Thursday, July 23, 2015

Kitchen Adventures: White Chocolate Raspberry Blondies Recipe - Part of the What I Wish I Knew Before I Got Married Series

When Paul and I got engaged, one of the things I looked forward to the most about being married was improving my cooking skills. I had always enjoyed helping my mother in the kitchen, but was really not that much of a gourmet. In fact, I was known fondly as “the girl who burnt spaghetti” in high school after a particularly unfortunate incident when I failed to stir the spaghetti sauce while it was simmering, leading to the bottom scorching, and returned the drain noodles to a pot set over a still operating burner. The smells! The smoke! I was determined to prove to be more competent in the kitchen as a wife and mother.

Paul was thrilled that I showed such ambition in the kitchen. I took charge of the grocery shopping, menu planning and general cooking. It became my hobby and I looked forward to practicing every single day. I read cookbooks instead of novels at night and we ate something different for every meal. Paul probably gained about 10 pounds within a month of me moving in with him.

While there were many successes with my early efforts to feed the husband, there were just as many failures. I got the idea from some random dude on the Food Network to throw some leftover blue cheese into a savory quick bread recipe. I failed to mix the blue cheese in adequately and, when sliced, the bread had the appearance of a lunar surface, studded with craters of blue. The taste was even worse – the moldy flavor of blue cheese super-intensified. I’m pretty sure Paul vomited that up.

There was also my first attempt to make pork chops using a recipe I had received from a friend at my bridal shower. I simmered those poor pork chops until they were as tough as shoe leather. Paul tried to be a good sport about it, but after the first bite took about 5000 workings of the jaw before it could be swallowed, we gave up and ordered a pizza.

Most of my failings occurred in savory cooking. However, I was always able to produce something pretty awesome when baking a dessert – even when I thought I had failed! For example, Paul and I were watching the Presidential Election of 2008 while I peeled apples and prepared a crust for my very first from-scratch apple pie. The pie looked gorgeous as I slid it into the oven. However, I did not keep an eye on it or set a timer and before I knew it there was smoke coming from the kitchen because the sugary filling had bubbled over and was catching fire on the oven floor! I sobbed as I removed my messy, sad little pie from the flaming oven. Paul practically had to talk me off a ledge, I was so distressed about my failure at pie making. Since Paul had really been looking forward to making pie, he cut himself a generous slice anyway and, to my utter amazement, he said it tasted amazing! In fact, he said it was the best apple pie he had ever had – the sugar filling that had bubbled up and out of the crust had created almost a caramel layer on top that he found completely addictive. To this day, he claims that was the best apple pie he ever ate  
and I can’t even begin to recreate it!

Over the years, with the addition of our three kids, our cooking and eating has certainly evolved. We now plan around little taste buds more often than not and Paul now cooks just as often as I do. We still try to keep a variety of meals on the menu and rarely repeat meals. We still love to experiment and evolve our tastes and preferences and often serve new dishes amid the complaints, moans, and whines of our children. However, one thing the entire family agrees on is that fruit desserts are far superior. Most of the desserts we make in the house tend to center around fruit – lots of pies, crisps, cobblers, and fruit bars. The type of fruit we use changes with the seasons, but the results are always delicious and gone before we can blink since there are five of us now fighting for a serving (and yes, I included Lucy the infant because I totally will eat her portion for her!).

I believe fruit have a place in every baked good – including blondies or brownies. In college, I tried a white chocolate and raspberry scone at a coffee house and it transcended by existence! Normally not a huge fan of white chocolate, I really do love it paired with berries! My favorite pancake is white chocolate and blueberries folded into my favorite buttermilk batter. Strawberry crumb bars are so much better with a handful of white chocolate thrown into the crumble. And blondies take on a whole new attitude when raspberries and white chocolate are swirled into the batter instead of coconut and chocolate. We picked some fresh raspberries at a local farm a couple days ago and this is where a few of them ended up. Such a dangerously easy recipe – it is thrown together in a matter of minutes. I could barely keep my gang away from the sliced blondies while photographing them and the plate was gone that evening. The raspberries really are the star of this blondie and the white chocolate adds a pleasant sweetness throughout the batter that really blends well with the fruit. These were a true hit with the family. Unlike that blue cheese bread. Paul still has nightmares about that.

White Chocolate Raspberry Blondies

adapted from Love and Olive Oil

5 ounces white chocolate chips (I used Nestle)
1/3 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 ounces red raspberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom and sides of an 8x8 baking pan with parchment paper, leaving a slight overhang. This makes it easy to lift the blondies out of the plan for pretty cutting later. Butter the parchment.

In a double boiler or a bowl set over (but not touching) a pot of gently simmering water, melt chocolate and butter, stirring constantly, until smooth. Remove from heat and whisk in sugar. It may not incorporate entirely and have a curdled appearance, but it will smooth out in a bit.

Whisk in the eggs one at a time, mixing for about a minute after each addition, then add the vanilla and whisk until smooth. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and stir until just incorporated. Fold in the raspberries and pour into prepared pan.

Bake for 25-35 minutes or until top is lightly golden and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Place pan on a wire rack and cool completely.

Use the parchment paper to lift the bars out of the pan, then cut into 2-inch squares. These are best eaten the same day they are made. Store any leftover blondies in the refrigerator!

You can follow Monica at A Beautiful Mess where she posts about her culinary endeavors and daily life with her beautiful family. When she is not blogging or cooking, Monica enjoys chasing after her kiddos, running, pilates, drinking copious amounts of coffee, scrapbooking, and relaxing with a good book while listening to a selection from her collection of vintage vinyl records. However, her absolute favorite pastime is probably poking fun at her husband.

1 comment:

  1. Funny stories about cooking. Trial and error I always say. Recipe looks like one my family will eat.


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