June 25, 2014

Rhubarb and White Chocolate Blondies


Recently, I celebrated my 27th birthday. I wrote about how 27 was the age that marked me as comfortably in my late 20s, and how I was okay with that because it meant that it was an age where it was okay for me to be a grown-up.

But it's funny, that whole being a grown-up thing. What does that actually mean? Because it still beats me. I logged onto Facebook recently and saw that one of my acquaintances had posted: "I just bought a house and was accepted into an MBA program. Does that make me a grown-up yet?" Below her post were supportive comments from others confirming that yes, both those things did and she was officially a grown-up.

That made me frown. I mean, I myself had bought a house recently. But within the past year, that house had literally kicked my butt. Sure, although it sounded like a very adult and grown-up thing to do, I'd found myself regressing to behaviors I'd had in high school and college, things like hiding in my room and crying when I had to deal with my ridiculous roommates. Not to mention the fact that the house is still filled with furniture I'd been using since I was a college freshman.

And okay, there are some things where I'll legitimately admit I'm responsible and grown-up. Like yeah, I pay my bills on time every month and don't go out and do shots the night before an 8AM meeting the following morning. But what about my aversion to marriage and babies? I read about blogs from girls my age getting excited about being pregnant and, although it's awesome and I'm happy for them, if I were in that same situation it would definitely not be one of mirth and instead be one of sheer, utter panic.

But maybe that's what adulthood is? Maybe it's not about certain steps or milestones you achieve, but more about knowing your limitations. Maybe being a grown-up isn't all encompassing, and you can be grown-up in many ways but not in others. Maybe it's just some magic combination of different factors that I haven't quite figured out yet.

Oh well. At least there are these rhubarb and white chocolate blondies. That's definitely a magic combination that I have figured out:


When I was in college, I used to love the white chocolate blondies that my school cafeteria served. A few months ago, I went back for an alumni event and bought myself a bar for old times' sake. I was surprised to find that I found the bar too rich and artificially sweet. I made a mental note to myself to try and recreate a less intense version more suited to my current tastes in the near-future — maybe I could try and temper its sweetness with a tart fruit or so?

So when rhubarb came into season, I figured its sour flavor would be a perfect match for the white chocolate blondies. I grabbed a pound of rhubarb and threw them onto my favorite blondie recipe, complete with a generous heap of white chocolate chips:


Like I said before — it's an absolutely magical combination, managing to perfectly combine the decadent white chocolate blondie flavor that I favored in my youth with the more sophisticated, tart rhubarb fruit that I prefer now. The rhubarb pairs perfectly with the blondies, tempering its rich brown butter and white chocolate flavor with a refreshing tartness. Be sure to bake up these bars before rhubarb season is over! This recipe's a keeper.


Some baker's notes:
  • If you've read the recipe and you're wondering why the recipe calls for you to "pre-bake" the rhubarb beforehand, it's because the first time I made these blondies, the bars didn't quite set. The rhubarb topping leaked out juice and threw off the recipe's dry to liquid ingredient ratio. To fix the problem, I ended up baking the rhubarb topping for just a few minutes, enough to allow the rhubarb to leak juice but still maintain its flavor and texture when topped and baked with the rest of the bars.

  • It's very hard to tell when these blondies are done. Follow the recipe's cooking time closely, an check on the blondies halfway through the recipe's suggested cooking time. If the rhubarb and white chocolate looks like it’s browning too fast, create an aluminum foil tent over the pan. Check the blondies again at the first suggested cooking time to make sure they are not overcooking, or you’ll get tough, chewy blondies and I’ll cry. It’s okay for the center of the blondies to look a little bit wet as long as the edges are set and golden brown. The blondies will continue cooking in the pan after you've pulled them out of the oven and continue to set as they cool.


Rhubarb and White Chocolate Blondies

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Ingredients

For the Roasted Rhubarb Topping:
(makes enough for one 8 by 8-inch square pan)
  • 1 pound rhubarb, trimmed and chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • zest of 1 lime

For the White Chocolate Blondies:
(makes enough for one 8 by 8-inch square pan)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips, divided into 1 cup and 1/2 cup portions

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Recipe

For the Roasted Rhubarb Topping:
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 (F).

  2. In a baking pan, toss together 1 pound chopped rhubarb, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, and the zest of 1 lime. Set aside for about 10 minutes until a little syrup starts to come out from the rhubarb.

  3. Once the rhubarb is a little syrupy, cover the baking pan with aluminum foil and roast in the preheated oven for 10 minutes until the sugar is melted. If the sugar isn’t melted, continue roasting for another 2 minutes or so, before removing the foil completely and roasting for another 2 minutes uncovered until the syrup is bubbling. Remove from oven and allow the rhubarb to cool to room temperature in its pan on a wire rack.

For the White Chocolate Blondies:
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 (F). Prepare an 8-inch square baking pan by lining with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides. Spray the parchment paper liberally with cooking spray.

  2. In a medium, heavy bottomed pan over medium-low heat, melt 1/2 cup unsalted butter until it starts to brown, foam slightly and emit a nutty aroma. Set aside and allow to cool slightly on a wire rack.

  3. After around 5 minutes, whisk together the butter, 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar and 1/3 cup granulated sugar until smooth. Whisk in 1 large egg and 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract until fully incorporated.

  4. Sprinkle 1 cup all-purpose flour, 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt over the liquid mixture (from the 3rd step). Use a rubber spatula to fold in the dry ingredients until just combined — at this point, it’s okay to undermix and have one flour streak or two. Fold in 1 cup white chocolate chips.

  5. Transfer the blondie batter to the prepared baking pan, using an offset spatula to create a smooth top. Spread the roasted rhubarb on top of the blondie batter evenly until most of the batter is covered, before scattering the leftover 1/2 cup white chocolate chips over the rhubarb.

  6. Transfer to the preheated oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown. If the rhubarb and white chocolate looks like it’s browning too fast, create an aluminum foil tent over the pan. DO NOT OVERCOOK, or you’ll get tough, chewy blondies and I’ll cry. It’s okay for the center of the blondies to look a little bit wet as long as the edges are set and golden brown. Once the blondies are finished, transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.
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12 comments:

  1. I've often wondered what makes a 'proper' grown up. Sure, I have a mortgage and a good job and bills and all the trappings of adulthood but I'm pretty sure I'm still actually just 16, just playing pretend. I sort of hope I never really grow up!

    Rhubarb + white chocolate is a perfect combination; these blondies look totally killer and I love that beautiful pink topping. Stunning!

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  2. Rhubarb and white chocolate? Um, amazing! I have never thought about combining the two, but now it will be all I think about for days!

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  3. Oooh these look fab! Love the unique flavour combo!

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  4. These just look divine, rhubarb is my new favourite thing, its the best! And on terms of growing up, I'm still trying to work that all out, but I think you're totally right and a great way to think about it, learning about our limitations and understanding you don't have to subscribe to milestones! I like that philosophy :)

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  5. first of all these blondies look amazing..and on being grown up, I feel consumed sometimes feel like I am so far being when it comes to all adulty things our society relate to like house, marriage, kids etc,. I am no where near to those things but i am 27, independent and have a pretty good career ahead. Oh ya on most of the time, I pay my bills on time and try to be an responsible adult. How do you handle with those emotions because I am happy for my friends and relatives but sometimes, it gets me :(

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  6. gosh, i STILL wonder what it's like to be a grown up :) sometimes i really have to think about how old i am and when i really do...man, it scares me. but at the same time life just keeps getting better and better! i think you're right when you talked about knowing your limitations...cause when you know yourself, i think that's as grown up as anyone ever gets.

    these pink and white beauties....get in my belly!!! :D

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  7. I hear you girl! 34, unmarried, no kids, no house and just starting out down a new career path. So sometimes I don't feel much like a "grown-up" either! :-)

    These blondies look FAB!

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  8. I'm turning 25 in just a couple of weeks and I'm still wondering how adult life should look like. Will we ever know? I doubt it.
    These blondies look fabulous! Rhubarb + white chocolate = YES!

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  9. I am tuning 26 in....gulp.... 9 days. I feel as though I am so far from being an adult. I have a toddler, sure, but I am living with my parents because student loan debt is killing me and I absolutely hate my day job (a lot of adults hate their day jobs though, right?) As I look at other people I know, I begin to realize that the majority of us are just stumbling through life wondering when we are going to turn into our parents.

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  10. When you can bake and photograph food like that, well who cares about being a grown up! I think we all have an age that we mentally get stuck at, not stuck in a bad sense, but my dad and one of my mentors both say they still feel 21 apart from the fact that they can't run/ski/jump quite as well (and can't cope with hangovers!). So glad I found your blog xx

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