David lifted Didi into the air, and her satiny blue skirt’s ruffles erupted like a firework beneath his grip. They were now husband and wife, and this dance floor embrace was the moment I wanted to preserve in my memory- nothing but satin, lace and love! In the same weekend, a mere bridge away, I watched Chris and Dana embrace their 10-lb bundle of puppy joy, feeling the slipper like warmth of her fur brush against their ridiculously happy, tired faces.
These satin, lace, and puppy joys emerged from times of illnesses, deaths and heartaches, which only heightened these highs. In its ebbs and flows, this life can feel like one big sine curve- an alternating act of “all” or “nothing.” My kitchen corroborates these intense swings- the oven will warm, churning out fancy cake after fancy cake, for back-to-back birthdays, dinner parties and holiday gatherings, followed by the cold oven periods and slim pickings.
During the “all” times, we swim in desserts. The refrigerator bursts with an odd assortment of frostings, fillings and cake scraps, and even my intense sweet tooth feels overwhelmed. I give desserts away right and left, but shamefully, I’ve yet to hit the sweet spot of zero waste, and of all the morsels to hit the compost bin, dark chocolate pains my sensibilities the most.
In fear of a half-frosted cake, I always seem to make too much chocolate ganache- a good problem in the chocolate sense, a bad problem when it ends up as compost. As I whipped up a mid-week dessert-craving cure- my trusty nut butter blondies– I eyed the leftover ganache in the refrigerator. Sure, it could be frozen and maybe be enough for the next cake, but in the end, I’d probably end up stuck in a leftover cycle. Wanting an immediate solution, I broke off chunks of the pliable chocolate and stirred it directly into the batter. Out came an even better blondie- a brownie.
I’m still figuring out how to extend the grin-until-your-jaw-hurts moments through the sadder/stressful swings, but in the meantime, at least I am finding more ways to stretch dessert abundances more and waste less. What are your tricks?
Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Brownies (Gluten Free)
yield: 9×13 pan
About this Recipe: If you have leftover ganache after baking a cake, save it for these brownies. If you don’t have ganache to add, simply omit it and follow the rest of this recipe to make my go-to blondies. I used approximately 1 cup of soft ganache (not liquid), but as a chocolate lover, I imagine the more, the better, so experiment!
4 cups organic, blanched almond meal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) organic, unsalted butter, melted
2 cups organic light brown sugar
2 large eggs (cage-free/organic)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup organic creamy almond butter (or nut butter of choice)
leftover dark chocolate ganache
1 cup dark chocolate chips (Guittard Extra Dark Chocolate Chips)
Preheat oven to 350℉, and line a 9×13 baking dish with parchment paper. Set aside
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the almond meal and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the melted butter and light brown sugar. Mix thoroughly.
Add the egg and vanilla extract. Beat to combine.
Add the almond butter, and beat until all of the wet ingredients are thoroughly combined.
Add the almond meal mixture, and beat to combine, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as necessary.
Add the chocolate ganache (break into chunks if necessary), and beat to combine.
Pour the batter in the baking dish and spread evenly with a plastic spatula. Top with dark chocolate chips.
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.