I ordered a copy of 100 Cookies by Sarah Kieffer right after it came out in late August, and my first recipe was an easy choice after our friends at Domestique Wine were kind enough to include a bag of Pipe & Tabor Roasting espresso beans with one of our wine deliveries. I decided to make Kieffer's "Espresso Caramel Blondies," which include both brewed espresso and espresso grounds. The blondies also include browned butter, bittersweet chocolate, and homemade caramel sauce -- all things that sounded pretty great to me!
To make the batter, you brown butter on the stove and take it off of the heat; add a little more butter; stir in granulated sugar, brown sugar, brewed espresso, vanilla, salt, and espresso grounds; let the mixture cool to room temperature; whisk in eggs and egg yolks; incorporate flour and baking powder; and fold in chocolate (I was feeling lazy and used Godiva bittersweet baking chips instead of chopped chocolate, figuring that in blondie batter it wouldn't make much of a difference). I poured the batter into a parchment-lined pan and drizzled on homemade caramel (sugar cooked with water and salt to 340 degrees, and finished off with heavy cream, butter, and vanilla).
Kieffer provides instructions for how you can determine when your blondies are ready depending on whether you want them "gooey" or "cakey." I was aiming for somewhere in the middle of those two extremes, and I think I achieved it -- I would say that my blondies were "lightly fudgy" and I was happy with the texture. I liked these blondies so much. The espresso flavor was clear but not overpowering, and a very good complement to the chocolate and the brown sugar flavor of the blondie. But my favorite component was the homemade caramel. As you can see in the photo, the caramel sank into the blondies where I drizzled it onto the batter, creating cracks in the top surface. While I appreciated the striking visual effect, what was even better was the nuggets of delicious caramel that ended up in the middle of the blondies. The espresso is great in this recipe, but I think it's the caramel that makes these blondies truly special.
Recipe: "Espresso Caramel Blondies" from 100 Cookies by Sarah Kieffer.