The Taste of the South Magazine recently published a beautiful recipe for Brown Butter and Pecan Blondies – http://www.tasteofthesouthmagazine.com/brown-butter-pecan-blondies/ – made in these amazing mini Lodge Cast Iron pans. My son challenged me to come up with my take on a Gluten Free version and here it is – Gluten Free White Chocolate Chip and Pecan Blondies with Maple Caramel.
First of all – I’m in love with Lodge Cast Iron. And, I was thrilled to find these 3.5″ pans. They are the perfect size for an individual dessert.
And today’s cast iron is so easy. Literally wash and dry and coat with oil. I’ve had two of the 10″” Lodge Cast Iron skillets for years. And, it took something to season those pans back then. Completely worth it though since I’m still using them. And, check out this recipe for Gluten Free Dutch Baby Pancakes which works perfectly in cast iron.
I’m also into blondies because I’m a huge fan of chocolate chip cookie dough. And, that’s what this blondie recipe reminds me of. But, although I love dark chocolate and it’s beautiful melty, silky smoothness, I just am not that big a fan of dark chocolate chips for this application. In fact, I always made chocolate ‘chipless’ cookies. Regular chocolate chips are just too big for me. These are the ones you buy in the grocery store. They are also called4,000 count chocolate chips, which means there are 4,000 chips in a pound of chocolate chips.
But, oh how I love white chocolate. I was the kid at Easter that traded my dark chocolate bunny with anyone that had a white chocolate one. So, my perfect complement here is mini white chocolate chips. I also think “Bits of Brickle” would have been amazing as well.
Is there a difference in brown sugars? You betcha…
The other important ingredient here is brown sugar. For years, I used the leading brand of brown sugar and was pretty happy about it. That is, until I tried “organic” brown sugar – both light and dark from Wholesome Sweet. You will notice the difference in the taste right away. The organic sugars have a rich and deep caramel flavor that is heads above the everyday brown sugar. I know it’s a bit more expensive, but the difference in quality is worth it. And, don’t worry if you don’t have Organic – this recipe will still be fabulous with regular brown sugar. Just something to maybe try in the future.
And, what about those pecans?
I live in Southeast Georgia now and Georgia is famous for a few crops. Big beautiful Georgia Pecans is one of them. So no surprise that I’d use toasted pecans here. But, to be honest, I didn’t realize, until recently, that there were so many varieties of pecans. A good friend of mine, Eve, owns a pecan orchard and I sit in amazement as she identifies each tree in her orchard and the type of pecan it produces.
So, what are the different varieties?
How naive I was. There are so…many varieties of pecans. Here are just a few of them.
Stuart: The most well-known large nut that has a 40-50% kernel yield. Stuart is harvested mid- to late October.
Money Maker: A round nut that is small to medium in size with a <50% kernel yield harvested in early October.
Desirable: The primary Georgian Pecan which sets the standard with its mammoth halves.
Sumner: Produces large nuts with a 50% kernel yield harvested in late October.
If you’d like to know more, here is the Georgia Pecan website: https://www.georgiapecan.org/pecan-varieties.da
And, lastly the delicious Maple Caramel!!
This is super simple to put together. You melt butter, add the sugar and salt and heat until dissolved, add maple syrup and boil for 2 minutes. Now – that’s EASY. Use real maple syrup and, if you think the flavor needs bumped up a bit, add a 1/4 teaspoon of maple flavor. I don’t think it needs it though.
Top all this with vanilla bean ice cream with a little extra maple caramel for good measure and you and your guests will be absolutely in heaven.