Sometimes, you wake up and just want a brownie or two for breakfast. Because that's exactly how I felt when I woke up yesterday morning. My sweet tooth was in high gear and a mound of delicious leftover brownies that I made for a Christmas gathering the night before were staring right at me as I reached for the blender to whip up my favorite smoothie. Well, 'tis the season, because I pushed that blender aside and caved into my cravings.
Let's shine a spotlight on these brownies for a hot second. I've currently treated Amy Chaplin's recent cookbook, At Home In The Whole Food Kitchen, as my cooking bible since spending some quality time back in Richmond with my family for the holidays. It's 386 pages of pure beauty, filled with wholesome and nourishing recipes in celebration of the art of eating well. Perfect, right? I nearly melted when I flipped through her book and spotted her Almond Butter Brownies with Sea Salt. They're completely free of refined sugars and dairy, however they certainly do not lack the rich, chocolaty flavor that you'd of course want in a warm, homemade batch of brownies. I'm usually apprehensive when it comes to baking, given my consistent experience with sub par results and apprehension to a laundry list of ingredients. That said, these were a real game changer and included ingredients that I've been able to use regularly in other recipes throughout the holiday (i.e. almond butter, maple syrup, dates, almond milk and olive oil). And the smell that filled the kitchen while these were baking was such a tease for the tastebuds. So high five to you, Amy Chaplin, for creating a crowd-pleasing (vegan) recipe that can melt the hearts of brownie and non-brownie lovers alike.
But yes, I did want to bring a bit more balance to my breakfast to help kickstart my day of last-minute Christmas shopping...so, I relied on another trendy cult favorite: chia pudding. It's also one of Amy's recipes, which you can find here. This somewhat spontaneous breakfast ended up being nutrient dense, filled with protein (almond butter), fiber (dates), antioxidants (cocoa), heart healthy & skin feeding fats (olive oil, coconut oil), magnesium (cashews) and an omega punch (chia seeds).
Treat yourself for breakfast and consider a batch of these brownies as a balanced part of your next morning ritual. I'm sure that Santa would appreciate them, too.
Recipe from Food Network, courtesy of Amy Chaplin
Makes fifteen 3 x 2 ½-inch brownies
1/2 cup packed, pitted dates
1 1/2 cups whole spelt flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons toasted almond butter
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup maple sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons plain soy milk or almond milk
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup toasted almonds, chopped
3 1/2 oz dark chocolate, coarsely chopped & divided, or about ¾ cup chocolate chips
Flaky sea salt (either Maldon or fleur de sel)
- Place dates in a medium bowl and cover with boiling water. Let soak for 20 minutes or until softened, then drain well.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13 x 9-inch baking pan (also known as a quarter sheet pan) with parchment paper; brush paper and sides of pan lightly with oil, and set aside.
- Sift flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder into a medium bowl; whisk to combine and set aside.
- Place almond butter, olive oil, maple syrup, maple sugar, soy milk/almond milk, salt, vanilla, and drained dates in a food processor; blend until smooth. Pour into sifted flour mixture and stir with a rubber spatula until almost combined. Reserve 2 tablespoons of chopped chocolate and stir the rest into the batter being careful not to over-mix. Transfer batter into prepared pan and spread out evenly. Sprinkle with almonds, remaining chocolate, and a large pinch of sea salt.
- Bake for 30 minutes or until edges pull away from the sides of pan and a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. For best results, refrigerate until completely cold before cutting.