Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Sugar Free Brownies made with Honey
Brownies. There's just nothing else like them. And when you go Sugar Free you think there are a lot of things you'll have to give up. Well, friends, this isn't one of them. These brownies are fantastic! Everyone in my home (my 48 year old sugar-addicted husband, 17 year old sugar-addicted teenager, and 6 year old chocoholic) all adore these...usually taking two and three of them at a time.
I don't panic when they do, either. They're sugar free and they're delicious.
I was inspired by Nikki Goldbeck's original recipe in one of my favorite cookbooks NIKKI & DAVID GOLDBECK'S AMERICAN WHOLEFOODS CUISINE. I tweaked Nikki's New Brownies to my liking and this is the outcome. These babies stay moist for days. This recipe is definitely a keeper...even if you're not trying to live sugar free. Honey is a healthy alternative and the chocolate and vanilla die down the honey flavor. The three together make a great marriage. (See more about three in a marriage below.)
Here's what you'll need:
3 squares (3 oz.) UNsweetened baking chocolate
6 tablespoons of milk
3 eggs, room temperature
1 cup honey (or you could use 3/4 c honey and 1/4 maple syrup or agave)
1 Tablespoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup oil
3/4 cup pecans, broken...nuts are optional, of course
Here's what you do:
Preheat oven to 350 F
In a small saucepan combine chocolate and milk
Cook over low heat until chocolate is creamy.
It looks really yummy, but it isn't. So don't bother tasting it.
Remove from heat and cool a little bit.
Beat eggs with wet ingredients.
TIP: I always spray my measuring cup with non-stick spray before I put in the honey, syrup or agave. And if you use a silicone spoon, you can get it all out easily.
Next, blend in the chocolate mixture. (Now it tastes good.)
Add the rest of the ingredients, combine gently but thoroughly.
Pour into an oiled pan. The original recipe calls for a 9 x 13. Honestly, I don't think they could cook up high enough in a 9 x 13. I used an odd shaped dotty ceramic dish my Grandmother gave me. It is a 10 x 10. The brownies were around an inch and a half thick. You gotta have something to hold onto. And of course, if you baked them in a 9" or 8" square, they'd be even taller. You get to choose. Don't you love baking?
Bake them for 20-25 minutes. They should NOT pull away from the sides. If they do, you've baked them too long. You know chocolate burns easily...so keep an eye out. Batter on your toothpick dipped in the center means they need a little longer. A few crumbs on the pick but not really batter is good. Take them out.
Stash a couple for yourself somewhere before your family comes in and eats them all!
And now, about that marriage of three.
If you are having marital problems my suggestion to you is to humble yourself to God and ask Him to forgive you for the way you've acted in your marriage. Don't get uppity right now. You KNOW you have a part to play in the problem. There are three people in a marriage (if you are a Christian or you made a vow to GOD during your vows....seriously. Maybe you didn't really care about God or not when you said "I DO" to those marriage vows that included God because you wanted to make some family member happy by including God in your ceremony.) God takes it seriously. He wants your marriage to work. And YOUR marriage can work! You say, "No, Jenn. You don't know what's gone on here. It's too late, I think." Well, if you're still reading this...some part of you is saying..."No, it's not. No, it's not too late! Keep reading!"
Rod and I were on our way to divorce. I felt an intense disappointment in him. He did not live up to my expectations. I wanted him to fulfill me. I expected him to be the MAN. But, he kept failing me. And truthfully, I emasculated him emotionally and verbally on a constant basis. I watered our marriage with bitterness and sarcasm and it was dying. He withered under my nasty barbs. I wanted him to fight against my nastiness with chivalry, but he would just walk away. I wanted him to take hold of me in a dashing embrace and demand I stop talking that way to him. He sank deeper into rejection. Eventually, he turned to lusting after other women (get my drift here) in the solitude of our home office behind closed doors. The rejection I felt from my husband intensified. I didn't realize that I WAS REJECTING HIM! (Dumb. Huh?)
Sometimes we are so busy dealing with how WE FEEL and WANT TO FEEL, that we completely forget they we agreed to do our part: To LOVE HIM, To HONOR HIM, To CHERISH HIM til' death do us part. Not til the death of our marriage do us part. And honestly, when I said "I DO" I was thinking that. "I DO until our marriage dies and then...I DON'T." I was planning my divorce during my vows. And I've talked to lots of other people who were doing the same thing. And honey, we live in America...where EVERYTHING seems disposable.
One day, near the end of our three year old marriage, I heard my husband tell my daughter (that seventeen year old I mentioned earlier was 8 at the time) that she was a sinner and she needed a Savior. He told her she wasn't a Christian just because she went to church. (Yeah, as an effort to "fix" our family, we started going to church.) I thought I was a Christian because I went to church, too. And my sweet Grandma was a Christian, so I thought I was one, too...you know, since she was. And I went to church with her. I must have been good with God, right? Right?
Um. No. That's not how it works. I overheard my husband telling his step-daughter that she was a sinner and needed Jesus to be her Savior because He is the only One who could ever be anyone's Savior. He is God's sinless Son and He allowed Himself to be crucified on a cross so that anyone who believes in His death, burial and resurrection and places all their faith in that and that alone will be Saved from the wrath of God that is coming on ALL SINNERS who do not REPENT.
Hm. I didn't know what "wrath" meant or "repent". But, friends, something deep inside me moved and I felt sick. It was the first moment I realized I was a sinner. And I needed Jesus. I sunk there in the bedroom (I'd been eavesdropping on that stepfather of my child's) and I wept long and hard asking God to forgive me of my sins. I blubbered and blurted out all the sins I could think of through my life. My knees got numb in the berber carpet. I didn't think about my husband's sins. I didn't think about my daughter's sins. I just realized I needed God to forgive me for 34 years of my sin-spent life. And, when I got up...all snotty and spent, I was different. Can't tell ya how. Don't really know what happened, except the Word of God tells us that a divine exchange happens when we believe and confess. I traded my guilt and my shame for the righteousness of God that He provided through His Son on the cross.
My husband was a BACKSLIDDEN former missionary. He had never before...in three years (well 4 and half counting the time we lived together) ever told me about Jesus. Shame on him, huh? But, when I told him what happened to me the next morning, he got very quiet. I knew it made an impact...even though it really did result in a fight at the moment. (The flesh just doesn't want to die.) And I picked the fight...just so you know.
A few silent days later Rod called me into our kitchen. He handed me a 3x3 piece of paper with a triangle drawn on it. At the top of the triangle was written GOD. At the bottom of one corner he wrote ROD and my name was written at the other corner: JENNIFER.
"What's this?" I asked. I think this was the first time he spoke to me after the fight when I told him I asked Jesus to be my Savior and God to forgive me.
My dear husband said tenderly, "This is our marriage. There are three in our marriage: God, you and me. We made a vow to God, remember?"
He continued in a soft voice, "The closer we draw to God, the closer we draw to each other. I promised I would take care of you. And I haven't done that well. I'm sorry. Would you please forgive me? I've been unfaithful with my eyes and my heart and I've asked God to forgive me. I think we need to start over right now. What do you think?"
Okay...I don't know where the tough girl went but I was there with tears rolling down my face and my heart was in my BIG mouth. I remember trembling as I tried to speak. And I just got out an "Uh-huh." My husband hugged me to himself and prayed over us. He lifted us to the LORD and told Him that we longed for His forgiveness and His blessing and that we promised we would never talk of divorce again. We asked Him to help us walk with Him and grow. We asked Him to help us stop living the way we had been living, practicing and getting really good at our sin. We told Him we wanted to live lives that pleased Him. We asked Him to help us every day. And He did.
My husband got me a Bible I could understand. It was an NIV. I began reading my Bible every morning while I drank my coffee. I had to get up a half an hour earlier to start my day this way. But, the more I read my Bible, the more I wanted to read it and the more I began to pray. The more I read and prayed, the more I began to really understand that God is real. He is alive and He really loves us. He wants us to live a full life of blessing. And His way is the best way to live.
So, it's 9 years later. Rod and I went on to adopt a baby girl born to a drug addicted mother. She's six now and really loves chocolate. (Smile.) And after all we've been through...we still pray together, we still read our Bibles every morning while we drink our coffee and we are living a very blessed life because marriage is about three. God wanted our marriage to work. So, He fixed it when we asked Him to.
"Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken." Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
For Valentine's Day this year, I washed my husband's feet. We both cried. I think it was the best gift either of us has gotten each other.
You can always email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
God bless you and thanks for reading and baking and eating good things.