Monday, October 25, 2010

Peanut Butter Blondies with Milk Chocolate Frosting

I made these a while back, when looking for a peanut-butter brownie recipe.
People say nothing goes together better than peanut butter and jelly, but I'm going to have to disagree. The union of peanut butter and chocolate is a gift from the gods.

Now, some of my friends, (namely, Ben), are horrified when I tell them that I'm not crazy about chocolate, but when chocolate is paired with peanut butter, I am definitely a fan.

This was my first blondie, and I was very pleased. It was delicious, moist, dense and packed with sweet peanut-butter flavor. Topped with a decent layer of creamy, chocolate frosting, they were absolutely perfect.

Peanut Butter Blondies with Milk Chocolate Frosting

From Joy the Baker

(Makes one dozen big brownies in a 9×13-inch pan)

10 Tablespoons unsalted butter cut into cubes

2 cups brown sugar

1 cup smooth and natural peanut butter

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a 9×13-inch pan.


In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and sugar together until the butter is just melted. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Add peanut butter and stir until incorporated. Allow to cool for 5 minutes more, then whisk in the eggs and vanilla extract. You want the sugar, butter and peanut butter mixture to be cool enough that the eggs won’t begin to cook when they’re added in.

In a separate bowl, whisk together salt, flour and baking powder. Add dry ingredients all at once to the wet ingredients. Stir until just incorporated. Pour the thick batter into the prepared pan and smooth out. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center of the blondies comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature before frosting.

Milk Chocolate Frosting

6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 – 2 cups powdered sugar

3 Tablespoons milk

3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter, cocoa powder and salt. Add 1/2 cup powdered sugar followed by 1 tablespoon milk. Beat well. Add another cup of powdered sugar, followed by 2 tablespoons of milk. Melt chocolate chips in the microwave or in a double boiler. Add melted and slightly cooked chocolate to the sugar mixture and beat to incorporate. Add the final 1/2 cup of powdered sugar if you need a bit more thickness. Spread evenly over peanut butter blondies.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Spiced Caramel Apple Pie

It's definitely fall. In case you didn't notice.

Just to be sure, I went up to Oak Glen with Sam and Ben. Mid-October and Apple season was already well underway. We took advantage of the weather, there was hazy fog, and rain west of the orchards which I think kept people home. There were still plenty of Apple enthusiasts out there, tasting the different varieties.

We stopped at a couple of Orchards and picked 5 different kinds of apples. Tasted some hyped-up apple cider donuts, and took home some cider. It was a great Sunday afternoon.

After doing some research, I found out that the Winesaps and Romes I had picked are good baking apples, so I got to work.

Spiced Caramel Apple Pie
As seen on Beantown Baker. Originally from Rebecca Rather’s “The Pastry Queen"

Make your favorite pie crust and place in a pie plate.
1/2 cup walnuts
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup AP flour
1/3 cup chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Make the Topping
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (F). Arrange the walnuts on a baking sheet in a single layer, and toast them in the oven for about 7 minutes, until golden brown and aromatic. Coarsely chop the nuts.

In a food processor, process sugars, cinnamon, salt, and flour for about 1 minute. Add chilled butter; pulse until the mixture is crumbly. Stir in the pecans. Refrigerate the topping, covered until ready to use.

5 to 6 medium-size apples, such as Winesap
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup Bourbon, (I used Maker's Mark)
1/2 cup heavy cream

Make the Filling
Increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees (F). Peel, core and cut the apples into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

When the butter starts to foam, add the apples and sauté for 5 to 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together cinnamon and sugar. Sprinkle it on the apples, and reduce the heat under the skillet to medium-low. Simmer the apples for about 1 minute.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the apples from the skillet to a large baking sheet, and arrange them in a single layer. (The single layer will keep the apples from becoming soggy)

Pour the Bourbon into the butter-sugar mixture in the skillet. Simmer the mixture over medium heat at least 5 minutes, until the alcohol burns off. Add the heavy cream, and continue cooking about 5 to 10 minutes, until the mixture is a thick pourable caramel. Return the apples to the skillet.

Pour the apple filling into the unbaked pie crust, and sprinkle the topping evenly over the apples. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, (with a baking sheet directly underneath the pie plate to catch any boil over), until the filling is bubbling and the topping is brown.

Garnishes (optional)
Vanilla or cinnamon ice cream
Whipped cream
Caramel sauce

Serve the pie warm or at room temperature with ice cream, whipped cream or caramel sauce.