The Best Browned Butter Blondies

 I’m not going to lie, moving to a brand new city is hard.  While New York has been amazing, there are definitely things that I’m struggling with in my new home.  For instance, learning how to shop effectively cause groceries cost a million dollars, but also learning that I can’t just buy 5 bags of food at once because I only have 2 arms.  Or the fact that I realllllllllly have to work on my breathing exercises when the subway decides to evacuate because of police incidences, or even scarier when the subway breaks down underground and I’m stuck in the dark for half an hour.  I do think though, the hardest thing has been the nagging feeling of loneliness that occurs when you first move to a place where you don’t have many friends.


This past week and weekend, I was definitely feeling way more homesick just cause I felt like I wasn’t really fitting in at my school and also because even after budgeting, making ends meet was still the hardest thing in the world. BUT, I guess the world knew what I needed because the two loveliest new friends that I met came over for a baking and Great British Baking date. Sitting around the dining table and laughing about random things just brought me the greatest joy the world.  Also, we chose to make brown butter blondies, which legitimately are like GIANT, WARM HUGS (how can you get better than that).


These blondies, which are adapted from Food52’s recipe, have been my go to recipe since day one in terms of comfort dessert. They can be adapted so easily for whatever you’re in the mood for (nuts, chocolate, white chocolate, fruit, pretzels, chips, honestly everything but the kitchen sink), and when I need a pick me up, it’s dark chocolate chunks all the way. So, my friends are long gone, and it’s just me and the last piece of brown butter blondie, but it’s beautiful souls like them that truly make a place home.


In other news, I’m loving Columbia’s public health program! I was so worried that public health wasn’t the right choice, but I’ve loved everything from learning about the history of public health to discussing the economics of public health (more on that later). OH and can we talk about how New York City is literally dessert heaven?? Where else are you going to find a doughnut store next to a cookie shop next door to a cupcake bakery??
And for those of you who can’t, try out these brown butter blondies, they’re not a perfect substitute, but do come darn near close! They’re chewy, caramel-y, marbled in chocolate and oh, so delicious that you might even want to hide your pan.

*PRO TIP ON HOW TO BROWN BUTTER: Browning butter is hard! The best way to brown butter is to use a small or medium sized sauce pan and cut the butter into smaller sized cubes before placing in pan and melting to help the butter melt evenly.  You’ll start to hear small crackles and pops when the butter begins to brown and it’ll look like the white “foam” layer on the top of the melted butter is slowly “boiling” off.  After awhile, the crackling sounds will begin to die down and you’ll be able to see light golden specks on the bottom of the pan, remove the saucepan immediately from heat and the residual heat will bring the brown butter to a perfect dark golden color.

BROWN BUTTER BLONDIES | Adapted from Food52 | Makes one 10″ cake tin

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated white sugar
  • Heaping 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chunks or bars chopped into bite-sized pieces

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 (F).
  2. In a medium sized sauce pan, brown butter* (refer to note above) and let cool for 5 minutes.
  3. Then add in both brown sugar and white sugar into sauce pan and mix browned butter and sugars together thoroughly. Let cool for 10-15 minutes (this is an important step, otherwise your eggs will curdle!)
  4. Add in vanilla and salt into pan and again mix thoroughly.
  5. Crack both eggs into the pan and whisk or beat mixture together until it takes on a shiny consistency (that will mean that the eggs have properly emulsified the mixture, basically, it means when you bake it, the butter won’t leak out of your blondies and be a gross mess).
  6. Then stir in flour and once flour is thoroughly incorporated, fold in the chocolate chunks.
  7. Pour into pan and bake for 25-28 minutes. Blondies are done when surface looks golden and flaky (depending on how much chocolate you put in the blondie, a toothpick will not come out clean no matter what).
  8. Let cool before attempting to cut into it otherwise blondie pieces will come out gooey and uneven.
  9. Blondies will keep in an airtight container for up to a week.

Enjoy!

Raspberry Frangipane Buttermilk Cake

 A layer of juicy and sweet raspberries, a layer of almond-y frangipane filling and a layer of oh-so-moist and light buttermilk cake. It is basically the best one-bowl cake (aka lazy summer dessert) that you could make with fresh berries that is still so elegant.  If you look closely, you can see that the layers separate into 3 different layers and it makes it extremely beautiful when you slice into the cake. The thing that makes this cake is that it truly highlights the flavor of the raspberries. During the summer, I try and use fresh raspberries since they are in season, and it really brings the flavor to a whole other level, but using frozen raspberries works just as well!


Because you are baking this cake upside down and then flipping it right side up, the raspberries sort of become jammy and acts like a glaze for the cake, meaning that it does not need anything to top it! No frosting, no icing, no glaze, not even whipped cream.  It’s actually perfect just by itself, which I love since I’m not a huge fan of heavy frostings.  That being said, I think that this cake would also be delicious with a dollop of fresh whipped cream and sprinkle of berries.


Not going to lie, the idea for this cake actually came from a dream.  I woke up in the middle of the night with the idea for this cake in my mind and frantically scrambled around in the dark looking for a piece of paper and pen to jot down the idea before it slipped from my mind. 


So the bf works at a clinic in St. Paul and since I’ve been shoveling all my excess baked goods at the nurses and doctors that work at the clinic, I figured I should probably bake one last cake to say thank you to them for putting up with all my testing of baked goods before moving to New York City for graduate school.  Since I’ve been so busy packing, I wanted to make a cake that was a breeze to make but also looked stunning. GUYS, this is IT! I swear, it took me like 15 minutes to put everything together and then I threw it into the oven and got back to attempting to shovel my 20 pairs of shoes into one suitcase (it’s harder than it looks…). When the timer buzzed, all it took was a nice cake stand and a little cooling time to put it all together.  Did I mention that every bite feels like you’re eating summer?

Fun food science facts: The frangipane helps keep this cake extremely moist because it is mainly ground almonds which do an awesome job retaining moisture and keeps the cake from getting to dry.  Ever make volcanic eruptions in elementary school? Believe it or not, that’s what makes your cake light and fluffy! The acid in this case is the buttermilk, and just like in elementary school, the base is the baking soda. These two ingredients in the cake batter help produce lots of air to keep the cake from getting too dense.

RASPBERRY FRANGIPANE BUTTERMILK CAKE | Makes 10-12 slices
INGREDIENTS


for frangipane

  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 stick softened unsalted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

for cake

  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
  • 1/4 cup (4 tbsp) softened unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • one 8″ cake pan

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 (F)
  2. For the frangipane, mix together almond flour, all-purpose flour and sugar in a small bowl. Then work softened butter into dry ingredients until mixture resembles a soft dough.
  3. Add in eggs and vanilla extract before mixing well.  Set mixture aside.
  4. In a large bowl, beat butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar together.
  5. Add in egg and whisk to combine.
  6. Add in buttermilk and vanilla extract and mix well.
  7. Then add in flour, salt and baking soda and whisk dry ingredients into wet ingredients until well-incorporated.
  8. Grease and line cake pan bottom and edges in parchment paper for easy removal.
  9. To assemble the cake, spread raspberries evenly on bottom of cake pan. Pour frangipane over berries and spread  it evenly. Finally pour cake mixture on top and smooth top.
  10. Bake cake for 70-75 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean.  If cake top looks like it’s browning too quickly, cover in aluminum foil.
  11. Let cake cool for 15 minutes before inverting cake and cooling fully.

Enjoy!