I think I need an intervention

Blondies with salted caramel sauce

I make no secret of the fact that I thorough adore being in the kitchen – I feel like I’m truly in my element when I am chopping, blending or mixing, and so I rarely notice the time passing when I am merrily humming away in the the kitchen whilst doing my thing. However, occasionally I’ll go into a baking binge, during which I will bake a ridiculous amount of goodies while spending the entire day on my feet and during this marathon my enjoyment of the cooking process turns into more of a feeling of grim determination to bake until I literally fall over out of sheer exhaustion.

My mother continually comments that this is not a good thing, and with the way my feet feel from being almost continuously stood on for the past 2 days, I think I’m inclined to agree.

This weekend, I managed to go through over 2kg of flour, 1kg of butter, 1.5kg sugar and about 24 eggs. And as a result, I now have a fridge and kitchen bench full of sweet treats of various kinds, and family members who are collectively rolling their eyes and calling me evil for creating so much source for temptation…

It all started out with an innocent batch of pikelets, I swear. See, since getting my new camera a few months back, I’ve slowly been working through some old recipes and taking new photos to replace the dodgy old ones. However, the problem lies in the fact that with so many bookmarked new recipes in cookbooks and food blogs, it’s difficult for me to bring myself to repeat a recipe (unless it’s specifically requested by a friend or family member). After I’d made the pikelets and photographed them (a process which took no more than about 30 minutes from beginning to end), I sat in the kitchen and fidgeted. You see, making the pikelets had gotten me into ‘the groove‘, and I felt the urge to create more.

A lot more.

Blondies with salted caramel sauce

You see, the short list of recipes on my ‘to try very very soon’ changes quite often, depending on my mood or what I’ve made in the week past, and so I started to browse through my list and make a note of the recipes that I thought might be right for today. One of the recipes on that list happened to be blondies with salted caramel sauce that I had seen featured on Chubby Hubby‘s blog, and rereading his post, my mind quickly informed me that this would indeed be the recipe to start my baking marathon with. Taking his suggestions of some nuts and chocolate to add depth and texture to these little squares on board, I eagerly mixed them out, curious as to what the outcome would be.

You see, folks – this was my first ever batch of blondies. And I have yet another confession to make – I have never ever baked brownies. I know, how is this possible?? Well, my family are not big fans of things that are sweet or too chocolatey, and since every brownie that I’ve ever tasted (which, to be honest, doesn’t number as many) falls into both categories, I’ve intentionally left them off my list. I left blondies off my list as well as I just imagined them to be…well, blonde versions of their decadently chocolaty cousins, but as I found out I could not have been any more wrong!

I mixed and poured and watched my blondies rise through the glass of the oven door, as excited as a kid just before Christmas. What would the texture be like? How sweet would they be? Would my family like them? Heck – would I like them? And if we didn’t, who the heck would we pass them on to?

I removed them from the oven, poured over the salted caramel sauce and gave it a few minutes to soak in and set before cutting a slice and taking a bite.

WOAH.

The texture was moist but with a bit more body than a regular buttercake, with just a hint of sweetness which was wonderfully offset by the salted butter caramel layer on top. The chocolate and nuts did make a wonderful addition to the mix, so much so that I couldn’t imagine making these without them, and just 12 hours after they were made, half the batch had disappeared down the mouths of friends and family alike!

And so, with the euphoria of having completed such a tasty dish, I continued to bake…which is why I am now sitting in this chair, barely able to focus, with aching swollen feet and clothes that smell rich and buttery. I’ll leave you to the recipe now, as I think I should probably go to bed and collapse before I pass out at my desk :)

Blondies with salted caramel sauce

White Choc & Walnut Blondies
From Chubby Hubby‘s adaptation of The Secrets of Baking by Sherry Yard
(Makes 24 squares)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
170g unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon light corn syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
150g walnuts, roughly chopped
120g good quality white chocolate, roughly chopped
1 cup Salted Butter Caramel Sauce (see below)

1. Preheat the oven to 175 degrees Celsius. Adjust the rack to the center of the oven. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking pan and line the base with parchment paper. Grease the parchment paper.

2. Triple sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.

3. Beat the butter with an electric beater on high speed until soft and creamy, then slowly add the sugars and beat on high speed until fully incorporated and the mixture is light and fluffy (about 10 minutes). Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.

4. Add the eggs, one at a time. Be sure each egg is completely incorporated and scrape down the sides of the bowl before adding the next one. Add the corn syrup and vanilla

5. Slowly add the flour and mix on low speed until just combined, then gently stir in the chopped walnuts and chocolate with a wooden spoon.

6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.

7. Poke holes in the surface of the cake with a skewer or fork. Pour the caramel sauce over the cake. Let the cake cool in the pan on a rack, then cut into 2-inch squares before serving.

If wrapped airtight, blondies keep well for 3 days at room temperature or up to 3 weeks in the freezer.

Salted Butter Caramel Sauce
From The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz
Makes 1½ cups (375 millilitres)

85 grams butter, salted or unsalted
150 grams (3/4 cup) sugar
250 millilitres (1 cup) heavy cream
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1¼ teaspoons coarse salt

Melt the butter in a large, deep heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir in the sugar and cook, stirring frequently, until the sugar is a deep golden brown and starts to smoke.

Remove from the heat and immediately and quickly whisk in half of the cream until smooth (wear an oven mitt since the mixture will steam and splatter, and may bubble up furiously). Stir in the rest of the cream, then the vanilla and salt. If there are any lumps of caramel, whisk the sauce gently over low heat until they’re dissolved. This sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for 2 weeks. Rewarm it gently in a microwave or by stirring in a saucepan over very low heat.


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