Is cooking a metaphor for life?
If it is, the lessons life has to teach us sometimes amazes and perplexes me and definitely keeps me cognizant of the possibility and looking for any hidden messages.
I cook at home nearly twice a day providing me ample opportunity to make mistakes in the kitchen which always prove to be lessons learned. So why is it when I plan to make a recipe to share with you and I feel certain it’s going to be grand, it flops? Fails. Doesn’t inspire. Let alone make me want to eat the leftovers.
Last weekend I was craving matcha, but not a hot matcha latte and my mint plant isn’t even planted yet to whip up this matcha mint iced tea. Instead, I had my heart set on matcha ice cream. I made some homemade cashew milk, opened a can of coconut milk, added one tablespoon matcha power, five pitted Medjool dates, a splash of vanilla, vodka and a pinch of salt and blended, chilled and churned. And nothing. It was flat in flavor. Lackluster in the vivid green that is matcha and I felt defeated. By ice cream, my very favorite food ever.
Fast forward a week as we officially kick off summer with a three-day Memorial Day weekend celebration and I wanted to bake something easy, vegan, good + good for you.
Enter this vegan and paleo blondies recipe.
It reminded me of several almond butter chocolate chip cookie recipes I have made over the years but made into bars. And what I liked most about it was the recommendation to specifically use a jar of raw and creamy almond butter from Trader Joe’s. Making cookies and desserts with almond butter can be tricky depending on the texture of the almond butter, which can widely vary from brand to brand or store to store. The density of the butter vastly affects the way the cookie turns out and I had noticed this challenge before but had never tried TJ’s raw and creamy variety as a possible solution to this culinary problem.
After stirring the TJ’s almond butter well, it literally poured out of the container like honey. It was the perfect texture and made the batter easy to manage. And if you are craving something sweet, relax because this one bowl recipe will have dessert in the oven within 10 minutes.
The hardest part in making these blondies is the waiting. Waiting for the bars to bake and then waiting for the bars to cool and chill. If you cut these bars before they have completely cooled and chilled, they will fall apart. And no one wants cookie crumbs.
Which takes me back to cooking as a metaphor for life…is this where the old adage of “that’s the way the cookie crumbles” comes from? I am good with finding hidden messages in food. It keeps me cooking and eating well, except when I stumble like I did with the unimpressive matcha ice cream.
I guess that’s the way the cookie crumbles and that’s fine with me because we are back on top of our game with these sensational vegan and paleo blondies.
Wishing you and yours a happy and safe Memorial Day.
Vegan and Paleo Blondies
These blondie bars are rich and decadent and yet made with healthy ingredients, so you can feel justified in having one. Or two. I cut them into 16 squares making for even less possible guilt. The most difficult part of this recipe is waiting for the blondies to cool and chill. Otherwise, they will fall apart...and that's the way the cookie crumbles.
- 1 tablespoon ground chia seeds
- 3 tablespoons water
- 1 cup creamy raw almond butter from Trader Joe's
- 1/2 cup coconut sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
- 3/4 cup dark chocolate chips I use Enjoy Life which are dairy-free
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a 9x9 square baking dish with parchment paper.
In a big bowl, add the ground chia seeds and the water and let it become gelatinous.
To the chia seed gel, add the almond butter, coconut sugar, vanilla, baking soda, salt and stir well to combine.
Add the chocolate chips and stir to incorporate chips throughout.
At this point, the batter should be pretty thick and come together in a big ball.
Transfer the batter to the lined baking dish and, using a spatula or your fingers, pat it down evenly into the bottom of the dish. It may help to wet your fingers to prevent any sticking.
Bake the blondies for 20-24 minutes, until the top is slightly golden. Allow the blondies to cool and chill thoroughly before cutting. Cut into 16 squares and share with friends and loved ones.
Preserve any remaining blondies in the freezer and don't tell anyone they are there.