Thursday, August 29, 2013

Cherry Blondies & Homemade Almond Butter (Paleo, Gluten free)

These are so good!  Elana of Elana's Pantry is a total genius, because she figured out that almond butter, eggs, and honey will magically bake up into BLONDIES.  Yes!  Fudgy, delicious blondies.  When you read the recipe, you'll think there must be a mistake.  I am here to tell you there isn't!  Almonds prove themselves here once again as a miracle food.  I promise you will love these.  You don't even have to add cherries; you can just make them without for regular blondies.  And don't worry about the almond extract.  I was trying to play up the almond flavor a little, but it didn't really come through.  So you could leave it out, leave it in, or even try a full teaspoon if you want that little hint of marzipan flavor.

I tried the brownie version of these last week, and while I was impressed at how similar the texture was to that of regular brownies, I didn't love the flavor.  I could taste some of the bitterness of the cocoa powder--maybe the recipe wasn't quite sweet enough to balance that out.  When I try those again, I might reduce the cocoa a little and bump up the vanilla.

But, I almost don't need to make the brownies again, because these blondies are perfect and they have lots of chocolate.  You'll want to use a good bar of chocolate for this recipe, because the flavor really stands out.  The cherries are fabulous, too, if you love your chocolate and fruit combos the way I do.  Ben and I just had the last of these for breakfast, and I'm already trying to think of excuses to make them again.  If you try them, leave me a comment and let me know what you think!

Ingredients (makes 12 blondies; adapted from Elana's Pantry):

8 ounces (1 cup) creamy roasted almond butter (*see below to make your own)
1/2 cup honey
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
2 pinches of salt (if your almond butter is unsalted)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3.5 ounces good dark chocolate, chopped or broken into chunks
1 heaping cup frozen dark sweet cherries, chopped

Preheat the oven to 325.  Line an 8 x 8 pan with tinfoil and grease the foil.  In a large bowl, beat the almond butter until smooth with a mixer or a whisk (if you use fresh homemade almond butter, it will probably already be smooth and not need much beating).  Add the honey and egg and stir well, then stir in the extracts, salt, and baking soda.  Fold in half the cherries and half the chocolate chunks.  Spread the batter into the prepared pan, and sprinkle the remaining chocolate and cherries on top.  Bake for about 25 minutes, until browned and just set in the middle.  Cool completely in the pan, then use the foil to transfer to a cutting board and slice into 12 bars.

Homemade almond butter (makes 1 cup):

12 ounces (2 and 1/2 cups) roasted unsalted almonds
1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)

Place the almonds in a food processor and pulse until smooth.  This will take a few minutes.  The almonds will turn into a finely ground almond meal, then a coarse almond butter, and finally the smooth, creamy stuff we're looking for.  Add the salt, if using, and pulse to combine.  Keep in mind that if you add salt here, you won't need to add any when you make your blondies.  If you're making the almond butter for other purposes, you can try adding a little bit of honey, cinnamon, or whatever other flavorings you like.  One of my favorite snacks is slices of apple or peach dipped in almond butter.  It's also a great replacement for peanut butter in pretty much anything.

Store your almond butter in a jar in the fridge.  It should last for at least a week or so--probably longer.

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  1. My gluten-free friends have convinced me that almond butter baked treats can be amazing! These looks absolutely fantastic.

    1. Thank you! Almond butter really is great for baking--I was totally shocked. Let me know if you try these!

  2. I've been wanting to make my own nut butters for a long time now but have yet to take the plunge. Geez, it seems so easy and so much healthier than what's in the store.

    1. It really is easy! Healthier, too--I can usually find pure almond butter at Whole Foods, but they also carry lots of brands with sugar and unhealthy oils mixed in. It's almost easier to make some at home than read through all those ingredient lists!

  3. I was wondering can you omit the cherry, I love almond butter and so does my family. But my kids will not eat this with Cherries in them, will it change the recipe can I leave it out. Thank you.

    1. I haven't tried it without, but I am 95% sure it will still be great! Maybe just add some extra chocolate chunks :). You could also add an extra tablespoon or two of honey since the cherries provide quite a bit of sweetness. Let me know how it goes!


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