Chocolate Chip Pecan Blondies

ccpecanblondiesBetter Homes & Gardens must have the most awesome test kitchens ever, because their recipes always work. Every. Single. Time.

Every now and then, even those of us with semi-pro-level baking skills can have a disaster in the kitchen, and I usually attribute this to the recipe, rather than to the baker. Some recipes are unclear, or perhaps not as well-tested as they should be; sometimes the ratios are off, or the volume is wrong for the pan, or the flavor profile leaves a lot to be desired.

Not with BH&G, my friends. These folks know their stuff, and this recipe is yet another example. It is a “make it mine” blondie recipe from Better Homes & Gardens Baking, which Mike gave me for Christmas last year (along with some snazzy new spatulas and mini loaf pans). You can add whatever you like to the base, and I chose toasted pecans and chocolate chips. Next time, I might add a chocolate drizzle to the top, or mix in some toffee pieces as well.

Ingredients

  • 10 2/3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup toasted pecans, chopped
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13 x 9 baking pan with foil, extending foil over the sides. Lightly grease foil.

In a medium saucepan, combine butter and brown sugar. Stir constantly over medium heat until mixture melts and becomes smooth.

Pour mixture into a large mixing bowl and allow to cool about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and baking soda; set aside.

Once butter/sugar mixture has cooled slightly, add vanilla and eggs and mix well.

Add flour mixture and stir well to combine; batter will become fairly thick.

Add toasted pecans and chocolate chips and stir to combine.

Spoon batter into prepared pan and spread out into an even layer.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until top is a very light golden brown and a cake tester comes out clean.

Cut into bars while still warm; when completely cool, remove from pan and store in an airtight container.

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Chocolate Chip Blondies

chocolate chip bars 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I wonder if people really ask their neighbors to borrow cups of sugar. It happens all the time on older television shows, facilitating friendships between spirited women and will-they-or-won’t-they love matches between handsome guys and pretty gals.

Last night, I fell one half-cup short of the requisite two cups of packed light brown sugar in this recipe. For a brief moment, I thought about running next door to ask if my neighbors had any, but I settled on a quick internet search and found the solution. (As it turns out, mixing equal parts dark brown sugar and white sugar will yield a similar flavor and texture.) And then, I wanted to know who came up with the world’s baking substitutions? Who took the time to experiment, and how did they get the ratios just right? Whoever they were, I’m grateful for them, for their bravery to try something new instead of just abandoning their recipes, and then for sharing that knowledge with the rest of us.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, melted
  • 2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Butter a 13 x 9 baking dish.

In a large mixing bowl, combine brown sugar and melted butter; mix well.

Stir in baking powder, salt, and vanilla until well combined.

Add flour and stir until well combined.

Add eggs and stir until fully incorporated.

Stir in chocolate chips.

Spread batter in buttered pan and bake for 35 minutes, until the top is golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool completely in the pan.

Chocolate Chip Scones

 

 

 

 

 

Someday I hope to visit Scotland, home of shortbread and scones. How such simple ingredients–essentially butter, flour, and sugar–can yield such marvelous treats is a wonder.

These scones are certainly Americanized, not much like traditional Scottish scones, but they are light and flaky and pair very well with a good cup of tea. This recipe requires you to literally get your hands into the mix, rubbing the butter into the flour mixture, which can take a few minutes and requires great subjectivity. My mixture looked like a bowl of cake crumbs, with some smaller and larger pieces, before I added the chocolate chips and wet ingredients. And, take note that the dough will be wet and sticky when you turn it out onto the parchment-lined baking sheet; it will not be dry like biscuit dough.

Next time, I plan to add some sanding sugar to the tops for a bit of crunch.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 8 tablespoons cold butter, cut into cubes
  • 3/4 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons milk

Preparation

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar.

In a small bowl, whisk together egg and milk; set aside.

Add butter to the flour mixture. Using your hands, rub in the butter until the mixture looks like cake crumbs.

Stir in chocolate chips.

Add egg and milk mixture and stir together, using a fork, until the dough just comes together.

Turn out onto parchment-lined sheet and flatten to about one-inch thickness.

Cut into eight wedges and, using a small offset spatula, pull the wedges apart so they are not touching.

Bake for 15-18 minutes, until tops are golden brown.

Serve warm or allow to cool.

Banana Pecan Chocolate Chip Bread

 

 

 

 

 

Some recipes are easy to embellish, and this recipe is one of those.  Take basic banana bread, add some nuts and chocolate chips, and you have a whole new treat.  I used pecans and milk chocolate chips, but you could certainly use walnuts and semi-sweet if you like.

I think one of the things that draws me to baking-other than the predictability of the outcome-is the possibility of creativity, and how there are endless ways to make a recipe more interesting.  Add flavoring to cake batter, and you change the cake.  Add nuts to brownie batter, and you change the brownie.  There’s something oddly liberating in that, in imagining the possibilities.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • generous 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • 3 medium very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease an 8x4x2 loaf pan and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon.  Make a well in the center and set aside.

In another medium bowl, combine egg, mashed bananas, sugar, and vegetable oil.

Pour into flour mixture and stir until combined.

Add pecans and chocolate chips and stir to incorporate.

Pour into loaf pan and bake for 50-55 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.

Cool in pan or serve warm.

Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

 

 

 

 

Bananas fare poorly in our kitchen.  Perhaps we have improper air flow, or really need one of those banana hanger gadgets.  Either way, before I know it even the greenest of bananas turn spotted and brown on our counter top.  When I pass them, I swear they whisper that I’m a bad hostess.

I once asked Mike if a particularly leopard-looking bunch was a nonverbal request for banana bread, to which he replied, “no, but if you wanted to make some that would be nice.”  I thought about making banana bread with our uber-ripe bananas tonight, but then I flipped through a cookie book and found a sticky note, left by Mike, on the page with this recipe.  I suspect that adding a bit of peanut butter to the batter would make them even more enticing, so stay tuned for Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies in another post.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons butter, slightly softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup thoroughly mashed very ripe banana (2 small bananas or 1 medium banana)
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Line several baking sheets with foil and spray with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In a mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugars.

Add egg and vanilla and beat well.

Add flour mixture and banana and beat until combined.

Stir in oats and chocolate chips until well combined.

Using a two-inch cookie scoop, drop cookies onto prepared baking sheets about two inches apart; you should have six cookies per sheet.

Bake for 12-14 minutes, until light golden brown all over and centers are almost firm when pressed.

Transfer baking sheet to a wire rack and allow to stand for 2-3 minutes to firm up slightly.

Transfer cookies from the baking sheet to another wire rack to cool completely.

Banana Cupcakes with Chocolate Chips or Walnuts

 

 

 

 

 

My mom, Genny Kozusko, is awesome.  She is a dynamic Director of Athletics, coach, teacher, community member, and church volunteer.  She is beloved by many.  She is a woman with iron-clad willpower, particularly with regard to the consumption of sweets.  Sundays are Genny’s treat days, and since tomorrow is Mother’s Day, I decided to bake the banana walnut version for her; she doesn’t eat chocolate, so the cupcakes with the chocolate chips are really for Mike and his coworkers.

I began with a plain banana cupcake recipe and split it in half, then added semi-sweet chocolate chips to one half and toasted chopped walnuts to the other.  You could certainly add both chocolate chips and walnuts to the batter for banana chocolate chip walnut cupcakes (hmm…maybe next time).  The banana walnut cupcakes are frosted with traditional cream cheese frosting, while the banana chocolate chip cupcakes are frosted with peanut butter cream cheese frosting.

Cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (from about four medium bananas)
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 12 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 cup toasted chopped walnuts, plus more for garnish

Preparation

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Line two 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners; you may need a few additional liners, as my batter yielded 27 cupcakes.

In a medium bowl, sift together cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In another medium bowl, combine mashed bananas, buttermilk, and vanilla; set aside.

In a mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar until fluffy.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.

Add the flour mixture and banana mixture in thirds, alternatively, beating after each addition until just incorporated.

Divide batter in half.

Toss chocolate chips with a dash of cake flour to lightly coat and prevent them from sinking to the bottom of the cupcakes during baking.

Add chocolate chips to one half of the batter, then add walnuts to the other half of the batter.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, until golden brown at the edges and tops and a cake tester comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack completely before frosting.

Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 1/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preparation

In a mixing bowl, cream together peanut butter and cream cheese.

Gradually add powdered sugar and beat until smooth.

Beat in vanilla until incorporated.

Frost cupcakes and top with two or three chocolate chips for garnish.

Cream Cheese Frosting (half-recipe for 12 cupcakes)

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preparation

In a mixing bowl, cream together cream cheese and butter.

Gradually add powdered sugar and beat until smooth.

Beat in vanilla.

Frost cupcakes and garnish with toasted chopped walnuts if desired.

Once cupcakes are frosted, store in the refrigerator.  Bring to room temperature before serving.