Caramelised White Chocolate Blondies

 

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As this is my first recipe of the year that I’m posting, I had to make sure it was a really good one – after an 8 month or so wait average just wouldn’t cut it.

These blondies are something that had been a niggling idea at the back of my mind for a while and when the thought wouldn’t go away I knew they had to be made.

I’ve done a few versions of blondies before (these peanut butter blondies and these strawberry blondies are two of my faves) but none that have quite matched up to the texture and delicious fudgey, dense, chocolatey-ness of my favourite brownies.

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I figured this was because none of the recipes I’ve made previously have included as much melted white chocolate as brownies tend to have melted dark chocolate. This is probably because it would make them too sweet but it got me thinking that maybe caramelised white chocolate, with a hint of saltiness, might be just the right balance.

If you haven’t heard of or tried caramelised white chocolate before, it’s basically white chocolate that’s roasted over a low heat, stirring frequently, until it turns golden brown, with a pinch of salt added in at the end. For step by step instructions, David Lebovitz is the man.

To make these blondies I used 200g of the caramelised white chocolate melted into the batter and another 100g chopped up and added to the mix, which made sure the flavour came through really strongly.

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The texture was exactly as I’d hoped and the salt balanced the sweetness. The taste testers in my office loved them and even my boyfriend who insists he doesn’t like white chocolate or brownies really liked them too.

These blondies will definitely be made again at some point, possibly with some different add-ins, but the simple version really does work well and if you haven’t baked with caramelised white chocolate before, I highly recommend you give it a try.

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Caramelised white chocolate blondies

  • 300g caramelised white chocolate
  • 140g butter
  • 180g light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 85g plain flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1-2 tsp sea salt
  • 100g milk chocolate chunks (I used Galaxy Counters)

Break 200g of the white chocolate into chunks and melt with the butter in a medium-sized saucepan. Once completely melted, remove from the heat and stir in the sugar.

Add in the eggs one at a time followed by the vanilla, beating with ¬†wooden spoon to combine. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt then fold into the mixture. I like a salted dessert so I used quite a bit, but if you’re not sure how salty you want it be conservative and you can always sprinkle some more on top before baking.

Stir in the milk chocolate chunks and the rest of the white chocolate, chopped into small pieces. Pour into a 8×8″ square baking tin lined with baking paper and bake at 170 degrees (150 fan) for 25-30 minutes, until a skewer comes out with crumbs on, but not liquid batter.

Leave to cool then cut into squares and serve!

 

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Cinnamon, milk and white chocolate cake

As I mentioned in my Happy New Year post last week, I made a cinnamon layer cake to take to my friends’ New Year’s Eve ¬†party.

Although I took photos before being cut, I didn’t get any of the inside – normally this would mean that I just wouldn’t blog about it, but I liked the cake so much that I decided I would have to make it again so I could share it with you all.

The sponge recipe comes from The Novice Chef, via Beantown Baker, and is light, fluffy and richly scented with cinnamon and vanilla – everything you could want from a basic cinnamon cake.

For the icing, I was originally just going to do a white chocolate buttercream, but when I first made it I wasn’t sure if I would have enough to both sandwich the layers and cover the cake, so I also made a milk chocolate ganache which became the filling, leaving the buttercream to use as frosting.

The buttercream is sweet, for sure, but it works with the cinnamon, and the milk chocolate ganache is a little less sweet but not overpowering, as I think dark chocolate probably would have been.

I didn’t really need to decorate this cake as it was just for me, my housemates and colleagues, but an all-white cake doesn’t photograph brilliantly so I added some red sprinkles and gold dragees. I love the finish, but I can’t help but think it looks a little red velvet…

This cake is honestly one of my favourite bakes of recent months, and even if you’re not as much of a cinnamon fiend as me it’s still worth giving it a go – the fact I made it twice in a week is testament to how good it is!

Cinnamon, milk and white chocolate cake (adapted from The Novice Chef’s Churro Cake)

  • 115g butter
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 60g natural yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 180g plain flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 125ml milk

For the filling and frosting:

  • 100g milk chocolate
  • 100g white chocolate
  • 115g butter
  • 120g icing sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, then beat in the vanilla, yoghurt and vegetable oil. Sift together the flour, baking powder and cinnamon, then fold a third of it into the cake batter. Add half the milk, then another third of the flour, the rest of the milk and finish by folding in the final third of the flour.

Divide the mixture between three greased and lined 6″ round cake tins, and bake at 170 degrees (150 fan) until risen, golden and pulling away from the sides of the tins. Leave to cool while you make the fillings.

For the milk chocolate ganache, melt the milk chocolate in the microwave or over a pan of simmering water. Add hot water a tablespoon at a time, whisking into the chocolate. t might not come together after the first spoonful, but even if it splits just keep whisking and it will be fine. Add about 3 tbsp, until it’s fairly liquid but still thick enough to cool to a spreadable consistency.

For the buttercream, melt the white chocolate, stir in the salt and set aside. Beat the butter and icing sugar until combined, then add in the white chocolate and continue to beat until light and fluffy.

Spread the cooled milk chocolate ganache on top of the bottom and middle cake layers, stack all three layers, then spread a thin amount of the white buttercream all over to crumb coat. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes, then spread the rest of the icing over the top and sides. Decorate with whatever you like – the more sprinkles the better!

Salted carmelitas

Carmelitas

I first came across carmelitas absolutely ages ago, and although I can’t for the life of me remember where I remember thinking that they looked amazing but I was put off from baking them by the fact the recipe called for wrapped caramels – I didn’t know whether this meant soft or hard, or what type to buy, and I didn’t like being confused so I didn’t save the recipe or attempt to make them.

Thanks to Pinterest, carmelitas were recently brought to my attention again, specifically through a recipe posted on Cooking Classy. This version had added salt, and the combination of salted caramel, chocolate, oats and brown sugar was just too much for me to resist.

For those of you who aren’t in the know, carmelitas are a sort of oaty cookie bar, with a layer of chocolate and caramel in the middle that is deliciously gooey when warm and stays just a little soft and squidgy when cool.

I still don’t know what type of caramels you’re supposed to use, but I decided to improvise and use half a can of leftover Carnation caramel that I had sitting in the fridge, which I figured would have a similar consistency to the melted caramels and cream used in the recipe.

The other change I made was to use milk chocolate with chopped hazelnuts instead of regular milk chocolate, which was mainly because the bar was on offer but also added an extra element of flavour and texture which I thought worked well.

Carmelitas are super sweet and a calorific nightmare, but they are also very addictive, so I highly recommend having a hungry pony on hand if you decide to make them…

Salted Carmelitas (recipe adapted from Cooking Classy)

  • 120g plain flour
  • 110g rolled oats
  • 150g light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 100g butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 200g ready made caramel
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 75g milk chocolate (with or without nuts), chopped
  • 50g dark chocolate, chopped

Stir together the flour, oats, sugar and baking powder in a large bowl. Melt the butter in the microwave, and add to the dry mixture with the vanilla, stirring until all the dry ingredients are completely coated. Press between half and two thirds of the mixture into a greased and lined 8×8″ square baking tin, and bake at 180 degrees for about 10 minutes, or until just starting to firm up.

Heat the caramel in the microwave to make it easier to spread, and stir in the second tsp of vanilla and the sea salt – use more or less depending on how salty you like it. Spread the caramel over the oat base, then sprinkle both chopped chocolates in an even layer on top.

Crumble the remaining oat mixture between your fingers and lightly press down on top of the chocolate and caramel layer, then return to the oven to bake for a further 15 – 20 minutes, until the top is golden and the caramel is just starting to bubble around the edges. Leave to cool completely before slicing into bars.

L’Artisan du Chocolat – review

Earlier in the month, I was contacted by a website I’d never heard of before, the Handpicked Foodstore, to ask if I would like to try any of their products for a review.

When the first words I saw on the site were ‘smoked salmon’ my heart sank a little – a shop full of fish is kind of my worst nightmare – but I was relieved to see that there were also pages for artisan cheeses, condiments and spices, and best of all luxury chocolates.

I left it in the hands of their marketing team to decide which products to send me, as I was really spoiled for choice with chocolate from Rococo, Montezuma’s and L’Artiscan du Chocolat, all handpicked as the website name suggests by a panel of foodie experts looking for the finest British produce.

I was delighted when a box arrived containing a little round tub of L’Artisan du Chocolat No.1 Sea Salted Caramels and a selection of their ‘fusion’ range of chocolate bars, and immediately set about formally taste testing with the pony and our next door neighbour Jo.

Whether or not the caramels really are the original salted caramel I don’t know, but I do know that they are pretty special – the chocolate is dark and crisp and the dusting of cocoa slightly bitter; the caramel a complete texture and taste contrast with both the caramel and salt coming through strongly.

All three of us enjoyed them, but I’d say they’re probably not for your average Dairy Milk chocolate eater – the pony thought the salt was bordering on too strong and Jo thought the caramel tasted almost burnt – but as an after dinner treat with a cup of coffee I thought they were perfect.

The four chocolate bars I received were sugar free milk, caffe latte, gianduja and gingerbread cookie. By far my favourite was the gingerbread cookie ,a creamy white chocolate with gingerbread cookie crumbs that not only combines two of my favourite flavours but is also a combination I haven’t come across before.

The caffe latte at first was a bit of a shock, I think as I’ve only ever tried coffee flavoured dark chocolate so in a milk chocolate it wasn’t what I was expecting, but I certainly don’t mean that in a bad way. The gianduja was like taking everything that’s good about Nutella but somehow transforming into something classy and refined, and the sugar free milk was really good too (I ate some after eating regular milk chocolate and much preferred the sugar free).

The bars all have tasting notes on the wrappers which is a nice touch, and I was especially pleased to have been sent them in addition to the caramels as it meant I could do some baking as well as just scoffing chocolate. I made a cake last night involving the caffe latte bar, and it is seriously good – stay tuned for the recipe!

Big thanks to the Handpicked Foodstore for sending me the chocolate to try – obviously they were sent to me for free, but my opinions aren’t swayed by that in the slightest!