Fudgy brownies with tahini ganache
One of the things that I've enjoyed about this quarantine period is that I've been forced to get creative with pantry meals, snacks and desserts. My usual recipe development has more come from a place of "this is what I want to make and this is what I need so let's go to the store and get those things." The current situation is very different. We are only making grocery trips when we need to and my husband has been doing all of the grocery shopping so that I stay out of the stores while expecting (although this week I found a local market that is doing curb side pick up and I'm going to go for a drive later today- times are definitely different when getting out into the car feels like an outing).
This brownie recipe was developed with all things in my pantry and I have been using up a bottle of Tahini more lately when I noticed that it's pretty creamy....and I had a small amount of chocolate chips left and I wondered if I could melt the two together for a brownie ganache. It turns out that I can and that it's really good. The brownies are pretty sweet with both white and brown sugar and the tahini ganache sort of balances it out with a nutty flavor. I wondered if my kids would back away from it once they tried them but nope. They each stole an extra brownie when I wasn't looking.
Here's what you'll need:
For the brownie (makes approximately 1 dozen)
-1/2 cup butter at room temperature
-1/2 cup brown sugar
-1/2 cup white sugar
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-3/4 cup flour
-1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
-1 tsp espressor powder
-1/2 tsp salt
-1 tsp baking powder
For the Ganache
-1/2 cup tahini
-1/2 cup chocolate chips
Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees and line an 8 x 8 baking pan with parchment paper. In a large bowl, use a stand or hand mixer to cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy (about 1-2 minutes). Add in the eggs one at a time and mix together. Add in the vanilla and mix together. Add all of the dry ingredients on top of the wet ingredients and mix them together with a fork before turning back on the mixer to incorporate them with the wet ingredients. The batter will be thick...almost frosting like.
Pour the brownie batter into the prepared pan and use the back of a spoon or rubber spatula to spread and smooth the batter evenly throughout the pan. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes. This baking time leaves them fudgy and a small amount of batter coming out on a toothpick when inserted. Allow to cool completely in the pan.
Once cooled, prepare the ganache by adding the tahini to a small pot on medium heat. Allow to warm up and then add in the chocolate chips. Stir continuously until the chocolate melts into the tahini and completely blends together. Pour over the brownies and spread evenly with a spoon or spatula. Place the ganache topped brownies in the fridge to chill and set for about an hour.
Lift the parchment paper up and out of the pan, slice into 12 squares and enjoy!
No baby yet over here. I thought early labor had kicked off this past weekend late Saturday night into early Sunday morning, but things fizzled soon thereafter so I guess baby & I are still just practicing. I'll admit that the Type A personality in me has a tough time with not knowing when...it's kind of like being signed up for a marathon but not having the exact race date. As someone who ran a lot of long distance road races, including one full marathon, I know race day jitters well and those same feelings float in and out of my mind each day. Deep down I know that God's got it all worked out, but my human nature still gets in the way and keeps looking for some sense of control. So, I try to stay hydrated, keep active, be as rested as I can and keep the house in order (which is kind of laughable with 3 kids home on quarantine all day every day) in case I get the call that marathon day is today.
I recently put a poll up in my Instagram stories about hospital packing lists and post-partum supplies that I like to have on hand at home to help with recovery and the response was overwhelmingly "yes" that people wanted to know what I've had good experiences with in the past. I've saved that information to my Instagram highlights in case you're interested. I learn new things with each birth and I remember that there was so much about post-partum that I did not know or expect the first time around.
This recipe is one of a few in a series I've put together regarding lactation friendly, milk supply boosting recipes. Regardless as to how a mom chooses or needs to feed her baby, these recipes would support any mom in their post-partum journey as I strive to create this entire series of recipes using whole grains, no refined sugars and nutrient dense ingredients such as flax seed and oatmeal. Those first few weeks post-delivery are beautiful but exhausting and grab and go snacks and easy recipes are key. For more information about my other recipes and the ingredients I've chosen, you can visit the following posts:
Lactation Friendly Blueberry Freezer Waffles
Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies for New Mamas- Banana Based
New Mama Cookies with Lactation Friendly Ingredients
This new recipe is a green smoothie that doesn't taste green. My favorite way to add greens and nutrition to a smoothie is to use spinach...I find that spinach doesn't change the flavors of a smoothie but it adds so much green goodness that can help with energy, digestion and more.
Here's what you'll need:
-1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
-6 frozen strawberries
-1 TBS peanut butter
-3 TBS rolled oats
-1 tsp flax seed
-1 tsp brewer's yeast
-1 handful of spinach
Place everything into a high powered blender, blend & serve! Done!
Hello from Baby Watch land! I am officially within 2 weeks of my due date and trying to keep the house, fridge and pantry prepped for baby's arrival in the midst of this global pandemic. I'm learning that keeping a house clean while 3 young kids and 2 dogs are home with you all day long is no easy task and that it appears that the incline on our stair case has increased based on my breathlessness as I go up and down them 26 times per day...or maybe it's the growing human in my belly bringing that on. Either way, I'm feeling slower these days but baby is growing well and that's all that matters. I'll be breathing back to normal before we know it.
Over the next few weeks or months, I'll be sharing some of my favorite recipes to support breastfeeding and that postpartum period, which is commonly referred to as the fourth trimester. In all honesty, I would probably be given a grade of a D or an F for my past fourth trimester performances if the fourth trimester was graded because I've not done a good job slowing down, recovering and taking care of myself after my past deliveries. I've focused too much on a "bounce back" mindset and tried to do all of things all of the time to the detriment of myself and likely those closest to me.
After our first baby, I competed in a triathlon when she was 10 weeks old. I signed up for 2 x 1/2 marathons to be completed before baby was 11 months old after #2. After our third child's birth, I wasn't as focused on athletics but I absolutely did not rest or take care of myself properly when I had experienced both the loss of my dad and the birth of my son within about 3 weeks of each other. This time, I'm really trying to focus on soaking up that newborn time without other expectations. To be clear, I'm not saying that road races or athletic events are bad things. For many people, they bring energy and life to them and make them feel alive. I love athletics and the process of training. The problem wasn't the event. Rather, it was my mindset around the events. I approached these post-baby registrations with an inflexible attitude and white knuckled that "these things must be done" regardless of the fact that there were clear signs that I was actually pushing too much on myself too quickly. Those things may not have been too much for someone else, but looking back, I can see that they were for me at the time.
So as I begin to prep for our fourth baby's arrival, one of my focuses is on ingredients to support my intentions to breastfeed. Breastfeeding has been a challenging journey for me with each of my kids and while I truly believe that fed is best and love is the most important nutrient that a baby needs, I do plan to do my best with it again this round. This global pandemic certainly has me wanting to boost this baby's immune system as quickly as humanly possible.
This brings me to galactagogues*, which is a fancy term for substances that increase milk supply. While there are herbal substances with research and testimonials to support their assistance in milk supply for breastfeeding moms, my recipes are focusing on basic milk boosting food ingredients in recipes such as oatmeal, flax seed and brewer's yeast. You don't have to look far to find lactation boosting cookies, bars, snacks and shakes ready for purchase. These can be great convenience items to have on hand, but there are also simple ways to incorporate these ingredients into some prep ahead recipes. I have two recipes for Lactation Cookies here and here and this week I've prepped some freezer waffles for a quick grab and go breakfast item....or a middle of the night snack during those night time feedings that are coming up soon.
Here's what you'll need:
(makes approximately 10 servings)
-2 cups oat flour (you can buy this as a flour or process 2 cups of rolled oats through your high powered blender or food processor to make into flour)
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-1 1/2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
-1/2 cup neutral flavored oil
-3 TBS ground flax seed
-1 TBS brewer's yeast
-4 tsp baking powder
-1-2 tsp cinnamon
-pinch of salt
-1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
Turn on your waffle iron and set to a medium/high setting. These waffles need to cook a little longer and a little hotter than regular flour waffles. I've also learned that the key to waffles from scratch is to really whisk the eggs first so that the waffles come out more fluffy. I've made them before with skipping this step and they were dense and not so much fun! So, the first step is to add your eggs to a large bowl and using either a hand or stand mixer, whisk the eggs starting on low and increase speed to medium/high. Whisk together for approximately 2 minutes until light and fluffy. Add in your wet ingredients of vanilla extract, oil and almond milk. Stir together. Add in the dry ingredients of oat flour, flax seed, brewer's yeast, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Stir until well combined. Fold in your blueberries.
Make sure the waffle iron/maker is well heated. My waffle maker is set up to make one large circle waffle that is broken into 4 triangle waffles (I consider 2 triangles 1 serving). For this waffle maker, I pour approximately 3/4 cup of batter evenly around the waffle maker and gently close the top. These waffles take a little bit longer to cook than others and I find that they are turning golden brown on the edges around 5-6 minutes. Keep an eye on your waffle maker as different models may produce different results.
Once ready, these waffles are a little more delicate than conventional all purpose flour based waffles. Using a spatula, gently lift the waffle off of the waffle iron and transfer to a plate to cool completely. Follow this entire process until all of the batter has been used.
Once all of the waffles are completely cool, you can stack them with a piece of wax paper separating each waffle and place them into a freezer bag and store in the freezer. Alternatively, you can lay them out individually on a sheet tray, freeze and then place them in the freezer bag. If you freeze them all stacked together without something to separate them, they will freeze/stick together, which isn't the end of the world but might be frustrating trying to take out one waffle at a time later on when you have a baby in your arms.
Once ready to eat after that sweet baby arrives, simply remove the portion of waffles that you wish to prepare, place in the toaster, top up the heated waffle based on your preferences (my favorite is a smush of nut butter) and enjoy!
*For more information regarding galactagogues, please visit the following resources:
Kelly Mom- What is a Galacatogogue and Do I Need One?
Very Well Family- Foods to Increase Breast Milk Supply
It is important to note that none of this information is intended to be medical advice and this information is based solely on my experience and personal research. I encourage anyone with lactation and breastfeeding questions to seek the advice of an IBCLC Lactation Consultant and/or their medical provider for individualized questions or concerns.
New England wife, mom & home baker. Faith, food, fitness, baking, cooking and constantly cleaning my kitchen.