Sunday, April 02, 2006

A Brownie and A Blondie

The Friday before my friends' wedding was a surprise shower for the bride. It was a potluck and I contributed a brownie and a blondie for the dessert table. Over the years I've seen more than my share of brownies on potluck occasions, and they do not appeal much to me anymore. But these two are by no means your regular potluck fare. Nay, they are brownies extraordinaire. The first one is rich affair with toasted nuts, chocolate chunks, coffee and caramel sauce, making it as appealing for adults as for kids. The second one is a toasted walnut blondie made rich with chunks of white chocolate and a considerable amount of melted white chocolate in the batter. It has a golden flaky crust and an incredible taste. A must for white chocolate lovers... Both bars should be cut as a confection since bite-sized pieces of these are all you need to satisfy your craving for dessert (and chocolate). The recipes are adapted from Fran Bigelow's Pure Chocolate.

Caramel and Coffee Brownies

  • 1 c Dulce de Leche
  • 8 oz hazelnuts, roasted and roughly chopped
  • 13 oz. bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces
  • 4 oz bittersweet chocolate, cut into 1/4" chunks
  • 5 oz butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 c packed brown sugar
  • 2/3 c sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp instant coffee dissoved in 1/2 tsp hot water
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 3/4 c cake flour, sifted and then measured
Preheat your oven to 325F. Butter a 9"x13" pan. Melt the larger amount of chocolate and let cool, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, beat butter, brown sugar and sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and dissolved coffee. Now add the eggs one by one, scraping after each addition and beating until the mixture comes together. Follow this by melted chocolate and beat once again to combine. Add the flour gradually by hand and mix until no flour is visible. Reserve part of nuts and chunks of chocolate, and mix in the rest with the batter. Scrape the thick batter to the prepared pan and level with your spatula. Now put spoonfuls of dulche de leche over the top and swirl it gently into the batter with a skewer or knife. Scatter the reserved nuts and chunks over the batter. Bake for about 45 minutes. The skewer test (do not immerse it in caramel) should reveal moist crumbs. Let rest for more than an hour before you attempt to cut the bars.

White Chocolate and Walnut Bars

  • 1 1/2 c toasted and roughly chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 lb white chocolate, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 lb white chocolate, cut into 1/4" chunks
  • 2 sticks soft butter
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 c cake flour, measured after sifting
Preheat your oven to 325F. Butter a 9"x13" pan. Melt the white chocolate cut into small pieces. Let it cool a bit, stirring frequently. Add the softened butter and set aside. Beat together the eggs, vanilla and sugar until light and fluffy. Now lower the speed and add the white chocolate and butter. Mix together until combined, making sure to scrape the bowl as you go. Add the flour by hand, stirring until no flour is visible. Add most of the nuts and white chocolate chunks to the batter and stir. Spoon into the prepared pan. Scatter the reserved nuts anf chunks of white chocolate on top. Bake for about 35 to 4o minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Cool more than an hour before you attempt to cut into bars.