The usual nonsense

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More of that light side/dark side dessertyness.

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I actually made these last weekend but have been too busy/lazy/my novel is too good lately to actually get around to posting them. But they happened to be a big hit with the fam so I thought I would be nice and share them. These went well together—the super dense fudgy almond butter brownies played nicely with the lighter caramel bars—those aren’t super sweet, so it made a nice contrast.

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I’m feeling a little brain dead today so pardon the lack of text and written nonsense, I’ll just leave you with the photos and that drool that just hit your keyboard…

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Almond Butter Brownies

Super fudgy, tall brownies with a chewy crust. These are honey sweetened, and you could definitely taste the honey in my batch. I liked it, as a change from the typical brownies that I make, but if you’re not a fan of honey flavor in baked goods, I would sub maple or another liquid sweetener. Recipe only slightly adapted from Smells Like Brownies, here! Makes one 8 by 8 square pan (I had to use round since the square pan I have was currently in use, but I think there’s something weird about round brownies…). Gluten free, grain free, refined sugar free!

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  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c raw, runny honey
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 c organic almond butter (mine was unsalted)
  • 6 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • generous pinch of salt
  • 1/3 c extra dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 325, and lightly grease pan of choice with coconut oil.

In a medium bowl using an electric mixer, beat together eggs, honey, and vanilla until smooth. Beat in almond butter. In a small bowl, whisk together cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir dry into wet, mixing until just combined and adding in chocolate chips. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake 25-30 minutes. The center should be slightly puffed, and a toothpick should come out mostly clean (a teeny bit of fudgy is okay, but excessively under baked is ew). Let cool completely before slicing, and store any leftovers in a sealed container in the fridge.

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Salted Caramel Coconut Bars

This one is slightly adapted from Quiche-a-week (love that blog!) here! Chewy, thick salty-caramel-chocolate-spelt-coconut things. Vegan, refined sugar free! They’re made with spelt flour, which can be easier to digest than wheat, even if you aren’t wheat intolerant (though this is *not* gluten free). Yield: 9-12 bars, in an 8 by 8 pan.

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For the caramel:

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1/4 c unsweetened almond milk
  • a hefty pinch (1/4+ tsp) sea salt

For the barz:

  • 1.75 c spelt flour
  • 1/4 c almond flour
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 c shredded, unsweetened coconut
  • 4 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 4 tbsp peanut butter (preferably the separating kind)
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp ground flaxseed+6 tbsp water (2 flax eggs)
  • 1/3 c dark chocolate chips
  • up to 1/4 unsweetened almond milk

Make the caramel first so it has a little time to cool! In a saucepan, melt coconut oil, coconut sugar, and maple until it starts to fizz and thicken. When it starts bubbling, add the almond milk. Let it bubble for just a bit, then turn the heat down to low and let it simmer for 3 ish minutes. Stir only occasionally, but mostly just let it sit. Once it’s thickened a little (almond milk won’t thicken too crazy much), turn off the heat, stir in the sea salt, and let it cool.

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For the barz….

Preheat the oven to 325 and grease an 8 by 8 pan with coconut oil. Make your flax eggs and then set them aside to gel.

In a largeish bowl, whisk together spelt flour, almond flour, sea salt, baking soda, and shredded coconut. In a smaller bowl, whisk together melted coconut oil, peanut butter, maple syrup, and vanilla. Add in flax eggs, then stir the wet into the dry until just combined. You’ll need more moisture in the dough since spelt flour can be dry—I added about a 1/4 c of almond milk a tablespoon at a time until the dough was the right consistency. Fold in the chocolate chippies. Spread half the batter into your prepared pan (using your hands is encouraged), then pour half the caramel over the first layer. Add more chocolate chips to this middle layer because… just because. Spread the other layer of dough over the caramel (it’ll get messy but it’s dessert so who cares?), then pour the other half of the caramel over the top.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Let cool on a rack, then slice and eat/store!

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I really do actually eat vegetables. Promise!

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And now for something completely different in the cookie realm!

Because obviously I haven’t given you nearly enough cookie recipes lately (um. lies?!) And because I’m pretty sure said no one ever there’s such a thing as too many cookies. And if they did, whatever, we obviously can’t be friends. Schaaaawwrryyy! Cookies are the number one principle of my personal philosophy. Life is sometimes tricky, it’s better if you eat a [healthyishkindasortamaybe] cookie!

I think cookies might actually be one of my favorite things to make. Oh really, you say? As if the blog title alone doesn’t prove that!

Cookies on cookies on cookies. One would think this is all I eat…

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Um. I promise I eat vegetables! Like, I actually eat a ridiculous  amount of vegetables. And fruit. And eggs. Ask my mother, she claims it’s difficult to keep me in vegetables… I just… LOVE… SPINACH! Hoooomg. Among other things. I’ve gotten really good at putting spinach where it doesn’t necessarily belong but is undeniably delicious. Like maybe in the banana scramble I made today. So bizarrely wonderful and so perfect for St. Patrick’s day. Hmm. Shield your eyes if you abhor green things, that just might be the next post.

SO anyway. Cookies. Best eaten any time of day, with or without a milk-type beverage.. Eat three, and call me in the morning. Seriously, if medical practitioners gave out this kind of advice, I think the world might be a slightly more magical place.

So now instead of cruncy-hippie-granola raw cookies, you get [somewhat less crunchy but still kind of, whatever I’m still kind of granola] vegan salted caramel chocolate chip cookies! Cue yummy sound. Did I just make the yummy sound? … No. That was definitely you. Oh no? Well.. if it wasn’t *YOU*, and it wasn’t *YOU*… and it wasn’t *ME*…

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Vegan Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies

Recipe unintentionally adapted from Keepin’ it Kind. I made biggish cookies and ended up with about 15 or 16, but depending on size you could conceivably make up to 24ish… if you use a smaller scooping technique. Don’t judge, I’m rather a fan of large cookies! These are fab cookies, and the dough is just as good (number one perk for vegan baking: dough eating adventures).

I didn’t have coconut sugar, though next time I’ll be using that as my caramel wasn’t quite what was intended visually. It got the point across though, and tasted amazing! That being said… you *can* make these with regular sugar, as I did, but coconut is preferred (and keeps them slightly less refined).

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Let’s make tasty things:

  • 3/4 c sugar (see above note)
  • 1/2 c water
  • 1 c full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 large ripe banana, mashed
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil (mine is the unrefined variety that smells like coconut)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1.5 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flaxseed+3 tbsp water)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/3 c dark chocolate chippies

To do so, we…

Make caramel!
Pour sugar and water into a smallish saucepan. Whisking frequently, bring it to a boil. Reduce heat to low/simmering, and let it reduce until the water is reduced by half. If you use coconut sugar, the water should be dark brown; if using regular sugar, it’ll be lighter in color. Keep whisking, as it has a tendency to bubble up. Slowly whisk in coconut milk and continue whisking for 10-15 minutes or until (if using coconut sugar) the mixture thickens and is a dark brown. If you’re like me and you attempted regular sugar, it’ll look grey. Not the most gorgeous color, but delicious. Promise. The mixture will thicken as it cooks, more so with coconut sugar than regular. Stir in the salt, and remove from heat. Let it cool while you do the rest of the cookies, or you can store the caramel in a jar in the fridge (it keeps for several weeks, tightly sealed).

Onward! Cookie time:

Mix up your flax egg and let it sit for a bit to thicken.
Mash up the banana, toss in slightly meltedish coconut oil, and use a mixer to beat until fluffy. Whisk in vanilla extract and 2/3 c caramel sauce (save the rest for later). Once the flax egg sets up, whisk that in.

In a larger bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt. Add dry ingredients to wet, stirring until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips, and slightly flatten the dough into the bottom of your bowl. Pop it into the fridge and let it chill for about a half and hour.

Preheat the oven to 350, and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Remove the dough from the fridge and make several cuts through it with a knife. Drizzle the caramel sauce over the dough, without mixing it in. Drop blobs of dough onto the prepared cookie sheets (whatever size you deem necessary for that particular day…), leaving the streaks of caramel running throughout. The dough will be a bit wet with all that, but just roll with it. Bake cookies for 8-12 minutes (I know that’s a huge range, but I did mine on convection so they ended up going a bit longer. Check at 8, and go from there!) Because of the caramel, the cookies can look a bit underdone, but they should be solid to the touch when done—check the bottoms if you’re not sure. Let cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes, and then transfer to wire rack.

Do yourself a favor and eat one warm out of the oven!

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Dowager Lady Grantham and Date Caramel

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Hmm. Monday things.

1. DOWNTON ABBEY. OMG. I’m. OBSESSED. Maggie Smith has hands down the best facial expressions. Ever. “That will be an easy caveat to accept, as I am never wrong”… the dowager Lady Grantham is now my role model for getting old. Machiavellian and meddlesome. Heaven help whoever is supposed to be “taking care” of me…

2. Working out is amazing. I was about ready to crawl out of my skin today but then Marilyn kicked my butt and I lifted lots of heavy things and now I feel much better! Time to go eat [cookies, preferably  a sensible post-workout snack].

3. I’m now Mat Pilates 1 certified! Wheeee! Watch this space for further developments.

4. I know this is a little delayed, but too bad because it’s funny anyway. This is what I looked like when I got to Disneyland:

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… annnnnnndddd 13 hours later. Winning.

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6. And yes. I bought myself a princess crown. You should be very jealous. Now I can wear it whilst cooking!!! Because… I’m a princess. Obvs.

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7. Date caramel. There are no words. It’s amazing, you’ll just have to go make it immediately. But before you go, admire the photo up at the top. That little blob? Yep. Amazing. Make it. Thank me later. Okay? Okay. Good. Bye bye, off to the kitchen you go.

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Raw, Vegan and Clean Date Caramel

Ever so slightly adapted from Food Doodles, here! I got about a cup, ish, of caramel, maybe a bit more. This stuff is amazing on pretty much anything you could dream up… like ice cream…whirled with frozen banana….on a spoon….in cookies…. whatever. I put some of mine on cookies (underwhelming cookies, so no recipe), and I’m hoarding/rationing the rest. No big deal.

The what:

  • 2 c pitted organic dates
  • 1/2 c + 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • scant 1/2 tsp sea salt

*dates+water+vanilla make the basic caramel. You can leave it like that, or add cinnamon, salt, maple, or whatever your heart desires to taste for something different.

The how:

Firstly. PIT THE DATES. Do not murder your food processor, pretty please… Mine made unhappy noises at first but I promise I got all the pits out of there. Once pitted, chuck them all into the bowl of the processor. Pulse until they form a ball. Add in the water and vanilla, and blend until smooth. This took me about five minutes, and I still have a few very small pieces of date left. Scrape down the sides as necessary. Add in whatever spices you want, and pulse again to incorporate. I keep mine in a sealed jar in the fridge, and I’m sure it’ll keep for a good while, but good luck keeping it around longer than about three days…

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Not really relevant at all but awesome. Who doesn’t love Disneyland at night?