Almond Butter Blondies + The Waiting Game

Almond Butter Blondies | A Sweet SpoonfulI am officially on maternity leave and it feels stranger than I’d imagined. I thought it’d be all about catching up on novels, leisurely baking and maybe sewing a little something for Sprout. Going on lots of walks with friends and out to lunch. The reality is that most people are working during the week and can’t just sneak away for lunch dates, and sitting around the house aimlessly reading seems to make me antsy. Instead, I find myself deciding that certain tasks have immense and immediate purpose (when they never seemed to before): repotting our house plants, researching new insurance plans, and planning a new product line for Marge for 2016.

In the midst of all of this though, I’ve found some time to catch up on Netflix movies (any recommendations?), went out to Lebanese food with Sam, and finally made it to a cafe on Capital Hill I’ve been wanting to try for quite some time. It’s gotten a bit chilly in Seattle this week so I’ve been making lots of cider and chai in the afternoons for an energy boost, and there certainly doesn’t seem to be a shortage of soup-making or baking — which brings me to these not-too-sweet, protein-packed blondies that I’ve taken quite a liking to. 

Almond Butter Blondies | A Sweet Spoonful
This blondie recipe is from Tara Desmond’s wonderful cookbook, Fully Belly: Good Eats for a Healthy Pregnancy, which has been a great resource while I’ve been pregnant (in addition to actual recipes, there’s valuable nutritional information and tips on alleviating common pregnancy symptoms, along with stories from real women). In truth, it’s a keeper even if you’re not pregnant — Tara’s approach to food is similar to mine: she tries to minimize too much sugar, experiments with whole grain flours in her baked goods, and goes heavy on the protein and seasonal fruits and produce. I made her Beef Stew a few nights ago to freeze for the baby and then figured it was only fitting to balance that endeavor with something sweet.

Almond Butter Blondies | A Sweet Spoonful
These blondies turned out a little cakier than I’d expected which led me to the conclusion that they seemed most suitable for breakfast as well as dessert (I’m easily swayed on this count). If you like a super dense, sweet blondie, these may not be your favorites. But I love how they’re really packed with roasted almonds and bits of good chocolate, and how they have a good hit of protein from the almond butter, almond meal and actual nuts. They’re a great little snacking bar — which I’m really appreciating as I spend more and more time at home. I ended up slicing and freezing half of these for when the baby comes and we’ve not-so-slowly enjoyed the remainders.

For those of you who wrote in with tips for recipes to make ahead and freeze for baby: thank you! They were so helpful, and I still have a few bookmarked. So far, we’ve stocked the freezer with Tara’s aforementioned beef stew, Heidi’s delicious farro soup (you guys must make this!), a simple butternut squash soup, Italian braised pork, shredded beef for tacos, a bunch of pre-cooked whole grains like quinoa and farro, and rye brownies from my last post (as well as a few of these blondies). I think it’s safe to say that we will not starve.

Almond Butter Blondies

Almond Butter Blondies

  • Prep time: 20 mins
  • Cook time: 20 mins
  • Inactive time: 10 mins
  • Total time: 50 mins

Tara calls for white chocolate in these blondies, but I opted to use dark 70% chopped chocolate instead — certainly use whichever you prefer. And if you don’t have almond meal or almond flour at home, you can pulverize raw almonds in a food processor until they reach a coarse flour-like texture; just be careful not to overprocess or you’ll have almond butter. I used a little more salt, and vanilla extract instead of almond extract (which the recipe calls for) simply because it’s what I had on hand.

Loosely adapted from: Full Belly

Ingredients

1/2 cup (151 g) almond butter, room temperature
1/4 cup (56g) unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup (143g) packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup (60g) whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup (34g) almond flour (also called almond meal)
1/4 cup (37g) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup (80g) dark chocolate chips, chunks, or chopped whole bar
1/2 cup (75g) roasted unsalted almonds, chopped

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Line an 8-inch square baking dish with a square piece of parchment paper, tucking in the corners so that the paper is flat against the bottom and up the sides.

Put the almond butter, butter, and brown sugar in a large mixing bowl. Use an electric mixer to beat at medium speed until smooth, about 5 minutes. Add the vanilla extract and the eggs one at a time and beat until smooth, about 3 additional minutes.

In a medium mixing bowl. whisk together the whole wheat pastry flour, almond flour, all purpose flour, baking powder and salt. Sprinkle one third of the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix for about 20 seconds. Repeat this twice with the remaining dry ingredients. Add the chopped chocolate and almonds, folding them in completely.

Scrape the thick batter into the parchment-lined baking dish and press it out evenly and into the corners. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the tops and sides are light brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Take care not to overbake, which will dry them out. Let the blondies rest in the baking dish for at least 10 minutes before lifting them out. Let cool completely before slicing into large or small squares / bars (whichever you prefer).

Store in an airtight container or wrap tightly in plastic or parchment paper for up to 5 days.

Comments

  1. Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar

    Waiting game indeed! Wishing you a smooth delivery once it comes girl! I can only imagine how excited you must be to meet your little one :)

  2. Bridget

    Rosemary and Thyme! Adorable middle-aged British botanists solving crimes. :)

  3. Tisa

    I'll try these bars this week, and thanks! If you like mysteries, try the Miss Fisher series on Netflix. It's smart, fun and dripping with 1920s style (the clothing is to die for).

  4. Jordan

    If you have Amazon Prime, I highly, highly recommend Catastrophe! It's so funny and underrated. I watched The Rebound the other night. I thought it would be terrible, but it was actually really cute. I also liked Welcome to Me (if you're a Kristin Wiig fan!) If you're really looking to pass the time, though, a series might be the way to go. Gilmore Girls, New Girl, Orange is the New Black, and Weeds would all be excellent choices!

    1. megang

      I LOVED Catastrphone, Jordan, and agree that it's underrated. We watched it when it first came out (or around that time) and I'm really looking forward to a second season. I've dipped into Gilmore Girls (never did watch it the first time around) and it's perfectly light and will be great for breastfeeding, too, I imagine. Thank you!

  5. Kristin

    Wow, those look fantastic, I will have to make them soon. I have Choosing Sides, but not Full Belly, so thanks much for posting this recipe!

    As for the Netflix...when I am looking for something to watch with the kiddos on a rainy afternoon I often Google "best family movies on Netflix" and come up with lists like below (where I simply Googled "best movies on Netflix"). I tend to go with more episodic fare though, as I have a hard time staying awake/making time these days, lol. But the last two good movies I saw were "Headhunters" (with my husband, a fan of the author - we loved it) and "20 Feet from Stardom" (solo - loved it).

    http://www.digitaltrends.com/movies/best-netflix-instant-movies/10/

    http://filmschoolrejects.com/features/good-movies-netflix-november-2015.php

    I wish you tons of luck with your waiting game and again for your big day. :)

    1. megang

      Good call, Kristin! I never think to check out round-ups or others' suggestions in that way, but these are great. Looking to be a rainy day today, so I think we'll check them out. Thanks so much, ~Megan

  6. Kaitlin

    Oooohhhh, these look delicious!! Sounds like you have a deliciously-stocked freezer, and good call on also making batches of quinoa, etc in advance. I am also a huge fan of freezing muffins. I've started doing a lot of flour substitutions based on what I've learned from you, which pretty much makes any muffin feel more virtuous. I love the Melissa Clark butternut sqush muffins (recipe on the NY Times column) and also Jessica Merchant's bran muffins. Completely silly and yet wonderfully addictive Netflix recommendation? Jane the Virgin. More serious and higher quality entertainment? Broadchurch and The Honourable Woman.

  7. Sheila

    Not on Netflix (yet), but if you're not watching the "Home Fires" show on PBS (first five episodes available online free through PBS/Masterpiece Theater), I would highly recommend it. Also, their "Call the Midwives" series has been a joy. I'm sure you could get the DVD's of past seasons from your library. I'm a sucker for a sweet British show on a chilly evening... after getting all snuggled in with a fleecy blanket and cup of milky tea. Wishing you (and baby soon!) good sleep, health, and peace... You're about to experience love as you never have before!

    1. megang

      Hi, Shelia- Ohhhh, haven't heard of Home Fires so I will look into it! Call the Midwives I loved. I strangely stopped maybe at the end of Season 2 or so for no good reason, but would love to start it up again. Thanks for the reminder! ~Megan

  8. Kaitlin

    On second thought, I rescind my recommendation for Broadchurch! There is a missing child plot-probably not the kind of thing you want to watch as a new mom! Tolerance for that kind of storyline in movies or television shows tends to plummet once you have a baby, in my experience. Stick with the light stuff! I really liked reruns of my favorites, like The Office. And maybe it's totally weird, but I ended up reading voraciously during the first two months-I downloaded a bunch of things to my Kindle and I would read at night while nursing. I was terrified of falling asleep while I was nursing so decided reading would solve the problem. Probably not the best thing for the quality of my own rest, though. Eh, I survived! :) Oh, and another meal recommendation, though not for the freezer: Heidi Swanson's kale and toasted coconut salad, served with farro. So, so delicious, hearty, and comes together relatively quickly. It's a perfect lunch.

    1. megang

      Thanks so much, Kaitlin, for the recs! Yes I need to load up my Kindle, I think. Much easier than flipping pages (or so I hear). And I haven't yet tried Heidi's salad so I'll check out that recipe ... she has a Shaved Brussels Sprout and Kale salad that I really love, so I'm sure this one would be right up my alley too. Thank you so much for taking the time to shoot over some ideas. So appreciate it! ~Megan

  9. Sara Mendez

    Have you seen All Good a Things?? It was really good. Then there's a 6 episode documentary on HBO called The jinx that's the about the real guy from the movie - totally addictive. I hope you're feeling well and can't wait for Sprout's arrival!!

    1. megang

      I haven't, Sara, but I will check it out! Thank you for the suggestions!

  10. Adriana

    Oh, these are gooooood!! I baked them yesterday and when my son had the first bite, his eyes went huge and he said "why did you make so few?" They are delicious, everyone liked them, so rich, full of flavor. Thanks for a graet recipe and blessings for your family

  11. Sasha

    Thanks so much for all of this, Megan. I'm in my third trimester and starting to prep food for after the baby comes as well, and I ordered Tara's book after seeing your recommendation. I'm so glad to have it!

    I made these brownies today using three quarters of a cup of whole grain Cup4Cup to make them gluten-free. (Instead of the one half a cup of whole wheat and the 1/4 cup of all-purpose.) They came out great although little bit dry so I think next time I might use slightly less flour, which is sometimes the case I find when replacing any kind of all purpose with whole-grain ( even gluten-free versions).

    My best to you now that the waiting game is over and your beautiful Oliver is here! What an intense time it probably is right now, but beautiful too of course.

  12. Kristin

    Just wanted to come back and say that thanks to a comment on here, my husband I watched the first season of Catastrophe over the winter. Loved it! And, as an FYI: season two is out now! :)

    1. megang

      Kristin! I didn't realize there was a second season! I'm on it. Thank you!!! ~Megan

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