mandag den 19. december 2011

Secret Recipe Club December: Not-so-blonde Chocolate Chip Banana Blondies

I feel it in my fingers
I feel it in my toes
Christmas is all around me 
and so the feeling grows

1st warning: If you only want to read about food and the SRC, please scroll down to the next line in bold - non-food-related stuff coming up first.
2nd warning: Long post

The 4 lines above are from the song Christmas Is All Around (Youtube video in link), featured in my absolute favorite Christmas movie - Love Actually with Hugh Grant and a lot of other great British actors (and a few American as well). I don't know if any of you from the US know this movie, but if not, you should check it out. 
Like now. 

You won't regret it if you are even slightly romantic. I think even Hubby cried a little when we saw it the first time.
Please don't tell him I told you.

The song is originally by Wet Wet Wet and is called Love Is All Around (another Youtube video in link). No sorry, that's not true - they made a cover version of the original song from The Troggs (this is not a Youtube link - just a Wiki one), but the WWW version was a huge hit and must be the most well-known.
At least until Billy Mack came along in Love Actually and made his... shall we say, unforgettable version.

So why all this about a Christmas movie and a song? No idea whatsoever. For some reason I just suddenly thought of this song when I started writing the December post for the SRC. And since this is the Christmas month, what better way to start this post than with some Christmas lyrics.
Or not.

Anyway, if it makes at least one of you watch the movie (and like it), it will be worth all the people who already skipped my post because they thought they ended up the wrong place when they thought they were going to read about food but couldn't find it (long sentence - breathe now, please).

Enough about songs, movies and Christmas. Let's move on to what this should be all about.
Food and the Secret Recipe Club.

If you only want to read about food and the SRC, this is where you should scroll down to.

I've been a part of the SRC since August 2011 (you can read all about SCR, and join here!), and I've found so many great new blogs to seek inspiration from.
This month, I got a vegetarian blog, Thrifty Veggie Mama (TVM), written by Jamie who is a SAHM to 3 lovely kids (I love G's blonde curls!).
Her family became vegetarian in 2010, and she has shared a lot of great recipes since then.

I didn't really have any doubts what to make when I saw it - the vegan and glutenfree Chocolate Chip Blondies(Recipe is originally from Chocolate Covered Katie (CCK), and you will have to go to her site for the recipe, as Jamie doesn't include the recipe in her own post, but links to CCK (I checked with hostess Angie to be sure it was ok to use such a post for SRC, and it should be fine. Just in case anyone was wondering)).
It's been a while since I baked any cakes, and I've seen the blondie things everywhere on the net lately, so this was a nice opportunity to combine my growing cake desire with the urge to see if the blondie thing is really such a big deal.

It is.

I did make a few changes, however, so I cannot tell you how TVM/CCK's original recipe would turn out - but if it is anywhere near my result, I can only recommend you give it a try.
Since the color of my blondies did not turn out that blonde (see below for explanation), and since I added some banana, I have changed the name of the recipe. So here are my

Not-so-blonde Chocolate Chip Banana Blondies:
- adapted from Thrifty Veggie Mama/Chocolate Covered Katie


Boiled Kala Chana 
- I used the black type of chickpeas called Kala Chana, or Bengal Gram - they will make the batter a lot darker than if you use ordinary chickpeas, so that's the reason why they turned out not-so-blonde. From what I could find, Kala Chana is a bit more healthy than the normal lighter chickpeas, but use whatever you want or have access to
- I added a bit of baking soda to the Kala Chana when boiling them - this makes them more tender (and also makes them cook faster), which is good when you want to use them for cakes, hummus etc.
- To finish the Kala Chana/chickpea story, please soak and boil them yourself instead of buying the cans. It is much cheaper, and if you soak an entire bag, boil it with some herbs, salt, paprika, maybe a bit of chili and onion powder, and then put them in a ziplog bag in the freezer, you will always have chickpeas ready for soups, stews or just for a snack. They also taste great straight out of the pot, or you could bake them in the oven with some olive oil and extra spices until crisp. Or you can use them in a tomato sauce as sub for pasta, if you're on a low-carb diet. But that's another story for another recipe.
(Disclaimer: Please don't add the spices if you want to use them for cakes and desserts - unless you like spices in your cakes. I cooked a separate batch without spices (but with baking soda) for the cake, and the rest with spices for the freezer)
- CCK's recipe suggests replacing some of the peanut butter with apple sauce, if you want less fat - I didn't (want less fat, that is), so I used peanut butter as well as apple sauce - just to try it, and because I actually happened to have some homemade apple sauce in the freezer
- I added ½ a banana because I had a very ripe one that had to be used - then I tasted the batter (which you can do without worries since it doesn't have any raw eggs in it) and decided that was enough. I didn't want it to be a banana cake, so just a slight hint of banana was fine
- I added both dark and white chocolate chips, just because I could - and I used a little more than CCK

Let's get on with the recipe.

1 1/2 cup chickpeas/Kala Chana / 250 grams boiled weight (they will approx. double in weight when boiled so if you boil them just for this one recipe, you should use approx. 125 grams raw weight)
3/4 cup dark muscovado sugar
1/8 tsp fine sea salt
2 tsp vanilla extract (homemade - if you haven't got any, please make some)
1/4 cup ground flax (on my scales, they weighed 40 g, not 20 like in CCK's recipe)

1/4 cup smooth peanut butter 

½ cup unsweetened apple sauce (can be omitted or used as sub for the peanut butter. Personally, I don't think you should skip the peanut butter, as it gives a great taste - in fact next time, I will probably use a little more)
½ very ripe banana
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips (57%)
1/4 cup white chocolate chips
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 Celsius). Blend everything from chickpeas to banana until the mixture is smooth.
Mix in both types of chocolate chips and finally the baking powder and baking soda.
Pour batter into a baking pan that is greased (I use grease in a spray can) or lined with tinfoil (which you could also grease just to be sure)
Bake for approx. 40 minutes. The cake should still look a little undercooked, but it will firm up a bit after it has cooled.
After cooling down, cut into preferred size squares (or triangles - or circles - or whatever floats your boat) - smaller sizes are easier to handle, as this cake is quite gooey. 
Trust me on this one.


The short conclusion: Gooey is good.
The long conclusion: Very gooey is very good.

It's hard to believe this cake is actually sort of healthy - proteins and fibres from the chickpeas, healthy fat from the flax, dark chocolate and peanut butter - no unhealthy fat from butter, cream or eggs.
We've been eating it as it is over the past couple of days, and even when standing uncovered on a plate in the kitchen for 2 days, it is still gooey, moist and delicious.
I'm not sure what would go best with it, if you would like to serve it with something - ice cream might be too sweet, so I think some fresh fruit, preferably a little tart, would be good.
No matter what - please try this, or the original version from TVM/CCK

You will not regret it if you like gooey.