I took my first-ever trip to England, Scotland and Ireland (actually my first-ever trip off this continent!) this past April and I was very pleased with everything about the trip, including the food. Gone are the days when people felt compelled to make fun of British Isles cuisine. In London, our first stop, we had a wonderful breakfast at Bill’s. Bill was a green grocer on High Street until a flood forced him to start over with a café in 2001. It was homey, seasonal sort of place that ended up being far more successful than anyone anticipated so he opened up several more cafes. From where we sat in the café eating our delicious English breakfasts, I glanced around at the shelves of all the “Bill’s” products available and while my husband paid the bill, I had to peruse the Bill’s Cookbook, “Cook, Eat, Smile.” Sure enough, thoroughly charmed, I purchased it and it has become part of my collection. I recently made Bill’s Blondies (twice) and want to share them with you here, all converted to measurements we Americans understand. Some of the amounts may have gotten mixed up in the translation but I can attest to the fact that they still turned out great! Beware–they are very rich and should be cut into small squares and don’t expect them to last long.
1 cup salted butter
2 cups good quality white chocolate,* chopped in small pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla
Zest of one lemon
2 large eggs, beaten
1 cup sugar
1¼ cup unbleached flour
1 cup dried sour cherries
½ cup chopped dried apricots
6 ginger biscuits,** broken into small pieces
Preheat the oven to 340°F. Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with parchment paper.
Melt the butter in a pan over low heat or in the microwave, then add white chocolate to heat gently, stirring occasionally, until melted together. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract and lemon zest and leave to cool slightly.
Put the eggs and sugar in a large bowl and whisk until light colored. Gently fold in flour and when that is nicely mixed in, fold in cherries, apricots and ginger snaps. Finally, slowly add the chocolate mixture and combine everything well.
Pour into line dish and bake for 40 minutes or until firm and pale on top. Cut into squares while still warm, but leave in pan until completely cool before removing.
* I use Callebaut, available at Bayview and Ralph’s
** I use Nabisco Ginger Snaps