I had a craving the other day for something caramelly, butterscotchy…something like a blondie brownie. I thought that the flavor of browned butter, plus a little palm sugar, would do this very nicely. And if I substituted some of the sugar for date puree it would be something I could have (a little) of!
I’m happy to say that, unlike many of my experiments, this one worked out! The texture of this is very cake-like, which is why I decided to call it “brownie cake.” The flavor is caramelly-butterscotchy, just like I wanted, and is mildly sweet. Anyone who loves the taste of regular blondies will probably like this too. If you don’t like blondies…well, then I guess don’t bother with it!
As I mentioned, this uses browned butter, and just like my browned butter banana bread, it requires you to solidify it to the consistency of softened butter before using. My original recipe I based this on called for melted butter, but since the date puree adds a lot of moisture I thought it would be better to have it solid. But after that’s done, it’s easy: just mix everything together in a bowl, put it in a pan, and stick it in the oven!
This version of the recipe makes for an earthy, mildly sweet cake that I really liked. When you make it, taste the batter before you put it in the pan. If it doesn’t taste sweet enough for your preferences, add a bit more maple syrup until it’s as you like it!
1 1/2 cups whole grain spelt flour (can use whole wheat if preferred but I haven’t tested that for taste)
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)
Preheat oven to 350. Brown one stick of butter, and then place it in the refrigerator for a short time (about 10 minutes) to solidify. You want it to be closer to the consistency of softened butter. Cream together the solidified browned butter with 1 cup of palm sugar. Add in the date puree, eggs, maple syrup, and vanilla and mix well. Stir in the spelt flour, salt, baking powder, and nuts (if using). At this point you can taste the batter, and if you want it sweeter add more maple syrup until it’s to your liking. Grease an 8×8 square pan with coconut oil or butter, and pour in the batter. Bake for 50 minutes.
We have a tradition every Christmas day of having fresh Belgian waffles and strawberries for breakfast. This year I didn’t want to give up that tradition, but I couldn’t use my old recipe either because of this diet.
So, as with all my other favorite old recipes, I decided to change it up. I substituted the white flour with part whole grain spelt and part almond meal and soaked it overnight in buttermilk. (Soaking in an acidic liquid makes grains easier to digest, and also makes them lighter in flavor and texture.) The result was a great waffle that everyone in the family loved!
Now, these don’t taste the same as waffles made with all white flour. They definitely have a nuttier flavor from the whole grains, so you have to expect that. But as a whole-grain alternative, these are very very good – light and crispy on the outside and moist and tender on the inside!
I’m sorry I don’t have pictures of the beginning process here. I didn’t think about making this a blog post until I was halfway done! I’m sure you can follow along though.
The night before you plan to make the waffles, combine the whole grain spelt flour, whole wheat flour, buttermilk, and whole milk in a large bowl. Mix them together and cover with a cloth. Let it sit ON THE COUNTER overnight. I know, it feels weird to keep milk out overnight, but trust me. If it’s cold, the soaking won’t do the job of breaking down the flours and making them yummy and tender.
In the morning, whisk together the melted butter together with baking powder and salt. Whisk in 4 egg yolks and then immediately pour it all in with the batter. If you let it sit, the baking powder will make the eggs all foamy, so don’t wait! Stir together until just combined.
Whip up the egg whites until they’re foamy and stiff. Now fold them in with the batter. To do this, first put a third of the whites in and just mix them together. Then put a second third in and fold it together with a rubber spatula by scooping the batter from the bottom up and over the egg whites at the top, moving the spatula in a circular motion. Repeat several times until the whites are mostly incorporated, then do the same with the last third of the whites. The purpose for folding them in like this rather than just mixing them together is that it makes the batter fluffier and lighter!
When you’re done, the batter will look something like this.
Heat up your waffle iron. I use a Belgian waffle maker, but any waffle iron is fine. When it’s hot, brush on some refined coconut oil to grease it – I use a basting brush to do this. My waffle maker is non-stick, but even so, these waffles end up sticking if I don’t grease it. I guess something about the whole grains makes it stickier. So grease it before each waffle even if it’s non-stick!
Scoop in some batter and cook according to your waffle iron’s directions.
Be careful when you lift it up, because they do stick easily!
These are light, fluffy, crisp on the outside, and tender on the inside when first cooked, but if stacked and kept warm in the oven they deflate somewhat and lose their crispness. They’re delicious either way, but you’ll probably like the texture better when eaten right away!
Top with some butter (pasture butter is especially yummy!) and mashed strawberries (fresh or frozen.) If the strawberries are sweet enough, that’s all you’ll need, but if you want you can also add a small drizzle of maple syrup!
This recipe makes a lot because I like to have leftovers to store in the refrigerator or freezer to heat in the toaster oven later. Homemade healthy (tastier) Eggos! You can easily cut the recipe in half for fewer waffles, though.
I did not start this diet to lose weight. But somewhere along the way I seem to have misplaced 20 pounds.
Twenty. Pounds. In three months!
Gone, without even trying.
I have not been counting calories. I have not been avoiding fat. (In fact, I eat more butter, cream, and whole milk now than I did before.) I have not been exercising. I eat all day long and never, ever let myself get hungry. I don’t spend a single second thinking things like “is this fattening” but just eat whatever sounds good to me at the time and is “legal” on this diet.
Did you catch everything in that last paragraph? Go back and read it again if you need to. Take a moment to be shocked. Think “but how can that be?!” It’s all true, I swear!
The only thing that is different is that I’m eating real, whole, natural foods. And, it seems, eating real, whole, natural foods has this great side effect of dropping the pounds. It’s been coming off gradually, at a rate of about 1-2 pounds a week. I assume that I’ll continue to lose weight until my body reaches the weight it’s supposed to be, and then it’ll even out. I’m guessing, based on my height, that that’ll be after another 10 pounds.
What this says to me is that my body is basically working now the way it’s SUPPOSED to. All the systems and hormones and whatnot are healthy and happy, and as a result I’m not only feeling better, but I’m looking better too.
Pictures always illustrate things better than words in cases like this, but I don’t really have any good “before” pictures because – as I said – weight loss wasn’t remotely on my mind when I started this. So I’ve had to just pick the best I could find from old snapshots to get front and profile “before” pictures. Here they are.
It’s tempting when starting this diet to feel like you’re never going to eat anything good ever again. But, I’ve learned that’s simply not true. Because this is what I had for Christmas dinner.
(Or, rather, Boxing Day dinner, since I like to take it easy on Christmas.)
If you think that looks delicious, you’re right. It totally was.
Thin slices of Angus prime rib roast…
with roasted organic new golden potatoes, sweet onions, carrots, and mushrooms…
and Buttery Maple-Cider Sweet Potatoes… and whole grain sourdough rolls from Trader Joes…
plus sliced pears and home-canned peaches.
Dessert was Honey-Maple ice cream (basically the Chocolate Pudding Ice Cream without the chocolate and with a vanilla bean.)
Can we say YUM!?!?!
And, you know what else? All this scrumptious, delectable food? ALL of it was legal. The only thing I had to be careful about was dessert – but that’s always true. I kept to just one scoop, and it was so rich and flavorful that even that small amount was perfectly satisfying.