Friday, April 29, 2011

Brown Butter Blondies with Whiskey Caramel

A few weeks ago I took part in a bake sale to raise money for the relief efforts in Japan.  It was an amazing event, put together by Heena & Niya, two amazing women here in Toronto.  Sales took place over 2 days at 6 different locations across Toronto with countless people donating their baking talents and time in a effort to help make a difference in the lives of the people of Japan.  Over the course of the weekend and online fundraising in the weeks that followed we have raised almost $30,000 100% of which will be donated to relief efforts.  I donated my treats and helped out at the Evergreen Brickworks, one of my favorite farmer's markets.  It was truly an amazing day.  I was impressed by the sheer volume of treats that were donated and as a result we always had a table full of treats with a constant mass of people 2 and 3 deep there to donate and get some tasty treats.

As the bake sale approached I thought of what I could make that would represent me and would do well in a bake sale environment.  I settled on Apple Hand Pies immediately.  I used the same heart molds that I had for my Nutella Ricotta Pies, pairing an all butter crust with apples sweetened with brown sugar and cinnamon, they were an easy winner.  But I wanted to make something else.  I then thought of The Domestic Diva, she has participated in a number of charity bake sales and always make Bacon Brownies with Bourbon Caramel.  Jumping off that idea I decided to come up with a recipe for Brown Butter Blondies with Whiskey Caramel.  I tend to prefer whiskey to bourbon and have it on hand more often than bourbon so that was an easy switch.  Also I'm kind of obsessed with brown butter, I actually have been since I was younger when my mom would let the butter brown to fry up my scrambled eggs or would toss cooked carrots in brown butter.  Ever since I made Brown Butter Waffles back in January I've been wanting to make another treat with brown butter and the bake sale seemed like the perfect opportunity to do some testing with it.

The resulting recipe is a new fave and I thank the Diva for inspiring me and the Henna & Niya for planning a bake sale that kicked my butt into gear to work on the recipe.  One thing to note, this recipe makes a big old pan of blondies that I cut into 2 3/4" squares which is pretty huge but as the minimum donation for the bake sale was $5 I wanted to make these puppies worth is.  They are extremely decadent so unless you are feeding a crowd, I'd half the recipe for 7"x7" or 8"x8" pan, but since eggs are a pain to divide I'd just use to 2 jumbo eggs.

Whiskey Caramel
makes about 1 1/2 cups

1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup whiskey
1/2 cup heavy cream

1.  In a medium heavy-bottomed sauce pan heat sugar over medium heat.  It will start to liquefy and get golden, DO NOT stir the sugar with a spoon.  As the edges start to get golden swirl the pan until all of the sugar has liquefied and starts bubble.
2. Remove the pot from the heat and carefully pour in the whiskey (the steam is super hot so be mindful), stir to combine.  Then carefully pour in the cream stir to combine.
3. Return the pot to the heat and lower it to medium low.  Slowly cook caramel for 10 more minutes until the sauce begins to slightly thicken.  Pour into a bowl and set aside while preparing blondies.

Brown Butter Blondies
makes 1 8"x12" pan of blondies

3 sticks or 12 oz butter - cut into cubes
3 cups dark brown sugar - packed
5 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups whole wheat flour
healthy pinch of salt (omit if using salted butter)

1.  Preheat oven 375F. In a medium sauce pan melt the butter over medium heat and continue to cook until turns golden brown and begins to smell nutty, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat to cool slightly
2. In a large bowl whisk to combine eggs, sugar and vanilla.  Pour in the butter and whisk to combine.  Add the whole wheat flour and salt (if using) and stir until just combined.
3.  Butter a metal 8"x12" baking pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan.  Drizzle half of the caramel all over the batter, it will sink down in.  You can swirl it with a knife if you want.
4.  Place the pan in the heated oven and bake for 25 minutes.  Carefully remove pan from the oven and drizzle with the remaining caramel. Return to the oven and bake for another 20-30 minutes until the top is cracked and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean. Let cool for at least an hour before cutting.

This recipe was such a hit that I got a ton of Twitter love and request for the recipe in the days that followed the bake sale. I've even had one person bake the recipe which was great because we learned that they just don't work as well in a glass baking dish. All the love these babies got was really great reinforcement because even though the Boy and I thought they were great, I loved that other people we fans too.  So thanks everyone for the love and if you try these out, let me know, I'd love to hear how you fared.


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