Since I’m on winter break, don’t as-yet have a job, and it happens to be bitterly cold outside, I’ve spent a lot of time curled up on my couch with a blanket, tea, and at least one cat watching reruns of things on Hulu. I’m getting through Lost at a pretty steady pace…
Today was no exception. It’s frickin cold out there! Apparently my cats think it’s cold, too. They haven’t been outside in days and they’re staying very close to me. This is what my bed looked like then I got up this morning:
I wanted to go grocery shopping but I got super-lazy from the cold and stayed in until it was time to go to Pilates. To ward off the chill, I made some oats. I loooooove getting warm by standing over a hot pot on the stove.
In a cow bowl, topped with cinnamon and pure grade B Vermont maple syrup.
Did you know syrup grades have nothing to do with qualty? Instead it refers to the color class, which indicates the time of the season the syrup was harvested and the unique flavor offered by that specific color. Grade B is harvested very late in the season, and is very dark and flavorful, which makes it really ideal for cooking and baking – my favorite is to toss cubes of butternut squash with a little of this syrup, salt, and pepper, and roast- but I really like how it tastes straight from the jar so I put it in my cereal.
This particular syrup my mom and stepdad tapped themselves (they’re cool like that). It lasts foreeeeverrrr in the fridge. I think I’ve had this jar since April because I forget to use it sometimes.
Pilates was great but a little difficult. I was running late and didn’t have time to grab my usual pre-class latte, so I was sluggish. I’m really tight in my left hamstring, still. I thought doing hip openers this morning might help but it didn’t really. Also my shoulders were a little sore from doing shoulder stands but that wasn’t so bad. The girl who teaches on Tuesday nights is my faaavorite instructor – last week I was lucky enough to get a private reformer class with her for free because no one else showed up to our mat class! She really stretched me out today. I’m probably going to need to take it easy tomorrow.
After Pilates I stopped by Organic Market, a small health foods store with pretty decent prices. It’s a block away from the Pilates studio on the way to the subway so it’s convenient. I’m trying to get myself excited about food again but I got really overwhelmed, which happens to me sometimes when I’m faced with too many choices. I ended up getting a loaf of cinnamon-raisin Ezekiel bread, a box of Back to Nature sesame tarragon crackers, and two boxes of Yogi teas: my favorite green tea and a flavor I’ve never tried before, Cocoa Mayan Spice.
Maybe it’ll help to ward off my sugar/caffeine attacks. Speaking of which, I accidentally happened to end up in Starbucks after Pilates (I pass three different Starbucks’ between my house and the studio! It happens!) and got my usual favorite, and as the same barista I’ve been chatting with for the past three months passed me my drink, I realized how much of a regular schedule I must be on if the barista knows I’m lactose intolerant and I always have the same bus driver on the way home. I love the clockwork of New York City. Haha.
This afternoon while I waited for my oatmeal to cook, I prepared some more fudge baby brownies. I made two flavors out of one batch, because I wanted to test both of them out. I made chocolate chip blondie babies and mint chocolate chocolate chip brownies. Holy. Crap. They both need to be retested on full batches but like … who am I kidding, retest? Does it matter if they’re different every time? Hell no. These are awesome no matter what’s in them.
Anywhose. I started like I did yesterday, processing the dates into date paste,
then processing the nuts and cacao into smaller bits
before adding the date paste and flavorings. This time I did it like this so I could make two different flavors from the same base.
To the first batch, I just added a pinch of sea salt and processed the whole thing together. I wanted something very clean, simple, that would showcase the sweetness of the dates. I thought the bitter cacao nibs and the salt offset the sweetness perfectly, and I love how it came out. It’s almost caramel-y.
To the second, I added a couple of tablespoons of cocoa powder, another handful of cacao nibs, a little vanilla, and mint. After blending it all together and tasting it, I decided I wanted a little something else, so I pulsed in a few squares of 85% cacao dark chocolate.
Holy yes. As soon as I took the lid off the food processor, the mint chocolate goodness just punched me in the face. I’m really happy with the flavor. The chocolate and the mint balance well, and because of the nibs and the chocolate, there’s something reminiscent of biting into mint chocolate chip ice cream and discovering a chocolate chunk.
I shaped the mint chocolate chocolate chip ones into squares – bigger than yesterday’s brownie bites, but still smaller than regular brownies. The blondies I rolled into balls. I also shaped a few into hearts so I can make jam sandwiches as a snack before Pilates tomorrow. I’ve been dreaming about this all afternoon.
If you wanna do like I did, here’s the method:
What you’ll need:
- 1 cup pitted medjool dates
- 3/4 cup almonds and walnuts, half and half
- 6 tbsp cacao nibs, divided
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 3 tbsp cocoa powder
- 2 tsp mint extract
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 squares 85% cacao dark chocolate
Pulse the dates in a food processor until they form a paste. Remove, divide in half, and set aside. Process nuts and 3 tbsp cacao nibs until uniform size. Remove and divide in half, putting one half back in the processor and setting the other half aside.
For the salted chocolate blondie: Pulse half the nuts, half the date paste, and the salt together until it forms a paste. Scoop out and set aside.
For the mint chocolate chocolate chip brownie: Pulse half the nuts, half the date paste, the cocoa powder, the rest of the cocoa nibs, the mint, and the vanilla together until it forms a paste. Toss in the chocolate at the end and pulse a few times to distribute evenly.
To shape, first I used Katie‘s smush-together-in-a-plastic-bag method (it’s very scientific) to form the dough.
Then shape as desired.
Well, I have a sink full of dishes, piles of laundry to do, and it’s garbage/recycling night, sooooo…its time for me to go read blogs. Catch ya later.