Let’s Talk Food: Brownies and blondies, a great summer dessert

  • Photo courtesy of AUDREY WILSON Stone fruits such as peaches should be left on the counter.

  • Photo courtesy of AUDREY WILSON Dark chocolate brownies with white chocolate chunks.

Brownies and blondies, or brownies without chocolate, are great for summer desserts and pack well for picnics. Served at room temperature, they are pretty decadent ala modes with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

With an added ingredient, the possibilities are endless. The type of chocolate — milk, bittersweet or dark chocolate — also can make a difference.

ADVERTISING


Blondies are more delicate and can easily burn. The 8-inch pan used to bake a batch matters.

When the pan is dark aluminum, it will tend to overcook because it absorbs heat faster than light-colored metal. Glass and ceramic pans take longer to heat up because they are unlike metal that heats up faster, therefore it takes longer to bake in them. If you take them out at the suggested time on the recipe, you might have the center fall and be dense and very wet. Once the blondies drop, you can not bring it back by re-baking it. Light colored aluminum works the best, as the golden brown is even on the sides and bottom, with a moist interior.

Whole Grain Pecan Blondies

Makes: 16 blondies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small saucepan, place and bring to a boil:

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 cup light brown sugar, packed

Cook 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Pour mixture into a large bowl, cool 8 minutes. Stir in:

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

Lightly spoon into dry measuring cups, leveling with knife:

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

Combine flour in a bowl, whisk to combine:

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Stir until completely combined.

Scrape mixture into a light-colored 8-inch metal pan coated with baking spray. (If you only have a dark-colored metal pan, line the bottom with parchment paper.)

Smooth top. Arrange in 4-by-4 rows:

16 toasted pecan halves

Bake at 350 degrees for 24 minutes. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into 16 squares with pecan in center.

Dark Chocolate Brownies with White Chocolate Chunks

Makes: 16 brownies

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter 8-inch light-colored metal pan.

In a medium saucepan over low heat:

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

In a small bowl, combine:

2/3 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

In a medium bowl, whisk until very thick, about 3 minutes:

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whisk in melted chocolate and butter. Stir in:

5 ounces good-quality white chocolate, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

Place batter in prepared metal pan and bake 28 minutes, until the tester inserted into comes out clean.

Transfer pan to a wire rack and cool completely. Cut brownies into 16 squares.

• • •

The addition of chili powder or cayenne turns ordinary brownies into Mexican brownies.

Mexican Brownies

Chef Aaron Sanchez

Makes: 18 brownies

2 sticks unsalted butter, plus more for greasing

2 cups sugar

4 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2/3 cup good-quality unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon ground Mexican cinnamon (canela)

3/4 teaspoon pequin chili powder or cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides. Press the paper into the corners of the pan and lightly grease the paper with butter.

Melt the two sticks of butter in a nonstick saucepan over medium-low heat; do not boil.

Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Add the sugar, eggs and vanilla to the saucepan and stir with a wooden spoon until combined.

Add the cocoa, flour, cinnamon, chili powder, salt and baking powder and mix until smooth. Spread the batter in the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out fudgy, 20-25 minutes. Cool in the pan on a rack, then use the parchment paper to lift out the brownies before slicing.

Foodie Bites

“Bon Appetit” recommends these eight fruits and vegetables should be left on the counter and not be refrigerated:

1. Tomatoes left on a window in the kitchen will continue to ripen to perfection. When refrigerated, the flesh becomes mealy and unpleasant.

2. Garlic, onions and shallots like a cool, dry dark place. They also like to breathe, so do not put them in plastic bags.

3. Hard squashes such as acorn, butternut or kabocha should be left at room temperature so as to not alter their texture.

4. Potatoes and sweet potatoes like a cool, dry and dark place with no sunlight that could sprout the potatoes.

5. Corn, if eaten within a day or two and not husked, does not need refrigeration.

6. Stone fruits such as plums, peaches and cherries in the refrigerator make the flesh mealy, so are best left on the counter

7. Pineapple won’t get any riper, so you should buy it ripe and ready to eat and cut it up within a day or two. Once cut, you can refrigerate.

ADVERTISING


8. Melons could be put in the refrigerator, but it is better eat them at room temperature. “Changing the temperature of the melon will tense up the interior, possibly making it a tad less succulent.”

Email Audrey Wilson at audreywilson808@gmail.com.