Sunday, April 21, 2013

Toffee Mocha Blondies


If you want something sweet, quick and adaptable to whatever you have on hand, this is your recipe. You can even make it all in one bowl, depending on your preferences and flavor combo. I ended up using a small sauce pan and a bowl, because my theory is, if you're going to melt butter for a recipe, you might as well brown it. It means a longer prep time, though, so skip it if you're in a real time crunch. (The original recipe only calls for melted butter, not browned butter, so it's baker's choice.)

The first time I made these, I added macadamia nuts, mini chocolate chips and coconut — awesome. White chips would have been even better. I recently picked up some toffee bits, and since the browned butter adds a caramel-y flavor, I figured it would be a great add-in. I thought "toffee mocha" sounded divine, so I added semi-sweet chocolate chips and some espresso powder. Boom. Done.

blondie ingredients2

Toffee Mocha Blondies
adapted from Smitten Kitchen who adapted it from Mark Bittman, How to Cook Everything
Makes 16-25 or however big you decide to cut them!

1 stick (4oz) butter, browned*
1 cup (200g) light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract (homemade, if you've got it!)
1 cup (130g) all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp instant espresso
1/2 cup toffee bits
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 8" x 8" pan with cooking spray.

Cook butter in small sauce pan until fragrant and the solids at the bottom turn slightly tan. It's best to use a stainless pan so you can see the color! This will take about 5 minutes. Stir constantly. Cool 5 minutes then pour into heat resistant bowl. I use my large Pampered Chef batter bowl. Add brown sugar, stirring until all is incorporated into the butter. It will be gritty, not smooth. Add egg and vanilla and stir vigorously. Add flour, espresso, toffee bits and chocolate chips. Stir only until all dry flour is absorbed–don't over mix. Batter will be thick and greasy-looking. Spoon into prepared pan and spread evenly.

blondies-in pan

Bake 20-25 minutes depending on your oven and desired doneness. If you like gooey, go with a shorter bake time, but bake until center is set.  I baked these exactly 20 minutes. They were super gooey and seemed almost undone when warm but set up after completely cooling. If you just can't possibly wait, feel free to dig in after a brief cool-down, but I recommend waiting at least 30 minutes. The flavor will develop as they cool.


Remember, you can adapt this any way you want. Possible add-ins include coconut, cinnamon chips, peanut butter chips, white chocolate chips, any kind of nut, dried fruit, even peanut butter cups, M&Ms or other candy. Substitute any flavor extract for the vanilla. Booze, even. GO WILD!

A quick shout-out to one of my most loyal readers, Ed Wynn. Sorry it's been so long since I've posted a recipe. :)

*browning the butter is completely optional, but I love the depth of flavor it adds.

I made these last night with regular melted butter (Browned butter - I ain't got time for that), approx 3/4 cup finely chopped pecans and approx 3/4 cup cinnamon chips. I substituted the vanilla for maple flavoring. I served it still a bit warm with a scoop of butter pecan ice cream. Holy WOW, people. It was  freaking awesome.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Weekend fun

Here are some things I've been working on this weekend...

A cute little doodle tag. Lots of time for such a small piece, but it was very fun.

I planned on turning this canvas into a similar piece – doodles and dots and swirls...

but it's kind of calling me in a different direction. I'm going to sit with it some more and see where I decide to go with it.

This is a work in progress from my art journal. I glued a magazine ad to the page, covered it with gesso and then painted over it using my fat Pitt pens/brushes and some black ink. Not sure what else I'm going to do to it, but I really like how it looks. 

And here's something I've been working on for a little while. 

This is before I messed with the hair/circles area. I'm not happy with what I did, so I'm going to fix it, but I love love love how it looks here. The texture is from tissue paper. I LOVE what that does to the painting. I think it adds an incredible amount of interest. 

I hope you did something fun this weekend!

It's Spring! Sort of.

I really hate to complain about the weather, but COME ON. I think we can all agree that this "spring" has been a bit of a let down. I suppose that once it finally warms up and stays warm I'll be all that much more appreciative. That's the silver lining I keep telling myself.

In the mean time, the flowers and trees are doing their best to make a go of it. The daffodils have been threatening to open for days, but they're still not quite ready.

041413 tulips

And what a difference a year makes, eh? Here's that same area on March 23, 2012.


Granted, last year was an anomaly in the opposite extreme - ridiculously warm very early then a destructive freeze. I'll take a slow going spring over that any day.

Just look at the comparisons from this year to last (4/14/13 vs 3/23/12).
041413 magnolia

magnolia bud

041413 hyacinth


We have quite a bit of clean up to do as well.

041413 Garden

041413 side of deck

It'll be beautiful once again... eventually!

(like this - from 5/20/11)

Saturday, April 6, 2013

So this just happened

acrobat squirrel-crop

Looked out the kitchen window and saw this guy going to town on the newly refilled bird feeder. Don't tell me squirrels aren't at least a little bit clever.

acrobat squirrel

And acrobatic.

p.s. Using my new-to-me 60mm Micro f/2.8 lens. Loving how sharp it is.
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