Monday, April 15, 2013

Simply Good Brownies

These are those brownies everyone needs a recipe for. They are quick to get a batch in the oven and practically scream for a tall glass of milk.

I'm no brownie connoisseur, but I'd say these are more on the cakey-fudgy side. They remind me of the brownies my grandma used to make for dumping vanilla bean ice cream on and drizzle with Sander's hot fudge. Except, these are made with almond meal. They are perfectly chocolaty, and not too sweet.
I really like the texture of these almond meal brownies. They have a slight crust that forms on top and lends that nice shine that tops classic brownies. It's surprising that the almond meal elicits such an airy crumb, it makes them an excellent vehicle for milk! Because the almond meal contributes extra moisture to the batter compared to the run of the mill flour, they have a little bit of a fudge consistency...but they are not fudge-y where you have to eat them with a fork otherwise you'll end up with melted chocolate all over your fingers. I do have a recipe for that sort of brownie, and those are a great treat for a bit more formal of a gathering, in my opinion. Instead, I literally made these after a lunch out with my grandparents on a whim. And I love them for their simplicity. They were delicious gripping a cold glass of milk in one hand and digging them out of the pan with the other free plates or forks necessary.

The added fiber and protein from the almond meal make these a healthier alternative to the usual brownie, and even the cocoa powder isn't bad; with it's own contribution of antioxidants and fiber. These are practically health food...practically. ; )

Though I have only made them once and cannot (yet) attest to this, this recipe seems as though it would be fairly easy to play around with and tweak to suit whatever kind of brownie-mood you are in. I would think they could be further health-i-fied with a more natural sugar substitute, or if you feel creative, you could try mashed banana or date paste. I'm sure these variations will end up on this blog eventually, because I will most definitely be making these again!

I found this excellent recipe for Almond Flour Brownies from The Wannabe Chef quite awhile ago. It's too bad it has taken me so long to getting around to trying it, this recipe would have been a staple by now.

I did tweak the recipe a bit to suit my liking, and I would make them just the same next time.

Recipe: Almond Meal Brownies

yield: 9 brownies
3/4 cup almond meal
3 T unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 t (GF) baking powder
3/4 C sugar of choice
3 eggs or 3/4 cup egg whites
1 1/2 t vanilla extract
1 t instant espresso
1/2 cup butter (I use a yogurt butter from a tub)
1 Cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare an 8 x 8 inch glass dish with cooking spray.
Combine the almond meal, salt, cocoa powder, and baking powder.
Seperatly, carefully melt the butter and 1/2 cup of the chocolate chips. I use the microwave by heating on high for thirty seconds, stirring, and heating for 5-10 more seconds before stopping to stir. Continuing in 5-10 second intervals until almost melted. Remove the mixture from the microwave before completely melted and stir, the chocolate will continue to melt into the butter without being heated further.
In another bowl, mix together the eggs, sugar, vanilla, and espresso powder.
Take a spoonful of the butter/chocolate mix and gently stir this into the egg and sugar mix before adding all of the butter/chocolate mixture. This is so the eggs don't begin to cook from the heat shock the butter and chocolate might provide.
Combine both chocolate mixture and the dry ingredients and stir well before pouring into the prepared baking dish.
Now for those remaining chocolate chips...distribute those over the top of the batter.
Bake for 30 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

Oh, except I would add more almond nut butter on top. This is a must, in my opinion. Almond flour brownies...almond nut was meant to be!

It's the simple things.

Do you have a go-to recipe for casual company?


Monday, April 1, 2013

Banoffee Pie

I had the pleasure of making this pie and being able to share it with my grandparents. Following a lovely lunch, this was a really great way to end the meal. Sometimes you just need to make a tried-and-true, old-fashioned pie.
Well, it wasn't my tried-and-true per say, I had never made a Banoffee pie before. BUT, I went crazy researching recipes and comments for making Banoffee pie, until I was confident I had a no-fail recipe.

I had taken an interest in making one after reading another blogger's post about it's origins. 
I had always thought Banoffe pie had to do with coffee and bananas...but I was mistaken, it's toffee and banana! This is a brilliant combination and is a really nice change from chocolate-overload desserts that I am usually drawn to. Of course, chocolate is still made it's appearance on the pie, but only a little... as decoration. The bit of bitterness the dark chocolate lent the pie, did complement the super sweet bananas and toffee wonderfully.

This is a classic English dessert that I look forward to making again! It was a breeze to put together and the result is a grand presentation. 
What really won me over was the texture. The soft bananas and toffee pair really well with the chewy graham cracker crust and fluffy whipped topping.

Now, I will admit...while I was making the pie I was a little concerned about how it would turn out. To me, a layer of toffee just didn't do I want to put this...appetizing? I thought the banana and toffee were mixed together as a filling before being put in the pie crust, instead of being layered separately like how the recipe called for. To make myself feel better, I did add a single layer of banana before pouring the toffee into the crust. There...that's better! Whew. I realize this isn't normal, but I liked it, and I don't think anyone would really notice...or care for that matter.

Banoffee Pie

adapted from maameemoomoo
yield: 1 10 inch pie

2 1/2 cup gluten free graham cracker, crushed
1/4 cup almond meal as needed
1 cup butter, melted
1 can condensed milk
5 bananas, divided
200 ml whipping cream
1/4 cup dark chocolate, melted

Fill a large pot with water and submerge the can of condensed milk in the water. Place the pot on the stove and bring to a boil. Continue to boil the water for 2 hours, adding more water as needed.
Remove the can and let cool completely.
I use the plastic baggie and rolling pin method for crushing graham crackers, I always end up with crumbs everywhere, If you prefer another method go for it.
Melt the butter, add the cracker crumbs and thoroughly mix. I thought my mixture was too wet still, so I added almost 1/4 cup of almond meal. Press mixture into the base and onto the sides of a 10 inch pie dish (I used a springform pan).
Chill for 1 hour.
Here is where I added one banana slice layer.
Open the can of condensed milk. Spread onto the base of your crust. Chill for 1 hour.
Peel and thinly slice the rest of the bananas, layer on top of the toffee layer.
Whip the cream for a few minutes on high (I used a hand-held blender), and spread this over the bananas.
Decorate with the melted dark chocolate.

This pie was also super easy to make gluten free. All you really need to do is buy gluten free graham crackers, which are now quite common to find in grocery stores. Of course if you are feeling really ambitious you could try to make your own graham crackers, but in this recipe I settled for store-bought.

Now, since making this recipe, I can say it is my tried-and-true, I look forward to making this again for another gathering.

What are some of your favorite flavor combinations?

I'm pretty sure banana and toffee will be making it's appearance in the kitchen much more frequently, and the chocolate...that will always be close at hand ;)