Almond Date Blondies

Almond Date Blondies – A healthful, gluten-free snack

It seems like I’m always counting calories, exercising when I can, and generally trying to lose weight. It’s an uphill battle, for sure. But sometimes I get a nagging sweet tooth that just won’t stop. So I try to make my desserts as healthful as I can. These almond date blondies are the perfect treat when I want a little something extra. They are sweet, but not overly sweet, and the have a satisfying chewy, crunchy texture. They are pretty simple to make also.

You can mix it up a bit, also. If you like coconut, use coconut flour instead of almond flour. Add 1/2 cup of shredded, toasted coconut, or mix in 1/4 cup or so of your favorite chocolate chips.

Almond Date Blondies

Indulge without guilt. These blondies are satisfyingly chewy, crunchy, and not too sweet. 
Author: Rodney Bedsole

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup Almond Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 4 tablespoons Butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup Natural Almond Butter
  • 1 cup Light Brown Sugar
  • 1 large Egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon Almond Extract
  • 3/4 cup Slivered, roasted, almonds (divided)
  • 3/4 cup Finely diced dried dates

Instructions

  • Heat your oven to 350°F.
    2. Line an 8″ square baking pan with aluminum foil so that it overlaps on the sides (this makes it easy to remove after it is cooked). Grease the aluminum foil with butter and set aside.
    3. Whisk flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and set aside.
    4. In a mixer with the paddle attachment (or a hand mixer), beat the butter and almond butter until it is fluffy. 
    5. Add the brown sugar and beat until it is smooth.
    6. Add the egg and continue to beat until it is well incorporated.
    7. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed just until mixed.
    8 Mix in the oatmeal, 1/2 cup of almonds, and dates.
    9. Press the dough into the prepared baking pan and press the remaining 1/4 cup of almonds into the dough. 
    10. Bake until the blondies are firm, 20-25 minutes.
    11. Let them cool for at least 10 minutes, then remove from the pan using the aluminum foil handles.
    12. Cut into 16 pieces 
    13. Enjoy!

What’s In a Name, Clafoutis?

Clafoutis. It appears to be one of those love it or hate desserts. Or so it seems, because a simple statement by Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Kitchen (aka Cathy Barrow) on Facebook, “I don’t get clafoutis. There. I’ve said it.”  kicked off a lively round of discussion on the merits, or the lack thereof, of Clafoutis.

I am not very well acquainted with the custard-like fruity dessert that bears such an odd name.  The dessert originated in the Limousin region of south-central France, a rural area that is known for it farming and oak forests. The principal city there is Limoges, which is nestled along the Venne River. The origin of the word is from a dialect clafir ‘to stuff’ or ‘to fill’.  So it would seem that we are stuffing a flan-like batter with fruit.

Clafoutis

Clafoutis is traditionally baked using black cherries, but it has been adapted over the years to include all sorts of fruit other than cherries. Technically, when using any fruit other than black cherries, it is called a flaugnarde. One thing you must be careful of when making clafoutis is using fruit that will seep too most liquid into the batter causing it to be runny instead of setting like it should. This did not come up in the discussion on Facebook.

But what did come up on Facebook is the challenge to bake a certain clafoutis recipe that one of Cathy’s friends posted and promised that everyone will love. So I made it. To me, this recipe is a dutch baby with fruit. It was much too thin to be a clafoutis recipe.

Clafoutis

The result was good, but I still am not a huge fan of clafoutis. I prefer my custard (and my ice cream) with nothing mixed in with it. I love the creamy smoothness of custard and ice cream and anything adulterating it only masks my enjoyment of the beautifully creamy texture.

The recipe is below if you are inclined to make it. I added vanilla beans. It’s super simple and quick to make and would be perfect for a weekend breakfast.

Clafoutis

Clafoutis (or Dutch Baby with Fruit)

2 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup whole milk

1 vanilla bean, scraped into mixture
pinch salt
Whisk together above ingredients until smooth.
1 cup fruit

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Butter a small pan (I used an 8″ cast-iron skillet). Combine all of the ingredients and whisk until smooth. Pour into the skillet and drop in the fruit. Bake until the sides are golden brown, about 40 minutes.

 

 

A Photo Shoot and Lunch at Atrium Dumbo (Brooklyn, NY)

I love Brooklyn. Although Larry and I moved from Brooklyn more than three years ago, it still feels like home. Luckily, we only moved to New Rochelle, so we are able to go back to Brooklyn often, whenever the mood strikes. Recently Larry had a business meeting in Dumbo, and I had a mini photo shoot at Atrium Dumbo.

Brooklyn Bridge Park

Before heading to the restaurant, I took a short walk through Brooklyn Bridge Park, a place that I’ve seen change by leaps and bounds since we first moved to Brooklyn more than a decade ago (I think the year was 2004). The waterfront at that time was composed of one dilapidated pier after another. It has transformed into a spectacular waterfront full of beautiful sights, sounds, and reclaimed peirs where you can partake in anything from tennis to taekwondo.

Taekwondo at the Pier in Brooklyn Bridge Park

Rodney Bedsole Photography - Brooklyn Bridge Park

After my walk, I headed to Atrium for lunch. I luckily grabbed a seat at a table in the bar where the sunlight streamed in and gave me a perfect spot for lighting and shooting the food that I was about to order. I was greeted by Britney and I told her my plan of making photos of the food that I was about to order. Her advice on colorful, beautiful dishes was helpful. I ordered and went about setting up my makeshift photo studio in the restaurant.

Interior at Atrium Dumbo

My honey passionfruit juice came out first with it’s beautiful yellow color. Beautiful and delicious.

Honey Passionfruit juice at Atrium Dumbo

Up next was the Cauliflower with Vadouvan yogurt, pickled raisin, and coriander.  Three colors of cauliflower made this a gorgeous dish and the spices in the yogurt were divine.

Cauliflower Appetizer at Atrium Dumbo

My next course was salmon, and I must admit that I am not a big fan of Atlantic Salmon. I ordered it because I thought it would be the most photogenic of the entrees available on the lunch menu. It proved to be a gorgeous piece of fish nestled onto a bed of white beans, preserved lemons, chorizo, and topped with shaved fennel. The combination of all of those ingredients was truly delightful. I enjoyed every bite. And I’ve changed my mind about salmon. I will be attempting to recreate this dish at home.

Atlantic Salmon at Atrium Dumbo

And just about the time that I was taking my last bit of salmon, Larry texted me to find out where I was. He was finished with his meeting and was ready to head back home. I thanked Britney for her excellent help on my mini photo shoot, took a moment to introduce myself to Lea, the manager, and then packed up my gear and headed off to meet Larry to brave the traffic on the BQE (that’s the Brooklyn Queens Expressway for you non New Yorkers) on our trek back to Westchester County.

My lunch was a super experience and I will definitely be going back to eat at Atrium again.

Cauliflower Appetizer at Atrium Dumbo

Atlantic Salmon at Atrium Dumbo