Saturday, January 16, 2010

Sweets for the new year

Over the holidays, I stopped in New York to see friends and hosted a party that was an annual tradition my former roommates and I liked to call Sugarfest.  When I lived in New York, we would invite friends over in December, before everyone left town for their families, and make a variety of cookies, cakes and other snacks.  One roommate liked to make her grandmother's pink cake, flavored and colored with maraschino cherries and their juice! Very few people were brave enough to try it, but we always had it.  Like most holiday traditions, our sugar fest was about memories and personal connections to food.  We made lots of familiar treats: peanut butter hershey kiss cookies, seven layer bars, gingerbread men, and all sorts of sugar cookie recipes.

This year, we had a sugar fest in January on my return to New York, and there were new babies, new partners, old friends, and plenty of sweets!  I made the hershey kiss cookies and these delicious pear ginger blondies that I adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe.  They are the third plate back on the right.  I also tried to make a chocolate caramel shortbread cookie, but the caramel didn't set, and I will have to try again before I post a recipe.  It was a delicious mistake, however I am also going to try to make a egg-free, lactose free version of these blondies for the betrothed.  Stay tuned!

Pear, Pistachio and Ginger Blondies 
Makes 25 blondie bites
Takes 1 hour

9 tablespoons (1 1/8 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pan
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon Pear Eau-de-Vie (Martha called for vanilla, and I didn't have it, but I did have F.E. Trimbach & Ribeauville Poire William!)
1 cup brunoised pear (Martha called for dried pears, but I didn't have them, and pears are still in season, so I went with fresh bartletts, about 1.  Bruinoise is just a fancy word for chopped into small cubes)
3/4 cup shelled pistachios, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup coarsely chopped candied ginger

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Butter a 9-inch square pan.  Line with parchment paper, allowing 2 inches to hang over sides.  Butter parchment.

Mix together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.  Mix in pears, ginger and nuts so that they are just coated.

In a separate bowl, beat together butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add eggs and poire william (or whatever you are using), and mix until combined.  Mix in flour-fruit-nut mixture until combined.

Pour batter into your pan and bake in the center of the oven for 50 minutes.  It's done when a fork inserted into the middle of the pan comes out clean.  Let cool for about 15 minutes.  Lift the blondies out of the pan onto a cutting board and let cool completely.  Cut into bite-size squares.

These blondies were so ginger-y and delicious!  They didn't have a lot of pear flavor, but some tasters were certain they contained cardamom.  There was something intoxicating and fragrant about them.


  1. Yum!! That sounds sooo fun. I admit I want the pink cake recipe. Eat it with champagne!

  2. Hi Vanessa! The maraschino pink cake was not that good, I have to say. But my mother used to make a pink cake that was Duncan Hines Strawberry cake soaked in strawberry jello and topped with a cool-whip/strawberry jello frosting and strawberries. It was so good! But now I don't eat Jell-o (the gelatin), so maybe this summer we can have some experimental pink cake recipe testing! with champagne, obvi.

    here is a maraschino pink cake recipe i found on the web:

  3. Those pear bars were really good. I ate the last leftover one yesterday!

    We still have some chocolate cake leftover -- and a lot of the brittle... We have been cementing friendships by doling out leftover to lucky people! I wish there had been room in your bag to take some more home for your betrothed!!

    Radhika, you mean third plate back on the left in the photo!!

    xo, g.

  4. Yum! I might try making those. They were really good!

    My pictures look so nice on your blog!


  5. Is there really bacon in those cookies?? (top picture) I've always said that goat cheese and/or bacon make any recipe better. I think that bacon cookies really 'calls me out' on that theory. :-)