Last week I attended the Gulf Food expo here in Dubai. If you're not familiar with Gulf Food, how can I describe it…hmm try to imagine every single last food supplier on earth (and not to mention suppliers of industrial kitchens, serving-ware, kitchen tools...I could just keep going on and on) all crammed into the massive yet bursting at the seams convention center.
I steered myself toward the international section hoping to find some new products from the US and surprisingly I ran into the lovely people from Guittard Chocolate Company. Guittard's baking products (hello cappuccino baking chips I love you) are one of the many things I always stash in my suitcase after a trip back home.
I was so stoked to find out that soon enough they will be selling some their products here in Dubai (gourmet grocery shop in jbr!). They were also kind enough to give me a bag of Smooth and Melty Mints (and the #1 best seller on amazon):
All I wanted to do was say 'thank you sooooo much' and walk away so I could eat the bag but then I remembered the kind gentlemen that I spoke with said I should blog about the mints. And I'm sure you'd much rather see them in a recipe than have me talk about how I ate the whole bag before I got to the parking lot.
So I thought to myself, what shall I do with these little minty pastel beauties? The obvious thing to do would be to throw them in a batch of cookies and call it a day but I was feeling a bit more inspired. Maybe it had to do with seeing all those giant stainless steel mixers at the expo that could easily sleep 4 people comfortably.
I decided on using a blondie recipe for the bars, then topping them off with a white chocolate ganache. I have never been a huge fan of the blondie. I mean, why not just make a brownie? Why have vanilla when you can have chocolate? I don't trust those 'I prefer vanilla ice cream' people.
But these Smooth & Melty Mints are intense. They don't need a chocolate base. They just need a subtle background so you can enjoy their strong, creamy flavor. I decided on the white chocolate ganache because, well…it's like spending hours on your makeup and not putting on any lipstick. They needed a bit of glitz and glamour.
Another favorite of mine from the show was seeing my loving, generous friends at President (who gave me enough samples to last at least until winter). You may have noticed I ALWAYS use President butter in my recipes. That's because I know their brand stands for quality. When you've got over 75 years of experience in the dairy biz you must be doing something right.
Guittard Smooth & Melty Blondie with White Chocolate Ganache
*for a printable version click here
2 3/4 cup all purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup butter, softened
1 lb. light brown sugar (16 oz)
1 teaspoon vanilla
(1) 1 pound bag Guittard's Smooth & Melty Mints (if you can't find these in your area you can easily substitute for chocolate chips)
8 ounces (227 grams) white chocolate, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter
*the original recipe calls to mix by hand, however if you prefer to use a mixer that's fine.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9x13 pan (I only had a 9x9 and it worked fine).
Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk to combine. Set aside.
Stir brown sugar into softened (not melted) butter until well incorporated. Using the back of a rubber spatula really helps.
Add eggs one at a time to the butter mixture. Mix well after each addition.
Add vanilla and mix well.
Add dry ingredients to butter mixture in three additions. Never dump ALL your dry ingredients into a wet mixture. Two reasons. One, you will just make a mess and then curse because you'll have flour everywhere (especially if you have your mixer on turbo speed). Two, and more importantly by adding the dry ingredients slowly you are guaranteeing a thoroughly combined mix.
Take HALF of the dough and place into the greased pan. Sprinkle mints on top of dough and make sure they are distributed evenly.
Spread remaining half of dough on top of mints.
Bake for 30 minutes or until top is golden brown. Cool completely on wire rack.
For the ganache, place chopped white chocolate in large glass (or heat safe) bowl.
Heat heavy cream and butter in saucepan over medium heat. Bring to almost a boil and remove from heat. Pour cream and butter mix over chopped chocolate and let sit (don't touch or stir!) for one minute.
Gently stir until all the chocolate has melted and you're left with a bowl of liquid satin. Pour over cooled blondies and let sit in the fridge to firm up, at least 2 hours.
Cut into squares and enjoy!
Blondie recipe adapted from Bakerella
Ganache adapted from Joy of Baking