make you feel like you have been temporarily transported back? Sounds a little strange, I know. But bear with me for a moment while I attempt to explain how my mind works. I had never been to anywhere tropical before. So everything about Hawaii (or rather Oahu) seemed surreal. From the multiple hues and shades of blue in the sky and water to the incredibly diverse, lush landscapes, nothing I had read or heard about Hawaii truly prepared my eyes and heart for the experience. From the moment we landed in Honululu, it felt as if I had journeyed, not to the 50th state, but to some foreign exotic land. Snorkeling for the first time gave me a close up glimpse of yet another world. And those early morning views from the hike up Diamond Head only further magnified the island's splendiferousness. Needless to say, almost all of my senses were on constant overload. Which may have also explained in part why I could barely stay awake past nine o'clock most nights (my significant for me intake of alcohol may have accounted for the other part). If there was ever a trip to make me more fully appreciate the value of traveling to new places, to having new experiences, this would be the one. 

I had recently developed an affinity for a coffee flavored with coconut-almond milk. While going through my ever growing pile of recipes on the 'maybe make someday' list I rediscovered a Panna Cotta made with coconut milk. Whether or not it was the coffee responsible for shifting my opinion on coconut milk, the Panna Cotta moved from the 'maybe' to 'must' list.

Not surprisingly, coconut milk doesn't have a strong coconut flavor. Coconut milk is not the liquid found inside the coconut itself. That would be coconut water. Equal parts of shredded coconut and water (or milk) are steeped together to create coconut milk.

This Panna Cotta recipe calls for the use of two (13.5 ounce) cans of full-fat canned coconut milk. Unlike most other Panna Cotta recipes, the liquid (coconut milk) is divided. Initially, only one can of the well-shaken coconut milk is poured into a heavy bottomed saucepan. After sprinkling the gelatin over the milk, it needs 5 minutes to soften. Over low heat, this mixture, along with the sugar, is cooked until the sugar dissolves (approximately 2-3 minutes). Note: Be careful not to let the mixture boil or you will destroy the gelatins thickening ability. Removing the pan from the heat, the additional can of well-shaken coconut milk, vanilla and salt are whisked in. Pouring the mixture into a measuring cup makes it easy to pour it into your molds.

But before pouring, you have a serving decision to make. Do you want to serve the Panna Cotta self-contained in cup or do you want this light and luscious dessert to be served unmolded? Either presentation works. If you want to serve it unmolded, you will need to lightly spray your molds. Ramekins, small bowls, and/or metal/silicone pastry molds like these are all options. To unmold, moisten small serving dishes with a little warm water (this makes it easier to center the panna cotta). Loosen the edges of the panna cotta with a fingertip or tip of a butterknife, then slowly invert onto the plate. Gently jiggle the ramekin side to side until the panna cotta slips out. Depending on the size of your serving dishes or molds, this recipe will serve anywhere from 6 to 8 people.

The Panna Cotta will set up covered with plastic wrap in the refrigerator in approximately 3 to 4 hours, but you could be made the night before.

The Panna Cotta can be served with any number of toppings. Raspberry sauce, blueberry sauce, chocolate sauce, brandied cherry sauce, or even a honey caramel sauce. My choice of blueberry sauce may have been influenced by shades of blue ocean water.

To make the blueberry sauce, bring the blueberries, sugar, lemon zest and 1/4 cup of water to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce the heat to low-medium, and continue cooking until the blueberries begin to burst (approximately 3-5 minutes). In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and cornstarch. Stir into the blueberry sauce. Continue cooking for approximately 1 minute or until the sauce has started to thicken. Remove from the heat and whisk in the vanilla and salt. The sauce will continue to thicken as it cools.

The Blueberry Sauce can be made prior to serving, early in the day, or the day before. If covered, it can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week. Note: Any leftover blueberry sauce would be gret served over ice cream or pancakes.

Panna Cotta may be one of my most favorite desserts to make. This Coconut Panna Cotta with Blueberry Sauce will be the version going to the top of the panna cotta rotation list. It is light and creamy, has the right amount of sweetness along with a subtleness of coconut, and is completely satisfying. Seems some unexpected influences and outcomes came as a result of this trip to Hawaii. Guess I need to travel more.

Coconut Panna Cotta with Blueberry Sauce (slight adaptation to the Coconut Panna Cotta recipe shared in Fine Cooking, April/May 2016)
Serves 6 

Coconut Panna Cotta
2 cans (13.5 ounce size) full fat coconut milk, well shaken
1 package (1/4 ounce) unflavored powdered gelatin (recommend Knox)
1/3 cup plus 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
Optional: Cooking spray

Blueberry Sauce
1 pint (2 cups) fresh blueberries (Note: Increasing the blueberries to 2 1/2 cups will make a slightly less thick sauce)
1/4 cup water
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
2 Tablespsoons finely grated lemon zest
2 Tablespons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of kosher salt

Coconut Panna Cotta
1. Pour one can of the well-shaken full-fat coconut milk into a heavy bottomed saucepan. Sprinkle the gelatin over the top and allow to sit for approximately 5 minutes.
2. Place the saucepan over low-medium heat, whisk in the sugar and heat until the sugar has completely dissolved (approximately 2-3 minutes).
3. Remove from the heat and whisk in the second can of well-shaken full-fat coconut milk.
4. Whisk in the vanilla and salt. Pour mixture into a measuring cup.
5. Pour panna cotta mixture into the prepared bowls or cups. Note: If unmolding the panna cotta before serving, lightly spray the ramekins/molds/bowls.
6. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 3-4 hours or overnight.

Blueberry Sauce
1. In a medium sized saucepan, bring the blueberries, sugar, lemon zest and 1/4 cup of water to a boil over medium high heat. 
2. Reduce the heat to low-medium, and continue cooking until the blueberries begin to burst (approximately 3-5 minutes). 
3. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and cornstarch. Stir into the blueberry sauce. 
4. Continue cooking for approximately 1 minute or until the sauce has started to thicken. 
5. Remove from the heat and whisk in the vanilla and salt. If not serving immediately, allow to cool to room temperature, cover and store in the refrigerator. Note: The sauce will continue to thicken as it cools.

Notes: There are two other Panna Cotta recipes posted on the blog: Honey and Pistachio Panna Cotta and Panna Cotta with Balsamic Strawberries. Several changes were made to the recipes. For the Panna Cotta: (1) The amount of sugar was changed from 1/3 cup to 1/3 cup plus 2 Tablespoons. (2) The amount of vanilla was increased from 1 teaspoon to 1 Tablespoon. (3) Kosher salt was used instead of table salt. (4) One .25 ounce package of unflavored gelatin was used instead of 2 teaspoons. For the Blueberry Sauce: (1) Only 2 cups instead of 2 1/2 cups of blueberries were used. Will definitely consider increasing to 2 1/2 cups next time. (2) The cooked blueberry mixture was not strained through a fine mesh sieve as I prefer a chunky blueberry sauce.

View of Waikiki from the top of Diamond Head (February 2017)

Looking out at the Pacific Ocean from Waikiki.

Hanauma Bay on the island of Oahu.

Lanikai Beach on the island of Oahu.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Coffee Blondies

There are some things in life you missed out on and you wish you hadn't. And then there are other things you missed and are grateful you did. For me those two things would be coffee and 90's hip hop rap music. Somehow I managed to get through college and a significant part of my life without beginning or getting through the day with a cup of coffee. My caffeine infusion came from diet soda. With the rituals along with the distinctive aromatic and taste characteristics of coffee finally finding a way into my life, an affinity for almost anything having the flavor of coffee came with it. While reading through Sarah Kieffer's recently released cookbook, The Vanilla Bean Baking Book: Recipes for Irresistible Everyday Favorites and Reinvented Classics, I immediately knew it would be impossible to resist making the Coffee Blondies. After taking a bite of them, I again asked myself 'so how was it you managed to live so long without coffee in your life?'. Which, of course, happens to be of those questions not having a simple answer. Suffice it to say coffee in any form won't ever be leaving my life. And after listening to 90s hip hop rap for several hours this past weekend, I was reminded just how grateful I was for missing out on this musical genre. Although not knowing any of the words to the songs everyone else did made me wonder if I had gone missing for a decade.

Blondies are described as a cross between a cookie and a cake. While somewhat similar to a brownie in texture and presentation, they are typically vanilla rather than chocolate based. The combination of vanilla and brown sugar often gives blondies a 'caramel-like, butterscotch-like' flavor. Just as there are a myriad of variations to brownies, there are with blondies as well. The addition of dried fruits, chopped candies, and chocolate are the common variations. Infusing the batter with strong coffee or espresso is less common. Which maybe explains why these may be the most uncommingly addictive, flavorful blondies ever created.

Did I mention these mouthwatering Coffee Blondies also have chocolate and toasted pecans in them? 

Even without the vanilla ice cream, you need these Coffee Blondies in your life. Unless, of course, you want to add one more regret.

More than likely you have everything you need in your cupboard and refrigerator to make these Coffee Blondies. And, if by chance, you don't have any room temperature strong coffee in the house, combine some instant espresso with hot water. In other words, there should be nothing preventing you from making them.

After the butter and brown sugar have melted, the pot is removed from the hot stove top before the coffee is stirred in. Allow this mixture to cool to room temperature (or at least barely warm to the touch), before whisking in the egg and vanilla. Because if your mixture is too hot, you will end up scrambling the egg.

To create the batter, the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, kosher salt) are mixed together with the butter/sugar/coffee/vanilla mixture. Be careful not to over mix before adding in the chocolate and pecans. Your batter will be very thick.

Having swapped out chocolate chips for chopped chocolate in my chocolate chip cookie and brownie recipes awhile back, I made this relatively minor change to these Coffee Blondies. Call it a personal preference. Although, chopping the chocolate allows it to have a more even distribution in the batter and ultimately in each bite. Whether you decide to use chocolate chips or chopped chocolate, toast the pecans before chopping them and adding them to the better. Not only do toasted nuts have a greater depth of flavor, their texture, especially when added to a batter, significantly improves as well.

In a preheated 350 degree (F) oven, the Coffee Blondies bake for 18 to 24 minutes if made in a 9"x12" parchment paper lined pan. Because I used a slightly different sized pan, my baking time was closer to 30 minutes. 

The most difficult part of this Coffee Blondie recipe is having the patience to wait for them to cool before you cut them into squares. Or maybe it's having the will power to stop eating them. The combination of the coffee, chocolate, brown sugar, and toasted pecan flavors are heavenly and slightly addictive.

Every now and then a cookbook comes along having the genuine intention of making you a better cook or a better baker whether you are a novice or consider yourself accomplished. Then there the cookbooks having the power to compel you to make every single recipe in the book. This is one of them. Forget about the personal satisfaction or therapeutic value associated with baking, making something everyone raves about is almost better than any caffeinated high you can get from either coffee or chocolate. Sarah Kieffer's cookbook, The Vanilla Bean Baking Book: Recipes for Irresistible Everyday Favorites and Reinvented Classics, is one of those rare books giving you all of that and more. Like these Coffee Blondies, you also need this cookbook in your life. I swear it's not something you should miss out on having.

Coffee Blondies (slight adaptation to Sarah Kieffer's Coffee Blondie recipe from her book The Vanilla Bean Baking Book: Recipes for Irresistible Everyday Favorites and Reinvented Classics)

1 1/2 cups (213g) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
12 Tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks, 170 g) unsalted butter, cold
1 1/2 cups (297g) light brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon instant espresso and 2 Tablespoons hot water or 2 Tablespoons strong coffee, room temperature
1 large egg, room temperature
1 1/2 Tablespoons vanilla
3/4 cup (86g) pecan halves, toasted and coarsely chopped
3/4 cup (128g) dark or semi-sweet chocolate coarsely chopped or dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F). Line a 9"x12" or an 8"x13" baking pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and kosher salt.
3. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and brown sugar. Remove from heat and stir in espresso and/or coffee until well blended. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.
4. Whisk in egg and vanilla until well combined. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, stirring until just combined. 
6. Add the pecans and chocolate, stir gently. Note: Batter will be very thick.
7. Spread batter evenly into the prepared pan. Smooth top with an offset spatula.
8. Bake 18-24 minutes or until the blondies are set on the edge and top is golden and beginning to form cracks. To test for doneness insert a wood toothpick or wooden skewer into the blondies. When removed it should come out with just a couple of crumbs. Note: My baking time was closer to 30 minutes, however, I used an 8"x13" baking pan.
9. Transfer to a wire rack. Allow to cool completely. Remove blondies from pan and cut into squares.
10. Serve immediately. Store any remaining blondies in a covered container.

Notes: (1) I combined the kosher salt with the dry ingredients instead of stirring into the butter and brown sugar mixture. The original recipe calls for adding the salt to wet ingredients. (2) My favorite chocolate to chop and use in cookies, bars, and brownies is Trader Joe's Pound Plus 72% Dark Chocolate. Whichever chocolate you use, make sure it's a semi-sweet or bittersweet one. (3) The original recipe called for 2 Tablespoons of room temperature strong coffee. I used hot water and instant espresso and it worked incredibly well.

Bisbee, Arizona (March 2016)