Wowbutter Cookies (nut-free)

Wowbutter Cookies // The Pancake PrincessIs it really September? Is it just me or like……

WHERE DID SUMMER GO.

Wowbutter Cookies // The Pancake Princess
Wowbutter Cookies // The Pancake Princess
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I’m not ready to let the magical summer of Australia and Thailand go…but admittedly, it’s been nice to have down time at home. My roommate and I recently made the move from our 960 sq ft apartment to a duplex in Montrose (the, shall we say, trendy part of Houston) and let me tell you: you should NEVER not hire movers. People told we had to, but neither of us had ever done a big (read: non-college-esque move) on our own, and we figured doing it on our own would be 1) way cheaper 2) a good way to super appreciate movers whenever we need to move again in the future.

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Levain Cookie Experimentations

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The original Levain cookie (via Instagram).

Inside the white paper bag was a battlescape of chocolate. Rich ganache snuggled between two slender planks of firm yet yielding brioche had melted out of its neat sandwhich during my sweaty trek across Central Park and seeped into various crevices of the bag, making it impossible to extract the other half of my purchase–the famous chocolate chip cookie–unscathed. But I withdrew the craggy monster of a cookie–hand accumulating chocolate smears–and broke it apart.

People were passing by: a German-looking family, a French couple, a middle-aged Asian woman who decided to sit on the other end of my bench. If they noticed me inspecting my cookie–the golden, ridged edges, the moist interior rich with butter and silky chocolate, the center so gooey and underdone like warm cookie dough that it should be illegal–I only hope they knew where to get their own.

Levain Bakery

And that place, of course, is Levain Bakery in New York. I went in mid-July to visit a friend before she left for a whirlwind tour of the world as a digital nomad, and during a lunch break walked across Central Park to procure the cookie I’d been dreaming about since the lovely Kayle first guided me there during a trip in 2013.

My only regret: at the last minute, I switched my order from a chocolate chip and a dark chocolate peanut butter chip cookie to a chocolate chip and the chocolate chip brioche. The brioche was incredibly chocolatey and a really nice dense but still sufficiently fluffy and rich dough, but where Levain really excels is the cookies and I should have just gone all in. Anyway, the cookie experience was just as otherworldly as I remembered, so when my lovely and very talented personal chef friend, Morgan, asked if I wanted to help her test out the Levain recipe when I got back, the answer was a giant YASSSSSS.*

We tried two recipes, a few alterations and a BUNCH of different baking temperatures and times. While we didn’t do anything earth-shattering to the excellent copycat recipes that already exist on the interwebs, I thought the research that we did in oven temperatures was worth sharing, so here are our results!

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Thailand

BANGKOK
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Thailand // The Pancake Princess

Thailand // The Pancake Princess
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Thailand // The Pancake Princess


Thailand // The Pancake Princess







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Thailand // The Pancake Princess


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Thailand // The Pancake Princess
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Grand Canyon // Chiang MaiPHUKET/KOH PHI PHIIMG_1030 IMG_1033 IMG_1044

Just me and my ladyboy // PhuketIMG_1046 IMG_1053 IMG_1064 IMG_1078IMG_1012 IMG_1119 IMG_1150 IMG_1164 IMG_1165 IMG_1168 IMG_1178 IMG_1211 IMG_1219 IMG_1231 Thailand // The Pancake Princess

 

Thailand was exhausting! Talk about sensory overload: Bangkok is a teeming, steamy, overwhelming city to start in. It was monsoon season when I went (mid-June), so it was both suffocatingly hot and intermittently rainy when I went. But I still managed to see some beautiful temples, kayak around islands, explore many night markets, eat a TON of interesting food, fit in many cheap massages, and meet some fun people.

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Ugly Fruit Blondies

Does the following color combination appear oh-so-reminiscent of a recent holiday that may have involved fireworks, cookouts, and way too many chips consumed pool-side?

Ugly Fruit Blondies // The Pancake Princess

That’s because these blondies were definitely made TWICE for various Fourth of July celebrations, but I’m only getting around to posting them now because…life.

Ugly Fruit Blondies // The Pancake PrincessUgly Fruit Blondies // The Pancake PrincessI recently re-took various personality tests around the interwebs which revealed an interesting shift from my former middle-leaning-introverted tendencies of the Myers-Briggs scale to the extrovert-leaning side. Way back in the day, I took the real-deal test and scored INTJ, one of the rarest personality types and basically the ULTIMATE introvert profile. According to more recent (free internet) tests, I have solidly edged over to the extrovert side of the scale, which I found myself thinking “yeah, that could be right,” considering what a success story my Australia solo travel was.

But these past few weeks, man–definitely confirmed I’m still an introvert. I’ve had some kind of meeting or social engagement every single night after work and it’s exhausting. I want to curl up in my room, read the book that my roommate left in my doorway, and not speak to anyone for a week. I think that’s the definition of introversion. Though my extended period of extroversion was fun while it lasted!

So for the fourth, I riffed on Michelle’s rhubarb and white chocolate blondies with additional fruit for a red white and blue theme (the first batch with cherries, the second with pomegranates). Thhen, when gifted a few jars of Ugly Fruit applesauce, I used it in a second batch in place of some butter.

Ugly Fruit Blondies // The Pancake PrincessUgly Fruit Blondies // The Pancake PrincessBack in the day, I was a big fan of using things like applesauce and yogurt as a fat-replacer in baked goods. These days, I almost never substitute for fat in baked recipes since it almost always results in less satisfying goods that leave me wishing I’d just made the real deal. The applesauce, however, worked really well in these considering how fruity the toppings are anyway, simply resulting in a slightly firmer (instead of gooey-centered) blondie that still retains that buttery-sweet, salt-flecked flavor.

Ugly Fruit, by the way, is a company that uses blemished fruit that would otherwise be thrown away due to unsalable appearances that can’t make it through the high beauty standards of grocery stores. I’ve been seeing a lot of companies pop up lately that are attacking the issue of food waste from multiple angles and I LOVE IT. I think food waste and sustainability are incredibly important issues and it’s really great to see more people finding solutions to this rather gargantuan problem.

“Ugly Fruit is creating networks of farms, chefs, processors, and communities that are committed to tackling issues of access and nutrition and creating a food system that better allocates resources and provides healthier options accessible to all.”

^ How cool is that?? So to recap, make these blondies and go buy some really delicious small batch applesauce! If you’re on the East Coast, you can find Ugly Fruit applesauce in select stores in Connecticut, New York, and soon Boston (follow them on FacebookInstagramTwitter to stay updated on which stores carry it). If you’re not on the East Coast, you can buy it online and get it delivered to your door.

(Ps. I was given samples, but not compensated to write this post; I just really believe in this awesome product!)
Ugly Fruit Blondies // The Pancake Princess


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