Hey, hey, hey!! How was your weekend?? Did you have to work on President's day? Did you stuff your bellies full of dumplings and noodles on Chinese New Year?!
I had a pretty swell weekend! Well it's technically still going on. It is Monday/President's Day. I am sitting at a tiny cafe table at the Sierra Ski Resort up in Tahoe. I am not skiing. Because I hate skiing and I'm not very good at it. But Reuben is having a great time though. Zipping through the snow, doing whatever skiers do. The lodge smells like chicken fingers and donuts right now. It's terrible. Because I'm so full from just general eating this weekend and the idea of eating anymore makes me a little nauseous. But I LOVE chicken fingers and donuts. OH GOD, THERE ARE CHICKEN AND WAFFLES AT THE LODGE! Ugh, and the family behind me brought their own instant noodles for lunch! THE TORTURE.
(Ok focus - ignore the delicious and conflicting smells)
I'm going to rewind our weekend just a smidge. One of my very best friends, Kate, made a last minute visit to San Francisco on Saturday. She is literally a ray of sunshine. Or maybe more like a cosmic light beam/rainbow hybrid. I had not seen her in like a year (or maybe even more?!). So I got to spend the day with her showing off my hood, making matcha popcorn (recipe coming up next week!), and celebrating Chinese New Year with a big old feast! We invited a few friends over, folded dumplings (I made my family's classic potstickers. THEY ARE SO GOOD. But I don't quite have the heart yet to share the recipe.....), sipped on some beers and wine, giggled alot, and ate until our bellies ached. It was so great. How Chinese New Year should be celebrated. It also made me incredibly happy to have other people fold dumplings for me, muahahahaha!
The next morning, Reub and I woke up early to drive to Sacramento. We planned a really weird weekend. Instead of paying a million dollars to stay in Tahoe over President's day weekend, we got a hotel room in the nicest hotel in Sacramento for the night. The nicest hotel in Sacramento is not that expensive... if you're looking for a weird vacation destination. We stopped in a cute coffee shop with waffles, drank beer at a brewery, had the best poke, watched the olympics in bed (IDEAL), and got Mexican food for dinner. Pretty much our typical vacation itinerary. The next morning, we woke up before the sun was up to drive to Tahoe. Which is where we are now. Suffocating from the smell of chicken fingers and donuts.
Sorry, we should probably talk about these blondies now, right?? One of my favorite ingredients to bake with is tea. Matcha. Ceylon. Jasmine. Earl Grey. Green. Oolong. I love it all! Infusing baked goods with tea creates a really lovely and delicate flavor. It's not as in your face as coffee flavor can be. I found that the best way to get tea flavor is by infusing butter with loose tea leaves. Instead of steeping tea in hot water you steep tea in hot butter. Sounds great, right?!
The idea for these blondies have been dancing around in my head for a few weeks now. I originally wanted to make Oolong Tea Snack Cakes (think Hostess Snack Cake), but when the weekend came for me to make them I was really craving something slightly fudgey, chewy, and slightly chocolatey. Blondies! These blondies definitely satisfied my fudgey, chewy, and chocolatey craving! Oolong tea is a darker full bodied tea, with beautiful caramel and floral notes. It pairs perfectly with chocolate and the little bits of pistachio. I think they are best after they have cooled and firmed up. Plus it makes it a lot easier to cut into perfect little bars or squares to dunk into some ice cold milk! They sort of taste like one of those giant chocolate chip cookies you always wished you bought from the mall. But better and fancier because you just infused butter like a pro!
Oolong Tea Blondies
makes 16 2" squares
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease and line an 8"x8" baking pan with parchment paper.
Melt butter in a small saucepan over low to medium heat. Once butter is melted, add in loose leaf oolong tea. Heat the butter and tea leaves over low to medium heat for 5-8 minutes.
Remove the butter from the heat and pour butter and leaves into a fine mesh sieve over a heat proof bowl. Use a rubber spatula to gently press down on the leaves to get as much butter out as you can. Discard the tea leaves. Add the butter back into the sauce pan with the brown sugar and salt. Whisk over medium heat until the sugar is mostly dissolved, about 2 minutes.
Pour butter mixture into a large heat proof bowl. Allow butter to cool to about room temperature. Mix in eggs and vanilla until combined.
Sift together flour and baking soda in a medium bowl. Gradually add the flour mixture into the wet mixture, while mixing with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Add in chopped pistachios and chocolate until combined. The batter will be really thick.
Scrape the batter into baking dish and spread out with an offset spatula or back of your spoon so that the batter is evenly distributed.
Sprinkle flakey sea salt over the top. Place in the oven and bake for 18 to 22 minutes. Once golden brown, remove from the oven and allow the pan to cool completely on a wire rack.
Once cool, remove the blondies from the pan by pulling up on the parchment paper. Cut into squares and enjoy!
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
14 tbsp butter
1/3 cup loose oolong tea leaves
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp vanilla
1/2 cup chopped pistachios
3/4 cup chopped semi-sweet chocolate
2 tsp flakey sea salt for topping
Adapted from Vanilla Bean Blog's Coffee Blondies!