I’ll admit, I’ve been watching too many episodes of Chopped lately, if there is such a thing. (There probably is if you’re trying not to spend every waking moment thinking about or eating food.) It’s just so darn inspiring! If you’re unfamiliar with the show, it’s on the Food Network and it’s kind of a take on Iron Chef. Four chefs compete against each other in three rounds (appetizers, entrees, and desserts) and each course has its own basket of mystery ingredients that have to be included. After each round, one chef is “chopped” so that by the dessert round, only 2 chefs remain. Frequently, the ingredients are random and include things that don’t belong with a certain course, like celery root for dessert or marshmallow fluff for an entree.
While watching my 3rd or so DVR’d episode tonight, I found my mind wandering. How could I make dessert from just the ingredients I have on hand? Is it too late to be eating dessert? Should I set up challenges for myself every day in which I have to make a meal in a limited time with random ingredients? Of course I could bake something, but I wanted instant gratification. My mind raced as I mentally scanned the fridge and cupboards and I settled on a couple of items I would have to make work: strawberries and almond butter.
There had been a sale on strawberries at the food store, surprising since they’re out of season, and I still had a pound left to put to use. I had already used some of the first container to make strawberry cupcakes that I will post here soon, and you can only pop so many raw strawberries in a day. Almond butter is always on hand in my kitchen as I find it has a milder flavor than peanut butter. I love using it in smoothies!
WARM ALMOND BUTTER TOPPING – approximate measurements
- Almond Butter (about 2 heaping tablespoons- like the actual spoon kind, not the measurement kind)
- Sprinkle of curry powder, more than a pinch
- Sprinkle of ground cinnamon
- 1-2 Tbsp plain almond milk (vanilla might have been good too)
- Small squeeze of agave syrup, you can use more but you don’t need it
I already knew I’d be heating up the almond butter, so I put a small saucepan on the stove on pretty low heat and heaped in the butter. I toyed with the idea of adding coconut oil, but didn’t want a greasy dessert. Instead, I used some almond milk to thin it out.
Once that was settled, I started scanning the spice cabinet for more complimentary flavors. I had the curry powder front and center after using it on my fish at lunch, so I decided to add some of that. Then, to make the flavor even warmer, I added in the cinnamon. I needed to bring in more sweetness, to contrast the slight tartness of the strawberries, so I decided to add a little of the agave. It was, quite frankly, just in closer reach than the honey.
Once everything was in the pan, I stirred it vigorously with a spoon to get it all mixed in. I let it cook for about another minute so it would be nice and warm. While that was still going, I sliced up some strawberries into rings on the plate, and then poured the gooey dollop of topping next to it. I just used a fork to dip the sliced strawberries in and voila, heaven!
No lie, this all took place not 20 minutes ago, which is why I was so eager to post about it. I’m still learning in my kitchen, and I wanted to express to all of you that it’s a lot simpler than it seems to come up with daring and delicious things on a whim. Worst case? The sauce would taste funny, or awful, and I could have still eaten some strawberries. If I can be suddenly inspired to branch out and become creative, without needing a precise recipe, there’s no reason you can’t be just as bold in your own kitchens. Even better news is that you can adjust any of these flavors to your own tastes!
This took all of 5 minutes to throw together, and the warm topping and the fresh berries complimented each other so perfectly. The sauce was nice and smooth and didn’t stick to the roof of your mouth even if you were to, say, scoop up some with your finger and eat it plain.