Tuesday, 26 February 2013

raspberry brown butter blondies

not so neat around the edges brown butter blondies
brown butter. i call it crack for bakers. every so often the baking blogosphere explodes into a new craze. brown butter is from sometime ago. right now it’s caramelised white chocolate. yes. i’ve got it on my list too. but in the meantime these brown butter blondies will do. i’ve had blondies on my list of things to bake but personally i’ve never seen the appeal in them. i mean when one can eat a brownie then why settle for something sans the chocolate. a blondie is just a brownie bereft of the chocolate. but brown butter is a whole other ball game.

i still remember the first time i browned butter. it was for maya angelou’s caramel cake that appears in her recipe book hallelujah! the welcome table: a lifetime of memories with recipes. i scribbled the recipe from auntie n’s copy. the single tablespoon of browned butter is what makes the caramel frosting special. it would be an understatement to say that i was very apprehensive when browning the butter. angelou’s instructions on this matter are scant. she says to ‘brown the butter in a heavy pot over medium heat — be vigilant or it will burn’. those were not the days of baking blogs and brown butter one-o-one’s like this one from emma. looking back i remember treating browning butter as caramelising sugar. i used a light coloured pan and stood over it anxiously as the pat of yellow collapsed first into a puddle, then into liquid gold and to the separation of the milk solids. the process begins to quicken at this stage. the butter develops a personality a kin to caramel. it foams and froths and sometimes spits too. the toasted aroma becomes more pronounced. the colour deepens significantly. the french call browned butter ‘beurre noisette’ because it smells like toasted hazelnuts. i find it tastes like them too. when ready, the browned butter smells very toasty and is the colour of well done toast.
now, imagine a blondie with brown butter. it dispenses with the need for a supporting act and that was lucky since i was out of pure vanilla essence. the addition of a handful of raspberries was more about the need for a splash of colour in a week that has largely been monochromatic. i bruised them a bit by stirring them once through the batter. a handful of white chocolate chips would have been good too. we had them warm from the oven. the entire batch was wiped clean by o, my sister-in-laws and l. l had a license to more than a fair share as it was his belated birthday treat. i on the other hand am still mourning my measly share.

every baker has a ‘go to recipe’, the one that they will turn too in a panic perhaps when company is expected and the biscuit tin is empty. this recipe is likely to become mine. the holy trinity of baking – eggs, butter and sugar is always in good supply at thirty-two. they are the ingredients that are the base of the blondie. beyond that blondies are a blank canvas. you can add chocolate chips, swirl in nutella, a handful of salted nuts or chopped dried fruits. i did momentarily think of mixing in some rum and raisins but that is for another day. for now i will leave you with raspberry brown butter blondies and remind you to steal your [fair] share. my batch of blondies was quite messy due to everyone's impatience. if you cool them properly they will cut up in equal squares.

{raspberry brown butter blondies}
somewhat adapted from smitten kitchen
one hundred and thirteen grams butter, browned
two hundred and eighteen grams light brown sugar
an egg
a generous pinch of sea-salt
one hundred and twenty-five grams flour
one hundred and twenty-five grams raspberries, washed and patted dry
grease a twenty by twenty cm square tin.
add the butter to a pale coloured saucepan and place on low to medium heat. give the browning of the butter your undivided attention. do not leave it unattended. it will melt and then eventually separate into milk solids. this is the point it will begin to brown and smell nutty. use your nose and eyes to judge the browning. cook it until it reaches your desired colour. i like mine to be on the darker side. when it is ready transfer it to a mixing bowl instantly to prevent it from cooking further. i know some people prefer to strain the it but i do not bother. let it cool slightly before you make the batter (around ten minutes).
preheat the oven to one hundred and eighty celsius. add the sugar to the butter and beat until smooth. then beat in the egg. add the salt to the flour and fold it into the wet ingredients. add the raspberries and give them a single gentle stir. i like to bruise them a little. alternatively you could just sprinkle them onto the batter once you have poured it into the tin.
spoon the batter into the prepared baking tin and tuck into the oven. they will take around twenty to twenty-five minutes. they are done when a knife comes away with just a few moist crumbs on it. the surface should be glossy but not wet.
let them cool slightly before removing to a rack to cool further. they are best enjoyed with a cafetiere of coffee.

No comments:

Post a Comment