If you haven’t guessed by now, I love cheese. It’s the sole reason I could never be a vegan. As much as I love meat, I can live without bacon and all that. But cheese? To reappropriate Frank Sinatra, “that’s the nectar of the gods, baby.” Cheddar, Swiss, Goat cheese, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Muenster, whatever. I have yet to meet a cheese I don’t like. Anyway, a commentor on yesterday’s gluten-free post suggested that I add Ricotta cheese to my pancakes for added protein and flavor. Ricotta, if you’ve never used it, is a curd cheese that can be used for sweet or savory recipes (cheesecake or lasagna, for example) because it doesn’t have a whole lot of flavor on its own. So, on a whim, I decided to make my own! I cam across this easy and helpful recipe and thought I would try it out. I made it with lemon juice instead of vinegar because I wanted that hint of citrus to brighten it up.
I let it drain for about 5 minutes so that the curds were easily spreadable and still warm. As I’ve mentioned, I usually avoid gluten, but this was just screaming for a crispy piece of bread to go with it. So I toasted up a slice of Italian bread with a light homemade honey butter spread, put the Ricotta on top, and drizzled some of that homemade blackberry jam I mentioned yesterday on it 🙂 Oh my sun and stars, it was absolutely amazing (sidenote: you may read Game of Thrones too much if that’s what you say instead of “oh my word”). I don’t know if I’ll ever use store-bought Ricotta again. It was light, had a perfect creamy texture, and the hint of lemon blended well with the honey and blackberry. Yum. I’m going to make more later this week.
So that was last night. Today, as a reward for a long weekend of hard work on my thesis, I decided to experiment with this incredible-looking recipe for Salted Caramel Blackberry Brownies. With blackberry season in full swing, I figured now was a good time to use some of those berries. I used Red Mill gluten-free flour instead of regular all-purpose flour, and it worked perfectly. You can substitute vegan butter if you don’t want to use any dairy, and Truvia is a good sugar replacement. I used regular sugar this time because I couldn’t afford the Truvia (not until my next paycheck!), but I’m fine with that for now. I added a little extra seasalt to the caramel because I LOVE salted caramel. Anyway, these brownies were absolutely heavenly. When I die, I’m pretty sure I’m going to find St. Peter waiting at the pearly gates with a platter of them. The dark chocolate brownie is really fudgy and gooey (I hate brownies that have a cake-like texture. If you want that, but a chocolate cake). It’s also very rich, but that’s where the blackberries come in: since they’re added whole into the mix, when you bite into them, the juice brightens up the brownie and gives it a lovely tartness that counteracts the richness of the chocolate. The salted caramel also adds a salty/sweet dimension that takes the entire dessert to another level – my tastebuds are singing.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I hear a pan of brownies calling my name.