Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sweet Potato Blondies - A #RecipeRedux of Trends

It's slightly sacrilegious of me as a passionate baker and overall foodie, but I never really got the whole cupcake trend. I'm sure a lot of it has to do with the fact that I'm lazy (and can't frost worth a darn), so covering all those little cakelets and making them look good is too much of a hassle. Cupcakes dry out incredibly quickly too, so they really should be eaten within a day or two - and considering that a batch of cupcakes usually makes between 18 and 24, who needs that much cake? Then comes the fact that you have to make more cake and frosting per serving, since while a cake that is frosted and decorated once can serve up to 16, but an individual cupcake serves only 1 - and probably has an equal ratio of frosting to cake if its from a bakery! Don't get me wrong, the thought of having your own little dessert is quaint, and they're a perfect option for times when they are being served at different times (think bakesale). But in place of a moist, moderately-frosted wedge of cake? I'll pass on that.

So what then? Well, I vote to do away with the whole "cake vs. cupcake"battle altogether. I think it's time that the bar cookie came back in vogue. Far simpler to make, easy enough to add or take out ingredients from if you so choose, and in almost as many flavours as you can dream up, they're a perfect sweet. Plus, you can keep them nutritious enough for breakfast or a midafternoon snack, or go all out and add chocolate, butter, more sugar and frosting. Or you can do a combination of both (my favourite compromise). You don't have to mess about cleaning individual tins or decorating two dozen servings either, and they are sturdier (read: more portable) than any cake-like counterpart.

Sweet Potato Blondies

So here's my case for the bar - these blondies (if you can call them that, they're more orangies) are sweet, rich, chewy and flavourful, but they're also gluten free and vegan. There is some sugar and fat in them, of course - they are a treat - but the amounts are cut way down (and made more nutritious) through the use of a xylitol blend, sweet potatoes, applesauce and homemade soynut butter. While they're fabulous au naturale, I dipped my toe into the "topping" world and made an orange juice caramel syrup too, keeping them moist and refreshing at the same time.

Are they a replacement for your bowl of oatmeal or your broccoli and brown rice for dinner? Probably not. But with more protein in a (good-sized, I might add) square than an egg, no cholesterol, way less sugar and more fibre than a commercial brownie or blondie and a ton of nutrients like Vitamin A (for good skin and vision), calcium (for bone health, blood pressure and cholesterol control),vitamin C (an antioxidant important for protection against immune system deficiencies, cardiovascular disease, prenatal health problems, eye disease, and even skin wrinkling!) and iron (for energy and growth), they might be worth the occasional indulgence!

So where do you stand on cupcakes? Do you want one right now? Or are you over the hype and are looking for a change?

Sweet Potato Blondies

Sweet Potato Blondies
Makes 18 bars
¼ cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
5 (1.8g) packets Xylitol Plus (or 4 tbsp sugar)
¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup cooked sweet potatoes, passed through a ricer or food mill (or use canned pureed pumpkin or sweet potato)
1 ½ cups homemade soynut butter (or all-natural almond butter)
¼ cup orange juice
1 tbsp gluten-free vanilla extract
½ cup brown rice flour
¼ cup sweet rice flour
¼ cup yellow corn flour (not cornstarch)
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp guar gum
1 tsp sea salt
1/3 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

¾ cup orange juice
2/3 cup sugar
  1. Preheat your oven to 350F and lightly grease a 9x13” pan.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together the coconut oil, sugars, xylitol, applesauce, sweet potatoes, soynut butter and vanilla until smooth.
  3. Add the flours, baking powder, baking soda, guar gum and salt, stirring well.
  4. Fold in the coconut
  5. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick can be inserted and removed with slightly damp crumbs.
  6. Chill 1 hour before glazing.

Glaze and Assembly
  1. Combine orange juice and sugar in a small pot over high heat. 
  2. Cook, stirring occasionally, until thick and syrupy. 
  3. Pour over the blondies in the pan and let set.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 238.3
Total Fat: 10.7 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 236.0 mg
Total Carbs: 31.7 g
Dietary Fiber: 4.2 g
Protein: 7.1 g

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