It’s October and fall is in full color. Each year, I try and convince myself that I can actually bake. This year was no exception, but the outcome was near catastrophic. I decided to make a healthy Cranberry Orange Bread made with Greek yogurt, vanilla Stevia, and wheat flour. Notice my use of the past tense… made.
This ‘thing’ was a brick- inedible and seriously dangerous. If I wrapped it in a sock and swung it like a “sweeney,” I could have killed someone and eaten the evidence! I was having none of it so I thought I would sacrifice this abysmal concoction to Mother Nature and left it for the birds. See the image below.
Hours went by without a proverbial bite. Even wildlife would not touch it. I woke up the next morning and it was gone. Not eaten and shredded where I left it but totally gone. Someone or something literally carried it off. I have not seen any dead animals around my house, but Niskayuna neighbors…be aware!
That lead me to abandon this healthy kick and look for solace from my friends at the New York Times Cooking site. Here I found a wonderful recipe by Lidey Heuck for Maple Walnut Blondies.
As you know, I feel a strong desire to amend recipes, so here is my take on Ms. Heuck’s sheer perfect blondie for the fall season:
What you need for the blondies:
- ½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick), melted, plus more for greasing the pan
- ¾ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 large egg
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon bourbon (optional? not really!)
Baker’s Note: I used a local Bourbon from Olde York Farm- Cooper’s Daughter Black Walnut Bourbon.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste (I use Maldon Sea Salt Flakes)
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- Pinch of ground nutmeg
What you need for the maple nuts:
- ½ cup pecans, you can use walnuts too.
- 1 ½ tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon of butter
- 1 tablespoon, heaping, of brown sugar
- Smidge of pure vanilla extract
- Pinch of kosher salt
What to do:
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-by-8-inch pan with butter and line with parchment paper, leaving overhang on two sides. (I use binder clips to hold the parchment in place.)
Make the not-so-optional nuts: In a small sauté pan, heat the nuts, and all listed ingredients over medium heat. Cook, tossing often, until the nuts are lightly toasted, and the bottom of the pan looks dry, about 3 to 4 minutes.
Transfer the walnuts to a cutting board to cool, roughly chop, and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the 1/2 cup butter, brown sugar, 2 tablespoons maple syrup, egg, vanilla, and bourbon, and whisk until smooth. Add the flour, salt, baking powder and nutmeg, and stir with a wooden spoon until just combined. Add the chopped nuts and gently fold and stir.
(Not sure why a wooden spoon but that gave me one more utensil to lick at the end!)
Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and smooth with a spatula.
Bake for 21 to 23 minutes, until the bars are just starting to brown at the edges. They should seem slightly under-baked and will firm up as they cool. DO NOT OVERBAKE. The blondies only took about 17 minutes in my oven.
Sprinkle the blondies lightly with salt. Trust me, you will thank me for this later.
Allow to cool to room temperature in the pan. When completely cool, remove from the pan using the parchment paper, then cut into squares and serve.
If you can eat these warm, they are outrageous! You can also sip a bit of that beautiful Bourbon as you enjoy these blondies!
Moral of the recipe:
Eat the butter, sugar, and Bourbon. In moderation, it probably won’t kill you.