Amazing Cakes #2: White Chocolate Blondies


Hot on the heels of baking my successful Lemon Drizzle Traybake,  I wanted to try something slightly different to take along for my work mates to enjoy as an alternative to the lemon drizzle.  I’ve lost my baking confidence recently and have found recipes I’ve baked time and time again going wrong.  I have always managed to bake brownies, though and I thought that I would be fine with the second recipe I wanted to try from The Big Book Of Amazing Cakes.
I wanted to have a go at the White Chocolate and Hazelnut Blondies as I love blondies.  So moreish! But I didn’t have any hazelnuts so had to think of some substitutions.  I had also seen a recipe with Jammie Dodgers put in the blondies so I thought I’d add those in instead.

The Big Book Of Amazing Cakes is the latest book spin off from the last Great British Bake Off series. It came out in October 2019.

To make the Blondies,  I weighed out plain flour, some ground almonds (as I didn’t have any ground hazelnuts), some sea salt flakes and baking powder. I mixed them together in a large mixing bowl.  In another bowl I melted some butter in the microwave. To this, I added a mixture of caster sugar and dark brown muscovado sugar. 

When this was mixed in, I added beaten eggs, along with some vanilla extract and then folded this all into the flour mix.

At this stage I was also meant to add in some chopped hazelnuts which I didn’t have.  I just put in the white chocolate chips which the recipe suggested.  At this stage I didn’t read the recipe properly and noticed it asked for 2 tbsp of agave syrup or runny honey.  This was meant to be brushed onto the still warm but cooked blondies.  Instead I put two tablespoonfuls of honey in the mixture before cooking.


Finally, I used mini Jammy Dodgers to poke into the top of my blondies.  Each of these mini packs contains four mini Dodgers and I
used four of the packs to use sixteen biscuits in the blondies.  I was expecting them to sit nicely on top of them.  I couldn’t wait to taste the blondies.

But my excitement was shortlived.  I didn’t have the 22cm square tin as needed.  Mine is an 20cm square one and not loose bottomed.  The blondies were meant to be baked at 180oC for 25-30 minutes.  I had them in for the recommended time but the blondies were still looking raw and wet in the middle.  I also didn’t like how the edges had puffed up around, leaving the middle flat as a pancake.  


I put the blondies back in the oven for another ten minutes but they seemed to be even more runny and slimy than before.  I admitted defeat and took them out of the oven.  The recipe said to leave the blondies in the tin for 10 minutes to cool down.  This I did but they began to collapse. I was so frustrated as this doesn’t normally happen to me with brownies or blondies.  The temporary baking confidence I got from making the lemon drizzle traybake had taken a nose dive again!

Baking disaster: you can make out the slimy and uncooked batter despite my oven being at the correct temperature and the brownies being in the oven for ten minutes longer than the recipe stipulated.
This was the best piece out of the whole batch: one of the corners! The rest looked like road kill!


I would love to know where I went wrong with this recipe. Was it because I didn’t use hazelnuts or that I added the honey to the mixture before baking? I must admit I did not like the taste of the blondies and I was disappointed with how they came out.  I asked Mr S what he thought of them and he said he thought the ones around the edge looked ok but he tasted one. He said it tasted very sweet and jammy!

I will test this recipe again at some stage but I’ll try with hazelnuts and leave the Jammy Dodgers out instead!

Happy Baking!
Love Sam xx

White Chocolate Pretzel Blondies

The other day I was in Leeds with my two children. Whenever we go into Trinity shopping centre I like to go into Gobstoppers, the American sweet shop as I look for things I can add to my baking. Usually I buy M&M flavours that aren’t widely available in the UK, such as the mint ones. Or I might try out something else that would look good on the top of a cupcake. This time, though I couldn’t find any different M&M flavours to ones I had already seen but I came out of the shop with a packet of Flipz. I’ve seen chocolate covered pretzels before but I found some white chocolate “birthday cake” one. I’ve found out that if sweets or cakes are labelled “birthday cake” it means they usually have sprinkles over them.

Last Sunday I wanted to bake something and to try the Flipz in a recipe. I have baked brownies with plain pretzels in before and that has worked. But this time I wanted to see what happened if I put the white Flipz in a blondie recipe. I love blondies, especially ones with peanut butter and big chunks of white chocolate in. I didn’t have any peanut butter so I had to look through my recipe books to find a blondie recipe without peanut butter in. As I had my copy of Annie Bell’s Baking Bible still out on the kitchen work top from baking muffins the other day, I looked through the book to see if there was a blondie recipe in the book. There was. Annie Bell’s version does not use peanut butter but the blondies’ sugar content comes from using a mixture of set honey and golden syrup. To the mixture I swirled in some whole and some broken Flipz as well as the remaining half a packet of white chocolate chips I had left over from some cookies in my baking stash.

The blondies were very sticky, no doubt due to the honey and syrup content but they tasted absolutely wonderful. We had one with a cup of tea on Sunday afternoon and then I put them in the rest of the freezer to keep me away from temptation.

Happy baking

Love Sam xx

White Chocolate and Peanut Butter Blondies

074
Peanut and Chocolate Blondies- meant to have white chocolate in but thanks to someone helping themselves they became dark chocolate ones instead!

Last Monday afternoon I got in from work and finished my jobs.  It was one of those afternoons where I had an urge to bake something.  It had to be something quick that I could sling together and chuck in the oven before disappearing off to collect my kids from school.

Brownies or blondies work well for me as I make them such a lot, you get it down to a fine art and they don’t take long to whip up and in the oven.  So, for this month’s Cooking The Books Challenge where I am baking a recipe from every chapter of Rachel Allen’s Bake, her recipe for White Chocolate and Peanut Butter Blondies would be just the ticket.  In the recipe introduction Rachel says “Fed up of brownies? Try blondies! These little squares are great on their own, eaten with ice cream they are simply sinful!”  Well we all need a pick me up or a little treat to help us get through life don’t we?

I looked in my baking cupboard knowing that I’d bought a packet of white chocolate chips a couple of weeks back and would have enough to go in the blondies.  But when I opened the cupboard.. they just weren’t there!  I can only put it down to my kids helping themselves! So frustrating, but I couldn’t prove who had took them! Luckily though I had a packet of dark chocolate chips and they would have to do instead!

To begin with I creamed some butter and crunchy peanut butter together in a large mixing bowl. When this was done I sifted some plain flour and bakingpowder in another bowl.  To the peanut butter bowl I added soft brown sugar, egg and some vanilla extract.  Finally in went the bag of chocolate chips.

As for the tin, I used the square one I always use for my brownies.  It’s a either a loose bottomed one I bought a few years back in Lakeland or one I bought at a Jamie At Home party which isn’t loose bottomed but still worked as well. Either tin always makes either 16 small square brownie bites or 12 large ones.  No problem again here, the dough went into the tin fine and 25-30 minutes later out it came after being baked in the oven at 170oC (electric fan oven here).

After about 1/2 hour’s cooling time I attempted to cut up the blondies and quickly hid them in a box in the cupboard away from my family.  They were going into work to share with my work colleagues and I thought if my family knew there were blondies about there wouldn’t be any left the next day.

I thought I’d got away with it as it was an afternoon when I was at home and my kids were still at school.  I had hidden the evidence but when we got in from the school run my daughter started sniffing when she came back in. She said “Have you been baking? I can smell chocolate!” My kids have baking radar but I lied and said she was imagining things!

071
The blondies cut up easily into 12 large pieces.

073
The blondies were packed up in a box and taken into work to share with my colleagues. They all disappeared by about lunchtime and everyone said they were delicious.

The Speculaas Spice Company- Chewy Speculaas Blondies and Speculaas Cookies.

I enjoyed my baking session using the Speculaas Spice miz.
I enjoyed my baking session using the Speculaas Spice miz.

I must admit I’d not heard of speculaas spice before.  So when Steven from The Speculaas Spice Company asked me if I would like to try a sample of his special Speculaas spice mix I was intrigued.

A little package arrived in the post last week along with some background information about The Speculaas Spice Company.  Speculaas is a special spice mix that originates from The Netherlands and many families had their own spice recipes.  Steven grew up in Amsterdam and wanted to recreate the smell and taste of the Speculaas biscuits his own mother baked at home.

The special Speculaas Spice mix packet and background information sent to me from The Speculaas Spice Company.
The special Speculaas Spice mix packet and background information sent to me from The Speculaas Spice Company.

The spices used in the VanDotsch Speculaas spice mix are organic or Fair Trade wherever possible and do not contain any preservatives.  There are nine different spices in the blend including ginger, cloves, cinnamon and six other aromatic flavours.

If you want to find out more about The Speculaas Spice Company then here are the details:

Steven Dotsch, The Speculaas Spice Company

www. speculaasspice.co.uk

Email: info@speculaasspice.co.uk

Tel: 020 8374 8718

To follow on Twitter: @vanDotschSpices

There are some delicious recipes to try out on the website but I was keen to try out the spices in two recipes I’d always fancied baking from the very first Edd Kimber book “The Boy Who Bakes”.  One  recipe was for some mouthwatering Blondies, also containing chocolate and hazelnuts, the other for some aromatic Speculaas cookies.  I thought that the Spice mix would transform the bakes onto another level. There were enough spices to bake both recipes and as soon as I opened the little packet the wonderful smell escaped out into the kitchen.  It made me very hungry.  One of my favourite aromas in the world is the smell of gingerbread men baking and I was immediately transported back to my childhood.  I am sure the Speculaas spice does the same for lots of Dutch children!

Edd Kimber says in his recipe introduction that he is “in love with speculaas.. what’s not to love?”  I have baked blondies before but not with spices added to them, this was going to be very interesting.  So, I greased an 8″ square tin and got stuck in!

016
I used about three teaspoonfuls of speculaas spice mix in the blondies.

017
Some butter was melted in a small pan.

018
The spice mix was added to the melted butter, cooked for a couple of minutes and then I added some brown sugar to heat through.

019
The melted butter, spice mix and brown sugar. This was taken off the heat and left to cool for a few minutes.

020
The other ingredients were added. First the dry ones, such as plain flour, baking powder and salt were folded into the melted butter mixture. Then I added in a bar of chopped white chocolate and some hazelnuts.

021
The batter was poured into the prepared tin and then baked in the oven for about 35 minutes. It took a little bit longer as I used a square tin and not a longer rectangular one. 

024
The brownies had more depth than the ones in the picture because of the size of the tin. I had to adjust the baking time, it needed about 10-15 minutes longer than Edd suggested. This didn’t cause any problems, the blondies came out gooey and chewy as expected.

028
The finished blondies- cut up and on a serving plate. The smell was absolutely gorgeous and it took all my courage not to scoff the lot there and then!

I was very impressed with the Speculaas spices and I hope to buy some more in the future.  I can see the comforting  spices working very well in cookies, gingerbread and other bakes that you would eat or make in the Autumn and Winter months.  As I was so entranced by the spices I decided to use the rest of them up in a second recipe from The Boy Who Bakes.  This time it was a recipe for Speculaas cookies.

Edd also says in the biscuit introduction that this is a “spicy biscuit with plenty of crunch” The recipe he states is not a traditional one but has the flavour.

022
First, I put plain flour, the remainder of the spice mix, some salt, baking powder and sugar into a large bowl and mixed them together.

023
To this I added cubed butter which I rubbed in to the flour and sugar mixture.

After this I added in one whole egg, another egg yolk and binded the mixture together to form a large ball of dough.  After this, Edd says to cut out the dough shapes and to chill them on a baking tray.  I didn’t have time to do this so I baked them straightaway as soon as I had cut them out.  The biscuits in the picture were circular ones but I fancied trying out two different shapes. I cut out plain circles and also a fluted rectangle.  The recipe went very far and I got loads of biscuits out of the dough.

025
The finished circular Speculaas cookies warm out of the oven, deliciously aromatic and sprinkled generously with caster sugar.

026
The rectangular biscuits.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx