I was that weird kid who, when offered the choice of a brownie or a blondie, would always choose the blondie. Something about that cookie bar, packed with chocolate chips and toasty nuts, was just more interesting to me than straight chocolate (though I wouldn’t toss a good, fudgy brownie out of bed either. I’m not a monster).
Unfortunately, more often than not, blondies can be underwhelming — either dry and crumbly or doughy and flavorless — so we set out to develop a foolproof recipe for what we consider to be the perfect blondie: a tender, moist crumb filled with deep caramel flavor from brown butter, vanilla and (optional, but oh-so-delicious) bourbon. Then we packed in our favorite mix-ins: chocolate chunks, butterscotch chips and toasted hazelnuts.
If you like to celebrate Fall by reaching for the pumpkin spice, try its sophisticated cousin, Chai. Complex sweet, spicy and peppery notes combine to flavor these Chai Cupcakes, topped off with decadent Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting and a sprinkle of pink peppercorns.
It’s easy to knock pumpkin spice. It’s the low-hanging fruit – early-dropping leaf, perhaps – of the autumn zeitgeist. But don’t worry, we’re not heading into a cliched diatribe about hipsters and their spiced lattes and something something Williamsburg gentrification. We’re here to celebrate something with more depth, more sophistication, more … panache. Chai is not a new flavor by any means – in fact, it’s one of the oldest spice combinations in the culinary palette, dating from thousands of years back in India’s history. The nineteenth century saw it added to black tea and given more of a global reach, but the essential spice base has lasting appeal beyond hot drinks.
Three layers of delicious: these ultra-decadent peanut butter bars are a guaranteed crowd pleaser. The base is a crunchy, buttery graham cracker cookie, the middle is a generous layer of creamy whipped peanut butter and the top is silky chocolate ganache sprinkled with chopped roasted peanuts. Get ready to perform some crowd control.
A couple of weeks ago, I was working on a list of ideas for treats Matt and I might make for the fifth annual For Goodness Bake sale (an amazing event, hosted by our lovely friends, Kristen Pratt and Tara Tornello). This thing is a big deal and our fellow Beaconites go all out, making all kinds of delicious cookies, cakes, tarts, cupcakes and savories, all to sell for a good cause. It’s kind of like the Great British Baking Show, but without a tent and with a lot more cursing (we are Americans, remember).
So I’m reading the list to Matt who, to be fair, has spent a long day fixing computer whatsits and thingamajigs (technical terms), so he’s on the Playstation, drinking a can of beer, and barely paying attention to what I’m saying. “Brown Butter Hazelnut Blondies” get a shrug. “Lemon and Rosemary Tarlets” get a pout and narrowed eyes. “Salted Caramel Cheesecake Bars”: a huff and a raised eyebrow.
“Whipped Peanut Butter Bars with Chocolate–“
“That one,” he interrupts, throwing the game controller aside, suddenly as focused as a lion in Sainsbury’s that just spotted a shepherd’s pie in the sale bin. I described my idea, a buttery cookie crust studded with crunchy peanuts. Whipped, almost airy peanut butter buttercream. Chocolate ganache topped with chopped roasted salted peanuts. Yeah, now he’s paying attention.
It’s always gratifying when people write in and tell us that they made a recipe from the site and it turned out so well that they got compliments. But nothing warms our little nerd hearts quite like seeing someone’s face when they’re right there in front of us eating a thing we made and making ohmygodohmygod faces, possibly even drooling slightly. This is such a recipe. We had previously made brownie bites with vanilla mascarpone, which are quite heavenly, but then decided that adding peanut butter to a thing could only improve it, and thus this version was born. (Incidentally, we made these on January 24, which is National Peanut Butter Day. Should this be a national holiday? Well, you might very well think that, but we couldn’t possibly comment.)
Fudgy, ultra-chocolatey brownies kicked up with a salty pretzel crust and caramel drizzle. Want to win a bake off? This is your guy.
Have you heard? Have you heard the news about Great British Bake-Off? Have you? Have you heard it? Of course you have, I imagine it’s all people are talking about down your way. It’s certainly all they’re talking about in our neck of the woods. Of course, the show is not technically ending, but it’s been bought by Channel 4 and won’t have Mel, Sue, or Mary, and will no doubt be presented by Vince Vaughn and Colin Farrell and Paul Hollywood all exploding in an underground parking garage or something. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, bless your very face, and go and find an episode or three. It’s shown on PBS in the US, and they have to call it “The Great British Baking Show” because apparently Pillsbury has a legal lockdown on the term “Bake Off” and will send goons, floury goons, to give you a right drubbing should you flout compliance.
These coconut key lime cupcakes titillate your tastebuds with light, tropical flavors and look pretty dang party, too.
It’s hard for me to believe but it’s true; today is the 3-year anniversary of Nerds with Knives. I know we act immature, but we are, in fact, toddler-aged. *Throws a cupcake at your head and licks frosting off the floor*
But really all thanks go to you, our readers, who we love and adore. If it wasn’t for your positive feedback, I’m sure we would have given up ages ago and would most likely have picked up some other, less respectable hobby. Like knitting. Or taxidermy.