Halloween used to be so easy. You scurried around all night, gorged on candy, felt not a twinge of guilt and moved on. Now, it’s more complicated. Candy is not so dandy the morning after. But still, we all want to walk on the wild side on Halloween. Enter healthy treats, for which we turn to our crafty Vegan friends.
Vegan cuisine is rife with creativity. That said, I have no patience for food creations that are called something they’re not. Cashews with nutritional yeast, while it can be tasty, is not queso. And as my husband sternly pointed out, chickpeas mashed with tahini is NOT tuna salad (though I do love this one).
Along those lines, when it comes to healthy treats, don’t tell me that date paste rolled in peanuts is just like a Pay Day because it’s not. It’s just not. And tofu blended with chocolate chips taste just like, drumroll please…tofu blended with chocolate chips.
But then sometimes you find legit healthy alternatives for your treat fix. For Exhibit A I call up cocoa nutty balls; And Exhibit B: Heart of Darkness cups made here with pumpkin seed butter (because who doesn’t have some of that laying around) which gets extra Halloween points for ghoulish green insides.
This chocolate mousse/pudding is another win. It was borne of too many ripe avocados, an upcoming trip and that Yankee streak that hates to waste even one bit of a perfectly good fresh produce.
The sheer ease and speed of making it (hello food processor) would be enough to make this a win, but it’s also delish and not one bit bad for you. After all, healthy fats are a thing and maple syrup, in responsible amounts, is like mainlining nature.
If you do want to witness dates and peanuts trying their hardest to be a PayDay, check this out from Minimalist Baker:
Go ahead—have a treat, or two, and feel damn good about it. Happy Halloween!
Quick and Clean Chocolate Mousse
Total Time: 5 minutes (you’ve got that don’t you?)
Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor until completely smooth. Pour in four little bowls or one big one, and refrigerate it if you want it thicken up. Dress up if you must and feel 100 percent totally good about yourself.
I figured it was over…summer, patio nights, ice cream stands—the whole thing. But when I walked in the store earlier this week I saw them—peaches. In fact, we officially have a few more days of summer. So, hold your apples and squash. We’ll get to those soon enough. For now, we have, well, not really recipes, but inspiration for how to fully exploit the last of the summer produce. I’m looking at you, peaches. And corn, you’re next.
Wayyy earlier this summer a very stylish friend introduced me to the most gorgeous take on a caprese salad, substituting ripe peaches, nectarines and plums for tomatoes. Brilliant! It was so good and so perfect (so long ago) I figured I’d missed the peach train. But she was wily that friend, and must have had some inside track on perfect pre season peaches. Flash forward to a few weeks later in California, when another friend brought massive, juicy white peaches to the party. Still later back in the northeast another friend gave me a bag of the most insanely sweet pluots. I vowed, a: to keep these friends close, and b: to buy peaches, plums and related stone fruits like it was my job until they were gone.
If they weren’t ripe I shoved them into a paper bag and waited until they were. If they were ripe they were lucky to get home before getting cut up immediately. I made peach salsa, a simple concoction of peaches and all the usual salsa suspects: jalapeno, lime, red onion, cilantro. That morphed easily into a peach bruschetta by spooning it atop toasts spread with mascarpone cheese. I even made a sugarless, no oil or fat added super virtuous peach tart which was delicious but was also the least photogenic thing on the planet. I urge you to try it, and focus on its inner beauty. Then, there was the brilliant blogger who suggested freezing leftover white wine (what’s that anyway?) and blending it up with fresh peaches for an instant Happy Hour Slurpee.
So there we have it—a few ways to enjoy your peaches and stone fruits, even though they are perfect as is. If you need an actual recipe, here is one from Real Life Delicious (which never disappoints). If you’re good with freelancing it, here is a loose guide for making Peach Caprese Salad. If you are so moved to add a sprinkling of fresh corn, you might start a trend.
Just Peachy Caprese Salad
Greens of choice
Ripe peaches, nectarines, plums or pluots in any combo
Fresh Burrata or Mozzarella or a bit of both
Avocado (optional, but kind of not optional for Vegans)
Pesto or torn basil leaves
Balsamic glaze or good balsamic vinegar (extra credit to mix the vinegar with some maple syrup if you don’t have the glaze)
Salt and pepper
Arrange greens in a layer on a platter.
Top with fruit slices.
Cover with slices or shreds of cheese, and/or slices of avocado.
Drizzle with pesto or scatter basil leaves on top.
Drizzle with just enough olive oil so all your ingredients feel a little love.
Drizzle (because you are so good at it now) with balsamic glaze, balsamic vinegar or balsamic/maple concoction.
Give the whole shebang a shake of salt and pepper.
This is a total make on site thing. Bust out the fresh produce and get your friends to help, or let them drink their peach slurpees and watch you create the masterpiece. It’s all good.
Ok, so here’s a little summer quiz: What did we learn last week, other than the fact that 3-day work weeks rock? Well, careful readers, we learned that this year’s strawberry season was late to arrive but is awesome. We are, in mid-July, only halfway through the heart of strawberry season, which means we will have zero downtime before it’s blueberry season. And all this is overlapping with the greater “ice cream season” (a subset of maple creemee season, which some people believe should last all year.)
Let me connect the dots here. It’s time to bust out the ice cream maker in your basement. This recipe came to me via Sister B, who lives amidst California’s produce bonanza. It is, as promised, ridiculously easy, and kind of healthy, or at least not that unhealthy thanks to the buttermilk. It is for sure best with organic strawberries, buttermilk and cream, but also awesome with items from the standard fare at the air-conditioned Nirvana of your grocery store. No need to pre-make and pre-chill the mix, and, if you are feeling very Laura Ingalls, it can be made without an ice cream maker.
It’s summer—no need to prolong this. There are places to go, things to eat. Have a great weekend!
Stupid Easy Strawberry Buttermilk Ice Cream
This recipe is adapted from How To Eat A Peach, by Diana Henry. Our friends like Diana, in Mother England, know a thing or two about strawberries and cream.
18 oz strawberries
1 cup superfine sugar, divided
1 vanilla pod, split lengthways, or 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cups buttermilk
½ cup sour cream
1 pinch sea salt flakes
Hull and slice the strawberries. Put them into a bowl with half the sugar and the seeds from the vanilla pod (scrape out the seeds using the tip of a knife. or…dump in the vanilla.
Leave this to sit for about 30 minutes. The strawberries will become soft and exude some juice.
Transfer the fruit with all the juice and the rest of the sugar to a food processor and whizz (God I love the Brits) to a purée.
Push the purée through a nylon sieve (or whatever you’ve got) to get rid of the seeds. Mix with the buttermilk, sour cream and salt.
Churn in an ice cream machine, or transfer to a shallow container and put in the freezer.
If you’re using the manual method, take the ice cream out and churn it – either using electric beaters or by putting the mixture in a food processor – 3 times during the freezing process. Do this first after about 1 hour, when the mixture is setting round the edges, then at 2-hour intervals. (Extra points for wearing a gingham dress during this escapade). Cover with a lid, or with cling film or greaseproof paper, between each churning, and when you store it. Freeze for around 8 hours or until completely firm.
Take the ice cream out of the freezer about 10 minutes before you want to serve it, to allow it to soften slightly.
Strawberries, blueberries, ice cream. What is wrong with this picture? Nothing!
If you need something else cold, refreshing and summery to bring to the party might I suggest:
OnSome things just should not go together, like siblings and sex. Similarly, the terms gluten free and scones really do not belong in the same sentence. And yet, just as Jaime and Cersei somehow seem to work as the couple you love to hate, it turns out that gluten free scones are darned tasty.
For these scones I used Pamela’s gluten free baking mix, as recommended by Santa Cruz Susan. Susan is kind of an angel on earth, which is to say, the opposite of Cersei. Susan apologized that using a mix is sort of cheating, which happens to be appropriate for this particular scone, because nobody cheats more than Cersei, and gets away with it.
The Loving Lannister scone features apricots, prunes and almonds, all members of the prunus family. Not coincidentally, prunus siblings have a bitter cyanide compound in the seed that makes them poisonous (kind of like kisses from Spain). Toxic combos that are related to each other? Could there be a more perfect scone to honor the first family of King’s Landing? And sure, you don’t expect to get black-hearted prunes and golden apricots in one bite, but social norms never stopped a Lannister. And who doesn’t like a little plot twist?
Cooking notes: For this scone, I defied the recipe and tried to make them into the traditional round mound, cut into wedges. It required a lot of back alley repair, which nobody needs to see or repeat. Give yourself a pardon and make them as drop scones, as directed. They are unexpectedly delicious!
Oh beHAVE you two!
Gluten Free Apricot Almond Scones
2-1/3 cups Pamela’s Baking & Pancake Mix
1/3 cup sugar (preferably coconut or demerera sugar), plus 1 Tbsp for sprinkling
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup dried apricots and dried prunes (in any proportion), roughly chopped
1/3 cup almonds, roughly chopped or painfully slivered
4 tbsp butter (as cold as Cersei’s heart, which is to say frozen if possible)
Preheat oven to 375.
Mix the dry ingredients (through almonds) together. Cut in the butter using two knives (or make it easy on yourself and grate it in). Add the milk and beaten egg. Mix together with a fork. Dough will be thick. Drop large, tall dollops of dough (scones will spread when baking) onto lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle lightly with remaining coconut sugar. Bake for 15-17 minutes or until they look dangerously irresistible.
Let’s talk about Tyrion. He’s been on the sidelines so far this season, but I trust his day is coming. We love that little guy. He’s quite rugged and harbors his share of bitterness (about the whole ‘least favored bastard’ thing among other issues). He’s also soft and quite sweet on the inside. (Dude, we saw you looking at Sansa in the crypt!)
With all that in mind, it’s time for Tyrion — like White Hot Jon Snow and Sassy Sansa to have his very own scone. For Tyrion we have a mini scone made with whole wheat flour for some grit, and studded with bittersweet chocolate chips. The original recipe from Baker By Nature calls for semi sweet mini chocolate chips, but there is nothing small about the chips Tyrion bears on his shoulders, so I opted for bigger, more bitter chips.
Just as Tyrion has become my favorite character, this might
be my favorite scone so far. Scones can feel like such a commitment, but mini
scones feel much more doable. Plus, whole wheat flour gives them a wholesome
heft that eases the guilt factor of eating so much butter in each bite.
As emphasized in this scone tutorial, make sure your butter is cold, even frozen if you are going to grate it. Making mini scones is just a matter of dividing the dough and making two mounds instead of one, and then cutting each into eight wedges. I pegged the slacker meter by shaping the scone mounds directly on the baking sheet. And yes, they turned out just fine. They may not look perfect, but as with Tyrion, the beauty of these scones lies in their imperfections.
Bittersweet Tyrion Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Mini Scones
Prep 10 mins Cook 20 mins Total 30 mins Yield 16 scones
1 cup whole wheat flour (preferably white whole wheat).
1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, VERY cold and cut into tiny pieces, or grated on a box grater
1 large egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup full-fat sour cream
3 tablespoons milk
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
For the egg wash:
1 large egg, beaten1 teaspoon milk or water
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar (or regular sugar if that’s all you’ve got), for sprinkling.
Preheat oven to 400°(F). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. In a large bowl mix together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and sugar.
Cut the butter into small cubes (or, even better, grate it on a box grater) then quickly work it into the mixture (using your fingers, or just two forks if you grated the butter) until it resembles a coarse meal.
In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, vanilla, sour cream, and milk, then add to flour and butter mixture. Use a fork to stir everything together until just moistened.
Add in the chocolate chips and gently fold them into dough with a spatula.
Pour the shaggy dough out onto a clean, floured work surface. Divide it into two equal portions and shape the dough into a 6ish-inch circle. Cut the dough into 8 wedges and carefully transfer to the prepared sheet. (alternatively, dump the whole shebang directly onto the parchment lined sheet and form into two mounds
Lightly brush each scones with the egg wash, then sprinkle the top of each scone with sugar. This is key. White sugar is ok if it is all you’ve got. Turbinado, demerera or coconut sugar gets you bonus points.
Bake for 16-20 minutes, or until the tops are lightly golden brown.
Hands down, Sansa is our favorite ginger in the Seven Kingdoms. Like the scone that is named for her, Sansa looks soft and sweet but is full of substance and spice. Three kinds of ginger—fresh, powdered and candied—give these scones a sassy edge. Fresh lemon—zest in the mix, and juice in the glaze—serves as a reminder that Sansa’s got some rightful, pure acid in her soul, because life is not all sweetness and light! (But it could be if she and White Hot Jon Snow had their way)
This recipe comes from Flour Bakery in Boston, via Martha Stewart, which is kind of perfect. Sansa has a bit of Martha’s exacting savvy in her, not to mention a ruthless streak (I’m looking at you, Ramsay…woof). Plus, à la Martha, Sansa is tough as nails AND knows how to get things done! While careful historians will note that Thrones era natives likely did not have food processors, Martha’s use of it here is, as she would say, “a good thing.” And let’s be real—if Martha were in the Seven Kingdoms she’d have had her minions figure out how to get anything done to perfection, no matter how much effort it took. In this case, the food processor spares us the toil of minions.
I have put the recipe here as it came from Martha, noting
the changes I made, only out of desperation. I was working with the Sunday episode
deadline, a near empty fridge and whatever hodgepodge was in the pantry after a
My scones were Sansational—which is to say, not Martha perfect, but pretty in pictures, interesting, substantial and great tasting, which is all that matters. Well, that and seeing what havoc gets unleashed in Episode 3, the halfway point for the final season. Stay tuned for the next scone or (spoiler alert) mini scone…
Special thanks to: Alice for the creative spark that led to this and so many Game of Scones contestants. Patty, Jean and Sister A for the supply of Meyer lemons from Northern and Southern Cal, the remains of which made it safely to NH in my luggage and kept my clothes lemony fresh!
2 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour,
plus more for dusting
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup finely chopped crystallized
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Grated zest of 2 lemons
1 3/4 sticks (14 tablespoons) cold
unsalted butter, cut into 8 to 10 pieces
1/2 cup cold buttermilk
1/2 cup cold heavy cream
1 large egg, well chilled
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees with rack in center.
2. In a mixer fitted with the paddle
attachment, beat together flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda,
salt, crystallized ginger, ground ginger, and lemon zest. Add butter; beat on
low speed until butter is somewhat broken down with some visible pieces
remaining, about 30 seconds.
3. In a liquid-measuring cup, whisk together
buttermilk, cream, egg, and grated ginger. With mixer on low, add buttermilk
mixture and beat until dough just comes together, 20 to 30 seconds (there will
still be some flour mixture at bottom of bowl).
4. Remove bowl from mixer. Using your hands, gather and lift dough, turning it over in the bowl, until remaining flour mixture has been incorporated into dough. *This so did not unfold this way for me, but see below and carry on.
5. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured
surface and gently roll out 1 inch thick. Using a 2 1/2-inch round cutter, cut
out 10 rounds, rerolling scraps as necessary. Transfer to a parchment-lined
baking sheet, spacing about 2 inches apart. **Big Bring It slacker note here:
My dough was too moist (perhaps I forgot a cup of flour??). Rather than cut the
scones I dumped the whole shebang on a parchment lined cookie sheet and shaped
it into two circles, which I cut into scone wedges, gently separating each a
bit so they had their own baking space. We all need our own baking space.
6. Bake until light golden brown, 30 to 35
minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack; let cool 10 minutes.
Glaze: In a small bowl, whisk together confectioners’ sugar and enough
lemon juice to make a smooth, thick, pourable glaze. Brush glaze over warm
scones and serve.
If you’re more
Martha than Edie, here are the exact measuring weights. This probably would
have saved me some anxiety:
Unbaked scones can be frozen, tightly wrapped in plastic, up to 1 week. If baking from frozen, add 5 to 10 minutes to the baking time.
Scones are best enjoyed the day they are made, but can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.
Glaze can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week.
*** More Slacker notes: Out of necessity, I used almond milk and lemon juice instead of buttermilk and cream. As mentioned above, I baked them as one big round, scored into scone wedges. In short, my execution was not excellent, but the scones were fantastic. As Sansa knows, even if you only get the execution right one time, you can be satisfied.
To state the obvious, it’s been a long cold winter. We need a little heat. We need a little action. We need a little Game of Thrones…and we’re getting it. To celebrate the final season, which got underway last Sunday, Bring It is premiering its own Game of Scones. For each of these last six episodes Bring It’s bringing you a G.O.T. themed scone. First up, the White Hot Jon Snow scone, because really, we missed you Jon Snow.
To realize this dream, I teamed up with Granite State baker Erica Wilson, of Queen Bee’s Kitchen. Though not a thrones watcher, Erica embraced the spirit of the challenge and honed in on a recipe to honor Jon Snow, the oh-so-hot true king of the Seven Kingdoms. As surely as his butt belongs on the Iron Throne, these scones belong on your Easter table.
Like their namesake, these jalapeño cheddar scones will warm you up on a cold day while bringing in some fresh zing and the promise of brighter days. They feature WHITE cheddar cheese, because that’s the real deal (I’m looking at you, westerners), and diced jalapenos for a fresh, hotness of being that’ll make your heart beat faster
Check out Erica’s post for a more thorough scone tutorial. She talks of cold butter, and good butter, and cutting butter, and all the things that separate sconeology from mere biscuitology. If you’re new to scones you’ll want to check it out.
I highly suggest you bring some White Hot Jon Snow Scones wherever you go this Easter Sunday. Enjoy them while making nice with family and gearing up for the real event of the day—Episode Two. Then hunker in and ponder which character might inspire of our next creation. By the way, Queen Bee’s Kitchen can deliver anywhere in New Hampshire. If you need some hot little hunks of Jon Snow with zero effort contact the queen!
White Hot Jon Snow Scones
From Peter Oleyer at Calexico Carne Asada in Brooklyn, via NYMag and Smitten Kitchen
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick or 4 ounces) cold butter, diced
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 eggs divided
1/4 pound sharp WHITE Cheddar cheese diced
2 small jalapeños pepper minced
Preheat oven to 400°F. In a small skillet, melt 1/2 tablespoon of butter and sauté the jalapeños in it until soft, about two minutes. Let them cool, then place them in a small bowl with the cheddar cheese and coat them with one tablespoon of the flour. Combine the remaining flour with the baking powder and salt. Cut in the remaining butter with a pastry blender, fork or two knives, until the butter bits are pea sized.
Lightly whip two of the eggs and cream and add to the flour-butter mixture. Using a wooden spoon, fold mixture until it begins to come together. Add the cheddar-jalapeño mixture to the dough and mix until everything is incorporated.
Turn out the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead gently for less than one minute. Pat dough out to a 3/4- to 1-inch thickness and either cut into 8 triangles or the shape of your choice with a biscuit cutter. Make an egg wash by beating the remaining egg with a teaspoon of water. Brush the scones with egg wash and place on a parchment-lined (or well-oiled) baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
Well, I blew right by Thanksgiving and then went on tour. Since then, I have not cooked one bit, which, I have to admit, is kind of nice. I wanted to cook, but I’ve been on the road, and as a fairly messy cook it didn’t seem right to invade my hosts’ kitchens and disrupt their standards of neatness and order. If only there was some book like, “The Freeloaders Guide to Low-Impact Cooking.” Anyone want to get on that? Anyone?
Let’s loop back to Thanksgiving for a moment, and specifically to veggie sides, because ‘tis the season that we all need some healthy greens to balance the rest of what’s coming in. This salad is simple but tasty, easy to prep ahead and holds up (and even improves) over time.
I found it in desperation when I got a last-minute Brussels sprouts request. My go–to roasted Brussels sprouts require a hot oven and last minute prep, which was a deal breaker. Also, to keep the Thanksgiving peace, I wanted something less aggressive than the kale Brussels sprouts salad that was my previous go-to. This seemed like the perfect balance of healthy and mainstream, with a touch of sweetness and crunch to make it holiday material.
The only labor is shaving the Brussels sprouts, but you shoppers know there are ways to buy yourself out of that (I do like the thin slices you get from using a mandoline, but let’s not get picky over the holidays—bagged shortcuts are fine!) The recipe calls for dates, and I suggest the firmer (and cheaper, and easier to find) deglet vs medjool. You could also use dried cranberries or cherries if you prefer, for a more festive look, but the dates are darned good and less bossy in flavor.
OK that’s it! I hope you like this salad and it makes you feel better about eating cookies and chocolate for breakfast.
10 ounces of shaved Brussels
sprouts (about 4 cups shaved)
½ cup sliced, pitted dates
½ cup chopped, toasted pecans
(or sliced almonds)
cup thickly grated Parmesan cheese (or other hard cheese like Pecorino
Romano or Manchego. Can omit for a vegan dish.) Edie note here: I have never tried it with cheese, but I am sure
that puts it over the top.
For the dressing
4 tablespoons extra virgin
1-1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon
1-1/2 tablespoon rice wine
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
½ teaspoon kosher or sea salt
Several grinds of freshly
cracked black pepper
To shave the Brussels sprouts:
Remove any outer leaves that are coarse or damaged. Cut out the stem and
core. Slice the sprouts in the food processor with the slicing blade. Pull
the shreds apart into ribbons. Alternatively, slice the Brussels sprouts
with a mandoline, or buy pre-sliced.
To make the dressing: The honey
needs to be thin and runny, so briefly microwave if necessary. Put all
dressing ingredients in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake well
to combine. Set aside.
Prep the other ingredients:
slice dates; chop & toast pecans; grate cheese using large holes on a
Store all components in the
refrigerator for up to 3 days. When ready to serve, shake the dressing in
a jar until well-combined. Then toss all the salad components together
with the dressing and serve.
It’s that time of year—time to figure out what to do with the zucchinis that have grown into something with the heft (and taste) of a Duraflame log. Enter zucchini bread, a brilliant use of the bounty. The only downside of zucchini bread and their muffin progeny, is that most of them also seem like a ploy to get rid of all the oil and white sugar in your house. Eat a piece of your standard zuke bread and your fingers look like you’ve just wrangled a basket of French fries. And the sugar that’s involved…oy!
Quick breads and muffins exist on a taste/texture profile continuum from dirt to donuts. Ever since hearing about the 800 calorie Costo muffin I’ve gravitated towards the dirt end of the spectrum. In fact I have a stalker-like attraction to the Earth Muffin at our local bakery, Lou’s. Upon studying the insanely lengthy and small fonted ingredient list I learned they are full of ground nuts, chopped nuts, seeds, dried fruit, maple syrup, grains, meals and every Vegan trick in the book. Even when Lou’s tries to pawn their day old Earth Muffins off as fresh (as if we dirt lovers can’t detect nuance), something about all that texture, heft and granular mystery still satisfies my need for weirdness. These muffins do feel like treats, but not irresponsibly so.
Feel Good Zucchini Muffins, with a whole lot of goodness
Perhaps you’re not up for the true grit experience in the morning, but you probably don’t fully enjoy walking away from breakfast knowing you’ve already used up your daily dessert quota. That’s where this recipe strikes the perfect balance, erring on the nutritious side of the muffin spectrum, but with enough sweetness and light to start your day with a smile. The recipe features white whole wheat flour, not a ton of sugar, a LOT of zucchini, and olive oil to make every heart beat a little faster. It’s a muffin/bread you can eat in the morning and feel good knowing that today, there’s still room for ice cream!
Feel Good Zucchini Bread
Poached with utmost respect from Food52, where there is also an excellent discussion on this topic.
Makes: 1 loaf or about 12 muffins
2/3 cup olive oil (143 grams), plus more for the pan
1 1/3 cups white whole-wheat flour (170 grams), plus more for the pa
2 1/3 cups grated zucchini (from about 11 ounces zucchini)*
1/3 cup sugar (67 grams)
1/3 cup brown sugar (71 grams)
2 large eggs (Vegans, grab your flax meal or aquafaba)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2/3 cup walnuts (75 grams)
1/3 cup golden raisins (53 grams)
1/3 cup oats (33 grams), plus more for topping
*If you’re scant on the zukes, or just feel like a little more color, you can add in some grated carrot.
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease a 8 1/2- by 4 1/2-inch loaf pan (muffin pans if using) )with some oil. Add some flour and tap around to distribute evenly. Gather the zucchini in a kitchen linen or paper towel and squeeze over the sink to get rid of any excess moisture. This step is KEY!
Combine the sugars, eggs, and oil in a large bowl. Whisk until smooth. Add the zucchini to the bowl and use a rubber spatula to combine. Add the baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir to combine. Add the flour, walnuts, raisins, and oats. Stir to combine.
Pour the batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle oats on top. Bake for about 1 hour until a thin knife inserted in the center comes out clean. If making muffins, start checking them at 15 minutes and take them out when they are set and slightly browned.
Let cool in the pan for 15 or so minutes before turning onto a wire rack. Cool completely before slicing and serving.
You say Nutella, I say…ain’t happening for breakfast in this house.
I grew up in a pre Nutella-For-Breakfast world. We had plenty of heinously unhealthy food, like pop tarts and cocoa puffs. But putting frosting on toast and calling it breakfast wasn’t a thing. Even if it happened (looking at you, chocolate Easter bunnies), it wasn’t sanctioned, let alone encouraged.
My kids grew up in a post NFB world, thanks to brilliant marketing from the Italians, who needed a real game-changer to dress up their melba toast and give their people a reason to get up for breakfast. Still, I did not serve Nutella to my kids. That may help explain why they so easily, dare I say eagerly, transitioned to sleepovers, camp and really any opportunity to leave home. There’s no need to get into my reasoning unless you really want a buzz-kill. I think we can all agree that commercial Nutella is not a solid foundation for the most important meal of the day.
But WHAT IF Nutella was made with no added sweeteners, fat or scary ingredients? What if it was made with the holy trinity of healthy treat ingredients—dates, nuts and cocoa—and nothing much else? Now that would be something I could get behind. And don’tcha know, I have. It’s not just for breakfast of course—it’s for any time you damn well please.
No Guilt Nutella soars past the teenage boy test, the teenage girl test, the man test and the “gimme that spoon I just need a chocolate fix ” test. If you are a Nutella connoisseur you will not be fooled by this, but the concept of a chocolate spread you can eat by the spoonful without a shred of guilt or secrecy may win you over nonetheless. Vegans, Paleos and Gluten-free peeps? Yeah, this is your jive too.
As with last week’s treats, your food processor earns its keep making these. It’s pretty foolproof though, as long as you make an honest attempt to skin the hazelnuts* and then process those babies until they really turn to butter. Be patient. It will happen.
No Guilt Nutella
1 cup hazelnuts (or a mix of hazelnuts and almonds)
1 packed cup medjool dates, pitted (or more, see notes)
2 Tbsp water
3 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp flavorless oil
¼ tsp salt
½ cup almond milk
Roast hazelnuts at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Transfer onto a kitchen towel and roll with your hands to remove skins. (no need to remove skins on almonds, if using)
Puree hazelnuts in a food processor for 8 to 10 minutes until a butter forms. Take the time to do it right! You’ll know when you’ve crossed from ground nuts to butter.
Remove hazelnut butter, and scrape out food processor as best you can. Add dates and water. Puree until smooth and creamy.
Add hazelnuts to date paste and pulse a few times.
Add cocoa, vanilla, oil, and salt and blend.
With food processor running, slowly pour in almond milk. Scrape down the sides and pulse a few times to blend into creamy goodness.
*To completely remove hazelnut skins (for the smoothest possible spread), boil nuts in a pot of water with few tablespoons of baking soda for 4 minutes. Immediately strain and place nuts in ice water for a minute or so, until the skins peel off easily. You still need to roast the nuts to loosen up all the oils and bring out the flavor. Google will not corroborate this, but I find this process takes a little mojo out of the nuts. I prefer the less perfect/more flavorful roasting and rolling technique. You will stain the dishtowel, but such are the sacrifices we make. See here for a THOROUGH demo.
If your dates are hard, or you are using Deglet dates, soak them in warm water for an hour or two before pureeing.
…and furthermore, depending on the sweetness of your dates and the strength of your cocoa, you may need to add more dates at the end to find your sweet spot.
I swear the notes are done.
Store leftovers in the fridge, and put your guilt in the rear view mirror!
Breakfast in America, reimagined.
The real thing, at the breakfast table, on the dreaded melba toast, in its homeland.