Apple Blondies

Apple blondies

Pie is often the first apple dessert that comes to mind this season, especially for Thanksgiving, but apples are also excellent in cakes, loaves, cookies and so much more. Of all the apple recipes I tested recently for a story, this one for Apple Blondies is probably my favorite. I’d never had an apple dessert quite like them and they are so full of fruit that they really live up to their name. It’s a pound of apple barely held together by flour, brown sugar, and warm spices. The cakey squares are taken up a notch with cardamom and bits of toasted walnut. This is a perfect afternoon treat for this season.

We spent a recent weekend cleaning, sanding, and painting the porch. The porch is looking real good and ready for porch parties. On these cooler mornings (summer has finally left Florida) we’ve been having breakfast on the porch and if that wasn’t good enough right there (it is) imagine adding an apple blondie into the mix. It’s a sure way to make a Tuesday feel like a Friday.

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Baked Apples

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Pink Lady. McIntosh. SweeTango. Ambrosia. Honeycrisp.

This is just part of the apple aisle at my local Publix, but I was impressed. There are an estimated 7,500 apple varieties around the world, so a dozen or so apples at my grocery store is a small fraction, of course, but I’d forgotten how many varieties I could easily get my hands on this season. I’ve been working on a story about baked apple desserts for the Tampa Bay Times (special Thanksgiving issue of Taste comes out this Sunday and I’ve got the cover story!) so I was really happy to find so many varieties to try.

I talked to Amy Traverso, author of The Apple Lover’s Cookbook and lifestyle editor at Yankee Magazine, for the story, and she said a lot of the new apple varieties are good all-purpose apples. They work well for baking, cooking, or eating raw. The standard that breeders are trying to reach is really high, she told me, and these newer apple varieties feature a lot of sweetness, acidity, and firm, lush fruit. And then she said my favorite thing I’ve ever heard about apples…

“They’re like the California cabernets of the apple world,” she said. Big, explosive flavor. Juicy.

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October/November

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We’re getting into the best time of year here. How was your Halloween? For our friend’s annual block party, Danny was a gorilla and I was a mermaid, but on the 31st we hung out on the couch, drinking wine and waiting for trick-or-treaters to knock on our door. Silence of the Lambs was our scary movie for the night, and I made Aida Mollenkamp‘s meatballs for dinner. (Pro tip: Don’t serve meatballs on a night you’re watching Hannibal. TOO SCARY.)

At the start of the week, Danny made a spicy soup that reminded us you can always add yogurt if things get too spicy. We also learned what hominy is. The turkey posole recipe was from a Bon Appetit feature on repurposing leftover Thanksgiving turkey. This is an excellent idea because it totally transforms the turkey and comes together quickly — homemade chile paste included!

Since Thanksgiving is still a few weeks away, we used a shredded rotisserie chicken. I’d try chickpeas if we didn’t have hominy around (for a different but still delicious soup). I found myself looking forward to the soup for dinner each night, crushing tortilla chips into the hot bowl just before serving and swirling in a scoop of avocado. For dessert, baked apples. (I’m wrapping up a feature on baked apple desserts this week and would love to know your favorites, by the way.) Continue reading  continue reading