Friday, October 1, 2010

52 Cookies - Chapter 39

It's been an especially busy last two weeks.  I definitely needed a cookie recipe that I could throw together quickly.  Bar cookies to the rescue!  This recipe for Cinnamon Blondies is one I pulled from a cookbook called "Perfect One-Dish Dinners" by Pam Anderson.  Not to be confused with Pamela Anderson of "Baywatch" fame.  Something tells me that Pam Anderson has never published a cookbook.  Maybe another kind of book, but not a cookbook.  Back to the cookbook...this is a really nice one to have for reference if you are into entertaining a lot.  Pam outlines an entire menu, including wine/beer pairings for the food.  Another option that I appreciate is that she also gives you the option to cheat a little with some quicky/store-bought shortcuts if you are pressed for time.  Some cookbook authors are so rigid and expect everyone to have all day long and no children interrupting them in order to prepare a meal.  That's just not realistic.

I like that this cookie recipe gives variations on different add-ins so you can make the cookie your own, based on your preferences or to whom you are serving the cookies.  I also like that the recipe doubles easily.  I made the recipe as it was printed, yielding a small batch of 25 bars/squares.

Cinnamon Blondies
Here's What You'll Need:
1 1/2 cups cake flour*
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 1/2 sticks butter, melted
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
Optional Stir-Ins:
3/4 cup dried cranberries, dried cherries, raisins, or coarsely chopped dried apricots or dates
3/4 cup coarsely chopped pecan, walnuts, slivered almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts, or macadamia nuts
3/4 cup chocolate chips or chopped white, or bittersweet chocolate chunks

Here's What You Do:
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and be sure to have a rack located in the lowest position of your oven.  Prepare an 8 inch square metal baking pan by lining it with a sheet of foil.  Lightly spray the foil with vegetable oil.

Combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a small bowl and give it a whisk.  Next combine the melted and cooled butter with the brown sugar.  In a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs and vanilla.  Add the egg mixture to the butter mixture and mix well.  Slowly add the flour mixture and mix just until combined.  If you are going to include any of the optional add-ins, now is the time to do it.  Choose any two.  I chose to include dried cranberries and chocolate chips.  I went with just 1/2 cup of the cranberries, however, but I did use all of the recommended 3/4 cup chocolate chips.  Imagine that!  Fold in your optional ingredients and then pour into your prepared baking pan.  Bake on the lowest position in your oven for 35-40 minutes.  Let the cookies cool in the pan for about 5 minutes.  Remove using the foil overhang and place on a cooling rack until room temperature before cutting.  Of course, you know me, I couldn't wait for them to be room temperature and who doesn't love a warm, gooey, chocolaty cookie anyway?! 

These cookies received RAVE reviews from every - and I do mean EVERY - member of my family.  Picky Evan included!  They are very chewy and the tart cranberries coupled with the sweet chocolate and that hint of cinnamon.  Please make these bars.  When you cut them 5 by 5, they do make small little squares.  If you're feeling especially indulgent, cut them larger.  'Scuse me while I go pour myself a glass of milk.

*About the flour.  I realize that most people do not keep cake flour on-hand.  I am one of those "most people."  I just happened to have some from another recipe I made a while back.  You can use all-purpose flour to make these.  You might end up with a slightly less chewy-textured cookie.  Here's a little lesson on the different types of flour.  If you have the time to read it, it's quite interesting.  If you don't give a flying fig about the different types of flour and their purpose, then don't bother.  You'll be utterly bored reading about gluten and protein and the north vs. the south. 

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