Brownie Thins, For Summer Nights

Brownie Thins
It was almost 90 in Seattle earlier this week. Now it’s 10:15 p.m. and I’m nursing a little thimble of bourbon and a very dark chocolatey walnut brownie, thankful for these long, light nights. Already thankful for July and hopeful that it’ll feel like a spacious and slow season of tomatoes, late nights, early mornings, picnic table dinners and learning to grill (finally). Over the past few years I’ve done a sort of summer bucket list on the blog, listing a few things I’d like to tackle or accomplish that season. But this year that feels all off for so many reasons. Namely, between wedding and honeymoon planning and houseguests and attempts at weekend getaways — I can’t stomach many more lists. Let’s deem this the season to get rid of lists, shall we? A season in which there are still so many things to get excited about, from brownies to books to podcasts and music. So let’s dive in.

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A few books I’m excited about this summer: I’ve downloaded Eleanor and Park onto my iPad and am looking forward to starting it this weekend, despite the articles Sam sends me on why YA fiction is lame. I’m also almost done with This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper (and looking forward to the movie in September!). It’s a great, quick read touching on the modern family and relationships in general; the writing is breezy but smart. As for cookbooks, I just bought Nina Planck’s spot-on The Real Food Cookbook and can’t wait to start cooking from it. If you aren’t familiar with Planck’s other work, she’s big into a very commonsense, ‘listen to your body’ approach to eating and cooking — and I love her encouragement to eat full-fat dairy and butter. This cookbook feels very approachable to me — each recipe has just a handful (some, a large handful) of ingredients with no wacky flavor combinations or extraordinarily innovative techniques or ideas. For some reason this summer, this feels like just what I need. Real, simple food without the bells and whistles. I haven’t been this excited about a cookbook for a really long time (I’ll make something from it soon – promise!)

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And of the  few podcasts I’ve been listening to lately: I think I’m a bit late to the party, but I so adore Grace Bonney’s podcast After the Jump. You may know Grace from Design Sponge, but her podcast appeals to me because it speaks to a lot of the small business issues and questions I struggle with. She interviews really interesting people — from authors to chefs to business owners — and gets their take on building a brand, forming a business, eeking out free time within a busy schedule, marketing and design, and how to navigate this weird social media world many of us find ourselves swimming in. I also listen to Splendid Table when I’m packing up boxes at Marge and then there’s a funny Harvard Business Review Podcast HBR Ideacast that I find myself drawn to as well. What podcasts are you loving? Tell me! I’m thirsty for them.

Beyond podcasts, I just discovered Sam Smith. Do you know him? If not, start here. Or here. Or my friend Michelle led me here. Whoa.

As for summery food, how about Heidi’s line up of Picnic Bowls? I’m also going to hop on the trend of Coconut Snow (have you tried it?) and I can’t wait to try Melissa Clark’s Master Ice Cream Recipe. And for breakfast, you all know how much I love millet — how about Laura’s Vanilla Bean Millet Porridge with Lavender Strawberries and Super Seeds? YES. Or these Raw Bounty Bars or this Tomato Tart with Basil Oil and Almond Pepper Crust? Summer: let’s do this.

But back to the business at hand: brownies and Erin Alderson’s brilliant cookbook, The Homemade Flour Cookbook. The entire gist of Erin’s book is centered around using different whole grain flours (and milling your own) in sweet and savory recipes for each meal of the day. I spent an entire hour with the book when I first opened it up, carefully placing post-it notes and jotting down future notes (bring on the socca!). If you haven’t yet heard of Erin’s book, maybe you’ve stumbled across her blog Naturally Ella, where she covers all manner of healthy vegetarian fare — from crepes to seasonal whole grain salads, messy tacos to chocolate cupcakes. Erin’s blog has a certain ease to it; much of the food is similar to the way we cook at home, so I suppose I feel like I just pulled up a chair at a good friend’s counter: a refreshing sentiment seeing that Erin and I have yet to meet in person.

I chose this recipe in particular because it’s simple and I’m going to make a grand sweeping assumption here that if you’re anything like me, complex recipes don’t belong in the summertime kitchen. For the past few weeks, dessert in our house has consisted of little bowls of farmers market berries. Or an occasional coconut popsicle. But these warm, looooonnng nights leave me craving a little something sweet later in the evening and these walnut brownies have proven to be just the thing. I’d also like to report they make a great late morning / second cup of coffee snack — especially if you’ve been waking up early with the sun as I have lately. The only tweak I made was in using a little less sugar and a little more walnut meal (I’m on a bit of a reducing sugar kick). Erin calls these Walnut Cocoa Brownies, but for me they came out on the thinner side (and I tested them twice) — no less delightful, but appropriately nicknamed Walnut Brownie Thins, I think (I ran it by Erin and she approves). And whereas some cakier brownies can be crumbly and messy, these hold together almost like a chocolate shortbread cookie, so you can take them on the go easily, too.

Walnut Brownie Thins

Walnut Brownie Thins

  • Yield: 9 -12 bars (depending on how you slice)
  • Prep time: 10 mins
  • Cook time: 40 mins
  • Total time: 50 mins

Slightly adapted from: The Homemade Flour Cookbook

Ingredients

3/4 cup (75g) walnut meal
1/4 cup (32g) arrowroot (or cornstarch)
1/2 cup (50g) natural cane sugar
6 tablespoons (30g) unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup (60ml) walnut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 300 F. Lightly grease an 8 x 8 inch baking pan.

In a medium bowl, stir together the walnut meal, arrowroot, cane sugar, cocoa powder and salt. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the walnut oil, vanilla and egg. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir to combine.

Spread the brownie batter into the prepared baking pan. Bake for 38-45 minutes, or until brownies are set in the middle and pulling away from the pan a bit. Let cool completely before slicing. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Comments

  1. Tania @ The Cook's Pyjamas

    I have just won a copy of this book! I have been coveting it since I first discovered it so cannot wait for it to arrive. Thanks for the heads up on Nina Planck's new book. I do like her approach to cooking, it dovetails with the way we eat nicely.
    As to podcasts, not of sure if you can access them but in Australia there is a series on our ABC (Australian Broadcasting Commission ) called Conversations with Richard Fidler which are truly amazing. One hour conversations with people worldwide about their life stories. Try this link http://www.abc.net.au/local/sites/conversations/?section=podcast

  2. Nadine Kurland

    Your pin site will not upload the photo

    1. megang

      Ack. Thanks, Nadine. I'll check this out.

  3. Francesca

    These look like just the thing for our extra long days (sunset at 11pm!). Maybe I'd have more than a thimble:)

  4. Kathryn

    I'm all for simple > complex in general but especially in summer when I'd much rather be outside than anywhere else. I love the twist you gave to Erin's recipe; they look just perfect to nibble on!

  5. momgordon

    I wish you were in Lake George making these brownies for all of us! You wouldn't even have to reduce the sugar! Happy 4th!! We miss you!
    xoxox Mom

  6. Alanna

    These sound delicious and easy! Perfect for summer.

  7. Lisa Waldschmidt

    I just started listening to the Alton Browncast. He has a great variety of guests, from a bar to bean chocolatier in the south, to the inventor of culinary technology, to the Culinary Producer of Iron Chef America. I love The Moth Podcast for live personal storytelling on the long drives I frequently have to make. Happy summer! Hopefully you are scratching through a few things on your lists!

    1. megang

      Oh Lisa I didn't even know of the Alton Browncast. I'll check it out and add it to my Stitcher. Thank you! Yes, we're doing o.k. Summer is going by really quickly and not as much time for fun as I'd like ... but so it seems to go. Getting on a little getaway in a few weeks which I'm really looking forward to. Hope you guys are doing well + enjoying summer. xoxo!!

  8. Ashley

    I'm excited about trying the Melissa Clark ice cream recipe. I'm on a quest to make good ice cream. I've had success with Jeni Bauer's recipes, but I'd like to try some more traditional yolk based recipes.

    I'm intrigued by the Nina Planck book. I'm embarrassed to admit it, but somehow she's never been on my radar.

    Enjoy Seattle's summer. Now that I live in the muggy South, I look back wistfully on those days.

    1. megang

      Ashley-Have you ever tried any of David Lebovitz's ice cream recipes? He has some nice, traditional recipe that I think you'd like, too. I love Jeni's recipes but they are always a bit more complex, albeit crazy delicious. Ahhh...and the grass is always greener, isn't it? I'm dying to visit the South! Someday :) Hope you're having a great weekend, ~Megan

  9. Jennifer

    These look wonderful, I love the look of the ingredient list.... and I think I need this book! Visiting from Creativity Unleashed!

  10. Caitlin | teaspoon

    oo thank you for the podcast recommendations! I can only handle music in the background for so long before getting bored, so I've been on the search for new podcasts. The brownies look great- I've been trying to cut down on the white flour and never even thought of walnut flour. Looking forward to trying them!

  11. Jessica

    Looks delicious! And I'm super-excited for Nina Planck's book as well . . . Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on it!

  12. sarahkeith

    These look delicious. I don't have walnuts or walnut meal at home but I'd really like to try these tonight so I may try subbing pecans or almond meal.
    I've never been able to get into podcasts for some reason! I just tune them out and then realize I've been listening to something for 20 minutes without actually hearing it. And I totally listen to NPR all the time, so it's not a talk-radio thing. Hmmmm. I do love the Splendid Table!!

  13. Ileana

    I love Splendid Table! Dinner Party Download and The Moth are good, too, and today I came across a recommendation for the Death, Sex, and Money podcast. Oh! Also, the 99% Invisible podcast.

  14. JoAnn

    These are wonderful! I've made them twice so far - I had to chip them out of the pan the first time, so found that parchment works better for me, but they will definitely make rotation at our house. They are so simple and the ingredients are perfect! Thank you, Megan!

    1. megang

      Yay! So glad, JoAnn. Enjoy your weekend, ~Megan

  15. Andi

    Do you grind your own walnut meal? Any particular tips for that (besides putting it in the food processor and stopping before it becomes walnut butter?)

    1. megang

      Hi, Andi! You know, I have in the past but this I actually bought from Bob's Red Mill. But as far as tips, you want it to be a little coarser than sand ... this recipe is quite forgiving so you can't go too terribly wrong (unless, of course, you turn it into walnut butter). Enjoy!

  16. Kate @ ¡Hola! Jalapeño

    I always love reading other people's favorite's list (especially books) and thank you for the millet porridge link, will be making that for breakfast this morning!

  17. Jane

    I didn't have either walnut meal or walnut oil so I subbed in almond meal (Bob's Red Mill) and almond oil. It turned out great. I tripled the recipe so I could make ice cream sandwiches and I added one extra egg. Fantastic! Thanks!

    1. megang

      Yum, Jane! Sounds awesome. I never thought of these as an ice cream sandwich base, but you're right that they'd be perfect -- sturdy and not too crumbly. Glad you enjoyed the recipe ~Megan

  18. Marissa

    These turned out amazing. I have a walnut allergy though so I used almond meal and coconut oil instead of the walnut meal and walnut oil. I also added about 2 tablespoons or so of almond milk because my batter needed a little moisture. After they cooled I cut the brownies into bite sized pieces and put them in the freezer. They are the perfect little chocolatey snack. Thanks for the inspiration.

    1. megang

      Yay! So glad, Marissa. We loved them, too! ~Megan

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