I'm sitting at McCarran Airport, waiting for my Southwest flight to Austin for the BlogHer Food '13 conference. It will be my first time attending this annual event, so I'm feeling a mixture of excitement and nerves (in a first day at a new school sort of way.) Although I have been blogging for quite some time, I still feel like I have only scratched the surface as far as things that I need to learn, so I am looking forward to the seminars on subjects like food photography (really need help here!), video and social media. I'm eager to catch up with friends like Camilla from Power Hungry and Kathy from Panini Happy and finally meet other bloggers in person (whose posts I have been reading for years, so I feel as though I know them, but we've never actually met.)
.Whenever I used to go out of town, I would prepare recipes in advance so that Eric wouldn't live on Cheerios while I was away, things like lasagna, turkey chili or pesto chicken salad. Nine times out of ten, I would return from my trip and find these made-from-scratch dishes relatively untouched in the refrigerator, passed over for delicacies like IN-N-OUT Burger, Grimaldi's pizza or Capriotti's. Hey, I get it. Heating stuff up is a lot of work. This really didn't bother me--I tend to eat in when Eric is out of town, where he is more like Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone, running around town free of his wife's judgmental opinions about "not needing to go to the barbecue place for lunch when we have stuff for sandwiches at home."
Now when I go out of town, I'll just make a batch of something sweet instead, which I wrap up for Eric to take into work and leave in the break room. The treats are appreciatively eaten, Eric looks kind of awesome for bringing them in and I have new material for my blog. Win-win-win.
I don't say this often, but this recipe is going into my file as one to make over and over and over and over.......and then make again. I would strongly suggest that you try it, especially if you have an affinity for nutty rich brown butter sweets. I knew that these bars were winners when I kept taking a little slice here and a little slice there, just to even out the edges. The sprinkle of flake salt was a bit of an afterthought, but it worked.
Wish me luck at my first BlogHer Food conference--see you on the other side!
These chewy and buttery bars almost demand that a glass of cold milk be served on the side! Browned butter makes them rich and cashews bring a contrasting crunch. The layer of salted butterscotch ganache takes this dessert completely over the top!
- 1 cup (250 mL) unsalted butter
- 2 cups (500 mL) all-purpose flour
- 1-1/2 tsp (7 mL) baking powder
- 1 tsp (5 mL) salt
- 2 cups (500 mL) dark brown sugar, lightly packed
- 3 large eggs
- 2 tsp (10 mL) pure vanilla extract
- 1-1/2 cups (375 mL) lightly salted roasted cashew pieces
- 2 cups (500 mL) butterscotch baking chips (about one 11 oz. bag)
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) heavy whipping cream
- Flaked sea salt (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Lightly butter a 13X9X2-inch baking pan and line it with parchment paper so that there is about a 1-1/2 inch overhang on both longer sides. This will make the process of removing the blondies much easier!
- Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the butter becomes deep golden brown in color and it emits a nutty aroma, 5 to 7 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and brown sugar on medium speed until well combined, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, until the mixture becomes smooth and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes more. Mix in the vanilla.
- Add the flour mixture to the bowl, and mix until smooth. Mix in the cashews.
- Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking pan. It will be thick, so smooth it into an even layer using a spoon or spatula. Bake until the blondies are browned on top and a knife or cake tester inserted into the center emerges with a few moist crumbs attached, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool.
- To make the ganache, combine the butterscotch chips and cream in a medium saucepan set over medium-low heat. Cook the mixture, stirring constantly, until the chips have melted and the mixture is smooth. Immediately pour the mixture over the top of the blondies (they can still be warm) and spread into a smooth, even layer.
- Let the ganache set for about 10 minutes then sprinkle the surface lightly with flaked sea salt (optional.) Wait until the blondies have cooled completely and the ganache has set before lifting from the pan and cutting into squares (I like to chill the pan for a fudgier ganache!)
These bars will keep for 4-5 days, tightly covered at room temperature or in the refrigerator. They are best eaten at room temperature. If you don't have flake salt, try some coarse sea salt.