Sam Gates got the idea for this cookbook when she was moving back to the UK and trying to reduce her mountain of kitchen paraphernalia. She found tins especially worth hanging on to, so the book utilises the six most popular shapes—square, round, traybake, roasting, loaf and muffin.
The recipes were tested by an ‘army’ of willing volunteers, using their favourite baking tins. They cooked in the tin shape stated in the recipe, but rather than worry about a particular size, they used whatever was in the kitchen cupboard.
120g salted butter, roughly chopped
230g light brown soft sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
180g plain flour
50g white chocolate, chopped
50g dark chocolate, chopped
40g pecans, chopped
First, make the sauce. Tip the sugar into a small saucepan and add 4 tablespoons of water, swirling it around to cover the sugar. Bring to the boil very slowly until the sugar has dissolved, and let it bubble for 8–10 minutes until it turns golden.
Take the pan off the heat and add the butter a cube at a time, whisking as you go. When all the butter has been absorbed, whisk in the crème fraîche and salt and leave to cool. Taste to see if it needs any more salt, then pour into a hot, sterilised jam jar and store in the fridge. If you want to serve the sauce warm, stir in a little milk or cream.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas 4. Grease and line a square baking tin with greaseproof paper or a greaseproof liner.
Remove from the heat and whisk in the eggs and vanilla. Add the flour and mix in thoroughly. Add all of the chocolate and half of the chopped pecans. Stir once, then pour the mixture into the tin and sprinkle with the remaining pecans. Bake for 25 minutes. Leave to cool in the tin before cutting into squares.
To serve, warm 3 tablespoons of salted caramel sauce and drizzle in diagonal lines over the top.
How it played out
As instructed, I made the sauce first. I followed the recipe and have one bit of advice. Don’t make the butter cubes (mentioned in the second paragraph of the method) too small. I did and found that the sauce was hardening too quickly, so I had to put it over heat to finish stirring in the butter. Otherwise I followed everything else. I used a 9-inch square tin.
Confession: I’ve made this twice now, using the original batch of caramel sauce. That part of the recipe makes a lot, so I reckon you could use it for three or four batches of blondies. Just refrigerate or freeze the leftover sauce and warm in the microwave (20 seconds) when you need it.
I am horrified by the huge amount of brown sugar—230 grams defies my imagination—but these blondies are sensational. Seriously, seriously divine.
Go on, make them. You know you want to. They’ll make a wonderful treat for Christmas.