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!
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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