Thursday, June 18, 2015

So Many Posts and So Many Views and Irish Blonds



Sometime yesterday when I wasn't watching the number of all time page views for this blog passed 500,000! I started in October of 2006 and I will soon have posted 1,000 posts, so it shouldn't surprise me to reach that many page views, but it does.

When I started, blogging was a fairly new thing, especially food blogging as a specific category. Over the years it has grown and grown, sort of like the food shows that now saturate the TV airwaves. Some bloggers have become more commercial, either by accepting ads on the blog, by using the blog to further a business, or by having give-aways of merchandise of interest to food bloggers and foodies. I did that for a while, having drawings to give away copies of some nice cook books. After a while, though, I decided that I didn't really want to have my blogging be anything other than posting recipes and things about my life, including participation in a few baking groups I belong to or have belonged to. It has become for me a sort of diary and digital recipe box, along with a way to be creative with photographs, writing, and the alterations of recipes.

Today's recipe is a perfect example of that creative impulse. While working on my new Index ...which may take a while...I came across a recipe I had baked for blondies, the anti-brownie. For some reason my mind started turning to how I could incorporate some Irish elements into the recipe, including Irish whiskey. Now I know that chocolate and Irish whiskey go well together since one of my all time favorite cake recipes is for a chocolate Bundt cake with Irish whiskey in it. Putting it effectively into a blondie recipe might be more difficult. Redheads and women with dark hair and fair skin are often the types we associate with Ireland, but they do have blonds, too. Hence, Irish Blonds.

In thinking about Irish baked goods I remembered that they often contain currants (as in current scones and tea brack for instance), so I decided to soak some currents in Irish whiskey, then use the whiskey that didn't soak in as part of the liquid in the recipe. Irish recipes also often contain golden raisins, so I decided to use some of them. I like walnuts in blondies, so those were included, too. Part of the all-purpose flour was replaced with King Arthur Flour Irish whole-meal flour, too. Then I added white chocolate chips, not because they are Irish but because the recipe now sounded like one that would do well with white chocolate.


While they were baking I took a cock-eyed photo of late afternoon light on the farm by the back fence. The fragrance of these cookies baking was too intoxicating to stay in the kitchen.

Sweetie might have just been dazed by smelling them baking when he said it, but he declared these the best bar cookies I've ever made. They are very chewy...think nuts, currants, raisins and the whole wheat flour making them more than usually chewy...but still soft except for the edges by the pan sides. They are fruity sweet instead on overly sugar sweet because I reduced the sugar a bit. You can really taste the Irish whisky, especially in the currants, but it is complementary rather than assertive in flavor. You might enjoy these, too. Believe me, you don't have to be Irish to enjoy them.



Irish  Blonds
A variation of a recipe by Jill O’Connor in Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey, Desserts for the Serious Sweet Tooth.

SOAKER:
1/2 cup currants soaked in
1/2 cup Irish whiskey

BATTER:
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
2 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour or Irish whole-meal flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder

MIX-IN INGREDIENTS:
1  cup nuts – I used walnut pieces, coarsely chopped
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup golden raisins


Position oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Use cooking spray to lightly coat a 9 x 13 inch baking pan.

Melt the butter and sugars together in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the butter and sugars are blended and completely melted and starting to bubble gently. Remove the pan from heat and let the mixture cool slightly.

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla and salt. Drain the Soaker currents over a small bowl. Set the currents aside and put the liquid drained off into the egg mixture.Slowly whisk the eggs mixture into the cooled butter and sugar mixture just until combined. Whisk in the flours and baking powder to form a loose batter. (Make sure the batter is cool before stirring in the remaining ingredients, otherwise the chocolate will start to melt before the bars are baked.)

Stir the nuts, white chocolate chips, golden raisins and the drained currents into the cooled batter. (I mixed all of the "mix-in" ingredients together in a very large measuring cup before adding to the batter. That way I knew that there wouldn’t be a clump of nuts here and a clump of white chocolate there, but rather a nice mix of all the goodies.) Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula.

Bake until the top is shiny and slightly crackled and feels firm to the touch, 30 – 35 minutes. A wooden skewer inserting into the batter should come out with moist crumbs clinging to it. Let cool on a wire rack to room temperature, then cut into bars and serve.

Makes 15 large or 30 small bars.

3 comments :

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

NICE creativity diary! And the blondies are super!

tanita✿davis said...

These sound like... little chunks of fruitcake with chocolate chips. YUMMY.

The Pet Auntie said...

Yum! I am also sending this to a friend who will love your blog as I do.