TOASTED CASHEW MARZIPAN BLONDIES

While cooking, listen to this: Pencil Full of Lead - Paolo Nutini

I am a marzipan FIEND. I am truly obsessed. I'm sure my Eastern European heritage has a lot to do with it, but whatever the case, it is one of my favorite things in the world. Visiting Austria a couple of months ago to meet my partner's family was a dream come true for many reasons - one of which being the opportunity to pull a Julie Andrews and sing on a mountaintop with copious twirling. I didn't end up singing on the apex of an alp, but I did sing loudly at 11:00 PM on a street in Salzburg, and I wasn't wearing a dirndl but I saw like, 15 in a shop so that counts, right? 

The other reason visiting Austria was a dream is because it's home to the Mozart Kugel, or Mozart ball, which is a chocolate ball filled with marzipan. I don't want to tell you how many I bought to bring home as gifts.

Okay I do. I bought 35. You're welcome, Austrian economy.

These things are amazing. You have to like almondy, marzipany things to enjoy them, but if you do then you NEED to try these. Not only are they the chocolate equivalent of dropping acid, but there's a whole fight over them! There are three main companies in Austria that claim to sell the original Mozart Kugeln, and while no one will know for sure who's right, it's most likely Mirabelle. So, sorry, other companies.

One thing I will say though, and this was really confusing to me, is that the inside of a Mozart Kugel is NOT green. I guess it's supposed to be pistachio marzipan? I don't know. I was stoked to see green marzipan like the advertisements show, but it's just your average, beige-adjacent hue in there. Still delicious, but shame on me for assuming a food company would have honest food photos.

ANYWAY, since I love marzipan so much, and am missing all those Mozart balls, when I stumbled across this recipe for blondies with marzipan and toasted cashews, my heart immediately said "MAKE THOSE NOW." So I did! And they're bomb. Thanks, heart!

If you are coming down from the high of the winter holidays, make these. They're a blanket in blondie form, guaranteed to bring more merriment/joy/naches/whatever to you and your loved ones. They're extremely buttery (there are 3 sticks in here, man!) and full of some of the best things in the world: marzipan, cashews and chocolate. Make that two kinds of chocolate. I know, I needed to take some deep breaths when I first saw these, too.

As 2017 (finally, dear god finally) comes to a close, usher in the new year with these blondies. I can't say that 2018 will be any less of a trash fire than this year was, but at least you can start the year off on a sweet note. Maybe it'll set the tone.

Love and meows, Rina


TOASTED CASHEW MARZIPAN BLONDIES

Yield: around 20

Total Cook Time: 40-45m

Category: Sweet, Bars

Source: Doubled from Food52

1 ½ cups (3 sticks) butter

1 ½ cups (9 ounces) white chocolate, divided

1 cup dark brown sugar, loosely packed

1 cup granulated white sugar

4 eggs

1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 ½ teaspoons salt

8 ounces marzipan, chopped into small pieces*

2 cup chopped roasted cashews

½ cup dark chocolate chips

Prep: preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a 9 x 13 baking dish and line with parchment paper.

Melt the butter and white chocolate: in a heatproof bowl, place the butter and HALF of the white chocolate. Heat in the microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring after each one, until the butter and white chocolate are totally melted. They won't mix together completely, so just check for meltiness - it'll all combine in the batter. Transfer to a large bowl and allow to cool slightly.

Add remaining ingredients: once the butter-white chocolate mixture is a bit cooled, add both sugars and stir well. Add the eggs** and stir well. Add in vanilla. Add the flour, baking powder and salt and mix just until the batter comes together. Fold in the marzipan, cashews, dark chocolate chips and remaining white chocolate chips and stir until just incorporated.

Bake: spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes. Your blondies will most likely take more time, but this is a good time to check and see how they're doing. They'll be done when they're a deep golden brown on the top, and when a toothpick or fork is inserted it comes out mostly clean, with a couple of bits left on it. These will continue to cook a bit once out of the oven due to their internal temperature, so it's better to take them out when they're a touch underdone.

To serve: allow to cool completely before slicing (they may fall apart otherwise!).

To keep:  I really don't think storing these will be an issue because they will be gone pretty much instantly, but they'll keep well in a tightly sealed container or zippered bag for a few days.

*Almond paste works as well, just use 6 ounces instead of 8 if you don't want the blondies to be overpowered by almond.

**Always crack your eggs into a separate bowl! This makes sure that no shell gets into your batter, and allows you to check for any blood spots if that's something you don't eat (some Jews who keep kosher don't eat eggs with blood spots - blood isn't kosher).