My sister is visiting to help with the arrival of the Littler One, and we've been on a bit of a baking kick. Well, cooking of a variety of kinds, really. We decided we wanted to do some Christmas baking, with a little flavour experimentation, as well as making old favourites (like Cinnamon Stars, Basler Christmas Cookies, or Christmas Butter Balls). One of the Christmas flavours we wanted to play with was cranberry, After some playing with ideas, we settled on these. The last few blondie recipes (Pear-Ginger and Apple Rhubarb) I've come up with were all a caramelised brown sugar base, so we thought this time we'd try out a white chocolate base instead.
1 c light brown sugar
200g white chocolate
1/2 c oats
1 1/2c flour
1/2c cranberry juice
1 c dried cranberries
1/2 c walnuts, chopped
Zest 1 orange
1) Over very low heat, melt the butter and white chocolate in a saucepan, stirring almost continuously to prevent burning. (The right way to do this is probably over a Bain-Marie, but this works too, and I couldn't be bothered).
2) Beat the eggs with the sugar until light. Add dry ingredients and combine. Stir in the juice, cranberries and zest, and finally, fold in the melted chocolate. Scatter nuts over the top.
3) Pour batter into a brownie tin and bake at 180°C for 25-30 minutes.
These came out very tasty. Interestingly, although we enjoyed eating the blondies hot, the flavours had developed more and were better balanced on the following day. There are however a couple of tweaks we might try next time.
Firstly, the cranberry flavour didn't come out as strongly as I would have liked. next time I will try starting with double or even triple the amount of cranberry juice and cooking it down to a half cup, thus intensifying the flavour.
Secondly, we found the flavour profile very high, lacking in deeper notes. To balance this out, there are a couple of things I want to try. Toasting the nuts and the oats, and maybe increasing the proportion of these might add the deeper note that I am looking for.
Another, perhaps subtler way of doing this would also be to melt the white chocolate in the oven, caramelising it a bit and deepening the flavour profile. I feel that this is an advantage to brown sugar blondies over white chocolate ones in that they have this incorporated as a matter of course.
Finally, I found these to be a little on the sweet side, so I might cut the sugar a bit next time, to three-quarters of a cup perhaps. They were also a bit cakier than I like, so I might add a dash of milk and/or reduce the flour by a bit, and pull them out of the oven that little bit earlier.
With so many changes and tweaks to try, and so many ideas to try, I wish I worked in a test kitchen!