This weekend it is my eldest brother Alex’s birthday. He has reached the grand old age of 38, nearing 40 at a rapid pace. However, it must be said, he is probably in the best shape of his life having completed his first ironman in Barcelona a month ago.
I think I might have mentioned before that we’ve got a long standing tradition in our family that every birthday we always head back to our parents for the weekend to enjoy a Saturday night dinner (kids tucked up in bed) followed by Sunday lunch (with the mayhem of the all the nieces and nephews being there). This means that seven times a year, without fail we all meet up and generally spend 48 hours bantering each other over the wonderful food and delightful wine served up by my parents.
Other than Christmas Eve (where mum dusts off her apron to cook her famous lasagne) dad is the cook in the kitchen. He’s as bad as me for leafing through recipe books finding something new to try out on the family. He also has the added challenge that two members of the family are (fish-eating) veggies, so he always has to cook two different main courses to satisfy everyone. Not only that, he is feeding 14 of us!
I probably should point out that mum doesn’t totally put her feet up (she wouldn’t forgive me if I didn’t tell the full story). She always takes up the reins on the dessert and pulls out a showstopper (as Mel and Sue might say). Whether it’s meringues smothered in freshly whipped cream and mounds of fruit or a crunchy delicious apple crumble, there are always empty bowls scraped clean and hopeful glances for a second helping.
I have been spending a bit of time looking through blondie recipes because my sister was thinking about baking some, mainly because she loved the name being a blonde herself.
Our family is clearly split between two hair colours; my sister and I along with my dad are definite blondes…although dad now has a bit less hair than he used to, but there is a lot of photo evidence showing Dad in his twenties with long blonde golden locks! Both my brothers and my Mum are definite gingers although varying on the ginger scale.
Back to the blondies…I was trying to find some recipes that might be a little different to the usual white chocolate blondies you often see. I came across various Autumn spiced blondie recipes and loved the look of blondies made with pumpkin because really, they weren’t blonde at all! They were ginger! I liked that the blondies would take on the colour of the pumpkin producing something that looked a little bit quirky but was also seasonal.
I decided to bake a batch of ‘ginger-looking’ blondies to take with me to my parents as I thought it would be the perfect treat for everyone to enjoy over Alex’s birthday weekend whilst watching England batter the Aussies in the rugby. (I hope I don’t regret saying that when typing this on the Friday evening before the game!)
The blondies were more similar in texture to a Hummingbird Brownie recipe as they were more dense and chewy rather than fudgy. I loved all the spices which definitely served up a different dimension complementing the sweet pumpkin. The use of dark brown sugar gives a tasty syrup like flavour and with the chunks of creamy white chocolate and the crunchy pecans it was hard not to keep reaching for another slice.
Definitely a nice change to the usual rich chocolate brownies you always see on offer.
Happy Birthday Alex!
Autumn Spiced Pumpkin ‘Ginger’ Blondies
(Makes 24 bars or 12 larger slabs!)
320g all-purpose flour
2 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
¾ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground all spice
½ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp salt
225g unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
220g dark brown sugar
100g granulate sugar
1 large egg
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 cups of pumpkin puree
200g white chocolate roughly chopped
A 33 x 23 x 5cm brownie tin, lined with greaseproof paper
To make the pumkin puree, see my pumpkin oat bars :
Once you have the puree nice and smooth, put it through a sieve just to drain off the excess water.
To make the ‘ginger’ Blondies:
Preheat the oven to 170°C
In a bowl mix together the flour, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg and salt.
In a large bowl whisk together the melted butter, the dark brown sugar and the granulated sugar.
Add the egg and vanilla to the large bowl and whisk thoroughly followed by the pumpkin puree.
Next add the flour mixture to your wet ingredients and fold until it is well combined.
Finally fold through your white chocolate and pecans so they are well distributed through the batter.
Pour the batter into the prepared brownie tin and smooth it into an even layer.
Bake for about 35 – 40 minutes, or until the skewer comes out clean.
Set the pan to cool completely on a wire rack before removing the Blondies from the tin and cutting into squares or bars.
Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days or devour in an afternoon in front of the rugby with a cup of coffee/tea/beer.