Special Blondies with Brown Butter, Chocolate Chips, and Marcona Almonds

special blondies with brown butter, chocolate chips, and marcona almonds | pale yellowHere is a fact to blow your mind: 90% of my posts are written from my bed.  When I had roommates it made sense to work in my bedroom because that was my quiet space.  I could also be alone and get into my head for all these riveting words.  Now that I live alone I spend much less time in my bedroom and much more time in the living room.  My little slanted roof living room is my downfall however.  I just don’t have strong focus in there.  True story.

special blondies with brown butter, chocolate chips, and marcona almonds | pale yellowMind not blown?  Here is another fact: Whole Foods may possibly be the devil.  I  said it.  They built a beautiful Whole Foods in Brooklyn next to my favorite derelict house with a lovely parking lot and then I moved away.  Which is probably a good way to save my bank account.  However, I find myself stopping in Whole Foods when I’m in Park Slope and spend a ton of money.  And this is not for my regular groceries, this is my “extra” purchases.  You know, those special foods you just have to have.

special blondies with brown butter, chocolate chips, and marcona almonds | pale yellowWhat’s the point?  Marcona almonds are one of those special purchases.  Obviously I couldn’t just walk into Whole Foods to get almonds, I need nutritional yeast, some hot food for dinner, and another $30 worth of food.  Marcona almonds are totally worth it, totally!  I first tried marcona almonds at the Iberian Pig in Atlanta and was blown away by how creamy and flavorful these almonds wore, this is not your regular almond!

special blondies with brown butter, chocolate chips, and marcona almonds | pale yellowWhen I saw this recipe on Joy the Baker, I knew I wanted to make the blondies as an excuse to buy marcona almonds.  Marcona almonds require a specialty store, so Whole Foods it was; the story comes full circle.  The blondies are worth the extra trip and money; they are sweet, chewy, moist, nutty from the brown butter, and super special from the bittersweet chocolate chips and marcona almonds.  These aren’t the blondies you serve to your drunk friends; these are the blondies you sit and savor!

special blondies with brown butter, chocolate chips, and marcona almonds | pale yellowTwo Years Ago – Grasshopper Pie

Print the Recipe!

Special Blondies | Blondies with brown butter, chocolate chips
Adapted from Joy the Baker
Yield – 16 pieces

10 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 3/4 cups packed brown sugar
2 eggs + 1 egg yolk
1/4 cup cashew or almond butter (mine was unlabeled)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup marcona almonds
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
sprinkling of sea salt

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 ˚F and grease an 8×8” pan with shortening.  Cut parchment paper to fit in the pan and overlap the sides.  Grease the parchment paper as well.
  2. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan and cook until brown and nutty, whisking the whole time.  Let cool for about 5 minutes before proceeding.
  3. Whisk in the brown sugar and then the eggs one at a time.  Add the cashew butter, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, and baking powder, whisk to combine.
  4. Add the flour, three-fourth’s of the almonds and three-fourth’s of the chocolate chips.  Mix with a wooden spoon until just combined.  Pour into the prepared pan and spread evenly.
  5. Place the remaining almonds and chocolate chips neatly on top.  Sprinkle with sea salt.  Bake for 30-35 minutes or until just browned and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  6. Let cool on a wire rack and then cut into pieces.special blondies with brown butter, chocolate chips, and marcona almonds | pale yellow
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Root Beer Float Cupcakes

Root Beer Float Cupcakes | Pale YellowYou what’s super condescending?  When you’re watching Netflix and after three episodes it asks you if you’re still watching.  Obviously, I’m still watching!  If I wasn’t walking I would walk away or press pause.  Stop judging me Netflix!

Root Beer Float Cupcakes | Pale YellowYou know what’s more annoying than Netflix being condescending?  The rain.  Itt’s been raining for the past 24 hours, and there is really nothing better to do than watch TV.  April showers are certainly roaring along, at least it’s not snowing here like in Michigan…

Root Beer Float Cupcakes | Pale YellowYou know what is not annoying?  A Song of Ice and Fire!  ** Spoilers ** I’m finally reading book 5; Joffrey is dead, Jon Snow, Bran, & Tyrion are back in the picture, and I’m finally coming to terms with the fact that everyone is going to die.  My only wish is that Arya and Sansa would get their names back.

Root Beer Float Cupcakes | Pale YellowAnyway, these cupcakes were eaten on a sunny, non-condescending day, a day when Ruth and Chelsea came to visit.  We were able to do my favorite thing and go for a little walk on the beach. There was also a lot of eating.

Root Beer Float Cupcakes | Pale YellowChelsea’s birthday was a weeks prior, so it was completely appropriate to celebrate with cupcakes of her choosing.  Root beer float cupcakes have been on my Pinterest board for awhile, so I was excited to make them.  All I needed was a little root beer extract.  I’m thrilled by the way the frosting came out.  The cupcakes are dark like root beer, the root beer flavored-frosting is on the outside to look like foam, and the plain frosting is in the middle to look like whipped cream.  The cupcakes really taste like a root beer float; all creamy, vanilla-y, and root beer-y.  These are a great way to turn your favorite beverage into dessert!

Root Beer Float Cupcakes | Pale YellowTwo Years Ago – Single Girl Chocolate Cake

Print the Recipe!

Root Beer Float Cupcakes
Adapted from Dine and Dash
Frosting from Sweetapolita
Yield – 12 cupcakes

Root Beer Cupcakes
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
1 tablespoon root beer extract
splash of vanilla
1 1/4 cups flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons coconut milk

Vanilla & Root Beer Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting
5 egg whites
1 1/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 tablespoon root beer extract

  1. Cupcakes – Preheat to the oven to 350 ˚F and line a cupcake tin with 12 liners.  Set aside.
  2. Beat the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment until smooth.  Beat in the sugars for 2-3 minutes until pale yellow.  Add the eggs one at a time and beat in the extracts and applesauce.  Scrape down the bowl.
  3. Whisk together the flour, powder, and salt in a small bowl.  Turn the mixer to the lowest setting and add the flour in 3 batches with milk in between each addition of flour.  Mix until just combined.
  4. Use a standard ice cream scoop to portion the batter into each cupcake liner, they should be about half full.
  5. Bake the cupcakes for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Let cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.
  6. Frosting – Add the egg whites and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer and place the bowl in a small pot of simmering water.  Whisk the sugars and egg whites until they are no longer gritty to the touch.  Add a pinch of salt.
  7. Remove the bowl from the pot and place in the stand mixer with the whisk attachment.  Beat for about 10 minutes until the meringue is stiff and shiny and the bowl is cool to the touch.
  8. Beat in the butter 1 tablespoon at a time, just keep beating until the mixture becomes completely creamy.
  9. Beat in the vanilla.  Add half the frosting to a piping bag with a large star tip, set aside.
  10. Beat the root beer extract into the remaining frosting.  Add to a piping bag with a round tip.
  11. Pipe the root beer frosting around the outside of the cupcake.  Pipe the vanilla frosting in the center.
  12. Cut paper straws in half and add to each cupcake.Root Beer Float Cupcakes | Pale Yellow


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Onion Jam Pizza (Vegan)

onion jam pizza | pale yellowThe past few weekends have been relatively low key and I’ve been enjoying the quiet and alone time.  The past summer, fall, and winter have been quite busy with a new job, working most Saturdays, a big move, and the change from roommates to single occupancy status.  I’ve needed the quiet and the break.

onion jam pizza | pale yellowThis weekend was not so quiet and now that Monday is quickly approaching I feel as though I need another day to get all my stuff done.  However, every event was worth this 10:30 writing session.  And yes, 10:30 is a late for me.  I was able to eat my last fish and chips of the Lenten  season, play with a precocious almost 2-year old, and watch Joffrey get his dues with friends.

onion jam pizza | pale yellowI even started grad school.  Again.  I started this blog because I had so much time after I finished graduate school the last time.  We’ll see how much I’m able to post working full time and in school part time.  I finally got back up to three food posts a week!  The reality of starting school has not sunk in; I love being a student, but I don’t love the amount time required.

onion jam pizza | pale yellowThis pizza is a riff off Amy’s diary-free pizza.  I fell in love with the pizza last year when I went vegan for a month.  It’s amazing how much flavor pizza can have without cheese!  I definitely improved the flavor with more onion jam and more veggies.  The pizza is flavorful, hardy, and you won’t even miss the cheese.  While I do admit it’s a bit of work to babysit the onion jam as it cooks and precook the veggies, everything could be done before hand.  This is the type of food that makes vegan eating a joy!onion jam pizza | pale yellowPrint the Recipe!

Onion Jam Pizza (Vegan)
Crust adapted from Fleischmann’s Yeast
Inspired by Amy’s
Yield – 2-3 servings

Onion Jam
3 onions
olive oil
salt + pepper
1-2 cups vegetable stock

Pizza Crust
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 envelope Fleischmann’s Pizza Yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup warm water
3 tablespoons oil
1 cup all purpose flour

1/4 cup green pepper
1/4 cup red pepper
1 garlic clove
4 artichoke hearts, diced
8 ounce can mushroom slices
nutritional yeast

  1. Onion Jam – Start the day before.  Slice the onions into thin half moons.  Saute over low heat for about an hour in olive oil until completely caramelized.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  As the onions get dry, add splashes of vegetables stock.  It’s important to let the onions really caramelize without burning.
  2. Move to a bowl and refrigerate to cool completely before using for the pizza.
  3. Toppings – Finely dice the peppers.  Coat the bottom of a saucepan with olive oil and saute the peppers.  Add the garlic, finely diced, and salt and pepper.  Stir and cook until the vegetables are soft.  Let cool completely.
  4. Pizza Crust - Preheat the oven to 425 ˚F.  In a large bowl whisk together the whole wheat flour, yeast, sugar, and salt.  Stirl in the water and oil, mix until combined.
  5. Add the remaining flour bit by bit until the dough forms a ball.  Turn out on a well floured surface.
  6. Knead the dough until it forms a smooth ball, about 5 minutes.  Let the dough rest for 20 minutes.
  7. Flatten the dough into a circle.
  8. Assembly – Drizzle olive oil over the dough and spread evenly.  Spread onion jam over the top.  I used about three-fourth’s of the jam.  Sprinkle the peppers, artichoke hearts, and mushrooms over the top.
  9. Sprinkle oregano and nutritional yeast over the pizza.
  10. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the dough is cooked through.onion jam pizza | pale yellow

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What I Learned This Week #27

Will I ever get sick on the beach?

Will I ever get sick on the beach?

What I Learned This Week:

  • Fri. 4/4 – I’m a person of weak conviction and am about to start wearing leggings as pants…
  • Sat. 4/5 – What you put out into this world gets returned to you.
  • Sun. 4/6 - Homemade coconut ice cream is way better than the store bought version.
  • Mon. 4/7 - If I hustle, I can make it from The Space Center to the ferry in 25 minutes.  Huffing and puffing, yes, but at least I made it!
  • Tues. 4/8 – Teaching upperclassmen is where it’s at; they are real people.
  • Wed. 4/9 – Where the almost nude beach is in Rockaway!
  • Thurs. 4/10 – The reality that I’m about to start another graduate program has not sunk in yet.
  • Fri. 4/11 - The thalamus part of your brain appears to have equal activity across both hemispheres when looked at under a brain scan.  That is, unless you are person who prays/meditates to a loving God or god-like being.  This act brings a sense of faith, security, and love, thereby enlarging one side of your thalamus.  There is truth and physical change by reaching a more peaceful state.

Around the Internets:

  • Maybe I’ll like popsicles this year?
  • I need to practice more.   I get bored and feel like I’m in a rut.
  • Aquinas College in the news for an amazing prank?  Why yes!  Love my alma mater, perhaps I should donate more…
  • I’m getting more and more hippy, these sound delicious in a salad.
Mason jar sippy cups, I love a good straw!

Mason jar sippy cups, I love a good straw!

One Year Ago – Mississippi Mocha Mud Brownies

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Vanilla Pudding Mix

Vanilla Pudding Mix | Pale YellowSecond pudding this week, I told you I was serious about this pudding situation.  This one is almost dairy free; the pudding mix is made with nonfat dry milk powder, but the actual pudding shown in the pictures is made with unsweetened almond milk.  I wasn’t sure how almond milk would react when made into pudding, but it was a success!

Vanilla Pudding Mix | Pale YellowI really wanted to make my own pudding mix because pudding mixes are ingredients in many a cookie and cake recipe and I was tired of buying those little boxes.  Once you start going box free, it becomes this snowball effect; can’t stop, won’t stop.  Instant pudding was holding me back.

Vanilla Pudding Mix | Pale YellowThis pudding however, is not instant; it’s some cook-and-serve action.  I don’t mind though, I find it super relaxing to stir milk and powder on the stove.  Seriously.  The mix takes about two minutes to measure in a jar and then it bit of shaking.  The pudding is there now, ready for me to use whenever a pudding craving comes my way.  And clearly I’ve been having many a pudding cravings.

Vanilla Pudding Mix | Pale YellowThe pudding had a gelatinous texture, but I really enjoyed the feeling in my mouth.  I made a bold choice and divided the pudding into only two servings; my rational was the low caloric value of almond milk, 30-40 calories a serving, so therefore each serving is a healthy cup of almond milk and few tablespoons of sugar.  See, I really can justify any indulgence!  I’m glad I have the pudding mix ready to go because if Waldbaums continues to keep almond milk on sale, there are going to be many batches of vanilla-almond puddling in my future!

Vanilla Pudding Mix | Pale YellowTwo Years Ago – Bacon Cupcakes

Print the Recipe!

Instant Pudding Mix
Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker
Yield – 5 batches of pudding (20 servings)

Instant Pudding Mix
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup cornstarch
3/4 cup nonfat dry milk powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 vanilla beans

  1. Add the sugar, cornstarch, milk powder, and salt to a 1-quart mason jar.
  2. Split the vanilla beans and scrape about the seeds.  Add the seeds and vanilla bean bod to the jar.
  3. Shake well to combine.  Store until you’re ready to make pudding!

Pudding Time
2 cups almond milk (or regular milk)
1/2 cup vanilla pudding mix

  1. Add the milk and pudding mix to a medium saucepan.  Stir and cook over medium heat until the mixture comes to a boil.  Reduce the heat and let simmer until it thickens.  Whisk the entire time.
  2. Serve hot or place in small bowls and cover with plastic wrap directly on top and refrigerate for several hours before for serving.Vanilla Pudding Mix | Pale Yellow


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Vegan Chocolate Cake

vegan chocolate cake | pale yellowYesterday I discovered a new part of the beach!  Usually I walk downtown because there are more points of interest and I like walking to the jetties, but once and awhile I walk uptown on the beach.  Uptown is just houses, beautiful houses, but just houses.  I walked down to where the public city beach ends and the park begins, it was a beautiful sight.

vegan chocolate cake | pale yellowNow that I’ve reached the end of the beach I want to  climb the fence and keep walking.  It’s time to break all the rules!  We’ll see what happens, if I stop posting for a few days it’s probably because I got arrested.  No worries.

vegan chocolate cake | pale yellowDo you ever wake up and decide you’re going to make yourself a cake?  I had been thinking about layer cakes for a week, I was ready for this to happen.  It happens some days.  At least this cake is vegan and borderline healthy.  Vegan is healthy, right?  I’m going to pretend that it is; that’s just my style.

vegan chocolate cake | pale yellowDespite being vegan, this cake doesn’t taste vegan.  And there aren’t any weird vegan tricks.  Just a simple cake, with simple ingredients, and a little coconut whipped cream.  The cake is super moist and tender and squishy.  The chocolate is rich and flavorful.  A little whipped cream and fresh strawberries pair delightfully.  Spring time in a cake!  Plus, when you make yourself a cake you have lots of leftovers, perfect for freezing.  Now when I crave cake, I have a piece ready that just needs to be thawed!

vegan chocolate cake | pale yellowOne Year Ago – Graham Crackers
Two Years Ago – Cake Decorating 2 – Final Cake

Print the Recipe!

Vegan Chocolate Cake
Adapted from Shutterbean
Yield – 8 servings

Chocolate Cake
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons dark cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 cup cold water

1 quart strawberries, cut into thick slices
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 cans coconut milk, refrigerated
1 tablespoon sugar
splash of vanilla

  1. Cake – Preheat the oven to 350 ˚F and grease the bottoms and sides of a 8” and 6” round pan.  Cut circles of parchment paper and place on the bottom of each pan.  Grease the paper and then lightly dust each pan with cocoa powder.  Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, soda, and salt.  Make a well in the middle of the dry mixture.
  3. Stir together the oil, vanilla, vinegar, and water in a measure cup.  Pour into the well in the dry ingredients and whisk until combined.
  4. Divide the batter between the two pans, more in the larger pan, and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  5. Let cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes and then remove the cakes from the pan.  Let the cakes cool completely on the wire rack.
  6. Topping – Slice the strawberries and add to a bowl, toss with sugar and vinegar.  Let sit in the fridge while the cakes cool.
  7. Carefully separate the solid cream from the clear liquid in the canned coconut milk.  Add the coconut cream to the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment.  Add the sugar and vanilla.  Beat until creamy and fluffy.
  8. Assembly – Level the cakes (eat the scraps) and place the bottom layer on a cake stand.  Smear a generous layer of whipped cream.  Arrange two-thirds of the strawberries on the whipped cream.
  9. Place the smaller layer in the middle and spread the remaining whipped cream on top.  Arrange the rest of the strawberries.
  10. Store in the refrigerator.vegan chocolate cake | pale yellow


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Pistachio Pudding (Dairy Free)

Pistachio Pudding (Dairy Free) | Pale YellowDuring the past few weeks I’ve been exhibiting control and excersing discipline, all that went out the window this weekend.  It seems all of my control is balanced with periods of excess.  I haven’t baked in a week, so I spent this weekend baking all the things.  Seriously, I’ve done dishes like 8 times in two days.

Pistachio Pudding (Dairy Free) | Pale YellowIn my effort to gain control I’ve been going dairy free, or at least trying.  If you discount the dairy in butter and the trace amounts of whey product in everything, then I’m dairy free!  Seriously, it was easier to be vegan than just diary free.

Pistachio Pudding (Dairy Free) | Pale YellowThis pudding was one of my first forays into dairy free baking baking/cooking.  Coconut milk is my saving grace.  It’s creaminess is a perfect substitute for heavy cream.  I love coconut milk in my coffee and it’s just so much richer and more flavorful than almond milk.  Almond milk is good in smoothies and cereal, but it’s not as drinkable as coconut milk.  Plus, when you buy the good, canned, full fat coconut milk (I’m looking at you Thai Kitchen Organic) you get thick, whippable, coconut cream.  Vegan heaven.

Pistachio Pudding (Dairy Free) | Pale YellowThis recipe uses two cans of coconut milk, one in the pudding and another whipped for topping.  Pistachio pudding is one of my favorite puddings and this recipe doesn’t disappoint.  The pudding is super creamy and smooth on the tongue; the pistachio flavor is strongly present and there is just a hint of coconut.  I love that this is a small batch recipe, perfectly for a girl living alone.  It’s time to incorporate some pudding in your life!  More to come on Friday…Pistachio Pudding (Dairy Free) | Pale Yellow

Print the Recipe!

Pistachio Pudding {Dairy-free}
Adapted from Chocolate Moosey
Yield – 2-3 servings

Pistachio Pudding
1/4 cup salted, shelled pistachios
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup full fat coconut milk
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon cornstarch
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Coconut Whipped Cream
1 can full fat coconut milk, refrigerated
2 teaspoons sugar
splash of vanilla
extra pistachios for garnish
toasted coconut flakes for garnish

  1. Pudding – Grind the pistachios in a blender (I used a Magic Bullet) until finely ground.  Grind in 2 tablespoons of the sugar.
  2. Shake the can of coconut milk to incorporate the liquid and solids.  Measure 1 cup of coconut milk and add to a small saucepan.  Add in the pistachio mixture and cook until boiling.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk together the remaining sugar, egg yolk, cornstarch, and salt in a small bowl.  Add a little of the hot milk mixture into the egg to temper.
  4. Pour everything back into the pot and heat while whisking until the pudding is thick.  Turn off the burner and stir in the vanilla.
  5. Portion the pudding into bowls and cover with plastic wrap directly on top.  Refrigerate for several hours.
  6. Coconut Whipped Cream - Carefully scoop the solid part of the coconut milk, leave the clear-ish liquid behind, and add the solid part to the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment.  Add in the sugar and vanilla; beat until smooth and creamy.
  7. Pipe a dollop of whipped cream on each bowl of pudding and garnish with toasted coconut and extra pistachios.Pistachio Pudding (Dairy Free) | Pale Yellow

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