Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Real Sweet: Iced Muscovado Caramel-Nut Blondies

Oh, Sugar! You guys are going to love this recipe...and this book!

You might know Shauna Sever from her blog, or maybe from her first two books: Marshmallow Madness and Pure Vanilla.

Iced Muscovado Caramel-Nut Blondies from the book Real Sweet ... treats made with natural sugars!
Get ready to fall in love all over again with her latest book Real Sweet: More than 80 Crave-Worthy Treats Made with Natural Sugars. It's a keeper.

First, the book is written in Shauna's signature style...she's funny, down-to-earth, and relate-able. I really enjoy just reading every bit of her cookbooks, not just the recipes. Second, Shauna KNOWS HER STUFF. I have no doubt that every recipe in this book is a winner.

Real Sweet cookbook ... treats made with natural sugars!
Real Sweet demystifies working with natural sugar. Whether it's coconut sugar, turbinado, honey, or muscocado sugar, the book walks you through exactly what you're dealing with and the best recipes for each type of sugar.

Iced Muscovado Caramel-Nut Blondies from the book Real Sweet ... treats made with natural sugars!
For my first recipe from the book, I chose the Iced Muscovado Caramel-Nut Blondies. Oh. My. Gosh. These guys are so good. Between the muscovado sugar, the brown butter, the toasted nuts, and the caramel icing...there is SO much flavor packed into these little squares. You hear the term "depth of flavor" on cooking shows a lot. Well, this has it.

iced muscovado caramel nut blondies sugar photo iced muscovado caramel nut blondies 2 of 14.jpg
The recipe actually calls for dark muscovado sugar, but I happened to have light on hand and used that. I can only imagine that the dark would add just another layer of flavor. I can't wait to make them again.

print recipe photo printrecipe.jpg
Iced Muscovado Caramel-Nut Blondies
{with permission from Real Sweet, makes 16 squares}

for the bars:
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour, spooned and leveled
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, browned* and slightly cooled
3/4 cup firmly packed dark muscovado sugar (I used light)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped, toasted pecans

for the icing:
1/2 cup firmly packed dark muscovado sugar (I used light)
3 TBSP unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 TBSP milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup organic confectioner's sugar

*To brown butter: Place the butter in a small saucepan set over medium-high heat. Melt the butter. Once the butter is completely melted, it will bubble and sizzle. Keep swirling the pan occasionally, and listen and watch carefully–when the foam begins to subside and the sizzling suddenly, the butter will quickly turn brown and smell nutty, about 5 minutes total. Pour into a heatproof bowl and let cool.

Position rack in center of the oven and preheat to 350. Lightly grease an 8x8" pan and line with a strip of parchment, long enough to leave an overhang on 2 opposite sides of the pan.

Into a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a large bowl, energetically whisk together the butter and sugar until the butter has begun to absorb the sugar and dissolve, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the egg and vanilla extract. Switch to a spatula and fold in the flour mixture until well blended. Fold in the pecans. Spread the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

Iced Muscovado Caramel-Nut Blondies from the book Real Sweet ... treats made with natural sugars!
Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 22 minutes. Don't overbake, or they'll dry out. Let cool completely in the pan set on a wire rack.

Make the icing: Combine the sugar, butter, and salt in a medium saucepan. Melt together over medium heat, stirring often with a heatproof spatula. Bring the mixture to a boil and stir in the milk. Boil for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the vanilla extract.

Dump in the confectioner's sugar and stir the icing energetically for about 3 minutes, or until the icing is thickened and smooth, is beginning to lose some gloss, and is a touch lighter in color - more of a thin icing than a pourable glaze.

Top the blondies with the icing and spread it evenly with a spatula. Let the icing set in the refrigerator for 10 minutes before cutting and serving the blondies. Store in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

Iced Muscovado Caramel-Nut Blondies from the book Real Sweet ... treats made with natural sugars!
Real Sweet by Shauna Sever: a must-have for your cookbook library!


Saturday, March 21, 2015

Sweet on Trader Joe's Saturday: cash register temptations

Hey guys! We missed last week! I got one tweet asking where our review was and we loved that one person noticed. ;)

Our spring break started last week and although we stayed home, we've been on college tours, to the rodeo, to the movies (McFarland, USA), and to the symphony. (Actually, kiddo and his friends went to the symphony...I stayed home and watched Netflix in my pjs. I'm not sure what this means.)

Two more days until it's time to start thinking about packing lunches and setting the alarm for 5:45 again.

trader joe's mini chocolates review
So, we're back this week with a three-for-one. We've noticed these little bags of mini chocolates at the registers before and have always resisted. This week kiddo suggested we review all three. Yes, he's definitely my child.

trader joe's mini chocolates review
This week, we review: Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Tahitian Vanilla Caramels, Dark Chocolate Almond Toffee, and Dark Chocolate Mints. You'll find all of them near the registers. The bags contain 2 ounces of chocolates and cost $1.49 each.

trader joe's mini chocolates review
A mom's (my) take: Let's start with the caramels...soft, creamy center, thick chocolate coating. They remind me a lot of these. I'd definitely pick these up when in need of a chocolate fix. The toffees...crunchy, rich centers with a thick chocolate coating. A nice mix of almond and butter flavors made even more delicious by the chocolate. The mints...soft peppermint center with a thin chocolate coating, surrounded by a crunchy, chalky candy shell. Do you love those pastel "butter mints?" You'll love these. I, on the other hand, do not.
Overall rating:
Dark Chocolate Tahitian Vanilla Caramels: 5 of 5 stars
Dark Chocolate Almond Toffee: 4.5 of 5 stars
Dark Chocolate Mints: 2 of 5 stars

A teenager's (kiddo's) take: Mints: Nice, peppermint-y start, but that's basically the entirety of it as well. I can taste a little chocolate, but not enough -- peppermint overload! Caramels: Cool, thick outer coating of chocolate, which you cannot really taste until you get into the caramel itself. The caramel has a sophisticated, delicious flavor. I can definitely detect vanilla, and a wonderful saltiness appears after several seconds. Finally, the toffee: The chocolate coating has a fantastic taste, which caves nicely into the brittle center of toffee. Its flavor has a very nice, almost burnt quality to it, which (to me) makes it all the more appealing.
Overall rating:
Dark Chocolate Tahitian Vanilla Caramels: 5 out of 5 stars
Dark Chocolate Almond Toffee: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Dark Chocolate Mints: 3.5 out of 5 stars

trader joe's mini chocolates review
Trader Joe's Cash Register Goodies: Stick with the caramels and toffees. 

Read all of our Trader Joe's sweet treats and dessert reviews!


 photo bothbooksgreyborderstamp.jpg

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Sugar Cookie Bars with Strawberry Glaze and Sugared Flowers

Spring is in the air...and in these cookie bars!

Sugar Cookie Bars with Strawberry Glaze and Sugared Flowers
These thick, soft, lemony sugar cookie bars are topped with a generous layer of strawberry glaze and decorated with sugared flowers. I mean, do those look like spring, or what?

Of course, the bars are made with my favorite, Land O Lakes® butter. Want to know the secret to that gorgeous glaze? Fresh strawberries...and more butter.
Sugar Cookie Bars with Strawberry Glaze and Sugared Flowers
I used Land O Lakes® unsalted half sticks for both the cookie batter and glaze.

Sugar Cookie Bars with Strawberry Glaze and Sugared Flowers
As the cookie bars were baking, I was swooning over the heavenly scent of lemon, butter, and sugar and wondering how I could bottle it. You know how fall smells like pumpkin, and December like gingerbread, and Valentine's Day like chocolate (and summer like 3 months of bad hair days)? Well, these bars smell like springtime.

Sugar Cookie Bars with Strawberry Glaze and Sugared Flowers
Once again, I'm thrilled to be partnering with Land O' Lakes for the Pin a Meal. Give a Meal. benefiting Feeding America. For every recipe pinned, such as these Sugar Cookie Bars, 10 meals will be donated to Feeding America.

Pin a Meal. Give a Meal.
You can pin more meals from Land O' Lakes to contribute more meals. Visit www.landolakes.com/Pinameal to learn more.


Let's talk about this recipe.  First, you'll make the sugared flowers. I guarantee you, you'll be seeing these atop some cookies soon.  You'll only need three things: edible flowers (check your produce section near the herbs or online), superfine sugar, and powdered egg whites. (You can also use pasteurized egg whites.) You'll want to make these at least a day ahead of making the cookie bars.
how to make sugared flowers
Be sure to avoid flowers with pesticides...in other words, look for flowers labeled "edible," don't go plucking flowers from your neighbor's garden.

Sugar Cookie Bars with Strawberry Glaze and Sugared Flowers
The sugar cookie bars come together in a snap! Lemon and vanilla flavor a thick, buttery sugar cookie base. The glaze is full of fresh strawberry flavor and has added richness with the addition of butter.

Sugar Cookie Bars with Strawberry Glaze and Sugared Flowers
print recipe photo printrecipe.jpg
Sugar Cookie Bars with Strawberry Glaze and Sugared Flowers
{makes 24 bars}

for the sugared flowers:
2 teaspoons powdered egg whites
2 tablespoon water
24 edible flowers, such as violas
superfine sugar

for the sugar cookie bars:
2 &1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 & 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup (3 half sticks) Land O' Lakes unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

for the glaze:
1 & 1/2 cups sliced strawberries
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
5 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
4 tablespoons (1 half stick) Land O'Lakes® unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

make the flowers:
With a fork, whisk the powdered egg whites and water in a small bowl until foamy. Using a small, clean paintbrush, brush the mixture onto the edible flowers, coating the back first. Do this over a small plate, letting the front of the flower rest on the plate as you're coating.

Sprinkle the superfine sugar over the entire flower, and shake off the excess. Place the flowers on a wire cooling rack to dry. (Or, place the flowers in a food dehydrator set on the lowest setting for a few hours.) They're dry when the flowers are stiff.

make the sugar cookie bars:
Grease a 9x13" pan. Preheat oven to 375.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs, sour cream, zest, and extracts, beating until combined. Scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl as needed.

Add the flour mixture in two additions, beating on low just until combined. Spread evenly with an offset spatula in the prepared pan.

Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until done. Let cool completely.

make the strawberry glaze:
Process the strawberries and lemon juice in a blender until smooth. Drain the blended strawberries through a fine sieve, using a rubber spatula to press through. Discard the seeds.

Sift the sugar into a large mixing bowl. Add the strawberry puree and mix on low. Add in the corn syrup and butter, beating until completely incorporated. Add in the vanilla.

assembly:
Pour two cups of the strawberry glaze over the cooled cookie bars. Let the glaze set up for at least 2 hours. Score the bars using a bench scraper or knife into 24 bars. Place on edible flower on each bar.

Sugar Cookie Bars with Strawberry Glaze and Sugared Flowers
The Land O’Lakes Foundation will donate $1 to Feeding America® for every recipe pinned or repinned between March 2, 2015 and April 30, 2015. (Pin any Land O’Lakes recipe or submit any recipe pin at LandOLakes.com/pinameal). $1 helps provide 10 meals secured by Feeding America® on behalf of local member food banks. Land O’Lakes guarantees a minimum of 3.5 million meals (monetary equivalent of $350,000).

*Disclosure: Bake at 350 has partnered with Land O’Lakes for an exclusive endorsement of Land O Lakes® Butter for their Kitchen Conversations blogger program. This blog post is sponsored by Land O’Lakes.

YOU'LL WANT TO BE A PART OF THIS:
This year, Land O’Lakes is offering another fun way to support Pin A Meal. Give a Meal. — A live online cooking event with Ree, The Pioneer Woman, and Becky from the Land O’Lakes Test Kitchen. The event takes place on Wednesday, April 1 at 1 p.m. ET. Ree and Becky will be cooking their signature Feeding America® recipes live through an online video stream from Ree’s ranch and answering your spring cooking and baking questions.

The best part? All day on April 1, for each recipe pinned from the Land O’Lakes Pin A Meal. Give A Meal board Land O’Lakes will double their Feeding America® donation from 10 meals per pin to 20 meals per pin.  

Participating in the event is simple!

 RSVP by clicking the link here: landolakes.com/livecookingevent. A reminder will be automatically added to your calendar and you’ll be sent a confirmation email recapping all the event details.

 At noon on April 1, return to the same link where you RSVP’d and tune in for the live cooking event.

 Share your questions for Ree and Becky on Twitter using #PinAMeal and they may answer them live during the event.

 All day on April 1, pin recipes included in the Land O’Lakes Pin A Meal. Give a Meal program to help double the amount of meal donations.

I’ll be participating along with fellow bloggers: Two Peas and their Pod, A Spicy Perspective, a farmgirl’s dabbles, The Little Kitchen, and Fifteen Spatulas. We hope you will join us!


More Recipes for Spring from the other Land O’Lakes Bloggers: 
Joanne's Leek Gratin 
Sommer’s White Chocolate Citrus Chick Cookies 
Julie’s Brown Butter Pasta with Asparagus & Bacon
Maria’s Spring Panzanella Salad
Brenda’s Cheesy Hash Brown Cups

Related Posts with Thumbnails
Pin It button on image hover