In my garden, roses bloom– their petals scattered by lashing winds, their buds rotted by ceaseless rain. It’s the English monsoon season.
The last forecast I saw said it will be slightly warmer and brighter this weekend, for which I suppose we should be grateful, and then return to chilly rain next week.
Earlier this week, I had friends over. I gave them duvets to huddle in, as the wind blatted rain against the windows, but thought I ought to do something more to cheer them up and remind them that, hey, it’s summer! So I cooked blondies.
As you probably know, blondies are brownies, only with white chocolate. If you’d like to make some, gather the following ingredients:
250g white chocolate
200g unsalted butter, diced
3 large eggs
150g caster sugar
Half teaspoon vanilla extract
200g plain flour
Half teaspoon baking powder
150g fresh raspberries
Makes about nine.
Break up 150g of the white chocolate and place in a heat-proof bowl with the 200g of butter.
You almost certainly know the drill here – have a saucepan of boiling, simmering water, and place the bowl in the saucepan, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Then set a timer for 6 minutes and just leave it to melt, while you get on with other things.
Which means breaking the three eggs into a bowl, and whisking them madly until they froth. Easy if you have an electric whisk. You’re going to have a tired arm if you don’t.
Add the sugar and vanilla extract to the eggs and whisk again, until the mixture thickens but is full of air.
The timer should have rung by now. Give the melted chocolate and butter a quick stir, and take off the heat to cool a little. (If it’s too hot it will cook the eggs when added to them.)
Give the egg-sugar mix another whisk. When the chocolate has cooled, add it to the eggs and sugar, and whisk again. (It being white chocolate, I found it much less fluid than melted chocolate and quite difficult to get out of the bowl.)
Now sieve the flour and baking powder over the mixture. Carefully fold in.
Take another 100g of white chocolate, and coarsely chop. Fold into the mix. (If you chop coarsely, the blondies have delicious lumps of white chocolate hidden in them.)
Pour into a well-greased baking dish. If you use a fairly deep dish, then you will have fudgy, gooey-centred blondies. Use a shallower one, and they are crisper and more biscuit like – whichever you prefer.
Take the 150g of fresh raspberries and scatter over the top of the mixture.
Now to cook… I found this recipe on a website, and saw that many people had complained about the cooking instructions being wrong – and they were right. The instructions were to bake for 25 minutes at 180 degrees C, 350 F, or Gas Mark 4.
But after 25 minutes, the cake was nowhere near cooked – was almost still liquid. Even after 40m, it wasn’t cooked in the centre, and was starting to brown too much around the edges. I covered it with foil and left it in for another ten minutes – so that’s 50m in all – and then it was about right, but was looking overdone around the edges.
So, if I made these again, I would try 35m at Gas Mark 5, and then check, and perhaps cover with foil longer was needed.
However, despite the difficulty over the cooking-time, the finished blondies were delicious: moist, sweet and slightly fudgy in the centre, with the taste of white chocolate and the tang of raspberry. Even the slightly too brown edges weren’t a disaster, as one guest asked for those parts, liking the crunchiness (I don’t think she was merely being polite.)
We ate the blondies cold, but I imagine they’d be even better warm, with the chocolate lumps slightly gooey.
As I bought the chocolate in 300g blocks, I had 50g left over. I melted it and dabbled it all over the finished cake, before I cut it into squares. As I hadn’t added any butter to soften it, the white chocolate set hard on the blondies’ tops, like very delicious concrete, which added a certain bite, about which no one complained.