Los Angeles baker Valerie Gordon, who runs three locations of her popular Valerie Confections shop, will be in Austin this week to teach cooking classes from her new book, “Sweet: Inspired Ingredients, Unforgettable Desserts” (Artisan Books, $35). The first class, during which she’ll demonstrate edible holidays gifts, will take place at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Central Market, 4001 N. Lamar Blvd., and the second class is on Saturday for guests at the Lake Austin Spa & Resort. The Central Market class costs $70. Tickets at centralmarket.com.
I like peanuts best when they are well salted and paired with something sweet. Bazzini peanuts from New York City have an exceptional crunch, a good roasted flavor, and a pleasing level of saltiness, which makes them the perfect addition to buttery blondies studded with milk chocolate chips. This recipe makes small blondies; you can cut them bigger if you like.
— Valerie Gordon
2 cups (10-oz.) all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
12 Tbsp. (1 1/2 sticks or 6 oz.) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups (12-oz.) light brown sugar
2 tsp. vanilla bean paste (available in the baking aisle of specialty or upscale grocery stores)
2 large eggs
3/4 cup (4.13-oz.) 38 percent milk chocolate chips
3/4 cup (3.5-oz.) high-quality salted peanuts (such as Bazzini), chopped
1 tsp. fleur de sel
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat the bottom and sides of a 9-inch-by-13-inch baking sheet with nonstick baking spray.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl, using a handheld mixer), cream the butter and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add the vanilla paste and beat for 30 seconds. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition. Add the dry ingredients 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl. Add the chocolate chips and beat until evenly distributed, about 1 minute.
Spread the batter into the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle the chopped peanuts and fleur de sel over the top. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until the edges appear crisp and the top is slightly golden. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it. Let the blondies cool completely in the pan on a cooling rack before cutting with a sharp knife.
Once cooled, the blondies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 4 days; or leave the blondies, uncut, in the pan, wrap in a double layer of plastic wrap, and freeze for up to 2 months. Makes 48 blondies.
— From “Sweet: Inspired Ingredients, Unforgettable Desserts” (Artisan Books, $35) by Valerie Gordon
Where to buy not-your-average turkeys for the big day
Have you figured out what kind of turkey you’re serving for Thanksgiving? If you’re looking for a not-your-everyday-grocery-store bird for this year’s feast, it’s not too late to order a locally raised or even heritage turkey for the big day. Richardson Farms raises many of the local turkeys that will be served on area tables this year, but brick-and-mortar and online retailers including Salt & Time, Wheatsville Co-op, Greenling, Farmhouse Delivery, Whole Foods Market, Central Market and Sprouts offer a number of kinds of turkeys from farms near and far. Calling the store or talking to the person at the butcher counter is the best place to start for ordering a turkey for pick-up around the holidays, especially if you have specific questions about the farm where the bird was raised or what it was fed. Some businesses, including Farmhouse and Greenling, offer delivery.
If you’re hoping to buy a turducken — a chicken stuffed in a duck stuffed in a turkey — you can order them through Stuffed Meat Market (512-918-1600), which has two area locations, and the Burnet Road location of Lucy’s Fried Chicken (512-514-0664).
Edible Austin gets ready for Eat Drink Local Week with auction of chef dinners
Edible Austin is gearing up for its annual Eat Drink Local Week, which starts Dec. 7. To kick things off, the magazine is hosting a live auction on Nov. 21 where auctioneer Walt Roberts will auction off nine dinners featuring some of the area’s best-known talent, including David Bull, Paul Qui, Josh Watkins, Tink Pinkard, Tatsu Aikawa and Tako Matsumoto of Ramen Tatsu-Ya, and Houston’s Monica Pope. Tickets to the auction event, which will start at 6 p.m. and take place at Allan House, 1104 San Antonio St., cost $45 if you buy them by Sunday or $55 after that. You can find out more and buy tickets at edibleaustin.com/auction.
The full Eat Drink Local Week schedule will be rolling out in the next few weeks at edibleaustin.com/eatdrinklocal, but mark your calendars for an evening with Milwaukee food activist Will Allen at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 8 at Stateside at the Paramount, a winter harvest dinner party with Bread & Circus Supper Club at the Palm Door on Dec. 10 and a screening of “Farm-City, State” at the Blanton Museum of Art on Dec. 12.
Chocolate festival, pop-up shop
For the past five years Jennifer and Steven Flood, who run the local chocolate company Fat Turkey Chocolate, have hosted the Austin Chocolate Festival, and this weekend, the event returns for its sixth year. During two-hour slots between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Norris Conference Center, 2525 W. Anderson Lane, attendees will have the chance to sample truffles, chocolates and other confections from a number of local chocolatiers and artisans. For more information or tickets ($21.65 for adults, $10.83 for children under the age of 12), go to austinchocolatefestival.com.
Speaking of chocolate, Antonelli’s Cheese Shop, 4220 Duval St., is hosting a pop-up chocolate shop from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday featuring Austinite Steven Lawrence and chocolate treats from his company, the Chocolate Makers Studio. You can order directly from Lawrence through his website, chocolatemakersstudio.com.