I know, last year was a rough one for me and blogging. I apologize, and am determined to get back into the groove now that I’m settled in a new home for at least a year. (!)
The past year was about getting some more travel out of my system, going to school and figuring out where to go and what to make of my adult life. Turns out my next chapter begins with a move to Austin, TX, more on a whim than any real specific reason, but I think it was a good choice.
I brought my big furry beast with me and we moved in with a little furry beast and his human into a small home with a big back yard in south Austin. The house, pretty neglected and dirty looking when we first moved in, is really starting to grow on me. We broke it in with a delicious meal and bonfire with friends on a warm, starry night, and since then it’s really starting to feel like home.
So, what other important activity must I do when breaking my new house in? Bake. Something chocolatey, something nuttty, something healthy…(ish).
I’m a big fan of using nut flours and butters in baking for the rich, buttery texture it gives, and, obviously, the nutty flavor. I’m also a big fan of peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, and even more so, what I call the grown-up version: almond butter & blackberry sandwiches. Today I decided to convert this combination into little bite-sized desserts – or snacks, because they’re healthy :)
Almonds – whether whole, ground into flour, or blended into butter – rank highest in protein, fiber, calcium, vitamin E, riboflavin and niacin of all tree nuts. They are full of monounsaturated fats, which can reduce bad cholesterol and improve healthy cholesterol levels, along with keeping you full and satiated. Almond flour is such a great substitute for wheat flour, whether you’re going gluten-free, low carb, or just wanting a rich, buttery texture in your baked goods. For my sandwich-turned dessert concoction, I used almond flour in the tart crusts and creamy almond butter on the top. Talk about y u m. Oh, and also a blackberry jam thickened with chia seeds, because why not. (They’re loaded with fiber and heart helping omega-3 fats).
ALMOND + BLACKBERRY MINI TARTS, inspired by george eats
- ½ cup oat flour
- ½ cup almond meal / flour
- 3 T whole wheat flour (or more oat / almond flour for gluten-free)
- 4 T coconut oil, melted
- 1 egg
- 2 T maple syrup / agave / honey
- pinch of sea salt
- 1 cup fresh blackberries, chopped
- squeeze of lemon
- 1-2 T agave or maple syrup, to taste
- 1 T chia seeds
- good almond butter
- dark chocolate chips or cacao nibs (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 F. In a large bowl, combine the oat + almond + whole wheat flours, salt, coconut oil, maple syrup/agave, and egg. Put into the fridge for about 10 minutes.
Spray your mini tart/muffin tin with cooking spray and divide the crust mixture between them, forming little cups with your fingers. Try to make them pretty thin. Pop the tin in the oven for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat your blackberries in a saucepan over low heat until they begin to sweat. Let them cook down a bit, then add agave, a squeeze of lemon, and chia seeds. Stir well and simmer over low to medium heat until thickened a bit.
Now, the chocolate part is optional, although I don’t know why you’d skip it unless you’re going for the pure ab&j here. When your tart shells are done baking, press 3-4 chocolate chips (or cacao nibs for a crunchier touch) into the bottom of each one while the crusts are still hot. Cover the chocolate with a small blob of almond butter (+ a few grains of sea salt if you’re as salt-obsessed as myself) and then level out the tops with a spoonful of blackberry jam. Feel free to top with a few more chocolate chips, or go crazy and drizzle the tarts with melted chocolate. I didn’t do that but… next time. These are best served warm so be sure to heat up the leftovers, assuming you don’t eat them all straight from the oven. Enjoy!
If you’re looking for a shop to cover all of your almond (or other nut and seed) needs, I definitely recommend nuts.com. They’ve got over 100 options on their almond page alone, so that tells you just how serious they are about their nuts. I’ve stocked up on all my nuts and seeds from them because they have just about anything you could want!
And hey, next time you’re craving a pb+j sandwich, change it up for almond butter and blackberry jam, and tell me it’s not the best. And then make these, because they’re super nutritious, but taste like a treat. The best.
Enjoy! And I promise to be back with more recipes soon, likely inspired by my Southeast Asia + Australia travels of the past year. Plus maybe some awesome Tacos, because I’m in Texas :)
*This post is shared at Gluten Free Fridays