By Heather Johansen
Summer has arrived and Kingsland is beginning to stock some amazing summer produce. I wait all year for fresh, seasonal fruits like cherries, strawberries, apricots and peaches. The apricots and peaches will arrive later in the summer but strawberries have been making their way to our local vendors. The strawberries from the Broxburn booth (which are hopefully coming soon) are not to be missed!
For this week’s post, I have modified a friend’s recipe for gluten-free, grain-free brownies. My version combines beautiful summer produce, chocolate and almond butter to emulate the flavour of an all-time favourite lunch: peanut butter and strawberry jam sandwiches. The brownies contain no flour or butter so you might think “do they also contain no flavour?” Not at all! They are as dense and satisfying as your typical brownie but they are much better for you. These brownies are soft, chocolate-y and not too sweet with refreshing bursts of strawberry flavour throughout. The recipe is very adaptable; any nut butter could be used. Cherries, blueberries or raspberries could work in place of the strawberries too.
These brownies are a wonderful treat that allow you make the most of the summer berry bounty.
“PB & J” Brownies
Quick Strawberry Jam:
- 1 cup strawberries, cut into small pieces
- 1 tbsp agave nectar
- 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
Nut Butter Brownies:
- ½ c cocoa powder
- 1 tsp espresso powder or instant coffee (optional but it enhances the chocolate flavour)
- 1 tsp baking soda
- Pinch of sea salt
- 1 cup almond butter (at room temperature)
- 2 large eggs, whisked
- ½ cup agave nectar
- 1 tbsp good quality vanilla extract
- ½ cup chocolate chunks (you could use milk, semi-sweet or dark chocolate… Just make sure it’s really good quality chocolate!)
Preheat oven to 325 F.
Place strawberries, 1 tbsp agave nectar and lemon juice in a heavy bottom saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and allow to simmer until some of the liquid has evaporated and the mixture has thickened a bit (~ 10 minutes). You may want to partially cover the saucepan to prevent berry splatters. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. (Note: you could whip up this easy “jam” anytime and use it in a pancake, yogurt or ice cream topping!)
In a separate bowls, whisk together the dry ingredients (cocoa powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder) and the wet ingredients (half of the strawberry mixture, almond butter, eggs, ½ cup agave nectar and vanilla extract).
Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until just combined. The batter will be very thick because of the almond butter so you may want to use a hand mixer. I used a spatula but it took some muscle! Once combined, fold in the chocolate chunks.
Line the base and side of a square of an 8×8 baking pan with parchment paper. Pour the brownie batter into the pan, spreading it evenly to the edges and corners. Drop the remaining strawberry mixture onto the surface of the batter by the tablespoon. You should have 5-6 dollops on top. Take a butter knife and swirl it through the dollops. You won’t see the swirl pattern once the brownies are baked but doing this helps to distribute the strawberries evenly.
Bake for 45-50 minutes until the center is no longer liquidy. Allow the brownies to cool completely before cutting. Yes, it’s a tease but the brownies will fall apart if you cut into them too soon.
Makes 16 brownies.
My name is Heather Johansen. I used to be a lazy, overweight, TV-dinner-eater with no idea how to prepare healthy, great tasting foods. Tired of the microwave monotony, I took a cooking class and started to experiment in the kitchen (and exercising!). By learning how to cook for myself, I lost weight and kept it off but have also discovered a passion for turning ordinary ingredients into healthy & delicious fare.
I love finding new-to-me ingredients and experiencing their exciting flavours. Kingsland Farmer’s Market is an awesome place to seek out interesting food finds. Not only do they carry a vast amount of uncommon foods but so many of them are locally grown or produced. The options are endless and change with the seasons. Once you think beyond the usual farmer’s market finds, you’d be surprised how creative you can be!
My blog posts will focus on take an unfamiliar ingredient – a “Hidden Gem” found at Kingsland Market – and I’ll show you how to prepare it! Cooking can sometimes be intimidating, especially when you don’t know how to approach a food. I want you to embrace the challenge of creating a delicious, nourishing meal or snack from any ingredient. Join me in the excitement of trying something new!