This weekend was just absolutely non-stop, but that’s fine. I feel like I squeezed a lot in and was even able to get almost seven hours of sleep last night, so I’ll go ahead and check these past few days off in the ‘win’ column of life. On Friday night, seeing as how we were throwing a party the next day, Kramer and I took it easy. We got home from work, picked up a 6-pack, ordered some sushi, and watched a movie while I started prep work for the next day. Some friends ended up coming over later in the night, and we watched The Simpsons while playing Cards Against Humanity until way too late, but we were able to sleep in until 10 AM the next morning, which made everything okay in the world. Kramer and I walked over to the grocery store to pick up a few last minute items, then I got down to cooking. I made a ton of food, but unfortunately I was so busy cooking, getting dressed, and doing a last bit of cleaning that I didn’t get a chance to photograph any of it. Oh well – I will remake the things that I loved to share with you. I made beef satay with a curry dipping sauce, fava bean pesto/hummus (I don’t know what to call it, really – it had both chickpeas and Parmesan cheese in it, so you tell me), vegan focaccia bread with roasted tomatoes, deviled eggs with salmon roe on top (amazing, you guys), vegan strawberry tarts (delicious but half of them stuck to the pan, of course), chilled pasta salad with spicy sausage, vegan blood plum granita, and cranberry spoon bread with fresh corn. Yes, there were a couple of vegans at my party and I love trying to force myself to cook outside of my comfort zone, so I did what I could. Kramer put together a lovely charcuterie board, too, and of course, there were plenty of gin and tonics, old fashioneds, and martinis to go around.
Unsuccessfully trying to get Amanda and Matt’s cat to love me.
The most interesting part of the party, I think, though, was the fact that our friend Craig and his business partner Adrian came equipped with their shiny new camera that takes video in 360 degrees. Their new company, Total Cinema 360, is working on a variety of projects where being able to see a scene or an event in 360 degrees if beneficial. Think concerts, sports, and even action movies, or in this case, a party. The idea is that, as the user, you can watch a video of a party or food event and get the full experience. You can drop in on a conversation here, then scroll over to the counter to see what kind of food is available, then maybe listen to the chef (or home cook, in my case) to learn how it was made. I’m eager to see what the final product looked like, or if there was even any usable footage at all, because as compelling as the conversation in my apartment usually is, I was unsure how interested other people would be in it. Whatever the case, I know that it will look beautiful, clear, and best of all, new. Look forward to that someone in the near future.
Anyway, with all of the hubub this weekend, I wanted to share something simple with you. I love blondies, brownies, sheet cakes…anything that you can bake in one pan and cut apart later. Believe me, I love baking cookies and they are generally my go-to, but when I am in a hurry, there’s nothing better than mixing everything together in one bowl and tossing it in a big pan to bake. A friend at work is remodeling her kitchen, which means she is without a fridge or oven all summer, so she gifted me a ton of white chocolate that she said would melt in her cupboards if it didn’t get used. I hit the jackpot with white chocolate, let me tell you. I brought these blondies into the office so that my coworkers would be able to share in this white chocolate bounty, and believe me, they were gone in minutes. Between the juicy cranberries, sweet white chocolate, and crunchy bits of birthday cake crumbs that I added from my baking class at Momofuku, these were a giant hodgepodge of deliciousness. The cake crumbs are a small extra step, so while they can certainly be omitted, I think it’s worth it to spend an extra 30 minutes putting them together. They make the red in the berries pop and add a lovely texture to these chewy on the inside, crunchy on the outside blondies.
Post workout brunch and cocktails at Maison Premiere, beers at Crif Dog, my hot pastrami sandwich at Eisenberg’s, and baking with Little Boo Boo Bakery’s rosemary lemon marshmallows (recipe will be shared this week)!
I had frozen these cake crumbs that I made at a Momofuku Milk Bar baking class months ago, so I added them to the batter. They are completely optional, but obviously they make these extra delicious.
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1½ tablespoons light brown sugar
- ¾ cup cake flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons rainbow sprinkles
- ¼ cup grapeseed oil
- 1 tablespoon clear vanilla extract
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 4 large eggs
- ¾ teaspoon almond extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup chopped white chocolate
- 1 12-ounce bag cranberries (fresh or frozen - if frozen, don't thaw out first)
- 1½ cups birthday cake crumbs (recipe above)
- Heat the oven to 300 degrees F. Combine the sugars, flour, baking powder, salt, and sprinkles in the bowl of your mixer and whisk together. Add in the oil and vanilla and mix until pea-sized crumbs form (you can use your hands or a mixer for this).
- Spread the crumbs on a a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 20 minutes, but check on them and break them up a bit with a wooden spoon as they dry out in the oven. They should be just barely golden when finished, but still a bit moist - they will dry out as they cool. Allow to cool completely before adding to the blondies, or freeze for up to 3 months.
- Beat together your sugars and butter until well combined, at least 3 minutes. Add in your eggs, one at a time, followed by your almond extract. Whisk together your flour and baking soda, then gradually mix it into the sugar and butter mixture. Fold in your chopped white chocolate and cranberries, as well as the cake crumbs.
- Liberally butter a 10x14-inch baking pan (or two 9x9 square cake pans) and use a wooden spoon or your hands to spread the batter in it evenly. Bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until the blondies are set and the top is crackled and golden. Allow to cool completely before slicing and serving.