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Black and White Cheesecake Bars (gluten-free + vegan)

April 12, 2016 Leave your thoughts Print this page

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Hello everybody! I’m back from my hiatus! Rejoice!

I wish I could say that for the past seven weeks, I’ve been embarking on a journey of self-discovery on a remote island in Kiribati, or working on some fascinating underground project like all of these other food bloggers. Unfortunately, neither has been the case: I’ve been so busy with schoolwork and overwhelmed with the weight of teenage angst that I haven’t had much time to sit down and write out some recipes.

There are times in our lives when a lot of good stuff happens at once, and it’s a fantastic euphoria party 24/7 for days, weeks, sometimes even months. Then there are times in our lives when bad stuff keeps happening, and while it often makes no sense, it proliferates, and it just outright sucks. Then there are times in our lives which are neither, where you’re kinda like an amorphous blob of mashed potatoes drifting through the expanses of space and time.

That last one has basically been me since the beginning of 2016. It’s been such a potato time, I have no other way to describe it. Until the beginning of April (!!!), I had no idea where I was going to college, and the ambiguity of it all made me beyond anxious. As a second semester senior, I no longer need to put forth the same amount of energy into my present academic affairs, so school kinda feels like a waste a lot of days. I’ve never really had a cohesive group of friends (I’m a social jellyfish), and the unintentional cliquey-ness that goes hand-in-hand with senior year has made me feel kinda isolated from my peers. Nothing “bad” has happened to me, per say, but all of the waiting and monotonous repetition has been fatiguing, and I want nothing more than to go off to college.

“Soon enough!” all of my adult and older friends exclaim. I nod apathetically and think to myself, “Not soon enough.”

Well, at least I’m now on spring break, and I finally have some time to sleep and cook and just sit around and be a lump. I made my final college decision a couple of weeks ago, and this fall, I will be attending New York University to study Global Public Health and Food Studies. I couldn’t be more excited to explore one of the most fascinating cities in the world and meet people with all different ethnic backgrounds, gender identities, and life experiences. I’ll be taking classes like Food & Identity and Health and Society in a Global Context, both of which are so up my alley. So many thrilling adventures are about to play out, and all I have to do is wait. Ugh.

In the meantime, at least I have these cheesecake bars!

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I made these on a whim as I was stressing out about approximately 56,784 things. They wound up being delicious and lots of awesome people got to eat them, so that worked out well!

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Just look at these beauties. They’re simply marvelous.

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Another? You got it!

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DaYUMMMMMMMMMMMM!!! (That’s my new catchphrase. I invented it. You like it? No? Okay.)

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Black and White Cheesecake Bars

Ingredients

Prep Time 4 hr 15 min
Cooking Time 40 min
Total Time
Yield 12-16 bars

FOR THE CRUST:

1 cup of rolled oats, gluten-free if necessary

1 cup of nuts of choice (I recommend almonds or walnuts)

1/2 cup of cocoa powder

Generous pinch of salt

2 tablespoons of unrefined cane sugar

1 tablespoon of maple syrup

1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil or coconut oil, melted

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

FOR THE FILLING:

1 cup of raw cashews, soaked in water overnight

1 cup of coconut cream

2 tablespoons of arrowroot powder

1/3 cup of fresh lemon juice

Pinch of salt

1/4 cup of maple syrup

3 ounces of dark chocolate, melted

Directions

FOR THE CRUST:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line an 8 x 8 square baking dish with parchment paper. Set aside.

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together the oats, nuts, cocoa powder, salt, and sugar until coarse but well-combined, about 30 seconds to a minute. Pour in the maple syrup, oil, and vanilla, and pulse a few more times just to incorporate everything. Take a handful of the crust “dough” and see if it holds together when pinched: if it sticks, proceed. If not, add another teaspoon of oil at a time until it does.

Squish the crust into the prepared pan in a flat, even layer. Bake in the preheated over until hardened and beginning to slightly brown, about 20-25 minutes. Once baked, let cool while you make the filling.

FOR THE FILLING:

Put all of the ingredients (except the chocolate) in a high-speed blender and blend on high until completely creamy, about 2-3 minutes. Taste and adjust for sweetness and tangy-ness as necessary, adding more maple syrup or lemon juice if needed.

Pour out approximately 1/3 of the liquid ingredients into a bowl and add the melted chocolate. Stir to combine and set aside temporarily.

TO ASSEMBLE:

Once the crust is cool, add approximately half of the non-chocolate filling to the pan. Layer about half of the chocolate filling on top, then proceed with the other half of the non-chocolate filling and the other half of the chocolate filling on the very top. Using a duller knife or a few toothpicks, gently swirl the top to marble everything together. Don’t overdo it, or you’ll have a mess!

Bake for 20 minutes, or until the edges seem dry and almost start to change color. Remove from the oven and let cool for at least four hours (preferably overnight) before slicing and eating.


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Looking forward to sharing lots more recipes with y’all in the future, since I now finally have time to do so. 🙂


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Black and White Cheesecake Bars

April 12, 2016 Print this page

Surprise! There’s no “cheese” in this cheesecake: it’s completely dairy-free (and vegan)! The crunchy crust paired with the creamy, slightly tangy filling is a perfect texture combination, and the swirls of chocolate throughout add a wonderful richness that nicely rounds out the dessert.

Inspired by this recipe

Ingredients

Prep Time 4 hr 15 min
Cooking Time 40 min
Total Time
Yield 12-16 bars

FOR THE CRUST:

1 cup of rolled oats, gluten-free if necessary

1 cup of nuts of choice (I recommend almonds or walnuts)

1/2 cup of cocoa powder

Generous pinch of salt

2 tablespoons of unrefined cane sugar

1 tablespoon of maple syrup

1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil or coconut oil, melted

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

FOR THE FILLING:

1 cup of raw cashews, soaked in water overnight

1 cup of coconut cream

2 tablespoons of arrowroot powder

1/3 cup of fresh lemon juice

Pinch of salt

1/4 cup of maple syrup

3 ounces of dark chocolate, melted

Directions

FOR THE CRUST:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line an 8 x 8 square baking dish with parchment paper. Set aside.

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together the oats, nuts, cocoa powder, salt, and sugar until coarse but well-combined, about 30 seconds to a minute. Pour in the maple syrup, oil, and vanilla, and pulse a few more times just to incorporate everything. Take a handful of the crust “dough” and see if it holds together when pinched: if it sticks, proceed. If not, add another teaspoon of oil at a time until it does.

Squish the crust into the prepared pan in a flat, even layer. Bake in the preheated over until hardened and beginning to slightly brown, about 20-25 minutes. Once baked, let cool while you make the filling.

FOR THE FILLING:

Put all of the ingredients (except the chocolate) in a high-speed blender and blend on high until completely creamy, about 2-3 minutes. Taste and adjust for sweetness and tangy-ness as necessary, adding more maple syrup or lemon juice if needed.

Pour out approximately 1/3 of the liquid ingredients into a bowl and add the melted chocolate. Stir to combine and set aside temporarily.

TO ASSEMBLE:

Once the crust is cool, add approximately half of the non-chocolate filling to the pan. Layer about half of the chocolate filling on top, then proceed with the other half of the non-chocolate filling and the other half of the chocolate filling on the very top. Using a duller knife or a few toothpicks, gently swirl the top to marble everything together. Don’t overdo it, or you’ll have a mess!

Bake for 20 minutes, or until the edges seem dry and almost start to change color. Remove from the oven and let cool for at least four hours (preferably overnight) before slicing and eating.


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White Chocolate Bars (gluten-free + vegan)

February 14, 2015 Leave your thoughts Print this page

Bill Nye is Bae

Happy Valentine’s Day. I figured this was an appropriate way to start my post.

Since it’s Valentine’s Day–and you know me, I’m all about the holidays–I feel like I should say something about love. I guess I could talk about history too–I did write an article about the origin of Valentine’s Day for my seventh grade newspaper (created by yours truly, Queen Nerd of All Nerds)–but I think it’s more important to talk about feelings and such, because I dropped out of my AP Euro class after one semester and, as a teenage girl and a female in general, emotions are incredibly important to me.

I would tell you some epic love story about how I met someone who changed me, who changed my life, but it’s not my place to do that. I’m sixteen after all, and I’ve never had a boyfriend, let alone been on a “date.” I don’t think going to see Hop when I was twelve with a guy who wound up being a douche canoe really counts. Those are the perks of living in a town so small that I’ve gone to school with the exact same people since I was five.

If you grab a coffee with me and give me an hour or so, though, I will tell you some great stories that will make you laugh, because while I have never been in a relationship, I had some pretty big, embarrassing crushes when I was in middle school. There was the time when I drew doodles of bunny rabbits and other cute creatures and traded them back and forth with this boy in my math class. Several months later, I put them all in the shredder when I was home alone one night while listening to Taylor Swift’s “Speak Now” album because he broke my thirteen year-old heart. Then there was the time I asked a boy to hang out with me one Friday night to watch movies and he literally ran away in the opposite direction. Ouch. And of course there was the time I liked a boy who played clarinet with me; I stuffed his case with Crunch bars (his favorite candy) on his birthday. A few weeks later I switched to saxophone because he got a girlfriend and I was really pissed off.

And for a while–pretty much the summer before my freshman year through the end of my sophomore year–I didn’t like anyone because I was struggling with myself and was tired of being hurt. After all, it’s pretty hard to love others when you don’t love yourself, right?

When I finally began to peel away my layers of negativity and allow myself to be open again, I suddenly remembered what butterflies felt like…something I think every teenage girl should (and does) experience. Do you feel butterflies when you’re all grown up? It seems like such a childish question, but since you are probably older than I am, you likely know the answer.


I read plenty of things where people will say, “Oh, I felt such and such when I was [insert age under 25 here], but it wasn’t real.” I know I’m young and naive and still have a lot of things to discover, but I believe that one can express and experience “love” at any age, and that it still has sentiment and importance. No, loving someone at sixteen and loving someone at thirty-five or sixty-two or ninety-one are not the same thing, but that doesn’t make any one of them invalid.

Love to almost seventeen year-old Abby is thinking a person is beautiful regardless of what he or she is wearing, what his or her hair looks like, whether laughter or tears adorn the face. Love is staying up until 1:30 A.M. making a present because the smile you receive in return is worth it all. Love is feeling sad and absolutely terrified and confused yet happy and hopeful and grateful, because you are here and alive and this is what the world has given to you. Love to me is never wanting another person to feel lonely, because you would truly take that other person no matter what and it’s saddening to think that he or she ever cries alone.

If you love someone, you should express it with everything you have within you, because the most beautiful thing you can do for another person is to share how much you adore him or her. Love unconditionally, even if it makes absolutely no sense. Be present, listen closely, and remember…and by remember, I mean gather all of the intricate little pieces you can and put them in your back pocket, because truly knowing a person is wonderful. Let yourself be honest and open, even if it scares you a little (or a lot) sometimes, because love is when you see a person raw and vulnerable and awkward and you don’t cower in a corner…instead, you embrace, because you care, and there is no other way to describe it.

My friends will often chuckle and teasingly call me a dork, but if a dork is someone who feels as much as I do for the ones I love, then good golly, I want to be a dork to the power of twenty-three. So go ahead, call me a mushy hopeless romantic, a teenager who knows squat about love, a fountain of fluffy language, because this is my heart, and this is the only way I know how to love.


There’s this line from The Perks of Being a Wallflower–one of my favorite books of all time–that goes, “We accept the love we think we deserve.” It makes me pause every time I reread the book, because in our lives, we wallow so frequently in doubt and criticism, and we make ourselves believe that we are not worthy of love because we are flawed. Trust me, I’ve been there so many times, and it’s a place I still visit too often to this day. And you know what? It’s silly, because there is something to love in everyone if you just take a second and look. I wish we could tell ourselves we are ALWAYS loved, that we could ALWAYS find love in our lives…and unfortunately, not many of us can. I certainly can’t.

So until that day, I’m just going to keep on loving with all of my heart, and hope love finds its way back to me. I will also keep baking and cooking, because food will forever be one of the greatest loves in my life. And I think you’re going to love these white chocolate bars.

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For most of my cooking days, I have scoffed at white chocolate. “It’s not real chocolate,” I’d say, rolling my eyes in disgust. “White chocolate is for weaklings who prefer copious amounts of sugar to the actual taste of the rich, sinfully dark stuff.” Yet somewhere deep in my heart, a dessert with white chocolate has been calling my name.

The only problem? Finding good-quality white chocolate, even at Whole Foods and other natural supermarkets, is incredibly difficult. Everything is filled with weird milk powders and odd-sounding soy thickeners, neither of which I want to be eating in my dessert. But then, I struck gold–literally–with these golden “white” chocolate bars, made with coconut nectar and…cashew butter. YES. These white chocolate bars, while absolutely delicious and really high quality, are not cheap, so please feel free to use whatever kind of white chocolate floats your boat. 🙂

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These bars are definitely on the sweeter side, but something about them just screams “fun.” I mean, I think it’s pretty cool that they taste like chocolate but don’t look like it, you know? It’s a nice change of pace from brownies, which bore me to tears for some reason. (I basically refuse to make a batch of “normal” brownies…this is my life.)

 

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This Valentine’s Day–or heck, any day for that matter–make these bars or your favorite baked good and just give some to somebody. Sharing is caring, and by sharing, I mean sharing these with someone other than yourself. 😉

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It’s taken me two or three nights to type out this post (I can’t write sentimentally in daylight) and I’m feeling kinda sleepy, so I’m just going to proceed to the recipe. It’s super simple, and I don’t think you need to see pictures of me pouring oat flour into a bowl or grinding sugar in my Vitamix. 🙂

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White Chocolate Bars

OK, so these are basically brownies without dark chocolate…so they aren’t exactly brownies anymore, but they’re similar, you know? Anyway, all you need to know is that these are delicious and a unique twist on a classic dessert, and you need to make them.

Adapted from Edible Perspective, one of my favorite blogs ever!

Ingredients

Prep Time 15 min
Cooking Time 35 min
Total Time 50 min
Yield 12-16 bars

3 tablespoons of ground flaxseed meal

1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons of water

2/3 cup of organic cane sugar

1 cup of almond flour, finely ground

1 1/2 cups + 1 tablespoon of gluten-free oat flour

1/4 teaspoon of baking soda

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons of coconut oil (preferably refined)

4.2 ounces of white chocolate (I used this bar, which is vegan, but use whatever you’d like), chopped finely

1 tablespoon of vanilla extract

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line an 8 x 8 inch baking sheet with parchment paper and grease it well with coconut oil. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the flaxseed meal with the water. Set aside for 10-15 minutes to thicken into a nice gel.

In the bowl of a food processor, coffee grinder, or flour bin on a Vitamix, crush the sugar until a fine powder is formed.

Sift together the almond flour, oat flour, baking soda, and salt into a medium-sized bowl. Stir together until well-combined.

In a microwave-safe bowl or a double boiler, melt together the coconut oil and white chocolate until homogeneous. Pour into a large bowl and add the ground sugar and vanilla, then fold with a spatula to combine. Add the flaxseed and water mixture, stir a few times, then add the dry ingredients.

Scoop the batter into the prepared baking pan and use a spatula to spread it out so the top is even. Bake in the preheated oven until the edges have risen and the bars feel firm to the touch, about 35 to 40 minutes.

Let cool at room temperature for 15 minutes, then transfer to the fridge and let cool for at least another hour until firm. Flip onto a cutting board, slice, and serve. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days, or freeze for later consumption.


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Thank you for listening to my musings on the world, as always. What do you love this Valentine’s Day? Leave me a comment here or on Facebook and let me know!

And if you want to listen to something absolutely lovely that I’ve had on repeat for the past week, watch this.


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White Chocolate Bars

February 11, 2015 Print this page

OK, so these are basically brownies without dark chocolate…so they aren’t exactly brownies anymore, but they’re similar, you know? Anyway, all you need to know is that these are delicious and a unique twist on a classic dessert, and you need to make them.

Adapted from Edible Perspective, one of my favorite blogs ever!

Ingredients

Prep Time 15 min
Cooking Time 35 min
Total Time 50 min
Yield 12-16 bars

3 tablespoons of ground flaxseed meal

1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons of water

2/3 cup of organic cane sugar

1 cup of almond flour, finely ground

1 1/2 cups + 1 tablespoon of gluten-free oat flour

1/4 teaspoon of baking soda

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons of coconut oil (preferably refined)

4.2 ounces of white chocolate (I used this bar, which is vegan, but use whatever you’d like), chopped finely

1 tablespoon of vanilla extract

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line an 8 x 8 inch baking sheet with parchment paper and grease it well with coconut oil. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the flaxseed meal with the water. Set aside for 10-15 minutes to thicken into a nice gel.

In the bowl of a food processor, coffee grinder, or flour bin on a Vitamix, crush the sugar until a fine powder is formed.

Sift together the almond flour, oat flour, baking soda, and salt into a medium-sized bowl. Stir together until well-combined.

In a microwave-safe bowl or a double boiler, melt together the coconut oil and white chocolate until homogeneous. Pour into a large bowl and add the ground sugar and vanilla, then fold with a spatula to combine. Add the flaxseed and water mixture, stir a few times, then add the dry ingredients.

Scoop the batter into the prepared baking pan and use a spatula to spread it out so the top is even. Bake in the preheated oven until the edges have risen and the bars feel firm to the touch, about 35 to 40 minutes.

Let cool at room temperature for 15 minutes, then transfer to the fridge and let cool for at least another hour until firm. Flip onto a cutting board, slice, and serve. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days, or freeze for later consumption.


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Almond Joy Brownies (gluten-free + vegan)

November 11, 2014 1 Comment Print this page

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OK, so I was planning this recipe for Halloween (otherwise known as my best friend Natalie’s birthday), but that wound up just not happening. Conveniently, Halloween was also the end of the academic quarter, which meant that I had at least one test or essay for every class the week prior.

Oh well. I don’t think anyone would ever say no to brownies, even if they were two weeks late…right?

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Honestly, brownies are one of the hardest desserts to make exciting. I mean, there’s plenty you can do with chocolate chip cookies, for example: change up the add-ins (perhaps make them cranberry-almond cookies, or white chocolate macadamia nut cookies), use different flours (hazelnut flour or add in cocoa powder), flavor with a special extract (peppermint or coconut, maybe)…but brownies? I suppose you could add extra chocolate or some nuts, but other than that, brownies are neither the most stunning nor the most creative of desserts.

That’s what I thought until now, at least.

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Chocolate and coconut are a match made in heaven. Chocolate-covered almonds are glorious. So why not combine chocolate, coconut, and almond?! Genius. While I called these Almond Joy Brownies to appeal to my (primarily) American crowd, they were also inspired by a Bounty bar, which is really popular in Europe.

As you may (or probably don’t) recall, the Bounty ice cream I had at Fenocchio in Nice two summers ago was heavenly…and these brownies taste faintly like that incredible frozen treat.

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Oh, France. I miss you and your ice cream dearly.

Anyway, even though it isn’t Halloween anymore, these brownies will still make your day ten times better. Maybe a tasty Thanksgiving dessert for those who hate anything with cinnamon, apples, and pumpkin? (Do those people even exist?)

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These might seem complicated to make, but they’re actually quite easy! Simply make up the brownie batter…

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…bake it, top with a yummy coconut mixture and some almonds…

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…then drizzle with chocolate and say HALLELUJAH!

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And you really want to get to that hallelujah part, right?

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Almond Joy Brownies

Ingredients

Prep Time 2 hr
Cooking Time 30 min
Total Time 2 hr 30 min
Yield 16 brownies

FOR THE BROWNIE (recipe adapted from here):

3.5 ounces of dark chocolate chips

1/4 cup of unsweetened almond milk

3 tablespoons of coconut oil

1/2 cup of pumpkin puree

1/2 cup of maple syrup

1/4 cup of coconut flour, sifted

1/4 cup of tapioca flour

1/4 cup of cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon of baking soda

A generous pinch of salt

FOR THE COCONUT LAYER (recipe adapted from here):

2 1/2 cups of unsweetened shredded coconut

2 tablespoons of coconut oil

1/4 cup of maple syrup

1/4 cup of full-fat coconut milk

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

A pinch of cinnamon

A pinch of salt

TO FINISH:

16 dry-roasted, unsalted almonds

1 ounce of dark chocolate, melted

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line an 8 x 8-inch baking pan with parchment paper. Grease well with coconut oil and set aside.

In a small saucepan, combine 3.5 ounces of dark chocolate with the unsweetened almond milk and 3 tablespoons of coconut oil. Heat over medium-low, and once the chocolate just melts, take it off.

Pour it into the bowl of a stand mixer and add the pumpkin puree, 1/2 cup of maple syrup, coconut flour, tapioca flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and a generous pinch of salt. Mix on low to combine, scraping down the bowl once or twice to make sure everything gets incorporated.

Using a spatula, spread the brownie batter into the prepared pan, then place in the preheated oven. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the brownies comes out clean, about 30 to 35 minutes.

Let cool at room temperature for 15 minutes, then transfer to the fridge to cool for 1 hour. Meanwhile, make the coconut layer.

In the bowl of a food processor, process 1 1/2 cups of shredded coconut with 2 tablespoons of coconut oil until the consistency of a thick paste, about 3 minutes. Next, add the coconut milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt along with the remaining 1 cup of shredded coconut, and pulse several times to combine. If necessary, add more shredded coconut to thicken and more coconut milk to thin.

Once the brownies have finished cooling, remove them from the fridge and, using a combination of your hands and a spatula, spread the coconut layer on top. Top with the 16 almonds, placed in whatever positions you desire. Put the pan with the cooked brownies, coconut layer, and almonds in the freezer for 30 minutes to cool further and harden slightly.

After the 30 minutes have elapsed, drizzle the pan with the melted chocolate. Let harden in the fridge for 1 hour more before slicing and enjoying.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.


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What are some of your favorite ways to make simple brownies a little more exciting? Leave me a comment here or on Facebook and let me know!


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