Mocha Date Brownies

There’s a little health food store I go to whenever I’m feeling like I have way too much money and would like to get rid of a bunch of it.  They always give me a complimentary copy of a magazine called

alive, Canada’s natural health and wellness magazine

which contains lots of information on ways to go broke in the pursuit of health.  But that’s not all.  Along with the nice pictures of supplements and protein powders and smiling people with healthy immune systems there are recipes with random ingredients I’ve never heard of and promises of great results that are disgustingly good for you.

If you would like to go directly to alive.com and the mocha date brownie recipe you will miss all the incredible photos of my brownie baking experience.  I’m sharing them here because I feel like everyone should know that not everything I bake goes directly into the compost bin.

Here’s the list of ingredients (with my substitutions and helpful comments in brackets):

1 1/2 cups (350 mL) whole dates
1 cup (250 mL) fresh orange juice (I think the stuff from a jug is fresh enough)
1 Tbsp (15 mL) vanilla extract
2 large free-range eggs (I used ordinary eggs)
1/2 cup (125 mL) cocoa
1 1/2 tsp (7 mL) espresso powder (I do not know what this is exactly or why anyone would have it in their kitchen at all times, so I used a couple of packets of Starbucks Via ready brew.  It’s all coffee, right?)
1/2 tsp (2 mL) baking powder
1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
1/2 cup (125 mL) unsalted butter (my butter is salted, so I used that and left out the above 1/2 tsp of salt)
1 cup (250 mL) all-purpose flour (I am trying to go mostly gluten-free, so I used gluten-free brown rice flour)
1 cup (250 mL) chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325, line a square baking pan with parchment paper.  Check.  So far, easy peasy.

Simmer dates with orange juice until tender.  Looks like lumpy brown sludge, but smells good.

brownies 002
Purée to a smooth paste.

brownies 005Look ma, no more date lumps.  Well, hardly any.  Use the same saucepan to melt the butter, and then pop this goop back in with it and stir it until it’s warm and bubbly.  Still looks like sludge only smoother and more oily.

brownies 006
Okay! Now you’re supposed to whisk the eggs with cocoa, espresso powder, baking powder, and salt (if you added the salt.)  I took them seriously when they said to use a large bowl.

brownies 003
before…

brownies 004…after.  You know what?  Using an actual whisk for this was a big mistake.  The reason there’s a knife in the picture is because using it was the only way I could get this stuff unstuck from between the blades of the whisk.  Just stir it with a fork.  No one will know.

Next you add the date mixture to the chocolate mixture, and then fold in the flour and the chocolate chips.

brownies 009I forgot to take a picture of this all mixed up, but you’ve probably seen brownie batter before and it’s not that exciting.  You’re supposed to smooth the top when you put it in the baking pan, and now I know why.  I also didn’t take a picture of the oven ready stage, but it’s okay because it came out of the oven looking pretty much the same as it did when I put it in there, unsmoothed top and all.

brownies 010Yes, this is baked.  It takes 30 to 35 minutes, which, if you’re anything like me, is about how long it takes to clean up the colossal mess you just made in the kitchen.

brownies

I would like to take credit for this last photo, but it’s from the magazine.  Let’s just pretend mine were identical to these.  The brownies are dense and rich (even though there’s no added refined sugar in them!) and they’re soft and chewy and really, really good.

They are also all gone.

Just Jazzy 186

“I lit the candles and said out loud, “what am I waiting on? Someone to sell them in a garage sale for a quarter after I die?” And it was beautiful. And the smell was even more incredible than I remembered.”
― Paula Heller Garland

It’s beginning to smell a lot like Christmas. Except for that ugly green candle, which does not even remotely call to mind any pine tree that ever existed in the real world.

 

Just Jazzy Advent Calendar

 

Just Jazzy 185

“The Little Drummer Boy was playing in the background for what seemed like the third time in a row. I fought off an urge to beat that Little Drummer Boy senseless with his own drumsticks.”
― Dana Reinhardt, How to Build a House

Tis the season to get frazzled.  Unless you're like me and have been stocking up on the Christmas wine since July.

Tis the season to get frazzled. Unless you’re like me and have been stocking up on the Christmas wine since July.

 

Just Jazzy Advent Calendar

 

December Post For Peace

party on

This months Peace Challenge:  Party on Garth – Plan a party that will ripple peace to the world.

This post has been sitting in draft limbo for 20 days here at Breathing Space.  Collecting dust and looking forlorn.  Because I’m having one super non-peaceful disharmonious time getting it properly started.  Sort of like a party that never got past the planning stages.  That crucial first sentence is supposed to be the hook that pulls you in and makes you want to read more but Christmas has numbed my brain.  Imagine each one of these really bad starts on a separate sheet of crumpled up paper used to practice basketball shots.

1.  I hate parties.  (That one sat around all by itself for two weeks) (Yes, it did.)

2.  I dislike parties very much. Strongly.  A lot. Please don’t make me go to your stupid office Christmas Party, I would rather poke myself in the eye with a stick.  Make that both eyes with two sticks.

3. I am not a fan of big parties because they seem to consist of crazy noisy drunken crowds, music that’s much too loud with overlapping conversations from six different directions at once so that I get a headache and my ears start to buzz and I just want to go home.  There is food sitting around at room temperature for way too long and I don’t want to get food poisoning and people who have had too much to drink always double dip. Gah.  I don’t like getting dressed up or dancing (I won’t dance, don’t ask me) and what if there are stupid party games, shenanigans and contests….omg, do people still do that shit?  Can I hide in the bathroom?

4.  ….party pooper,  stick-in-the-mud,  wet blanket…. (thank you thesaurus, but where’s my picture?)

5.  I am the exact opposite of the life of the party, which must mean I am the death of the party.

6.  I can’t remember the last time I got invited to a party.  Well.  I wonder why.

7.  I am not just doing this for the T-shirt you know……

Okay I’m done with the excuses and the procrastinating,  as well as with trying to find my inner party animal, because I obviously don’t have one anymore.  It took off somewhere around my 30th birthday and hasn’t been heard from since.  I guess I don’t hate ALL parties though.  Small celebrations and family get-togethers and informal dinner parties are all perfectly fine, as are kids birthday parties and conversations over coffee. This might give you the impression that any party I plan would be EXTREMELY peaceful, because everyone would pass out from boredom.  You could be right.

However, think about this for a minute.  What if World Peace Talks were combined with generous amounts of wine and cheese?  Do you think there would be any more disputes and disagreements after, say, a case or two of Chardonnay each and twelve different kinds of cheese?   Worth a try.  You can’t fight about something if you don’t remember what it was you were mad about or why you showed up in the first place.

wine and cheese

So my peace party will be a wine and cheese tasting extravaganza.  I will set up a table of all those exotic cheeses you see in the grocery store deli but are afraid to buy because they’re so expensive and what if they’re gross?  Well what you do in that case is bring them out and serve them to your guests, that’s what.  Somebody somewhere is bound to like at least one of them.  The choices are truly mind-boggling.  Pay attention, I’m trying to teach you something here.

Soft Cheese: Blue Castello, Boursin, Brie, Bucheron, buffalo mozzarella, Camembert, feta, goat cheese, Gorgonzola, Limburger, Mascarpone, Muenster, Neufchatel, Pave Affinois, Teleme

Hard Cheese: Asiago, Blue, Derby, Edam, Emmentaler, Grana Padano, Gruyere, Jarlsberg, Manchego, Parmigiano, Pecorino Romano, Raclette, Reggiano, Swiss, Wensleydale, Zamarano

Semi-Soft Cheese: Bel Paese, Baby Swiss, Colby, Fontina, Havarti, Kasseri, Madrigal Baby Swiss, Morbier, Port Salut

Semi-Hard Cheese: Cheddar, Chesire, Cotija, Danish Blue, Double Gloucester, Gouda, Graddost, Panela, Provolone, Roquefort, Sonoma Jack, Stilton

Don’t worry, I’ll make up little signs on toothpicks so you know what the hell you just ate.

Same with the wine.  I promise to buy a variety of red and white wines based on the proprietors recommendations and not just on my inclination to try the ones with hysterically funny names.

Soft Cheese Wines: Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Gewurztraminer, Champagne, Cabernet, White Zinfandel, Vidal, Beaujolais, Bordeaux, Chianti, Sancerre

Hard Cheese Wines: Bardolino, Tawny Port, Madeira, Sherry, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Sancerre, Côtes du Rhône, Rioja, Cabernet, Barolo, Barbaresco, Brunello di Montalcino, Ribera del Duero, Chardonnay, Chianti Riserva, Beaujolais, Dark Beer, Sangria, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Noir

Semi-Soft Cheese Wines: Chardonnay, Champagne, Riesling, Barolo, Barbaresco, Gattinara, Bordeaux, Rioja, Fleurie, Beaujolais, Chinon, Bourgueil

Semi-Hard Cheese Wines: Chardonnay, Champagne, Riesling, Cabernet, Sancerre, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Chianti Riserva, Barolo, Tawny Port

My plan is to choose one cheese from each category and one wine from each complimentary category, pair them together and pretend I actually know what I’m doing.

There will be crackers and olives, nuts, strawberries and peaches, pear slices, walnut bread and strong dark chocolate.  Figs, dried apricots, dates and maybe even some champagne.  We’ll call that dessert.

Everyone at the party must participate in one action for peace.  I will have been sampling wine all afternoon and will be in no condition to determine what exactly that action should be, so please surprise me.

Will this party bring more joy, smiles, love, and peace into the world?  Well hopefully, because that would be a lot better result than just a bunch of severe wine hangovers.

On a much more serious note, this is a video on YouTube called The Empathic Civilisation from a lecture by Jeremy Rifkin.  Perhaps I will make it compulsory viewing at my party.  The Bloggers for Peace idea that Kozo started almost a year ago has generated just this kind of awareness of our sociability, attachment, affection, and companionship with all kinds of people that we might not otherwise have met.  In our quest for peace we are certainly not alone.  We are all family, and every one of us wishes to celebrate this life we’re so privileged to be living.  It’s all about extending empathy until it encompasses everyone on the planet.  That my friend would be one big party.

bloggers for peace

More posts for peace:

Electronic Bag Lady B4Peace All together now!

Goldfish December Peace Party

Seeker Open Party: Give peace a chance ~ December 2013

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“What is Christmas? It is tenderness for the past, courage for the present, hope for the future. It is a fervent wish that every cup may overflow with blessings rich and eternal, and that every path may lead to peace.”

― Agnes M. Pahro

My cup overflows with wine – it’s how all us classy people get wasted at Christmas.

 

Just Jazzy Advent Calendar

 

Festive Cheer

tangled lights

curse these tangled balls of light

this wretched tree that’s leaning right

toys to assemble on aching knees

instructions written in Cantonese

nix the milk and cookies dear

this year santa’s drinking beer

trifecta button
Trifextra Week 98:

Charles Dickens, in A Christmas Carol, wrote “There is nothing in the
world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humour
.”  We are giving you exactly 33 words to make us laugh out loud and spread some festive cheer.