I have no words. Words have left the building and they have been replaced by drooling.
Cookie butter. Truffle. Brownies.
You see, my friends, this is exactly what is so great about the Secret Recipe Club! When I fall into a dessert rut, I love exploring the creativity of other bakers, like Tracy of Pale Yellow.
I started out this month planning to make a healthy dinner. I had even geared myself up to make a vegetarian version of Tracy’s taco salad. But my mind just kept drifting back to her desserts, amazing treats like Chocolate Hazelnut Cake and Fancy Pants Brownies and Tiramisu Cheesecakes. And, oh glory, cookie butter truffle brownies. A match made in heaven.
When I first started this blog, I was intending to post only about desserts, all the best and most delicious and exciting desserts I could think of.
(I was also sure I would become an overnight sensation despite my deep ineptitude with social media and complete lack of ability to use a camera properly. I basically had no idea what I was doing.)
I fretted for about five months over the perfect name. That’s a crazy amount of time. I would have failed really hard as a marketing major.
In the end when I landed on Smells Like Brownies, a name that conjured homeyness and rich flavor for me, I made mental plans to bake brownies every month. Like my “thing” could be brownies. Note: I did not plan to gain 20 pounds.
If you know me, you may know that I occasionally go on a one-woman crusade against refined sugar.
(Whaaaat!? Give up refined sugar? But…what about dessert? For heaven’s sake, your blog is named after brownies, girl! No one can live without sugar. Forget diamonds, chocolate is a girl’s best friend.)
This first started as I became aware of how much sugar is in everyday foods, such as mayonnaise and bread and salad dressing and granola. At that time I had a young baby, and I was bound and determined that he would not eat any refined sugar, ever (hah). I started researching the effects of sugar on the body, and it led to making a New Year’s resolution to avoid all refined sugar for 31 days.
I never intended to give up sugar long-term, but here are a few things that happened during that month:
at first, I was reallly, reallly hungry, and quite a bit cranky, but then my hunger levels started to regulate;
I became more adventurous in what I ate;
I stopped binge-snacking during my kid’s nap time because I was thinking more about what would be good for me to eat, and I was avoiding most of my lazy snack foods;
people started telling me how thin I looked. I didn’t really lose weight during this time, but eating no refined sugar and less highly refined carbs in general actually made my body shape change! I did not exercise one single time, so this was definitely a result of my sugar fast;
I felt really proud of myself;
I still totally ate dessert! Because, let’s face it, no big change in your diet will be sustainable unless you find ways to include the things you really love. For me, that is dessert!
everything tasted sweet even without refined sugar. When I finally started eating sugar again, I ate much smaller amounts (initially anyway) because it was overwhelmingly sweet and honestly made me feel a little sick for a few weeks.
I write a food blog and I love to bake, so I did go back to eating sugar. But I enjoyed my sugar fast more than I expected! So much that I repeat it a few times a year, especially if I have been going overboard with sugary foods or if I am feeling out of balance or mentally/physically/emotionally unhealthy.
Since my first refined sugar fast, clean eating has become quite trendy. Basically, eating “clean” involves aiming for whole, nutrient-dense foods, and avoiding highly refined foods.
These raw brownies totally fit that bill, and they are completely delicious. Not only are they sweetened entirely by the naturally occurring fruit sugars in Medjool dates, but they are full of healthy things, like raw nuts and raw cacao! They are chewy and dense and chocolatey and rich, so rich. (Plus, they are other good things, like vegan and gluten-free!)
Raw brownies will satisfy any dessert craving, and you can feel good about eating them!
When I went off to college and discovered that not all Rice Krispie treats were Scotch Krispies, I simply avoided them in the dessert line. While all my friends would stampede toward the sweets on a day that Rice Krispie treats were available, I would meander around and grab an extra bagel (please and thank you, freshman 15…).
It should also not surprise you, then, to learn that I have never made Rice Krispie treats before.
But last week my husband drove off with our grocery cart and came back with two bags of marshmallows, a box of Rice Krispies, and a glint in his eye.
And do you know what? When I was trying to decide how to make peace with the Rice Krispies and marshmallows, I found a recipe that used brown butter and toasted marshmallows (um, nom!). At first I felt a little mean, deviating from the standard. I knew what Dave really wanted.
But these treats are really good! Still classic, with that stretchy, crunchy, almost-too-sweet marshmallow flavor, but also caramel, a rich hint of toasty brown that…might…actually…make me reverse my anti-Krispie stance.
Do you remember when pretzel m&ms came out? They were comically marketed as the perfect solution to crazy pregnancy cravings: sweet and salty all in one bite!
As if sweet and salty isn’t something I love every day of the year. The flavor combination has become much more mainstream in recent years. And as for me, my palate has become more developed (thank you, food blogging), which means I now sometimes actually find desserts too sweet, and find myself wishing for some spice, some salt, some crunch for balance.
I am just going to warn you right now that the baking monster has been on a bit of a crazy rampage lately. And I am going to unabashedly point my finger right at Sarah of Well Dined. It’s totally her fault.
Several weeks ago, she confessed that she was afraid of baking cookies from scratch…and something inside my brain popped. Instead of cooking (somewhat) healthy lunches together each week, we started baking decadent desserts like it was no big deal.
But, friends…it was a big deal. I can’t stop baking.
So just get ready for an onslaught of brownie and cookie recipes, because it’s happening.
Starting here. With the very brownies that broke my willpower to not eat desserts. (Let’s be honest, that willpower wasn’t back to full strength after its pregnancy vacation, so it didn’t really stand a chance.) These brownies are thick and cakey and sweet and salty and all the things that are good about peanut butter and chocolate together. Make them. Who needs willpower?