I did not originally plan to make Pumpkin Curry Blondies.
In fact, I did not intend to make blondies of any sort. What I really wanted to make was Black and Tan Whoopie Pies. As in a thick, creamy layer of Bass ale flavored frosting sandwiched between two dark, full flavored, Guinness cookies.
They didn’t work out. At all. I’ll get to that in a moment.
But my exotic twist on a fall classic, Pumpkin Blondies, did work out quite nicely. I don’t mean to brag, but they were awesome. Well maybe I do mean to brag a bit. :)
If there is one lesson I’ve learned over the years is always have a Plan B when baking for a crowd. Especially if you are experimenting with a recipe, as I often (always) do. Experiments fail. Well, maybe if I were a trained pastry chef or baker I would know the exact science behind every recipe and be able to create new dishes with confidence. But the reality is that I am just learning as I go, and while I have some knowledge of how to tweak recipes and what can be substituted for what, I mostly just mess around in the kitchen to see what happens.
Whenever I need a quick and easy dessert that I can whip up to replace an utterly failed experiment in the kitchen, blondies are my go-to recipe. The thing I love about blondies are that they are simple to make and come together in about 15 minutes. In addition, they require only a few basic ingredients that I usually have on hand: flour, eggs, brown sugar, and butter. And best, they are infinitely adaptable. You can add almost anything to a blondie and they will taste good: chocolate, nuts, banana, whiskey, rum, white chocolate, toffee chips, dried fruit, banana, pumpkin, the list goes on and on. I have seen some wildly creative blondies.
But perhaps I should back up for a moment. Why did I have to resort to Plan B in the first place? Well, thats because of these cookies:
These are the pathetic excuse for whoopie pie cookies that came out of my oven. As you may notice, they are a little, well, flat. As in flat as a pancake that got ran over by a steamroller. Sigh. I don’t quite know where I went wrong with these. I based them on Ree Drummond’s Oatmeal Whoopie Pies because her’s look puffy, fluffy, chewy and divine. Mine look…sad. Even after thoroughly chilling (freezing) my dough, they still turned out as flat as a bottle of Guinness left open overnight after a college party.
I had intended to bring these cookies to my jiu jitsu team since many of them have seen the multitude of food photographs that I have posted on my Facebook page over the past few months but have not yet tried anything I made. Well, the cookies obviously a bust but I still wanted to bring something.
And that’s about where my blondies came in.
But of course, they couldn’t be just any blondies. Despite my epic failure with the Black and Tan Whoopie Pie experiment, I still could not bring myself to bake a plain blondie. I strive to create unique flavor combinations in every dessert I make. No easy task in the food blogging world in which people seem to have tried every combination under the sun, good or bad or just plain weird. See David Lebovitz’s Ketchup Cookies.
Though maybe Lebovitz is on to something with this sweet/savory thing in dessert. I have been tossing around the idea of using Indian yellow curry and/or garam masala in sweets for some time now. Both spice blends are mild with a number of sweet, warm spices lend themselves well to dessert. In this Pumpkin Curry Blondie recipe I use a pumpkin blondie as a base with a blend of 3 parts garam masala to 1 part yellow curry. Garam masala consists largely cinnamon, clove, and cardamom, so while it complements the pumpkin well, it is nearly drowned out by the brown sugar and butter. The small amount of yellow curry, with its more assertive mustard seed, coriander, and cumin add that extra kick these blondies beg for.
In addition I frosted these exotic puppies with a coconut-flavored rum icing in order to reflect savory yellow curry dishes. To tell the truth, you can easily replace the rum with coconut milk, or even just throw a bit of dried coconut on top. It just happened that rum was what I had, so rum was what I used.
I brought these to my teammates and they were gone in a flash. Now granted, a team of men fresh off a long grappling practice may not have the most discerning palate, but their feedback was unanimously laudatory. The pumpkin, coconut and curry, which is pronounced but not aggressive, meld together nicely in a sweet blend with an unusual kick.
Pumpkin Curry Blondies (adapted from Iced Pumpkin Blondies)
Makes approximately 24 (2×2 inch bars)
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 Tb garam masala powder
- 1/2 Tb mild yellow curry powder, plus extra for sprinkling on top *NOTE*
- 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup yogurt
- 1 cup canned pumpkin
- Preheat oven to 350F. Butter a 9 x 13 inch baking pan.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, garam masala and yellow curry.
- In a separate, large bowl, cream sugar and butter in a large bowl until smooth.
- Add yogurt and eggs and beat until well incorporated. Beat in pumpkin.
- Gradually fold in flour mixture with a soft spatula.
- Spread batter in to greased pan.
- Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, until a wooden toothpick inserted in to the center comes out clean. Cool completely.
- Frost with coconut-rum icing.
- Optional. Dust cooled and frost blondies with a small amount of yellow curry.
Coconut-Rum Buttercream Icing
- 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
- ½ cup butter, softened slightly
- 2 Tb coconut flavored rum
- 1 Tb milk
- Beat butter with an electric mixer until fluffy, about 5 minutes.
- Slowly add powdered sugar and beat until well incorporated.
- Add rum and milk then mix for another minute.
*NOTE* I really wanted an pronounced curry flavor in these blondies, so I used a 3:1 ratio of garam masala and yellow curry. If you want a more mild blondie, use all garam masala. If you want a stronger curry flavor, use more yellow curry powder.