Sugar Free Protein Brownies (a.k.a. What Happens When I Get Desperate and Bake in the Ancient Stove)

Guys this kitchen is killing me.

When my boyfriend walked into this kitchen he promptly informed me “I’ve seen ghettos with nicer kitchens.”

We recently moved, and let’s just say a kitchen reno was top of the to do list. Except we’ve been here almost 2 months and still haven’t ordered anything other than the stove. Which my mother has called a gift for me, and even though I won’t get to take it with me, it really is a gift for me. She knows how I feel about our circa 1960’s stove.

At the same time, grad apps have been very busy/stressful. Which since it’s been too cold to run (I missed easing myself into the cold and now I am a lazy runner) means I really have been itching to bake.

Alas. My recently fool-proofed scone recipe (coming very soon!) was not match for this stove.

My Apple Skor Cheesecake tragically fell prey too. The delicious cookie crust topped with apples and a rich skor cheesecake layer never stood a chance.

At this point I was ready to throw in the spatula and resign myself to frigid winter runs. And then came along the Oh She Glows cookbook! Hallelujah for no-bake recipes.  The cookbook includes 2 recipes for Glo Bars, I took the Classic recipe (exclusive to the cookbook from what I can tell – but I am not vegan and am in love with it! Go buy it. I will wait.), since I couldn’t find brown rice syrup I used a combo of maple syrup (1/4c), agave syrup (2T), and water (1.5T) per the internet’s recommendations. I also have a serious hate on for coconut so I used 1/4 cup cashews and I didn’t read so I ended up adding a quarter cup of cranberries (instead of the 2T sesame seeds. Me and sesame seeds don’t get along either).
My grandparents even liked them! Like asked to take some home level liked them. They find most of what I eat strange (for the record they find a lot of the new food trends like avocado and sweet potatoes odd). So you know they’re good.

Glo Bars a la city villager

Glo Bars a la city villager

As delicious as they were though, they were almost too easy. I needed to bake. Actually bake. With my crappy oven and newly purchased healthy ingredients. (I love sweets, but I have been trying to find healthy but still yummy baked goods recipes).

I am incredibly lazy in the mornings. Which means that I usually sleep as late as possible. Which means that I end up rushing around trying to get out the door on the time. So breakfast lately have been a sea of protein shakes and apples. I am starting to get tired of having shakes every morning. I contemplated smoothies but they felt like the same thing. Fortunately my boyfriend branched into the culinary world, with protein bars (with the exact same motivations) and has been patiently perfecting them for months.

Aaraf's "protocol" for his protein brownies

Aaraf’s “protocol” for his protein brownies

I took his recipe and tweeked it to the flavour and consistency I wanted but man are these bars are delicious and nutritious. Dates, bananas, and maple syrup give moisture and sweetness without fat and sugar. Carob chips and dried banana chips add a sweet surprise! I used carob chips because it seemed to be the buzz word and they are lower in calories and higher in protein. This was my first time using them and It is definitely a unique taste, feel free to use chocolate chips if that is more your style, just be aware that it alters the protein and calorie content. At first I wasn’t really sure how I felt about them, but they have really grown on me! With peanut butter, Greek yogurt, chia seeds, and protein powder, these are sure to keep you full all morning (29.5g of protein)! And I promise – they are beyond easy!IMG_20150222_155902

I used whey powder in these, which may surprise you because it is prone to making things dense and chewy but I promise you these bars are neither of those! The key is in your leavening agent – it is very important to use powder not soda. When cooking with dutch processed cocoa (such as the Fry’s cocoa used in this recipe), it is best to use powder, otherwise, use soda!

omnomnom protein. Chocolate-y cake-y delicious protein.

omnomnom protein. Chocolate-y cake-y delicious protein.

So hallelujah between the Glo Bars and these sweet treats – my mornings have been saved. (As an added bonus the new stove came in yesterday!!! It is beautiful.)

Please ignore my gross kitchen. It is pretty awful.

Please ignore my gross kitchen. It is pretty awful. 

Ingredients:

  • 6 scoops protein powder (I used chocolate flavoured whey)
  • 1/3 cup quick cooking oats
  • 1/2 cup cocao powder (Dutch press like Fry’s)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 8 dates (pitted, soak in water to rehydrate)
  • 2 large bananas, very ripe, mashed (about 1 c.)
  • 1/2 cup nut butter (I used peanut butter, all natural)
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 3/4 cup plain greek yogurt (I used 0%)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup carob chips
  • 1/4 cup banana chips, crumbled

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Combine the protein powder, oats, cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder in a bowl.
  3. Puree the dates and bananas together. Add peanut butter and maple syrup and blend until combined. Add milk and Greek yogurt and beat well. Add eggs and beat for a minute.
  4. Fold in chia seeds and then add the dry mixture. Mix until just combined, being careful to not over-mix. Gently fold in banana and carob chips.
  5. Pour mixture in a lined or lightly greased pan and bake for 35-45 minutes.

IMG_20150222_173625

Peanut Butter Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Banana Buttercream Frosting

Do I have you drooling yet?

Peanut Butter addicts rejoice. I have been on a baking binge and peanut butter has been the star of the show.
This binge began Tuesday night when I realized that my manager was closing on her Birthday. The only logical way I could see to make it better was to make her cupcakes. I usually try to pick a favourite flavour of the recipient (like these pecans & Praline Cupcakes I made for my grandfather last year. Or these peach Bellini cupcakes from my bestie’s birthday this December), but I realized I had forgotten to ask her her cupcake preferences before we left for the night. Fortunately the fact that peanut butter currently tops her pregnancy craving list made it a bit of a no-brainer.
Except I had no peanut butter in the house (I stopped buying it after I ate almost an entire jar without once eating it as part of a meal), so I stopped on the way home to pick up that and a few other small things. A perpetually poor decision maker, I ended up making two kinds of cupcakes because I couldn’t decide. So I rationed that if I just make 9-12 of each that was the same as making a full batch otherwise right?
Back me up on this logic please.

So the binge started with these PB&J cupcakes adapted from a recipe from The Girl Who Ate Everything. Only change I made was adding about 1/3 cup milk to get a moister cupcakes, and I couldn’t find those cookies she put on top, so I just left it at a jam button.Peanut Butter and Jam CupcakesThe binge continued with these PB and Chocolate cupcakes from Bakerella, except I was too lazy/time constrained to make the cookies so I added peanut butter to the batter – adding about 2/3 of a cup. I also added about 2-3 tbsp more milk and 1/2 cup flour to balance out this addition.

Admittedly my frosting isn't nearly as pretty as hers, in my defense, I was rushing to get to work.

Admittedly my frosting isn’t nearly as pretty as hers, in my defense, I was rushing to get to work.

For both frostings I had to add more icing sugar than called for in the recipe to get the stiffness of frosting I prefer, but seriously, I was actually eating this out of the bag when I finished.
At this point I’m thinking, could this get any more delicious?!

Turns out that actually it can.
My dad’s birthday was also this week so when I found out we were doing a birthday thing for him while I was down I offered to make him cupcakes. When I told him about the cupcakes I made Caitlyn he said PB Chocolate sounded good, but of course I hated to make the exact same recipe so soon. So during the 5.5 hour drive to the village I pondered how I was to top them.
The answer – bananas.
And two kinds of decadent batters swirled together to create a heavenly cupcake. To top these moist mixtures – a rich peanut butter banana buttercream.
My mom swears that the simple butter cream frosting for the Pralines & Cream cupcakes of 2013 was better, but I stand by my judgement that the peanut butter banana buttercream I used this time is better. I am convinced that I can now die after eating this. In fact, I almost died on the spot.

Do I have you drooling yet?

Do I have you drooling yet?

Ingredients: 

Chocolate Batter:

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 2/3 cup cocoa
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 tbsp oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup agave syrup

Peanut Butter Batter:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup peanut butter (I used smooth light, but you can use any variety)
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs

Frosting:

  • 6 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • 4-5 cups icing sugar (depending on how stiff you want it to be)
  • chocolate chips (for drizzle, optional)
Get this stuff together first.

Get this stuff together first.

Directions:

For the Cupcakes:

  1. Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. For each batter, in 1 bowl mix together the dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking soda/powder, and cocoa powder, where applicable).
  3. In a second set of bowls mix wet ingredients except eggs (sugar, butter/oil/peanut butter, vanilla, agave, milk) until fully incorporated. Once the liquid is smooth, add eggs and beat until just combined.
  4. Either make a well in the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients and mix until just combined OR add dry ingredients slowly to the wet mixture, again, mixing until just combined. Both batters will be fairly thick at this point.
  5. Spoon equal amounts of each batter into lined or sprayed muffin tins (24) so that cups are 3/4 full. Using a knife or a spatula, cut through the batter a few times to swirl the batters together.
  6. Bake for 5 minutes at 425F, then reduce the temperature to 375F and continue baking for 10-15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  7. Allow to cool for 5 minutes in the pan then transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before frosting.

    They'll come out looking something like this. Starting them at 425 is what gives these cupcakes the nice puffy dome.

    They’ll come out looking something like this. Starting them at 425 is what gives these cupcakes the nice puffy dome.

For the Frosting:

  1. Mash the banana and mix with butter, peanut butter, and vanilla until smooth.
  2. Slowly add icing sugar (1/2 cup-1 cup at a time) until desired stiffness is achieved (I used 5c).
  3. Add icing to a piping bag (or ziplock baggies work) fitted with a frosting tip of your choice and frost cooled cupcakes.
  4. If you are doing a chocolate drizzle  simply add chocolate to a glass bowl and melt in the microwave, then use a fork to drizzle over the cupcakes, I would stick to 30-45 second intervals to make sure you don’t scorch the chocolate.PBC frosted

That’s it. They are that easy. And they are worth the dishes that come from doing 2 batters for 1 cupcake. Trust me.

“Nutty Canadian” Banana Muffins

A decadent muffin with peanut butter, bananas, and maple syrup. Yes. Maple Syrup. Heaven.

Johnny Depp Freaking outSo it’s that time of year folks – midterms are in full swing, and students everywhere are entering panic mode. As a fourth year, with a bad case of senioritus even my panic is a little half-assed and indifferent, but it’s showing up in the same stereotypical form as always.Not sure if I'm calm because Baked goods. I bought bananas about two weeks ago, with the intent of waiting for them to go brown so I could bake with them. This kind of procrastination takes a lot of planning folks. So I patiently waited every day for them to get just brown enough. Then I patiently waited to have five minutes to do something with them. Midterms are finally done, and while I had at least 10 other things awaiting my attention last night when I got home, these bananas were my first priority.

I needed to break the breakfast rut I’ve been in as of late, so muffins were top of my list of what to do with these very ugly looking but very delicious bananas. I  published a muffin recipe back in the fall, but I wanted something more decadent this time. Sneakily decadent. So sneaky that they ended up being healthy again. So I thought back to late summer, when to say thank you to my grandparents for coming down and helping with the taming of my backyard, I made them the most delicious peanut butter banana loaf. Now we’re getting really good. But there was still a certain, je ne sais quoi, missing. Standing with the fridge door open, it dawned on me – I AM CANADIAN! And out came the maple syrup. Perfect.

nutty canadian muffin two plateThe resulting muffin is sweet and rich, thanks to the peanut butter and maple syrup,  and still very healthy thanks to the oats, bananas, and yogurt. The peanut butter gives a hefty dose of protein, the milk and yogurt give a nice dose of calcium, the bananas are chock full of potassium, and oats have been shown to lower “bad” cholesterol. So yeah, I found a way to have my cake and eat it too.

As an added bonus, I took this chance to break out my beautiful new Ninja Mega Kitchen System. Using a food processor instead of a hand mixer made this easier than normal and ensured that there would be no batter flung into strange corners of my kitchen. Score one for me. You do need to make sure you don’t over mix once you’ve added the wet ingredients as you will end up with a tough, dense muffin, but it definitely saves time and effort.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 egg
  • 2 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 3 bananas, mashed
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups oats (quick cooking, not instant)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425F and grease 12 muffin tins.
  2. Mix egg, vanilla, and brown sugar in a medium bowl.
  3. Add peanut butter, milk, and bananas and combine until smooth.

    You'll get something like this!

    You’ll get something like this!

  4. Combine dry ingredients, except the chocolate chips, in the food processor and pulse a few times to get it all mixed together.nutty canadian dry
  5. Add the wet mixture to the food processor and mix until just combined. Remove the blade and fold in chocolate chips.nutty canadian batter from top
  6. Spoon into muffin tins, filling right to the top and bake for 5 minutes at 425F, then 15 minutes at 350F, or until toothpick comes out clean.

nutty canadian singler nutty canadian stackBon Appetit!