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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Cranberry, Pistachio, and Ginger Blondie Cake

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Growing up, I have very vivid memories of Saturdays spent cleaning the house. This wasn't every Saturday, as our busy schedules took over and we found ourselves running to and from the various sporting events and activities that can fill up four children's lives. But there were days when my parents would announce that we were all cleaning, whether we liked it or not. My sister Julia was the most stubborn of us, and she'd do anything possible to get out of cleaning. In fact, there were many occasions when chores were announced and Julia would suddenly go missing. I'm still not sure where she used to disappear to, but it used to make me so mad!

Other times, she wasn't lucky enough to vanish in time and she'd be given a task. It was then that she brought other strategies into play. Her most popular was to bribe our other sister, Renatta, to do Julia's chores. Renatta, being 6 years younger than Julia, didn't know any better than to fall for the ploy. To Renatta, it made sense to clean Julia's entire room (which was always the messiest!) in exchange for three stale gummy worms. I'm fairly certain Julia used these tactics for years. The stakes may have raised slightly over the years (FIVE gummy worms, woo!), but the end result was always the same. Julia once again escaped cleaning.

A random story, perhaps, but these were the memories that came to mind as I prepared this blondie cake. I was midway through preparing the cake when I realized that my pistachios were still shelled and that shelling enough to equal 3/4 cup was going to be a rather tedious effort. Immediately, I wished Renatta was there so I could attempt Julia's strategy and bribe her to shell some pistachios. (Maybe this time in exchange for those oreo truffles she loves?!) Thankfully, Ryan came to the rescue and shelled most of them for me. I didn't even have to bribe him!...though he did get to enjoy this lovely blondie cake.

Despite cooking this cake in a too-hot oven (MUST read more carefully!), we still loved this. Half of it was gone in twelve hours, if that's any indication. Pistachio, cranberry, and candied ginger are a combination I had never tried before, but I've decided it's quite brilliant. This is a good dessert (or breakfast, if you're us!) for someone who prefers a more subtle sweetness. I think it would pair nicely with some coffee or tea.

One Year Ago: Ten Minute Tomato Soup

Cranberry, Pistachio, and Ginger Blondie Cake
from Blue-Eyed Bakers (one of my favorite baking blogs!!)

9 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
-1 2/3 cups flour
-1 tsp baking powder
-3/4 tsp salt
-1 cup light brown sugar, packed
-2 large eggs
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-3/4 cup dried cranberries
-3/4 cup shelled pistachios
-1/4 cup candied ginger, coarsely chopped

1. Preheat oven to 325F. Generously spray or butter a 9-inch springform pan.
2. In a small bowl, mix flour, baking powder, and salt.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium until light and fluffy (approximately 3 minutes). Add eggs and vanilla, mixing until combined.
4. With speed on low, add in flour mixture, just until incorporated. Stir in cranberries, pistachios, and candied ginger.
5. Pour batter into springform pan, spreading evenly with a spatula. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes before removing from springform.