BUTTERNUT CASHEW AND WHITE BEAN BLONDIES
These come under the catergory of ‘things I never thought I could make healthy’. They sit there comfortably beside my raw caramel shortbreads, looking smug, health in a cunning disguise. This was a complex idea. I mean, the idea itself was easy, but the plan of action wasn’t so obvious. I wanted to make healthy blondies. And theres one initial obstruction in the way there. There is no nutritious white chocolate alternative. White chocolate is a terrible excuse for food. Conventional chocolate bars are low enough in actual chocolate as it is, but white chocolate... well that just calls for more processing and more unrecognisable ingredients - all of which are nutritionally substandard. But if you deconstruct any raw chocolate bars (these contain less ingredients than processed chocolate, so it won't take you long), you'll discover cacao butter. Cacao butter is the brains behind pretty much any raw chocolate recipe (although you can substitute it for pure coconut oil), and makes a brilliant alternative to white chocolate. Stronger and earthier in taste, it isn't quite the same as a mouthful of milky bar, unfortunately, but combined with other ingredients (natural sweeteners and vanilla seeds, for example) it brings a unique flavour to homemade recipes, and a whole lot of goodness too. I have made all sorts of white chocolate inspired recipes using cacao butter, from white chocolate and avocado frosting for cakes, to white chocolate ganache truffles and my Almond Two Tones. This recipe doesn’t actually require cacao butter, but it wouldn’t hurt. (When would it?).
Vegetables in a popular sweet treat may seem odd, but to me, they are a must. These blondies wouldn't be the same without the caramelly taste and goey texture of the butternut squash, or the creaminess provided by the soft cannellini beans. The nutritional value of these blondies is well up there with an undressed salad or a bowl of soup, the difference with these being that you can have your cake, eat it, and eat your vegetables too. I didn't play with the recipe for these as I didn't have time, but you can experiment with added chopped berries, chopped nuts or other natural flavours to yours. These blondies are stodgy, dense and chewy – not airy. And that’s a good thing, that's how brownies/blondies should be. Trust me.
1 1/2 Jars Cashew Butter
2 Tablespoons Tahini
1 Cup Ground Almonds (add more)
6-8 Tablespoons Coconut Palm Sugar or Organic Date Sryup
2 eggs (3 if you'd prefer them a little lighter)
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
Pinch of Salt
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
2 Tablespoons Coconut Oil, melted (or cacao butter)
1 Large Butternut Squash, skinned, chopped and roasted
1 Tin Cannellini Beans
Preheat the oven to 180c.
Start by roasting the butternut squash. Don't be tempted to boil it as the water it absorbs will affect the quantities of this recipe. If you are really short of time, steam it, but you have been warned. By roasting the squash it becomes a caramel-like consistency and becomes sticky, which is what makes these blondies work. Slice the skins off and chop the squash into 1-2 inch cubes. Drizzle with olive oil or coconut oil and bake in the oven for 45-55 minutes, until entirely soft. Now place in a blender or food processor and blend for 2 minutes until a smooth puree forms. Then add the rest of the ingredients and blend again for 2-3 minutes. The best thing about this recipe is the lack of washing up. Blending the batter makes it smoother than ever and is so much quicker too. Once the mixture is smooth, grease a baking tin with a little coconut oil and pour the batter in evenly. Bake for 12-20 minutes, depending on the size and depth of your dish. The top should begin to brown and break slightly and should feel stiff to touch. Use a knife to test the middle and make sure it comes out clean. You don't want to over cook these as they continue to cook slightly once you take them out of the oven, and if theres one thing a brownie or blondie shouldn't be, it's dry.
+ Serve with coconut cream or top with cacao frosting or homemade nutella. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.