My mom taught me to dance in the kitchen. It was elaborate, silly ballroom dancing, with her in the lead and several twirls and dips. It was always impromptu and always fun, and she communicated some important lessons in that dancing.
1. Be silly. Don't take yourself too seriously.
2. The kitchen is a fun place.
3. You're beautiful and I love you.
My mom also taught me several important food principles, some of which I learned through observation. When my sister and I were young and playing soccer every other week night, we frequented those chain buffet restaurants. My mom would load up her plate with healthy stuff--lots of salad, chicken and vegetables. But then, THEN she would go back for dessert, which would include at least two different items with chocolate and maybe a little ice cream on top.
Food Principle #1: Eat a healthy dinner so you can splurge on dessert.
My mom baked a cake every week when she was a kid. She had two brothers and a sister, a military dad and a stay-at-home mom, and every Friday night she made a cake. She said with the six of them it only lasted the weekend.
She did not continue to bake a cake every weekend when my sister and I were growing up, but we did work our way through our share of homemade ice cream, brownies, chocolate chip cookies and the like. We learned the ins and outs of baking pretty early, and she'd even include a math lesson with adding fractions to measure out ingredients.
I thought about my mom while I baked these blondies, even though I won't see her for another couple weeks. (I made them Friday night, and after giving a few away yesterday, Adam and I have already finished them!) I substituted almond flour for regular flour, but, following my mom's food principles, that was the only change that I made.
Food Principle #2: It's ok to make a substitution in a recipe, but never underestimate the power of real butter and real sugar.
I was worried that using almond flour might affect the texture, but these were everything you'd want from a brownie--chewy in the middle but firm on the edges, studded with chunks of chocolate and a hint of almond flavor. The dough comes together in about 10 minutes, so you could have these to your table (or your face) in under an hour.
They would be the perfect thing to make for someone who carried you around for nine months, or put up with you when you when you were an annoying teenager.
They would be a great gift for someone you admire, or someone who is the hardest-working and best person that you know.
Just make them and thank me later.
I love you, mom.
Almond Blondies (Gluten-Free!)
½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted and then cooled
1 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup almond butter
1 ½ cups almond flour/meal
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 325. Grease an 8-inch square pan with butter or non-stick cooking spray.
Mix melted butter, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, and almond butter in medium-sized bowl.
In a separate, large bowl, whisk together almond meal, baking powder and salt. Add wet mixture to dry mixture, stirring until all lumps are gone. Add chocolate chips. Pour into prepared ban and baked for 35-45 minutes or until edges are golden brown and middle is set.