Caramel Apple Blondie Pie

CaramelApple

Fall, or Autumn as the Brits refer to it, is just starting to set in. I’m getting excited as we approach October – my favorite month of the year. I’m looking forward to all of the leaves changing. Our new town has a lot more trees than the last place we lived, and there’s a huge park, so we’ll be able to see a lot more of the seasonal changes that really make fall the prettiest time of year.

With the changing of the seasons comes a whole new flavour season – apples, pumpkin, and spices. Can’t beat it!

This week’s bake has been staring at me from the cover of Southern Living once again. Since Ben and I were going to a dinner party, I of course couldn’t come empty-handed. For those who haven’t heard of a blondie before, it’s basically a brownie but without the chocolate. They have pretty much the same texture, but offers a wider flavour palette to play with since you don’t have to compete with chocolate.

The recipe calls for using a cast-iron skillet (which I don’t have). I used a Le Creuset ceramic pie dish and it seemed to work alright. (Although, now I have something new to add to my Amazon list for Christmas!) It also calls for using refrigerated pie crust, but I just made up a batch of shortcrust pastry.

Ingredients

For the pie:

  • 1 batch shortcrust pastry
  • 6 large Granny Smith apples (or any type of apple that’s crips and keeps its crunch when you cook them)
  • 2 cups light brown sugar, divided
  • 1 cup (230 grams) unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups flour, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 Tablespoons bourbon (I didn’t have any, so I left this bit out)
  • 3/4 cup chopped toasted pecans
For the apple cider caramel sauce:
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (115 grams) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream
Directions

1. First, peel the apples, and cut into 1/4-inch-thick wedges. You’ll want to work quickly so that they don’t start to brown. Toss the apple slices with 2 Tablespoons of the flour and 1/2 cup of the brown sugar in a large bowl. Melt 1/4 cup (57.5 grams) butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add apple mixture, and sauté 15 minutes or until apples are tender and liquid is thickened. Remove from heat; cool completely (about 30 minutes).

2. Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Melt the remaining 3/4 cup (172.5 grams) butter. In a large bowl, stir together 1 1/2 cups flour and next 2 ingredients in a large bowl. Add eggs, bourbon, the melted butter, and remaining 1 1/2 cups brown sugar, stirring until the batter is blended. Stir in your toasted pecans.

3. Fit your pastry into a 10-inch cast-iron skillet, gently pressing piecrust all the way up the sides of skillet. Spoon two-thirds of apple mixture over bottom of piecrust, spreading and gently pressing apple slices into an even layer using the back of a spoon. Spoon batter over apple mixture then top with remaining apple mixture.

4.  Place pie on lower oven rack, and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes to 1 hour and 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Remove from the oven and allow the pie to cool completely.

5. To make the caramel sauce, cook the cider in a 3-qt. saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, 10 minutes or until reduced to 1/4 cup. Stir in remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly and allow to boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, and cool completely.

6. Once the sauce is cooled, it should be a lot thicker. Drizzle the top of the pie with about 1/3 of the sauce, then serve the pie with the rest so people can add as much as they’d like.

Cookie Dough Brownies

CookieDoughBrownies

I came across this recipe on another blog called Brown Eyed Baker. As soon as I read it, I knew they had to be this week’s bake. Cookie dough. And brownies. No brainer.

On top of baking this week, I also had to prep for a photoshoot at work. We’re reshooting all of our staff photos, but we’re also doing a second set of photos to display in the office showcasing all of the different personalities of the team. I went with the obvious route – being a baker – and I ended up making a huge mess of the front lobby! It was so much fun, and everyone was just laughing at the mess. Here’s just a taste of the photos from the shoot, with a huge thanks to our photographer James Robertson for helping capture the final image!  I’ll unveil the final image once we select it!

_MG_5128 _MG_5132 _MG_5140 _MG_5154 _MG_5172 _MG_5191 _MG_5205 _MG_5215 _MG_5225

Now, for the recipe! The best part about the cookie dough bit is it’s egg-free, so it’s safe to eat raw. I’m seriously contemplating keeping a bowl of this on hand for “emergencies”.

Ingredients

For the  brownies:

  • 4 ounces (113 grams) unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 cup (230 grams) butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup flour
For the cookie dough:
  • ¾ cup butter
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons milk
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla
  • 1½ cups flour
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Directions

1. First, make the brownies. Preheat oven to 325° F (160°C). Line a glass baking dish with aluminum foil, leaving some overlapping the sides so that you can remove them later, and butter the foil.

2. In a double boiler, melt the chocolate until it is smooth. Set aside to cool slightly. In the bowl of your mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Finally, mix in the melted chocolate.

3. Turn your speed down to low and mix in the flour until just combined. Spread the batter into your prepared pan, then bake for 25-35 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove the brownies from the oven and set aside to cool COMPLETELY.

4. Once the brownies are completely cool, make the cookie dough top. In the bowl of your mixer, beat the butter and both types of sugar until light and fluffy. Add in the milk and vanilla, followed by the flour, and mix until just combined. Add in the chocolate chips and mix into the dough by hand.

5. Spread the cookie dough over the brownies with a spatula, creating an even layer. Gently press it down into the brownies so that the layers bond together. Cover and place in the fridge to set for at least an hour. Once set, slice and serve with plenty of milk!

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Brownies

It’s been a busy couple of weeks, and after missing baking last weekend, I was really looking forward to getting back in the kitchen today.

Last week, Ben and I went to the (hopefully) final wedding of the year. Three within about three month is quite a lot, considering Ben was best man in two of them! It was a wonderful weekend in Dorset, where we stayed in a B&B in a village called Shitterton (I kid you not). I think one of the best parts of the wedding day was the wedding cake. The couple, whose last name is Cheesman, decided to go with a stack of different kinds of British cheeses as their tiered wedding cake. It was such a great idea! They had real wedding cake as well, but it wasn’t the focal point. Needless to say, I tried quite a few types – including one wrapped in nettles!

This week was Independence Day in the US, but while my friends and family back home were celebrating by lounging poolside and having massive cookouts, I was busy running my first-ever 5K along with some of the other ladies from the office after a long day at work. It was for a great cause though, and gave me a bit of a boost in wanting to get back in shape! And while there were no beers, hot dogs, or fireworks, it was a great day!

Originally I wanted to bake something to celebrate Americana in honor of the 4th, but then I do that just about every time I bake. So instead, I decided to celebrate my personal achievement by making something with my all-time favorite flavor combination: peanut butter and chocolate. I figured I’d then squeeze in the Americana bit by making it in brownie form.

So off I went to find a recipe, but surprisingly not that many recipes came up! I found plenty of cheesecake brownies, and other flavor brownies, but the only one I came across for peanut butter and chocolate used a box-mix for the brownie batter. And while I have no problems with a good Betty Crocker box mix, I’m determined to make everything for my blog by scratch. It was time to experiment.

This recipe comes from combining two other recipes and making a few adjustments. What came out was a rich, decadent brownie that just begs to be eaten with a tall glass of cold milk. My only caveat was that I wish I had swirled in the cheesecake batter a bit deeper, as the brownie batter rose quite a lot – but otherwise I’m happy.

Ingredients

For the brownie mixture:

  • 200 grams dark chocolate, chopped
  • a bit over 1 cup (250 grams) butter
  • 1 3/4 cup (300 grams) brown sugar
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/3 cup (200 grams) flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/3 cup (30 grams) cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup milk (or buttermilk)
For the cheesecake mixture:
  • 1 8-ounce package of cream cheese, just barely softened
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons icing sugar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup, plus 1 Tablespoon smooth peanut butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons milk

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350° F (approx 175°C). Butter two glass 8×6-inch baking dishes, line with baking paper and grease the baking paper as well.

2. First make the brownie mixture. In a heat-proof bowl over simmering water, place the chopped chocolate and butter and gently mix until everything melts and the mixture is smooth.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the melted chocolate, eggs, and sugar until combined. Then add in the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Whisk until smooth then distribute the batter evenly between your two prepared dishes.

4. Next make the cheesecake mixture. Beat together the cream cheese, eggs, and both types of sugar using an electric mixture. Add in the peanut butter, then add in the milk as needed to make the mixture smooth, but still thick. Finally, add in the vanilla and salt and stir to combine.

5. Drop spoonfuls of the cheesecake mixture over the brownie batter,and use a butter knife to swirl it into the batter.

6. Bake the brownies for approximately 40 minutes, until the center is set. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove from the pan by lifting the baking paper and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Brownies

Awhile ago, I entered a contest on Food Network UK for their cupcake month competition. I ended up winning a set of large cupcake piping tips, but along with that I ended up getting added to their email list. This week, they sent me two emails saying “make the gooiest chocolate brownies” as the main story – alright Food Network, I got the hint. This week’s baking adventure must be brownies.

But I didn’t want to make any sort of brownie. I’ve grown up on classic chocolate brownies. I’ve indulged on cheesecake brownies. But what else could I try? That’s when I came across this recipe over at Evil Shenanigans. I knew it had to be good because (A) the site includes the word ‘shenanigans’ which is always an awesome word and (B) it combines two of my favorite classic treats: the brownie and the chocolate chip cookie. How could I go wrong?

Well. It did go wrong. Sort of. The recipe called for using a square baking tin, but I only have rectangular ones – that was my first mistake. What resulted was the edges of the pan being perfectly done while the middle remained gooey. And not the gooey that Food Network had been boasting about; it was a mess. When I cut into them, the entire middle oozed out like warm uncooked brownie magma out of a fault line of chocolate chip cookie.

My second mistake wasn’t really a mistake at all, but just a realization that could have made them turn out a bit better. Next time, rather than just dotting the surface with the chocolate chip cookie dough, I’m going to swirl it in a bit, so you get more of a surprise as to what your brownie to cookie ratio will be with each bite.

Despite the improvements that need to be made, this recipe is GOOD. Like, really good. And we’ll just hope they turn out better next time.

Ingredients

For the brownies:

  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 ounce plain or dark chocolate, chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons Nutella
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 Tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
For the chocolate chop cookies:
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 egg, cold
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350° F (approx 175°C). Grease a SQUARE baking pan and line with baking parchment, the grease the baking parchment.

2. In a glass bowl over a pan of simmering water, combine the 3 Tablespoons butter, chocolate, and Nutella. Stir until the chocolate is melted and everything is smoothly combined. Be sure not to let any water drop into your bowl, or else your chocolate will seize and it will be ruined. Once melted, set the bowl aside to cool.

3. In a medium bowl, combine the other 3 Tablespoons of butter, sugar, egg, egg yolk, and vanilla and whisk until smooth.

4. Add the cooled chocolate mixture to the medium bowl and stir until smooth. Then sift in the flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Stir until there are no more lumps left, then pour into the prepared baking pan. Set aside.

5. Prepare the chocolate chip cookie dough by creaming the butter, brown sugar, and sugar together in a clean medium-sized bowl. Blend in the egg and the vanilla.

6. Sift in the flour, baking soda and salt. Stir until combined, then mix in the chocolate chips.

7. Dot the surface of the brownie batter with the cookie dough, then gently swirl together, being careful not to mix the two doughs together too much.

8. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until the edges are done and the middle is set and doesn’t wiggle. Let them cool in the pan for at least one hour before slicing.

Oreo Cheesecake Brownies

In my internet recipe hunting, I came across this recipe for Oreo Cheesecake Brownies from Sweet Pea’s Kitchen. I absolutely LOVE cheesecake brownies, and it had been a looooong time since I last had one. So combine my love for cheesecake, chocolate, AND Oreos?! How could it be any more perfect?

I gave these brownies a shot, and they were wonderful. However, this recipe only makes about a half-batch, so you may want to double up if you want to make a full 9×13 Pyrex dish’s worth. In a way this works out well, since I have 2 half-size Pyrex dishes, so I made one normal batch, and one batch with peppermint added to the cheesecake, which was also delicious. Also, I had to increase the baking time quite a bit – most likely due to using the deeper pans. So be sure to keep an eye on them to avoid over or under baking! You’ll know when they’re done when the cheesecake swirls start to brown on top a bit.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (115 grams) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup icing sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/3 cups coarsely chopped Oreo cookies

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350° F (approx 175°C). Butter the bottom and sides of a 8 inch metal baking pan (I used glass Pyrex dishes for my brownies). Put a long piece of parchment paper in the bottom of the pan, letting the parchment extend up two sides of the pan and overhang slightly on both ends. (This will make it easy to remove the bars from the pan after they have baked. This is a must do!!) Butter the parchment.

2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Whisk in sugar and bring to a boil, whisking frequently; boil 1 minute. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes.

3. In a medium bowl, beat together cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla extract until combined, about 1 minute using a hand mixer. This will be the cheesecake for your brownies. If you want to make the peppermint version, use 1 tsp of vanilla, and 1 tsp of peppermint extra. You can also swirl in some red food colouring if you’d like.

4. In a separate medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder and salt; whisk until combined.

5. In a second large bowl, whisk together eggs until combined. Whisk in melted butter-sugar mixture until well combined. Stir in flour mixture until just combined, followed by Oreo cookies. Again, if you’re making the peppermint version and it’s around Christmas – try substituting with the red creme-filled Oreos for that extra holiday touch.

6. Bake for 24-28 minutes, until brownies and cheesecake are set. A knife inserted into the cheesecake mixture should come out clean and the edges will be lightly browned.

7. Let cool completely in pan on a cooling rack before lifting out the parchment paper to remove the brownies. Cut, and serve.