Monday, January 28, 2013

when you're looking for something to whip up

Doesn't this look yummy?

No? Perhaps like a batch of something left to go severely moldy? Good thing it's not for eating.

It's a batch of play dough I made for Ben last week to occupy him while Dave was trying to study and I was in for a morning of cooking. I'd finally had enough of the DVD player being his baby sitter. :)

Plus I was inspired by this post  at Jess McClenahan's blog back in November and encouraged by how much Ben enjoyed play doughing at our local community family room.

And while he was busy making minty green creations at the table, I was whipping up a batch of these...

I could eat a whole pan by myself. There's just something about chocolate and peanut that tastes just right.

Ever since I've taken a closer look at our diets and how foods affect our bodies, for better and for worse, I've been experimenting with ways to make healthier versions of our favorite food and desserts.

And although it's healthiest to not eat desserts and grab a piece of fruit instead, there are times when brownies are called for. So they might as well be made as "healthy "as possible without sacrificing the chocolate fudgy goodness.

Here's my version of vegan peanut butter brownies which are oil-free (except the peanut butter), egg-free, reduced sugar, low gluten and dairy-free. But I still think they're big on taste. I served these last week with a side of strawberry sauce (just throw (organic) frozen strawberries in a pot and cook over medium heat until the berries break down into a thick sauce).

Vegan Peanut Butter Brownies
*inspired by Vegan Planet by Robin Robertson

Moist Ingredients
1/3 c. smooth natural peanut butter
2 flax eggs (2 Tbsp + 6 Tbsp water)
1/2 c. date paste
1/4 c. pure maple syrup*
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 c. unsweetened almond milk**

Dry Ingredients
4 oz. vegan, semisweet chocolate chips (fair trade is best)
1 c. spelt flour (organic is best)***
1 c. buckwheat flour (organic is best)***
1 tsp. baking powder

1. Mix up flax eggs and set aside. Make sure peanut butter is at room temperature or warm in a small pot until very runny.
2. In a small saucepan, combine chocolate, date paste, maple syrup, vanilla and almond milk. Heat over low heat, until all ingredients are well combined, making sure you don't burn the chocolate.
3. Combine flours and baking powder in a bowl.
4. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir until just combined. The mixture will be very thick. If it looks dry add more almond milk.
5. Pour batter into a greased 8x8 glass baking pan. Spoon peanut butter over batter and lightly swirl it in using a knife.
6. Place in a 275 degree oven and bake for 30 minutes.

Recipe notes:
*You could use another type of natural sweetener but this may change the taste and texture slightly. Agave syrup might be the closest in consistency to maple syrup.
**You can use another type of unsweetened, non-dairy milk if you like. I like almond milk for the natural, subtle sweetness it adds to dessert recipes.
***I liked this combination of flours the best. If you try different whole grain flours, the texture of the brownies may be affected. Buckwheat is gluten free, but spelt is not. Read more about spelt here.

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