Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Vegan Blondies

VeganMoFo 2016 graphic

Week One: Treat Yourself (and others)!

This past Sunday was full of frustration… and cookies. I’ve had a specific cookie concept in my head for a few weeks now, and I decided to work on the recipe this weekend. The first attempt failed, leaving Steven and I with a Tupperware full of cookies that were more like puffy biscuits. (Steven wasn’t complaining.)

Back to the kitchen I went, hoping some modifications would help. Nope. The second batch spread too thin and crumbled horribly, leaving us with a Tupperware now full of biscuit-y cookies and crumbly cookies (Steven still wasn’t complaining).

After that, I gave up — I’ll return to the concept soon, but I couldn’t bear a third failure in one day.

That’s the rub, when it comes to recipe development: you’ve gotta be okay with failure. As a semi-reformed perfectionist, I still get frustrated when things don’t go my way. I’m learning to be okay with it, and to learn from it, but it still grates on me.

So a few nights ago, when another idea surfaced in my MoFo-inspired mind, I headed to the kitchen with just a little trepidation. I knew what I wanted: rich, chewy vegan peanut butter blondie bars that would almost melt in your mouth, studded with chocolate chips for a slightly bitter counterpoint to the sweetness. I melted, mixed, tasted, and finally put them in the oven, hoping my baking mojo had returned and that the curious alchemy of cookie-creation was in my favor that night.

Vegan peanut butter chocolate chip blondies // govegga.com

It was — though I didn’t think so at first. As I tried the blondies, my initial reaction was disappointment. They weren’t sweet enough! I had failed! I kept chewing, though, and soon realized that they did indeed have a perfectly pleasant sweetness; a few tablespoons of maple syrup add complexity and mean that the sweetness grows slowly on your tongue. And you wouldn’t want them much sweeter — these are rich, buttery blondies; too much sugar would render them cloying and unpleasant to eat.

And so! With much relief, today I bring you vegan peanut butter blondies, an indulgent treat that’s supremely easy to whip up. I baked mine in my favorite Le Creuset ceramic 9×9” square dish, and they came out beautifully with just a spray of oil lining the pan. If you’re using a more persnickety dish, feel free to line with parchment paper for easy removal. (And keep your fingers crossed for another cookie recipe coming soon — I think I’ll crack it yet!)

Vegan peanut butter chocolate chip blondies // govegga.com

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Blondies

Makes 9 squares

  • 1/3 C Earth Balance, melted
  • 1/2 creamy natural peanut butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 C brown sugar
  • 1/4 C white sugar
  • 2 T maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 T ground flax
  • 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350˚F and oil a 9×9″ baking dish.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the melted Earth Balance, peanut butter, and vanilla extract until well combined. Add the sugars and maple syrup and incorporate, then stir in the salt, baking powder, ground flax, and flours. (You might want to add the flour a little at a time for easier mixing.) Fold in the chocolate chips. The mixture should be similar to cookie dough.

Add the dough to the prepared baking dish and use a spatula to spread evenly. Bake for 23-25 minutes, just until a skewer or knife comes out clean. Do not overbake. Cool for at least 10 minutes before slicing and enjoying.

Notes

  • I’m sure you could omit the white whole wheat flour in favor of more all-purpose flour — though you might need to add a few tablespoonfuls more.
  • Feel free to substitute mini chocolate chips or even white chocolate chips.
  • These would probably cook up well in an 8×8″ pan — just cook for a couple minutes longer.

PIN IT

Vegan peanut butter chocolate chip blondies // govegga.com

Looking for a slightly healthier dessert option that’ll still leave you feeling like you’re treating yourself? Why not try my fudgy black bean brownies, a treat from MoFo 2014?

Rhapsody in Blue: my love affair with blueberries

Happy Sunday, folks!

Guess what? It’s time to solve some math problems! Yep, you heard that right – Kelly the English major is breakin’ it down elementary school style for some word problems. So, in honor of my impending registration for the GRE (gag), I’d like to present a couple of math problems to you.

Question: If Kelly has 13 lbs. of handpicked local blueberries, how many bags does it take to hold them all?


Answer: 3 big ol’ bags!

Question: If Kelly has a boatload of blueberries and a copy of Vegan Brunch she won in a Twitter contest by the fabulous folks at Da Capo Cooking, what happens when she combines the two?


Answer: Bakery-Style Berry Muffins, of course! I like to make big, fluffy muffins to make ’em seem even more bakery-esque, and this recipe yields 10 good-sized muffins. My mom loves when I make these; she constantly compliments my baking in a blatant attempt to flatter me into making more. And honestly, I’m happy to oblige when the results are so yummy.

Question:If Kelly’s in the mood for something a little healthier than oil-rich muffins and and still has bundles of blueberries, what can she make?


Answer: What else but Susan‘s Blueberry-Oat Bars? I’ll admit, my version doesn’t look nearly as presentable or as scrumptious as Susan’s, but hey, I never claimed to be a fat-free kitchen goddess! And at least they tasted good, right? Next time I’ll be a better judge of my batter and distribute it more evenly between top and bottom.

Question: If Kelly’s getting a little tired of baked goods and is curious about exploring new flavor combinations, how can she use corn and blueberries together to create something delicious?


Answer: She can make the Cornbread Waffles from Vegan Brunch and top them off with a sweet blueberry sauce! I’ll admit that these waffles didn’t turn out as fabulous as I’d expected, but I think that’s because I used very coarse cornmeal. I froze the leftover waffles and LOVE popping one in the toaster and munching on it as a handheld brekkie snack.

Bonus question: If Kelly’s family is hungry for blueberry-laden baked goods and Kelly wants to mix up the flavor profile in her blueberry muffins, what can she use?


Answer: Orange juice! She can make delicious Blueberry Orange Muffins from Have Cake, Will Travel. Although I cheated and didn’t use fresh orange juice, these muffins were still quite tasty. I used a mix of white and whole wheat flour instead of the whole wheat pastry flour called for in the recipe, and it worked out just fine.

And the easiest problem of all – if Kelly has 13 lbs. of handpicked local blueberries and just wants to have a delicious, simple, snack, what must she add to her blueberries to enjoy them? Answer – absolutely NOTHING. A bowl of fresh berries has got to be one of the greatest pleasures on earth.

I knew blue was my favorite color for a reason. Blueberries are the quintessential summer fruit for me. I love spending a couple of hours at the local U-pick farm with my mom and sister, feeling the hot sun on my arms and letting my mind wander as I scour the already picked-over bushes for hidden troves of berries. I love coming home with heavy bags bursting with the tiny blue orbs and going on a baking frenzy for a few days before calming down and freezing the unused berries in the hopes that they’ll last through the winter. In short, I love blueberries.

But, for the love of seitan, please don’t call blueberries “bloobs.” My mind works in strange ways and “bloobs” conjures up images the descriptions of which I will spare you. Just trust me on this one. ;)