baking love!

On Wednesday, I spent my last day working in the Music and Media Library at Emory University. I have to admit — the Library jobs I’ve had the last four years have been the best of my experience thus far in life. And though I’m sure that there are plenty of great jobs out there, I am not sure I will ever find people as consistently pleasant to work with (see more specific special thanks below).

I won’t lie — as happy as I am to graduate, I am sad to leave the library. As such, I baked a thank-you present for my supervisors: just a little warm love in the spirit of Christmas, right? And as a challenge, I feel I would do a disservice if I didn’t include the results! So here you go! Recipes courtesy of Kate Deal, who got them from Whole Foods and Martha Stewart, respectively.

Most of my ingredients were from Whole Foods, which significantly saved on the cost of spices, etc. If anyone’s curious about what I spent, check here. The total I spent, though, was just about $25.

And before we get started, a few things I’ve learned:

  • Make sure you have everything on the list before leaving the grocery store
  • Mixing by hand sucks. End of story.
  • Chopping Macademia nuts is easier when you crush them with the bottom of a glass first
  • Butter the pans really well.

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Maple Butterscotch Macademia Nut Blondies

1.5 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (1.5 sticks
1 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1.5 teaspoons maple extract
1.5 cups butterscotch chips
3/4 cup chopped macadamia nuts, toasted

Preheat the oven to 350

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing until combined. Mix in the maple extract. Add the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon just until combined. Fold in the butterscotch chips and toasted macadamias.

Scoop the batter into a 9″ baking pan coated with nonstick spray – use an off-set spaulta to spread it evenly in the pan. Bake until golden and a toothpick placed near the center comes out mostly clean with a few moist crumbs attached, about 25 to 35 minutes. Remove and place on a wire rack to cool completely before cutting.

***

White Chocolate Walnut Gingerbread Blondies

Makes about 3 dozen

Ingredients:

10 oz. (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1.25 cups light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup molasses
2.75 cups flour
1.25 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1.25 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1.25 teaspoons ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
10 ounces coarsely chopped white chocolate
1.5 cups coarsely chopped, lightly toasted walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees.  Spray a rimmed half-sheet pan (17X12 inches) with nonstick cooking spray.  Line the bottom with parchment paper and spray the parchment.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and both sugars on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 5 minutes.  Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Beat in the vanilla and molasses until combined.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves.  Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, beating until just combined.  Mix in the white chocolate and walnuts.

Spread the batter into the prepared pan and bake until set and the edges are golden, 22-25 minutes.*  Let the bars cool completely in a pan on a wire rack.  Cut into squares or your desired shape.

*This recipe technically calls for it to be spread on a larger baking pan than a brownie pan, which is what I used; however, the thicker blondies come out really nice — just cook them a bit longer, keeping an eye on them for when it changes from gooey on the inside to just moist.

***

A special thanks to Tara and Colin, who were my bosses at my two respective jobs. Additionally, I had the pleasure to work with Jess, Joyce, Alfredo, Fran, Sara, Patrick, James, Lloyd, and at least twenty other people who were generally pleasant. And that’s only the full-time Library employees — with Grad Students and Undergrads, I also worked with Melissa for the entire time I was there, and then Nancy, Gary, Cyd, Matt, Andy, Animesh, Richard, Natalie…well, you get the idea. I LOVE YOU ALL.

Afternotes on the Challenge Parts:

This challenge was pretty straightforward! I’d never baked before, but it honestly wasn’t too challenging with a little help from Shelby and some good, easy recipe suggestions from Kate! I had to borrow a baking pan from a friend, and I really should have borrowed a mixer…but otherwise, it was easy to do on my own!

Completion date: 17 December 2010 (I took the blondies to the Library this morning!)

Personal Success Rating: 8/10 — partially due to completing the challenge late (though I honestly had some good excuses), and partially due to my slight inability to think ahead for mixers, not leaving molasses behind, and general chaos. BUT THE RESULTS TASTED SO GOOD!!!

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