Hello summer people! It’s celebration time! I’m here to deliver the party favours …a seriously tasty treat and a whole lotta food porn. Ready?
This tart is everything you want from a summer recipe: quick to make, foolproof, delicious, and uses all the delights of the season. Since I am well aware that you would rather be spending your time at the beach or on the dock and not in the kitchen, making this treat will only take up about half an hour of your day, and the rest you can enjoy nibbling and relaxing!
I couldn’t quite settle on which meal this recipe would best be suited for, so I’ll let you decide on that one. It’s a perfectly respectable breakfast (you’re welcome), but would also make a lovely brunch side, afternoon iced tea accompaniment, or after dinner dessert. Because you can make the crust ahead of time, it can also be taken to a picnic or barbeque and assembled before serving.
The crust is vegan and gluten-free, made with toasted sunflower seeds and buckwheat flour, with a touch of lemon for zing. It is a good, all-around pastry base that can also be pressed into a tart form if you’d like a more tidy-looking dessert. I like the un-fussiness and rusticity of just rolling out the dough (and because I’m lazy). With its tattered edges and uneven shape, it looks like we all should in summer: loose, wild, and free!
For a big time saver, I’ve opted to use yogurt for the topping instead of making a cashew cream. If you would prefer a non-dairy option, try the cashew cream recipe from this post. It would be smashing on this tart!
The fruit is also your call, just use whatever is in season around you. We are finally enjoying the annual berry explosion here in Denmark, the one I wait for the entire year, and this recipe is truly a celebration of the juicy abundance, sumptuous colours, and bright flavours all around. Toss on a combination of favourites, or go for a solo fruit that you really want to highlight. This tart can carry itself well into the autumn as well, using plums, pears and figs as well.
As for garnishes, although they aren’t totally necessary, this tart is really delicious with the addition of a few extras. I tossed on a small handful of fresh herbs; peppermint and lemon balm, because I happened to have them on hand, but what a difference they made! Verbena would be so delicious too, or spearmint, bergamot, or even chocolate mint. And because I am obsessed with bee products, I couldn’t resist sprinkling the tart with pollen and topping each slice with a good chunk of honeycomb. Nothing is bad with honeycomb on top. Ever.
With that, I leave you with the recipe, and sun-drenched love wishes to all of you out there romping around and being wild little bunnies.
Big hugs and fruit tarts, Sarah B
Summer Celebration Fruit Tart Serves 4-6
Sunflower Buckwheat Crust
1/3 cup / 45g sunflower seeds
1 cup / 160g buckwheat flour
pinch sea salt
zest of 1 lemon
3 Tbsp. coconut oil, very cold
1 ½ Tbsp. pure maple syrup
1-3 Tbsp. ice water, as needed
1 cup Greek-style, plain yogurt (preferably from goat or sheep’s milk)
seeds from ½ vanilla bean
1 Tbsp. pure maple syrup or honey
a few handfuls of seasonal fresh fruit (I chose cherries, strawberries, red currants and gooseberries)
fresh herbs (I used mint and lemon balm)
bee pollen + honeycomb, if desired
1. Preheat oven to 375°F / 190°C.
2. In a dry skillet over medium heat toast sunflower seeds, tossing frequently, until fragrant and golden, 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Place seeds in a food processor and pulse until they resemble sand. Next add the remaining crust ingredients, except the ice water. Pulse to bring everything together and incorporate the oil. With the motor running, dribble in the water, one tablespoon at a time until the dough is no longer crumbly – do not add more than you need.
3. Empty the dough onto a large piece of parchment paper. Gather it into a rough ball, then place a sheet of parchment paper on top and using a rolling pin roll out into a circle about 12” / 30cm in diameter. Slide crust onto a baking sheet and place in the oven to bake until golden, about 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely.
4. While the crust is baking, combine the yogurt, vanilla seeds, and maple syrup. Set aside. Wash all fruit and slice if desired.
5. Assemble tart right before serving (otherwise the crust will get soggy) Spread yogurt onto the crust, and top with fruit. Garnish with fresh herbs, bee pollen and honeycomb if desired. Enjoy immediately.
My friend Adam is a serious health-foodie. He teaches sprouting workshops, is part of a vegetarian soup club, and appreciates a good sourdough as much as I do. He’s also quite fearless in the kitchen, combining tastes and textures I would never dream of, most often successfully. There was that one time however he put peppermint oil in a batch of his granola, and it tasted like breakfast and toothpaste all at the same time. I admire his gumption, but he will never live that one down.
One day while I was over at his place, I was really craving a cookie. He lives near a very high-vibe bakery so I was nearly out the door when he said, “wait! I have something you should try”. He proceeded to tell me that his experimental cookies were flour-free, grain-free in fact, and contained only six ingredients. I was scared – this sounded like a treat from wrong town. But when I took my first skeptical nibble, I was shocked. This cookie was everything I had ever wanted: rich, moist, not-too-sweet and deeply satisfying. Then he told me that it was just almond butter, eggs, maple syrup, chocolate, baking soda and sea salt. Um, what?! No flour? How was this even possible? Inexplicable, culinary wizardry at its best, that’s for darn sure, and an experiment gone absolutely right.
After googling almond butter cookies, I discovered that this kind of recipe had been floating around the interwebs unbeknownst to me. Anyway, I got Adam to make them for me again this past summer at his cottage, posted them on Instagram, and many of you asked for the recipe. I tinkered with them a lot to make sure they were just right, changing up the nut butters, using different sweeteners, various add-ins etc. (it’s a tough job, I tell ya). Then it dawned on me: what if I put the dough into a pan and made blondies?! For the win.
Now I don’t know about you, but I take my indulgences seriously. When I crave something sweet, I definitely don’t mess around with mousses, flaky pastries or light-n’-airy items. Heck no. I want to sink my teeth into something substantial, for it to announce its presence to my stomach with a fulfilling thud, and feel like I actually ate something. These blondies are just that. Aside from their incredibly rich, satisfying flavour, the texture of them is ultra chewy and have that dense brownie quality I love so much. It still baffles me that there isn’t any flour in the recipe, since it just feels like there is, from a “this-must-be-really-bad-for-me perspective. Like I said, there is some serious alchemical conjuring taking place, proving that the universe loves us, so don’t ask any questions.
Being choosey about your Chocolate Yes, yes, we’re talking about blondies here, but don’t all blondies have chocolate in them? I’m no expert, but I do believe this is a necessary addition. How do we go about choosing our chocolate though? Is there really a difference between cocoa mass percentages? Does organic really matter? Does milk chocolate count? Here are my top four tips for making sure your chocolate isn’t total junk food.
4 Tips for Choosing the Healthiest Chocolate
Choose dark chocolate varieties. The darker the bar, the higher the cocoa mass percentage will be. When a bar says it is 70% cocoa that means it has a relatively high concentration of health-promoting compounds, like polyphenols and antioxidants. It also means that there is less room for schwaggy stuff like refined sugar, processed oils, and flavourings. Always choose a bar with a minimum of 70% cocoa solids for maximum benefits. If the chocolate bar does not list a cocoa percentage, don’t buy it.
Read the ingredients. High quality chocolate should only contain three to four ingredients: chocolate, cocoa butter/ cocoa mass, and/or cocoa liquor, plus sugar. If the bar contains any oil, milk or milk products, soya lecithin, emulsifiers, ‘natural flavour’, or preservatives don’t buy it.
Buy Organic whenever possible. Cacao plants are some of the most heavily sprayed crops in the world. As pesticide residues can end up in the final product, choose chocolate that has been made from organically grown beans.
Learn about the process. Although it will require a little reconnaissance work, finding out how your chocolate was manufactured is important in determining how healthy it is. Drying cacao beans in the sun instead of roasting them preserves many of the chocolate’s delicate nutrients. Make sure that their processing temperature is not over 110°F. Avoid chocolate whose processing includes “Dutching”, an alkalization method that actually removes the polyphenols, as they lend characteristic bitter flavour to the finished product.
I also encourage you to purchase Fair Trade Certified chocolate whenever possible, as it makes a huge difference to the lives of cacao farmers and their families. Fair Trade is an international certification that ensures that farmers are guaranteed a minimum price for their product, decent working conditions, and that the processes they use protect the natural environment.
The blondies are not overly sweet, which I appreciate. If you like your desserts on the more saccharine side, I believe that swapping out ¼ cup of coconut sugar and replacing it with maple syrup would work very well. This would also help keep the blondies moist on the second and third day (although they won’t last that long. Trust.). You could also choose a chocolate with a lower cocoa mass, such as 70%, but don’t go lower than that, as the sugar in it will outweigh the health benefits of the chocolate itself. I chose a bar at 85%, which tends to be a little bitter, but I find it pairs well in this dessert.
As far as nut butter goes, anything goes. I used a homemade almond and hazelnut butter blend in these, which was unreasonably delicious (for a blended nut butter recipe, check out my post here). Because my nut butter was a deep caramel brown, my blondies turned out more like brunettes (tee hee), so the colour of your finished product depends on the nut butter you use. I tried a homemade sunflower butter in my experiments and it worked really well. I would also like to try tahini and pumpkin seed butter, although I know the colour in that case may be a little weird! I have a feeling cashew butter would taste out of this world, and pecan or walnut as well. And I definitely recommend roasted nut butter over raw for depth of flavour, and because you’ll be baking these anyway.
I will say that I really tried making these darn things vegan, but guys, it just didn’t work! Eggs in this case are crucial because they not only bind the ingredients, but they give the blondies air and volume. Using chia and flax works to bind, but you’ll end up with a tasty puddle. If that’s okay with you, go for it! I obviously ate all of my experiments, and quite happily indulged in many yummy, almond butter “pancakes”. I did not try vegan egg replacers though, and that may work better. If you have success in this arena, let me know.
And can we take a minute to talk about my favourite part of all? The corner pieces. If you actually own one of those funky all-corners brownie pans, you get where I’m coming from friend, and this is the time to use it. The edges are extra dense and chewy, slightly crisp and oooohhhhh my goodness I can’t even write about this anymore. On to the recipe.
Grain-free Chocolate Chunk Nut Butter Blondies Makes 20 blondies
2 large, organic eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup unsalted nut butter (I used almond-hazelnut)
¾ cup / 100g coconut sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. fine grain sea salt
3.5oz / 100g dark chocolate (70% or higher), roughly chopped
a pinch flaky sea salt (such as Maldon), optional
1. Preheat oven to 325°F / 160°C.
2. In a small bowl whisk eggs and vanilla extract together. Set aside. In a measuring cup, combine coconut sugar, ¼ tsp. fine grain sea salt, and baking soda.
3. Measure out the nut butter and place in a large bowl. Add the egg mixture, stir thoroughly to combine. Add the coconut sugar mixture and fold together. The dough will be very thick. Add about half of the chopped chocolate, using your hands if necessary to incorporate.
4. Press the dough into a parchment-lined 8×8″ (20x20cm) brownie pan. Sprinkle the remaining chocolate over the top and press each piece slightly into the dough. Sprinkle with a pinch of flaky sea salt and place in the oven.
5. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the blondies are golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan completely before cutting.
Seeing as it’s February and we’ve been so very behaved since the first of January (right…?) I thought it was time to pull out the big guns and celebrate with these ladies. I hope you drop everything you are doing right now and go make them. It’s true, blondies have more fun!
Hey guys. Remember how I like pretending that baking is easy? Well, I’ve done it again!
I actually wanted to make a gingerbread recipe last year. I even went out and bought a cute set of cookie cutters for the occasion as soon as they appeared in the stores. Let me just preface this by saying, this was at the very end of my pregnancy and pre-baby. Bahahaaa! How I thought that I would have time, energy, or sanity after giving birth to make cookies is beyond me, but I can at least laugh at my extraordinary naiveté.
So, fast-forward to the present moment: my mental wherewithal mostly in tact after the first 12 months of motherhood, and the desire to be involved in some kind of holiday tradition tugging at my heart strings. I was actually so excited to make gingerbread, once and for all, and blog about how easy it was.
If you follow me on Instagram, you will recall a certain Michelin-man-shaped gingerbread puddle that I posted last week. Yea. Like I said, I forgot that baking is not easy when you’re silly enough to invent recipes of which you have zero experience, under crushing time pressure. Okay, well, no big deal. Roll up my sleeves and start again, right? To rectify the poofing, I decided to eliminate the baking soda, baking powder and all liquid. Genius! Instead of a puffed up puddle, the cookies were rock hard and greasy.
Gingerbread: 2, Sarah B: 0.
At this point, in a frustrated frenzy, my husband chimed in for the pep talk. “Hun, you know that this happens every time you bake. It’s science! And you’re bad at science (I’m paraphrasing). Just give it one more try and I bet you’ll nail it, because in the end you always do” (he forgot about the carrot cake debacle, bless his heart). So this morning began in the kitchen, sleeves rolled up, and ready to face this worthy opponent with a veritable village of gingerbread casualties in my wake. Except this time, I won.
Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Molasses
Isn’t it ironic that the waste product of manufacturing white sugar, is a nutrient-rich, low-glycemic syrup? I’m talking about molasses. That gooey, rich, unmistakably black-brown nectar with a rather divisive flavour.
There are a few varieties of molasses, but to understand how they vary, let’s first look at how molasses is made.
Molasses is created from either sugarcane or sugar beets (but because the molasses made from beets can be quite bitter, sugarcane molasses is the most common variety available for human consumption). These plants are harvested, and then cut, crushed, and mashed so that the juice is extracted. “Fancy Molasses” is the first product to be made, but is in fact the only type of molasses that is not a by-product of sugar processing, but instead a direct product from sugar cane. This type is super sweet and is most commonly enjoyed as the syrup straight on pancakes or waffles, and as an ingredient in baked goods.
Varieties of Molasses
The real deal molasses comes from boiling the juice of sugar cane down to crystallize the sugars, producing a concentrate, the first of which is called First Molasses, First Strike Molasses, Barbados Molasses, Light Molasses, Mild Molasses, or Sweet Molasses. This comes from the first boiling of the sugar. It is light in colour and mild in flavour. Some people also enjoy this type directly on their food, like fancy molasses. It is about 65% sucrose.
Next up is Second Molasses, Second Strike Molasses, Dark Molasses, or Full Molasses. As you may have guessed, this is made from the second boiling of the extracted cane juice, a process that extracts even more sugar, producing a darker, thicker syrup typically used as a cooking ingredient in sauces, marinades and baked beans. It is about 60% sucrose.
Blackstrap molasses is likely the one all you health foodies out there know and love. This type of molasses is made by boiling the cane syrup a third time, which extracts even more sugar and concentrates the flavour. By this point, the sucrose content is so low (about 55%) that the syrup no longer tastes sweet, but slightly bitter. The colour is nearly black, and the consistency is very thick and viscous. Blackstrap molasses is used in baking, sauces, stews and even as a food supplement due to its high nutrient content.
Nutritious and Delicious
Blackstrap molasses is highly concentrated in essential minerals, such as iron, calcium, selenium, manganese, potassium, copper, and zinc. As I mentioned above, this type of molasses is sometimes used as a dietary supplement or tonic. One tablespoon stirred into warm water is a food-based way to boost mineral levels, especially iron, as this small amount contains a whopping 20% of your RDI. You can also enjoy it in foods such as smoothies, tea, warm cereal, or dressings, sauces and stews. Remember to eat iron-rich foods with vitamin C to enhance its absorption. I like to use a little lemon juice.
Blackstrap molasses is one of the few sweeteners that is low on the glycemic scale with an index classification of 55. This means that it metabolizes slowly in a controlled way, demands less insulin production and won’t cause a spike in blood glucose levels. All in all, blackstrap molasses is a fantastic, healthy sweetener to which I enthusiastically give a thumbs up!
Buying and Storing
When purchasing molasses, read the label to ensure that what you are buying is 100% pure molasses (some companies will cut blackstrap molasses with corn syrup to make it sweeter) and that it is “unsulfured”. Sulfur dioxide can be added to all grades of molasses to help preserve it, as it prevents the growth of bacteria and mould. From a health perspective, sulfur can cause reactions in sensitive people (you can read more about that here). Sulfur dioxide also has a very bitter flavour, and can drastically alter the flavour of the dish you are making. Look for organic molasses whenever possible too.
Store unopened molasses in a cool, dark place for up to one year. Opened containers must be stored in the fridge and will last for up to six months.
So this gingerbread, this is really it. It’s deeply spiced, perfectly balanced in sweet and salt, and super addictive. I love the special flavour and richness that molasses brings to the cookies as well. It’s a must-have component of this recipe for sure, and should not be substituted with other sweeteners due to its properties in the baking itself. The cookies are totally vegan (!!!), made with whole spelt flour and natural sweeteners. But the coolest part of this recipe? If you like a chewy cookies, bake them for 7 minutes, and if you like a crispier version, bake it for 10. Science! I tried two versions with this batch of cookies, and although I prefer the chewy ones, my husband really likes the crunch of the longer-baked variety.
I am really, really proud of my gingerbread, especially after persevering through three rounds of total uncertainty and insanity. Although the first two recipes, according to some were “just fine”, I couldn’t post a recipe here on My New Roots that is just fine. Never! I want everything I put out into the world to be my best, and this, I am so pleased to say, (finally) qualifies. Whew.
As I was very anxiously waiting for this last trial to bake, I whipped up a Cashew-Cacao Butter Icing to decorate the little guys with (I got it on the first try too!). As I was making it however, I used honey to sweeten it, and then promptly delivered myself a swift forehead slap realizing that the rest of the cookie recipe was vegan! Argh. So, if you don’t want to use honey to sweeten this icing, I am confident that maple syrup or coconut nectar would work in its place. I haven’t tried making this recipe in a regular blender, only a Vitamix, so I know that the icing consistency may be a little grainy if you don’t use a high-powered machine.
Healthy Holiday Gingerbread Makes at least 2 dozen medium-sized cookies
2 ½ / 350g whole spelt flour
¼ tsp. fine grain sea salt
½ tsp. baking powder
1 Tbsp. ground ginger (or less if you prefer more mild gingerbread)
1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
5 Tbsp. coconut oil, melted
½ cup / 70g coconut sugar
½ cup / 125ml unsulfured blackstrap molasses
3 Tbsp. unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1. Sift the dry ingredients together.
2. In a small saucepan, melt the coconut oil, then whisk in the molasses, applesauce, and vanilla.
3. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry, and fold to combine – you may need to use your hands to mix this, but don’t overwork the dough. Fold just until the ingredients come together evenly. Turn dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap, make a ball, then flatten into a large disc. Wrap and place in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
4. Preheat oven to 350°F / 175°C. Remove dough from the fridge, unwrap and cut in half. Wrap one half and return it to the fridge. Place the other half of the dough between two pieces of baking paper and roll out (if it is very stiff, you may need to let it warm up just slightly). Remove top half of the paper and cut out desired shapes with a cookie cutter or a knife. Slide a knife or thin egg lifter under each shape and place on a lined baking sheet. Ball up the scraps of dough, roll it out between the parchment and start again. Once the dough becomes too warm, return it to the fridge and repeat the entire process with the other half of the chilled dough.
5. Place cookie sheet in the oven and bake for 7-10 minutes (7 minutes produces a softer, chewier cookie, while 10 minutes produces a crispier one). Remove from oven and let cool on pan. Decorate with the Cashew Cacao Icing if desired (recipe follows).
Cashew-Cacao Butter Icing Makes about ¾ cup
½ cup / 65g cashews
a few pinches of sea salt
3 Tbsp. / 40g cacao butter, melted
1 ½ Tbsp. raw honey (or liquid sweetener of your choice)
½ vanilla bean, seeds scraped
3 Tbsp. hot water
1. Soak cashews with sea salt for four hours, or overnight.
2. Drain, rinse and place cashews in the most powerful blender you have along with all other ingredients. Blend on high until as smooth as possible.
3. Pour into a piping bag and store in the fridge until it firms up, about 2 hours, then use. Store leftovers in the fridge or freezer. If you do not have a piping bag, you can also use sandwich bag with a teeny corner snipped off, which is what I did!
For those of you living in Copenhagen, I’ve only found one shop that carries molasses and it’s the Super Brugsen on Nørrebrogade. I know at least one of you is going to ask!
And finally, I want to say a HUGE Happy Holidays to everyone out there. I hope that your days are filled with wonder and delight, family and friends, and above all, delicious food. I can’t help myself – it’s what I live for!
All love and sparkling winter holidays,
Show me your gingerbread on Instagram: #MNRgingerbread