The Crazy Kitchen: January 2011

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Friday 28 January 2011

Recipe Testing..............Vanilla Blondies

This week, during my growing addiction to blogs, I came across one by trained chef Vanessa Kimbell following her year long journey of taking time out from the workplace to write a cookery book. Her recent post was asking for Recipe Testers for this forthcoming book Prepped!, due out in May. This immediately caught my eye as I love cooking and baking and was excited at the prospect of testing out a recipe and blogging about it! After a quick read of  The Philosophy behind Prepped! I thought 'This is Me!'... a (in Vanessa's words) 'Time Short Food Lover' so I quickly contacted Vanessa expressing my interest. The following morning I received a reply with a list of recipes to choose from and being a lover of all things sweet I picked Vanilla Blondies.

Shortly afterwards Vanessa emailed me the recipe along with a test sheet. I was lucky enough to have all the ingredients to hand, including pecans, another item left over from Christmas, so once the kids were in bed last night I made a start...

Well simple wasn't the word, I couldn't believe how easy these were to prepare & using just a few simple ingredients. I have made Brownies before but never Blondies and I knew that the knack was not to overcook them so I kept a close eye , not wanting to ruin them , after all I had promised Vanessa that I would be trying the recipe out that evening & I was now all out of pecans and with the kids in bed had no means of getting more.

The recipe calls for 25-30 minutes baking time but to check after 25, which I did as my fan-assisted oven tends to be a bit quick at times. They had turned a lovely golden brown and were slightly crispy on top so I took them out of the oven & waited for them to cool. I have a habit of cutting brownies and other traybakes too soon but there was a handy tip at the bottom of this recipe advising 'Don't rush into cutting this one into squares. It does need time to firm up'.......what a great tip for impatient cooks like me. I wish it had been in previous recipes I had followed, maybe then I wouldn't have ended up with such rustic looking offerings!

I was a bit anxious about removing the blondies from the pan as there was no call for greasing or lining but I needn't have worried as once cut into squares they effortlessly came away. I couldn't wait to try one.....they looked & smelt so good. Anyway, I didn't try one.......I tried two!! They were absolutely delicious, the gooey sweetness teamed with the specs of saltiness from the sea salt was a match made in heaven. I had to put the rest in the garage to stop myself from eating any more.......

The feedback I received from Vanessa about my 'practical and fully incorporated comments' was overwhelming and to know that I have played a part (be it a very small one) in showing the users of this recipe how to create fabulous blondies is a great honour.

I have 3 friends that couldn't get out of the house today, one has just had an operation, another has a sick daughter and another has a badly sprained ankle, so I thought that they were in need of a little cheering up. I packed up some of these sticky little treats into bags and delivered them to these grateful recipients. On hearing how good these little Blondies were (by means of Facebook) EVERYONE wants my mission for this weekend is to make 2 more trays of Blondies, this time of the salted peanut variety...................I am salivating at the thought.................I just hope they save some for me!

The Recipe ...........Vanilla Blondies by Vanessa Kimbell

With all the buttery fudginess of a brownie, blondies are sweet, chewy and seriously simple to make. but it's not so easy to choose between using peanuts or pecans - so I make two versions. The pecan version is fabulous, and the salted peanut version is amazing. So why not make both?

Serves : 16
Prep Time : 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 25 - 30 minutes
Suitable for freezing : No

300g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
250g unsalted butter
400g Vanilla Sugar
2 eggs, beaten
225g salted peanuts or plain pecans (and a pinch of sea salt)

1 Preheat the oven to 175 degrees C / gas mark 3

2 Sift the flour and the baking powder into a large bowl and combine

3 In a saucepan, melt the butter and bring it briefly to the boil and stir in the sugar. it doesn't all dissolve, but the sugar goes 'gloopy'. Remove from the heat.

4 Pour the butter into the flour and mix with a wooden spoon until combined. Stir in the eggs, mix well and then add the peanuts. Pour into a large 24cm x 30cm baking tray and spread.

5 Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, but check after 25 minutes. The tops of the blondies should be just golden brown and lightly springing back. If it needs a little longer, be careful not to overcook - blondies need to retain their fudginess. It will firm up as it cools down. Cool in the tray and cut into 16 squares when cold.


Don't rush into cutting this one into squares. It does need time to firm up.

Vanessa's Vanilla Blondies with peanuts (above)

My Vanilla Blondies with pecans (above)

You can follow Vanessa's blog and pre-order her book here

I personally cannot wait to try out some more of Vanessa's recipes if they are as simple & tasty as this one.......

Wednesday 26 January 2011

To Start.....

My name is Helen, I am 40 years of age and married with 3 gorgeous children. I grew up in Rugby, Warwickshire, with my Mum, Dad, older brother, cat called Fluffy, goldfish called Goldie & canary called Sunny - I have never really thought about, until now, how ridiculously un-original those names were, but I suppose times don't change as recently my kids had a hamster called.....yes you've guessed it.....Hammy !

I've started this blog because, well, everyone else seems to have one and, me being me, I don't like to feel as though I'm missing out on a good thing. I'm not entirely sure what I'm going to write about but I expect there will be much writing about kids & kids stuff, and probably a lot about food & baking, all of which I let's just see how it goes...........

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