So it’s been a while since my initial blog posts and I do apologise. New year, new posts & more blogging.. I promise.
So since last time, we’ve been pretty busy with various events, finishing mon niveau intermédiare en français (86% woohoo!) and for a good part of December; resting at home due to bronchitis & a fractured rib from slipping on the ice! Although I love the snow & quite enjoy Montréal winters (so far – ask me again in 5 years), the icy pavements aren’t exactly enjoyable. Just have a look at what happened here the other day!
This ‘verglas‘ turned the city into a pretty cool looking, but rather dangerous giant ice rink. If you have the time, check out this video by a journalist who skated all the way into downtown Montreal. It’s ridiculous.
Anyway, at Christmas (when I was fortunately free of my nasty cough) we hosted a pretty relaxed and classic roast dinner at home on the 24th. However..
.. for Christmas day itself we foolishly agreed to make all the food to feed 50 family members/in-laws! From canapes and dips, to baked hams, fish and numerous salads.. we did it. We ended the evening with several classic British puddings accompanied by smaller biscuits & such. The Nutella fans loved the Baci di Dama, but those with a sweet tooth enjoyed the blondies and snickerdoodles.
“They aren’t exactly Christmassy, why did I make them?” As we were cooking so much, I thought it was better to make life that tiny bit simpler by baking some things that we knew people liked and that I’d made before for Félix’s office ‘Friday treat box’. The snickerdoodles are a lovely chewy yet crunchy type of biscuit, whilst the blondies are one of those rather naughty caramelly & fudgy treats – definitely not good for those on a new year’s diet. Although it’s not needed, I also like browning the butter in both of them to give them a slight ‘nutty’ flavour. Anyway, for those of you that feel like giving them a try, both the recipes are below!
Brown butter is one of those things I only really started making in the last year and being so easy, it’s a good way to add a bit of oomph to dishes that rely on butter. Whether it’s in a sauce for vegetables, in baking or in a cream cheese frosting (brilliant for carrot cake) you should give it a go.
How to brown butter:
At the moment I unfortunately don’t have any photos, but once I do, I’ll make this bit a separate post. Fortunately there are already some great photos & explanations out there on how to make brown butter aka ‘beurre noisette’ like here & here, but this is what I normally do…
… I take our large heavy bottomed saucepan (more surface area = quicker browning) & melt the butter on medium heat. I stir & scrape the bottom with my trusty metal whisk to stop any of the little sediments of milk solid from settling & burning. Do keep a careful eye on it whilst it changes from it’s initial light gold colour and creates a bit of a foam. Once you start smelling a lovely nutty toasted aroma, it’s almost ready. Be careful as it is quick to change into the rich golden brown colour you want. You don’t want to burn it (though some people might) so immediately remove it from the heat when it’s just about ready. To stop it continuing to brown in the pan, I often pour it into whatever large (& heatproof) mixing bowl I’m going to be using, for it to cool ..and more importantly to save on washing up!
225g unsalted butter
300g light brown sugar
200g granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp seasalt
315g plain flour
about 50g sugar + 1 (heaped) tbsp ground cinnamon
- Brown the butter & set aside to cool
- Line a large baking sheet (that can fit into your fridge) with parchment paper.
- Add both the sugars to the browned butter and mix till combined.
- Gradually beat in the eggs and yolks one by one, followed by the vanilla.
- Sieve into this mixture half of the flour, the soda & salt and mix well. Mix in the remaining flour till fully combined.
- Using a tablespoon, scoop out small balls of dough and place onto the prepared baking sheet. Lightly flatten them with your hands into small discs.
- Cover with cling film and leave them to chill in the fridge for an hour or so till firm. (I’m sure you could also freeze them at this stage, but I haven’t tried yet).
- Preheat the oven to 160C/325 F and line another baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Place the dough balls onto the baking sheet leaving about 2 inches between them as they will spread.
- Bake for 10 minutes, then rotate the pan and bake for a further 5-10 minutes.
- Once golden brown, remove from the oven and leave to cool for 10 minutes on the sheet before lifting them as they’ll be too soft.
- Combine the sugar & cinnamon coating in a small shallow bowl or plate. Then dip & coat the biscuits in the sugar mix, and place on a wire rack. Shake off any excess sugar.
Brown Butter Cranberry Chocolate Blondies
Adapted by a recipe from one of my all time favourite food/never fail recipe blogs.. Smitten Kitchen. And as you’ll see on her post, this recipe is ‘infinitely adaptable’. Next time I’ll probably try throwing in some coconut, nuts or..
115g unsalted butter
180g brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
A good pinch of seasalt (I use Maldon)
125g plain flour
1/2 cup frozen fresh cranberries
1/2 cup chocolate chips (dark or white)
- Brown the butter & set aside to cool.
- Lightly butter and line an 8×8 baking pan with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.
- Beat the melted browned butter with the sugar. Then beat in the egg and vanilla, scraping down the sides so it’s all well incorporated.
- Stir in the salt & flour, followed by the cranberries & chocolate chips.
- Pour the mix into the baking pan and bake for about 20 minutes. Have a check as they should be done, but if you don’t like them too gooey, 25 minutes is probably better a better bet.
- Take them out of the oven & leave to cool in the tin on a rack.
- Try & cut them when they are cool with a sharp knife otherwise you may have a gooey mess.