As I promised in my review of “Short and Sweet,”  here is the recipe I selected to break in the book, so to speak.  Most people would imagine I’d choose a bread, and indeed many were calling my name. But when I set my eyes on this recipe,  I became like a Jack Russel chasing a squirrel, oblivious to everything else.  How could I possibly resist?  In his opening remarks, Dan states that if Carmen Miranda had some ripe bananas laying around, she would bake these blondies.  The rich, white chocolate & banana cake hide little jewels inside, toffee bits made with Brazil nuts.   Cannot go more Brazilian than that, unless you throw in some coffee, but I suppose that would give the blondie too much of a tan.  😉

(published with permission from Dan Lepard)

to make the toffee:
75g superfine sugar
2 Tbs cold water
75g Brazil nuts, chopped

for the blondies:
100g unsalted butter
250g fine sugar
200g white chocolate
1 egg
2 ripe bananas, peeled (200-250g)
2 tsp vanilla extract
200g all purpose flour
¼ tsp baking powder

Lightly coat with oil a small baking sheet. Reserve. Place the fine sugar and the water inside a small pan. Turn the heat to medium, bring the water to a boil, and gently let it boil until the sugar turns a very dark golden color, but don’t let it burn.  Immediately drop the chopped nuts inside, and stir with a silicone spatula or another appropriate tool.  Carefully but quickly pour the mixture over the prepared baking sheet, spreading it around.  Let it cool completely, then chop the toffee into small bits. Reserve.

Resist the temptation to try the toffee. Do not touch it!

Line the base and sides of an 8 inch (20 cm)  square baking dish with parchment paper and heat the oven to 375 F. If using a non-stick pan you can skip the parchment paper, but coat the pan with a little butter to prevent sticky issues.

Heat the butter and white chocolate stirring gently in a pan over very low heat until melted (or use the microwave in short 10 second cycles of heating), then transfer to a medium size bowl. Add the remaining (250g) sugar and beat with the egg, bananas and vanilla until smooth. Sift the flour and baking powder, add to the batter together with the toffee bits, folding it all gently.

Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish and bake for about 35 minutes, until golden on top.   If you shake the pan slightly, the center portion should still be slightly wobbly, but mostly set. Cool it completely before slicing in small squares.


to print the recipe, click here

This was my first time making toffee, and quite likely the first time tasting some made from scratch.  I had no idea it would be so amazing!  I am not that fond of Brazil nuts,  so I tried a small bite of the toffee to decide whether to add it or skip it.  The stars in the sky had never been so bright!  It was unbelievably tasty: sweet, crunchy, nutty, enough to make me lose all my composure and disregard my own motto of “everything in moderation.”   Moderation and this toffee don’t match.

Back to the blondies. These  are certainly worthy of Carmen Miranda‘s approval, tropical bits of tender cake, with intense banana flavor, the creaminess of the white chocolate, and the sweet crunch of the toffee surprising the palate at every bite.

Pointers for success:  Check the weight of the banana(s) so that you don’t go over the 250g mark.  Do not use over-ripe bananas from the freezer, because they tend to release too much liquid and the cake may not set properly.

Here’s what Carmen would tell you:

Make a double batch of the toffee.  Sprinkle some over vanilla ice cream.
Close your eyes and take a spoonful.

Carmen Miranda (1909-1955)

ONE YEAR AGO: Show-stopping Spaghetti and Meatballs

TWO YEARS AGO: Magical Lamb Stew with Parsnips, Prunes, and Chickpeas

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