Did anyone else have the post-Thanksgiving blues? I got home after a week with family and had a rough time adjusting back to normal life. I wanted to stay in my pajamas and in bed all day. I scoured the freezer for meals, bought groceries to make pot pies but when it came time to make them I just didn’t want to do it so we ordered pizza, and one night I ate salad straight from the plastic container it came in instead of using a plate. Keeping it classy, y’all. I am back from my hiatus and have even cooked a couple of proper meals this week. Hopefully my post-Christmas blues don’t find me in this same predicament…
Christmas is fast approaching and while my shopping is mostly completed and our tree and lights are up I feel like I have a lot of cooking still to do. I’m excited to make some of the nostalgic cookies that bring me right back to my childhood, but I always like to try my hand at something new. So along with some reliable and time-tested recipes, I’ll also share some new ones that would be perfect for the holiday season.
I have a thing for rosemary. An herb that is lovely in savory dishes but really gets along well with sweet flavors, rosemary is also incredibly easy to grow. In fact, the rosemary plant I thought was dead and moved to the side yard to die a slow death is doing better than the one I have been caring for on the back porch. That should give you an idea of my gardening skills. The blog is already full of sweets that feature rosemary, but that isn’t stopping me from sharing another one with you!
These blondies were a big hit with my husband, who prefers his sweets more on the savory side. My 4-year-old was not a fan. My 2-year old ate them up happily, a girl after my own heart. It has butter and sugar in it? We are in.
Brown butter and dark brown sugar make these blondies quite rich. Add pecans and rosemary to the mix and the flavors are all warm and rich. The cranberries are a welcomed sweet-tart addition that make these blondies more balanced and super delicious.
I went heavy on the salt and rosemary, but realize that not everyone has my taste buds. Opt for less salt and less rosemary if you’re skeptical. Then if you think it needs more you can adjust the next time. I usually say it’s better to have too much than not enough, but that’s not the case with those ingredients.
Brown butter: Place butter in a small saucepan and heat over low-medium heat until butter begins to sizzle and spit. Reduce heat to low, watch closely and swirl the pan occasionally just until butter smells nutty. Pour into a bowl and let cool slightly.
Preheat oven to 325°F and butter a 9×13 pan.
Whisk flour, baking powder, salt and rosemary together in a small bowl.
Beat cooled butter and brown sugar together. Add eggs and vanilla and beat well.
Mix in flour mixture and then the pecans and cranberries.
Spread batter into the pan and bake for 20-25 minutes.
Ok, so I know it’s almost spring and dishes like apple crisp aren’t exactly spring-type desserts. It’s more appropriate for fall or winter. But I made an exception for this most spectacular apple crisp. And let’s be honest, I don’t discriminate when it comes to sweets. Any time, any type, any where. I’m game.
This apple crisp incorporates the wonderfulness of browned butter and is really rich and deep in flavor. The oat crisp is crunchy and delicious and the abundance of apples make this crisp more like a crust-less apple pie than your typical crisp.
The original recipe calls for an 8×8 pan. I used a 9×9. An 11×7 would be good. And you could probably use a 9×13, but the apples and the crisp topping layers will be thinner as you use a bigger pan. You could also bake this in individual ramekins for a little more formal dessert.
I sliced the apples very thinly (32 slices per apple to be exact) because that’s how I like them. This little gadget cores and slices apples into 8 equally sized pieces with one cut. It’s definitely a time-saver, and definitely a uni-tasker, but one of my favorite kitchen tools. Go get yourself one! It made all the apple slicing easy. But you do still have to peel them. I kind of hate peeling apples, probably because I’m not very good at it and come close to losing a fingertip every time I do it.
I assembled this one afternoon and didn’t end up baking it until the next night. So you can make this a day in advance and bake it straight from the fridge, which makes this a good dessert to serve for a dinner party because you can make it ahead and then pop it in the oven when you sit down for dinner and it’ll be ready once everyone is done eating. Serve this with warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, Blue Bell if you can get it where you live. Nothing beats Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla when you’re topping a warm fruit dessert. But any vanilla ice cream will do! Enjoy!
6 medium-sized Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
For the Topping
Combine flour, oats, brown sugar and salt in a medium sized bowl.
Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or your hands until butter is incorporated but with many pea sized pieces. Mix in the pecans. Set in the fridge until ready to use.
For the Filling
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Place butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Watch the butter closely once it has melted. It will start to foam and bubble, once it begins to brown and smell nutty, remove from the heat and let cool slightly.
In a large bowl combine apple slices, brown sugar and cinnamon and toss together. Pour the butter over and toss to coat apples.
Pour apples in baking pan, then spread topping evenly over the apples, pressing down slightly. Place on a baking sheet if you’re using a small pan to catch any drips.
Bake for 45-60 minutes, until topping is crunchy and browned and the edges are bubbling. Let cool slightly before serving.
It is grilling season, and we’ve been taking full advantage of it on the weekends. We had dinner from the grill both Saturday and Sunday night. Last night we even ate outside. It was wonderful. I love this time of year.
Saturday night Ben grilled steaks, I made these potatoes and a green salad. If we ate this every night of the week Ben would be the happiest man on earth. Around 5 that afternoon my plan for a side dish went about as far as potatoes, but I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do with them. Mashed is always a good choice to accompany steak, but I didn’t feel like something loaded with butter and cream. So we had roasted potatoes that had been tossed with brown butter and fresh thyme. Ben said, “We need to have this meal again.” I think we will.
When garlic cooks and gets nice and brown it is spectacular and crunchy. When garlic burns, it turns bitter. I burned my garlic. So next time I would throw the garlic in with the potatoes when they had about 20 minutes left instead of at the beginning.
Thyme and Brown Butter Roasted Potatoes
2 russet potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1-inch cubes
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
4-5 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon salt
Brown butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Watch it closely and swirl the pan periodically to keep it from burning.
Combine warm butter, thyme and salt in a large bowl. Add in the potatoes and toss to coat.
Pour potatoes onto a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil or parchment (I used Reynolds parchment/foil pan liner with great results).
Bake at 400°F for 40-45 minutes, stirring the potatoes around so that all sides can get nicely browned every 15-20 minutes. Toss garlic with potatoes when they have about 20 minutes left to cook.
Let cool on the sheet for a few minutes, then serve.
As often happens to me these days, I had the urge to bake, but not much to work with. But if you have butter (and flour and sugar), you have everything you need! I’ve expressed my love of brown butter before. Brown butter has this nutty wonderful flavor and can transform a baked good or even a vegetable dish like these brussels sprouts. Brown butter can turn something that is just so-so into something spectacular.
This shortbread-like cookie recipe comes from Gourmet. Here is the link. I didn’t change a thing about this recipe. The resulting cookies were so deliciously buttery, crunchy, sweet and just the perfect touch salty. I’m sad that they are almost gone.
The only tricky thing is browning the butter without burning it. Just keep the heat moderate, stir consistently and take the pot off the heat when you start to get more and more browned bits. Once the bits begin to brown the process speeds up, so watch it closely. Just don’t let it burn or you’ll have to start over. After you’ve browned the butter, let it cool in the fridge until it is solid, mine took about an hour and a half. It doesn’t have to be hard like the stick of butter you took from the fridge, just not liquidy. Does that make sense?
I liked the crunchy sugar on the edges of the cookies, but if you don’t have raw sugar on hand you can leave it out. If you are going to use the sugar, cut about 1/3 of the log of raw dough, roll it in the sugar, pressing firmly. Then slice into pieces for baking. I found it was easier to roll parts of the log instead of the whole thing. While a batch is baking, keep the rest of the dough refrigerated so it remains easy to slice.
Brown Butter Ice Box Cookies
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup raw sugar
Cook butter in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it has a nutty fragrance and flecks on bottom of pan turn golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer butter to a bowl and chill until just firm, about an hour and a half.
Beat together butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Beat in vanilla, then mix in flour and salt at low speed until just combined. Transfer dough to a sheet of wax paper or parchment and form into a 12-inch log, 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Chill, wrapped in wax paper, until firm, at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Roll dough in raw sugar. Slice dough into 1/4-inch-thick rounds, arranging 1 1/2 inches apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Bake until surface is dry and edges are slightly darker, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool.
This challenge sure snuck up on me…like many other Daring Bakers challenges of the past. Thankfully I remembered enough in advance to get this dessert completed in time! We had an option this month to complete one or both of these desserts; ice cream petit fours and baked Alaska. One day I will try baked Alaska, but I chose to make the petit fours only.
The August 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Elissa of 17 and Baking. For the first time, The Daring Bakers partnered with Sugar High Fridays for a co-event and Elissa was the gracious hostess of both. Using the theme of beurre noisette, or browned butter, Elissa chose to challenge Daring Bakers to make a pound cake to be used in either a Baked Alaska or in Ice Cream Petit Fours. The sources for Elissa’s challenge were Gourmet magazine and David Lebovitz’s “The Perfect Scoop”.
Martha Stewart offers a “Cookie of the Day” email that I have been getting for over a year now. I have made a few of these cookies, but rarely do the cookies just scream out and beg for me to make them. These brown butter blondies, however, were something I just couldn’t resist.
Browned butter is something special. You can smell the nuttiness as it begins to brown in the pan, and the rich flavor that it gives to baked goods is tremendous. This brown butter frosting is delicious, and worth a try on the pumpkin cookies, on vanilla cupcakes, and especially nice on pumpkin cake or bread.
These blondies are rich, and so your sweet tooth can be satisfied with a small square. But, if you’re like me, you justify having a second small square since you only had one small piece to begin with! Make sure to let these cool completely before cutting and removing from the pan. They will seem a bit gooey in the center after 40 minutes of baking, but resist the urge to keep baking. Just let them sit and be patient. I replaced the walnuts called for in the original recipe with pecans, but everything else in the recipe remained as written. Here is the link to Martha’s recipe.
Brown Butter Toffee Blondies
1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for pan
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cups packed light-brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup toffee bits
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan.
In a saucepan over medium heat, cook the butter until it turns golden brown; remove from heat, and let cool. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine browned butter and both sugars; stir with a wooden spoon until combined. Attach bowl to mixer; add eggs. Using the paddle attachment, beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add vanilla, and beat to combine. Add flour mixture, walnuts, and toffee bits. Mix until thoroughly combined, and pour into prepared pan.
Bake until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes (do not overbake). Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before turning out of pan onto a cutting board. Cut blondies into 3-inch squares. Blondies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.