Brown butter bourbon blondies

I’ve never been big on Valentine’s Day, it always seems like a commercialised mess of over-priced wilted roses and unrealistic expectations. What I do like though is demonstrations of love and affection any day of year, and handmade or personalised gifts. And cakery. So why not combine those things, and time them right for Valentine’s Day, just because?

Here’s another thing I’ve never been big on: blondies. I think because I always just thought of them associated with white chocolate, which I really don’t like. Chocolate is great, white chocolate is not the real thing – so therefore brownies are awesome, blondies are weird and too sugary. So why I had a sudden hankering to make them is beyond me, but I’m kinda glad I did. Realised they don’t actually have to have white chocolate in them! Who knew? (probably most people…) What they do have in them is still a lot of sugar, sure, but also a lot of butter. Here’s what I absolutely love: butter.

So anyway, in line with the Valentine’s Day theme, I thought that I’d make them flavoured with my husband’s favourite drink (bourbon), cut them out in heart shapes, and then pack them up for his lunch. And then I could take the leftover bits to work and make my colleagues love me too…

img_3348

In the end the recipe I used was a kind of amalgamation of a bunch of different recipes, and also what I had in the pantry. Here’s what I’d do differently next time: use all brown sugar (I only used 1/4 brown sugar and 3/4 raw sugar, because that’s what I had. It worked fine but the brown sugar would make it more caramel-y I think) so that’s how I’ve written the recipe.

250g butter
2 cups brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
120ml bourbon
2 eggs
2 cups plain flour

First thing is to brown the butter. Melt it in a saucepan over low heat, until it is just bubbling. Keep it going, swirling the saucepan around regularly so that it doesn’t stick, until it starts to go dark golden. At this point take it well off the heat because it will continue to darken, and swirl it around a bit more to cool it down because it can tip over into burning point pretty quickly. Then just let it cool down for about 10 minutes.

In the meantime preheat the oven to 180C and grease and line an 8×12 inch tray with baking paper.

Put the brown butter and the sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer and beat for a few minutes, then add the vanilla and bourbon, beat for another minute or so, add the eggs and then beat again for another minute or two. Add the flour and beat lightly until just smooth, then pour into the tray. Bake for 20-25 minutes until just golden brown on top. Leave to cool in tin for about 15 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack. Leave to cool completely before slicing – they will be chewy in the middle and crunchy on the edges.

img_3343

You can either just cut into squares like usual, or use cookie cutters to cut out fancy shapes. Delicious on their own but also excellent as a dessert with vanilla ice cream!

img_3344

Advertisements

Valentine’s Day Coconut Cookies

I have so many different shapes of cookie cutter stashed away at home. I have never used any of them. I thought a pre-Valentine’s Day morning tea would be a perfect excuse to test out the heart-shaped cookie cutter!

Now, the last time I tried to make biscuits that involved rolling out dough and trying to cut out shapes was years ago and is referred to as the infamous gingerbread incident. It involved tears, screaming, throwing dough on the ground and locking myself in the bathroom. It wasn’t pretty. So this attempt had the potential to go badly…

IMG_3968

125g butter, softened to room temperature
3/4 cup caster sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/4 cup self-raising flour
1/2 cup desiccated coconut

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy using an electric mixer/beater. Add the egg and beat in well. Stir in the flour and the coconut in two batches. Turn the dough out on to a floured surface and knead lightly until it all comes together and is smooth. Roll it out between two sheets of baking paper until it is about 5mm thick, then put that in the fridge for about half an hour.

Cut shapes out of the dough with whatever shape of cutter you like, lay them on paper-lined baking trays, and bake in a preheated 180C oven for about 12 minutes. While they are baking, gather the remaining dough up, re-roll it, put it back in the fridge. Basically just keep repeating the process until you’ve used as much of the dough as you can to cut out and bake the cookies. You can do whatever you like with the last scraps – I like to eat the dough raw at that point 🙂

IMG_3966

What I did to decorate these was to make a super basic icing from icing sugar, water, food colouring and a few drops of rosewater essence. I used a piping bag just with the end cut off to decorate, and my piping skills are far from great, but I think they ended up looking fairly cute anyway.

Valentine's Day cookies