Friday, November 12, 2010

Award Winning Pumpkin Chai Blondies

That's right folks, these pumpkin treats won me first prize and the title "Best Baker" in my company's annual Chili Cook-off/Bake-off. Here I am with my trophy:

I saw this on Kelsey's blog about a month ago and her description sold me that these would be a winner. The one part of the recipe that I was nervous about was the crystallized ginger - I've never had it before and was worried it may be too strong a taste on top of the blondies. When Joe tried one though and said that he liked it (he never likes anything strange) I knew that it was fine!

The only change I made from Kelsey's recipe was to add pecans on top of mine along with the ginger. These would be a great contribution to a Thanksgiving dinner!

Pumpkin Chai Blondies
Source: Apple A Day

For the blondies:
1 c. unsalted butter, softened
1 c. granulated sugar
3/4 c. dark brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/4 c. pumpkin puree
1 TBSP pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
1/2 tsp. freshly-grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. toasted chopped pecans
1/4 c. crystallized ginger, finely chopped

For the frosting:
6 oz. cream cheese, softened
4 TBSP unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 c. confectioner's sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cardamom

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13x9-inch baking pan (preferably with square corners) with foil or parchment so you have an overhang on all four sides. Spray with baking spray.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about three minutes.

3. Decrease speed to medium and add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add pumpkin and vanilla, beating until combined.

4. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, nutmeg, cloves, and salt.

5. Add dry mixture to butter mixture, mixing only until combined. (Batter will be quite thick.) Stir in pecans.

6. Spoon batter into prepared baking pan and smooth with a spatula. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out mostly clean. (The bars should be fulled cooked on the bottom and have a slightly undercooked texture near the top.) Place on top of a wire rack and allow to cool in the pan for 20 minutes, then lift out of pan and allow to cool completely.

7. To make the frosting, combine all ingredients in a bowl and beat on high speed until fluffy, about two minutes.

8. Frost blondies when they are completely cooled and top with crystallized ginger. Cut into 20-30 bars, depending on desired portion size. Store in a airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two days.