My friend Mandi, who is an awesome baker, let me borrow her Dori Greenspan cookbook last fall and after getting overwhelmed by all the yummy possibilities, I settled on the blondie recipe to try. I love brownies, but there’s something about blondies…maybe it’s the butterscotch? or the coconut?…that makes them really special. Warmed up and topped off with vanilla ice cream–even better!

I ended up making these for a Halloween party–mostly for sustenance at the end of a long night of dance partying. Since it’s been so long since I made them I will let my photos entice you instead of my words.

It honestly took all the strength I could muster to not devour the dough at this point.

Honestly, it’s hard to see how you could go wrong with walnuts, coconut, butterscotch AND chocolate! I know a lot of us are in swim suit preparation/ climbing training mode, so this may not be the ideal time to try this recipe. HOWEVER, if you don’t try it soon, you should at least store the recipe away in your memory bank for next winter!

Chewy, chunky blondies
from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dori Greenspan

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups (packed) light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped into chips, or 1 cup store bought chocolate chips
1 cup butterscotch chips or Heath Toffee Bits
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut

1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F. Butter a 9×13 inch baking pan and put it on a baing sheet.

2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

3. Working with a stand mixer, preferrably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add both sugars and beat for another 3 minutes, or until well incorporated.

4. Add the eggs one by one, beating for 1 minute after each addition, then beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing just until the disappear into the batter. Using a runner spatula, stir in the chips, nuts and coconut. Scrape the batter into the buttered pan and use the spatula to even the top as best as you can.

5. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center of the blondies comes out clean. The blondies should pull away from the sides of the pan a little and the top should be a nice honey brown. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for about 15 minutes before turning the blondies out onto another rack. Invert on a rack and cool the blondies to room temperature right side up. (I kept them in the pan to keep them from drying out).

6. Cut into 32 bars, each roughly 2 1/2 x 1 1/2 inches.


I’m finally wrapping up the posts from my southern meal (see previous pasts on catfish, peas, and collards) and I’ve saved the best for last: dessert, of course!  The funny thing is that what I made for dessert was actually something I grew up eating for breakfast on special occasions. Sometimes my parents would make this when my sister or I had sleepovers, and our friends would often react with skepticism to the idea of eating biscuits with chocolate gravy. But after the first bite, all traces of skepticism left their faces.  If you’re feeling skeptical too, trust me, this stuff is GOOD.

The biscuit recipe is good on its own and I would recommend it for breakfast biscuits to accompany eggs and bacon or to serve with dinner if you make fried chicken or something like that.  However, along with the chocolate gravy, they make a great indulgent breakfast–or perhaps a brunch–or a yummy dessert!

The biscuits are easy enough to make. Once you are done mixing in the buttermilk, don’t worry if your dough is sticky.   This is normal.  Just flour a work surface and turn the dough out of the mixing bowl using a spatula. In hindsight, I think I patted the dough too flat. I would aim for a slab of dough that is about 1 inch thick (I noted this in the recipe below). Another trick that I haven’t tried, but recently read about, is to preheat the oven above 400 degrees (say 475 or 500) and then turn it down to 400 once you put in the biscuits. This way the oven doesn’t dip below 400 when you open the oven door. This is supposed to ensure that your biscuits rise properly (which as you can see, mine did not!).  Luckily, since I was breaking them into pieces and dousing them in chocolate, this didn’t matter too much!  The next time I make them I think I will also put the cut-out biscuits close together on the baking sheet so they are barely touching.  I remember my Dad doing this and I’m not sure what it does, but it might make a difference…

Now that I’ve caught up on these posts from the past, I’ll be excited to share some of the stuff I’ve been making more recently! I’ll try to include some healthy stuff in there since I’m now remembering that this was my original intention with this blog. Ha!  I really did mean well, but five (out of 11) posts containing bacon, obsene amounts of sugar and/or chocolate later, that’s pretty laughable!

Biscuits with Chocolate Gravy
from my Granny Dalrymple


2 cups all purpose flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
¼ cup butter at room temperature
1 cup buttermilk

Chocolate Gravy
1 cup sugar
1 Tbsp flour
2 Tbsp cocoa powder
1 ½ cups milk
1 Tbsp vanilla
2 Tbsp butter

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. To make biscuits, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Add the butter and mix together using your fingers or a pastry knife until the mixture resembles cornmeal. Add buttermilk and mix together with a fork until it forms a soft dough. Don’t overwork the dough.

2. Flour your work surface and press dough out with your fingers to a thickness of 1 inch. Using a round cookie cutter, cut out biscuits and put them on a baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until biscuits have some color.

3. While biscuits cook, mix sugar, flour, cocoa and milk in a medium saucepan. Cook over low-medium heat, stirring with a whisk often until sauce thickens. It should be thicker than hot cocoa, but not as thick as hot fudge. Add vanilla and butter and remove from heat.

4. To serve, crumble biscuits in separate bowls and pour on chocolate sauce.

Vicken’s birthday was last weekend and since I came up pretty short on cool presents this year, I thought the least I could do was make him an awesome birthday cake. The only potential problem with this idea is that Vicken isn’t that crazy about sweets. If only the tradition was to have Birthday Potatoes, he’d be in heaven. But decadent desserts just aren’t really his thing. This is why I was a bit surprised when he actually requested a chocolate birthday cake.

I immediately and selfishly decided that the cake had to be raspberry-chocolate since this is pretty much my favorite flavor combination ever, and then I came across a recipe from the June issue of Bon Appétit that seemed perfect. Everyone who had reviewed it on loved it and multiple people commented on the fact that it wasn’t overly sweet. It sounded perfect!

The recipe is for a 2 layer chocolate cake with raspberry jam and ganache frosting. It yields enough batter to use two 2-inch tall cake pans, which I didn’t have. Instead, I used my standard 1 1/2 inch tall pans and poured a shallow layer of leftover batter into a bundt pan as an experiment. I thought about using 3 standard cake pans, but was worried that I wouldn’t have enough ganache frosting to cover all of those layers. In hindsight, the ganache recipe makes way more than you need to ice the cake, so I probably would go with a 3 layer cake in the future. (In case you’re wondering, the bundt portion of cake yielded a cute little chococate cake wreath which I doused in leftover ganache.)

The original recipe has you top the cake with concentric circles of fresh raspberries, finished off with a dusting of powdered sugar. Once I got done pouring all of the ganache on the cake and creating such a beautiful, smooth, and glassy chocolate surface, I just couldn’t bring myself to cover that and up with white powder. So instead I covered the cake with 2 circles of raspberries and a ring of chocolate chips between them. I think you could get even more creative with how you arrange the raspberries on top, but I would definitely stick with my decision to leave out the powdered sugar again.

After eating a Mexican birthday dinner the other night, we didn’t have much room left for cake. We ate small slivers (which immediately hit the spot) and then put the mostly-whole cake back into the fridge. Another almost-half of the cake disappeared at the 4th of July bbq we had yesterday, and we’ll have to wait and see who eats the rest of the cake. Needless to say, I have a feeling my “diet plans” are going to get pushed back a few days.

Chocolate Raspberry Layer Cake
from Bon Appétit

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 3/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
3/4 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs

Chocolate ganache and raspberry topping:
18 ounces bittersweet chocolate (do not exceed 61% cacao), chopped
2 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream
6 tablespoons seedless raspberry jam, stirred to loosen, divided
2 6-ounce containers fresh raspberries
Powdered sugar (optional)

Special equipment: 2 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 2-inch-high sides

For cake:
1. Position racks in top and bottom third of oven; preheat to 350°F. Coat two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 2-inch-high sides with nonstick spray. Line bottoms with parchment paper rounds; spray rounds.

2. Sift flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into large bowl; whisk to blend and form well in center. Whisk 1 cup water, buttermilk, oil, and eggs in medium bowl to blend. Pour wet ingredients into well in dry ingredients; whisk just to blend. Divide cake batter between prepared pans (about 3 cups each).

3. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. (If cakes form domes, place kitchen towel atop hot cakes, then press gently with palm of hand to level.) Cool completely in pans on cooling racks. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover cakes in pans and let stand at room temperature.

For chocolate ganache and raspberry topping:
4. Place chopped chocolate in medium bowl. Bring cream just to boil in heavy medium saucepan. Pour over chocolate. Let stand 1 minute, then stir until ganache is melted and smooth. Transfer 1 1/4 cups ganache to small bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ganache is thick enough to spread, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour. Let remaining ganache stand at room temperature to cool until barely lukewarm.

5. Place rack inside rimmed baking sheet. Carefully run knife around pan edges to release cakes. Invert 1 cake layer onto cardboard round or bottom of 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Peel off parchment paper. Place cake layer on round on prepared rack. Spread 3 tablespoons jam over top. Spoon dollops of chilled ganache over, then spread evenly.

6. Invert second cake layer onto another cardboard round or tart pan bottom. Peel off parchment paper. Carefully slide cake off round and onto frosted cake layer on rack. Spread remaining 3 tablespoons raspberry jam over top of second cake layer. Pour half of barely lukewarm ganache over cake, spreading over sides to cover. Freeze until ganache sets, about 30 minutes.

7. Pour remaining ganache over cake, allowing to drip down sides and spreading over sides if needed for even coverage and to smooth edges. Freeze to set ganache, about 30 minutes. (DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover with cake dome and refrigerate. Let stand at room temperature 2 hours before continuing.)

8. Arrange raspberries in concentric circles atop cake. Sift powdered sugar lightly over raspberries and serve.