Gluten and Dairy Free
I will always look for an excuse to eat dessert for breakfast. Joanne Chang of Boston’s Flour Bakery says it best: “eat dessert first.”
To me, Blondies are perfect. Salty, sweet, rich vanilla and butterscotch flavor all in the perfect chewy bar. In recent months, I have been trying to reign in the refined sugar in my diet. As any person with an autoimmune disease would know, refined sugar can be inflammatory and make your symptoms worse. But also, too much sugar can lead to a spike in energy followed by a very abrupt crash later. So, with these blondies, I wanted to make something with more fiber, less sugar, a little bit more protein but still have that decadent taste and tender mouth feel.
Mighty Oat and Almond
I am pretty sure that I eat oatmeal every day all fall and winter long. I love oatmeal. The beautiful thing about oatmeal is the amazing healthfulness of it. It’s full of the good fiber you need, a decent bump of protein and a nutty taste. That is exactly why I used gluten-free oat flour in this recipe.
While I bought mine from nuts.com, you can make your own very easily at home. Just take gluten-free rolled oats, put them in a blender or food processor and blitz until you have a flour.
Oat flour is great, but using just oat flour can make baked goods that are a little bit dry. Oats are very absorptive, which is why I used almond flour as well. Almonds are very oily, which adds moisture, which will lead to a nicer crumb in the end. Doesn’t hurt that almond flour adds a little bit of a protein kick.
While I usually go for chocolate chips in just about everything, I suppose those are not exactly breakfast appropriate…
When I was watching an episode of the Great British Baking Show, one of the bakers (Sandy or Sarah Jane) used dried bananas in a recipe. Not banana chips, which I think are pretty gross. I saw them on nuts.com and had to try them. I think I have my new snack. They are a little tough right out of the bag, so I soak mine in hot water for 10 to 15 minutes before I bake with them. After they are soaked, make sure you dry them very well with a dish towel.
If you don’t have dried bananas or can’t find them, dried cranberries, cherries, apples or dates are all great substitutes.
Now, with the bananas (or whatever dried fruit you are using), I like the crunch and butteriness of pecans. I have never understood why walnuts are so frequently used in muffins or brownies. Walnuts are so waxy and don’t always add much in terms of taste to the final product. I usually turn to pecans, pistachios or cashews. These nuts are all a little bit more robust in taste and texture.
To break up all the richness, you need a little bit of bitterness; hello cacao nibs. These are the beginning of all chocolate so you get all the chocolatey taste, without the sweetness. While they are bitter, they also are a little bit fruity. My chocolate maker brother got me addicted to these and I used to snack on them when I worked farmer’s markets for him. Did I mention they have natural caffeine? And sold.
1/2 cup vegan butter, melted
1/4 cup almond butter
1 cup coconut sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp GF vanilla extract
1/2 tsp coffee extract (optional)
3/4 cup gluten-free oat flour
3/4 cup almond flour
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp finely ground coffee
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp potato starch
1/4 cup each of chopped pecans, dried bananas (soaked and chopped) and chocolate-covered cacao nibs
Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease and line an 9 by 13 inch baking pan with parchment paper (or greased tinfoil).
In a medium sized bowl, whisk together oat and almond flours, baking soda, ground coffee, potato starch, cinnamon and salt; set aside.
In a large bowl, combine vegan butter, almond butter, coconut and brown sugars. Whisk together until smooth. Add the two eggs and whisk again until the eggs are combined. Whisk in the vanilla and coffee extracts.
Fold the flour mixture into the butter mixture. Once the flour is mostly combined, add the pecans, cacao nibs and dried bananas, saving a handful of the nuts and nibs to sprinkle on top before baking.
Pour batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle with that handful of mix-ins. Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick to the center comes out clean. Let cool for about a hour before cutting.
Enjoy with a cup of coffee or warmed in the oven for 10 minutes and topped with a dollop of plain coconut or almond yogurt.
Some of my favorite products in this recipe:
Vegan Butter: I use Earth Balance Buttery Sticks, the soy-free ones. They work just like butter so it’s easy to swap them in for most recipes.
Coconut Sugar: I have tried many, but Madhava is my favorite. A great replacement for brown sugar, full of flavor and a low glycemic sweetener.
Almond Butter: I get mine from Thrive Market. It’s organic, so sugar added and doesn’t require much stirring (also it’s less expensive at Thrive!). You can certainly use Trader Joe’s organic almond butter too, just make sure there is no added sugar.
Almond Flour: Bob’s Red Mill natural almond flour is my favorite. By natural, they mean the almonds were ground with their skins. Something about the skins makes it taste a little nuttier if you ask me.