If nuts were people, the walnut would be the dark, quiet, serious one. The one who stands at the edges of a party, looking slightly disdainful at the rest of the revelers, not quite willing to join in the hilarity. While the pecan is the sweet southern belle, and the almond is everybody’s friend, the walnut is the mature nut who is a bit stand-offish and requires some getting to know. At first, you might not like them all that much, but after a while you realize that there is more to this nut than you first thought. There is a complexity, a depth of personality, that the other nuts lack. There is a slight edge of bitterness that can be tamed with the right treatment, and you come to wonder why you dismissed this nut so readily before.
Consider this my ode to walnuts. I love them deeply, but this wasn’t always the case. As a child I found them somewhat bitter and preferred the sweeter pecan. I can’t quite say when the tide began to turn, but I have a great appreciation for them now. And discovering that walnuts are full of omega-3 fatty acids certainly didn’t hurt their cause. I love them in sweet or savoury dishes, and I can eat them plain by the handful. And a little toasted walnut oil takes salad or steamed veggies to a whole new level.
The current recipe was inspired by the purchase of some walnut oil at TJ Maxx/Homegoods. I was delighted to discover a bottle of it for several dollars less than the grocery store and I snapped it up. Although it’s most often used in savoury dishes, I had it in my head to bake with it. The image of a gooey, dense blondie with dark chocolate chunks came to mind, and I couldn’t shake it. I wasn’t sure if I could pull off a low carb version, but I knew I had to give it a go.
The results: Excuse my use of a fake expletive here, but these are freaking good! They are the epitome of a gooey blondie exploding with flavour. They are not the least bit cakey, and they have that slightly underbaked quality that I, for one, love. But tread lightly, as these ain’t no sissy blondies. They are intensely walnutty and as such, might not be for everyone. I doubt my kids will like them and that is just fine by me, I can keep them all for myself. I made a half-batch as a test and I wish I’d made more because I love them. LOVE THEM!
And with walnut meal, walnut oil and chopped walnuts, just think of all the heart-healthy fats in these! You simply have no excuse not to make these. No excuse whatsoever.
Walnut Blondies with Dark Chocolate Chunks
1 ½ cup walnuts, divided
1 cup almond meal
½ teaspoon xanthan gum
1 cup toasted walnut oil (you could use melted butter if absolutely necessary!)
½ cup granulated erythritol
2 teaspoon vanilla
10 drops stevia extract
4 eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup low carb chocolate chips (I make my own, see recipe here, but you can buy them or chop up an 85% cacao Lindt chocolate bar)
Preheat oven to 325F and grease an 8×8 pan. Line with parchment paper and grease paper.
Chop and toast ½ cup of walnuts. Set aside.
Grind remaining walnuts until they resemble a coarse meal. Combine ground walnuts, almond meal and xanthan gum in a medium bowl and whisk to combine.
In a large bowl, combine walnut oil, erythritol, vanilla and stevia. Stir in walnut/almond mixture. Add beaten eggs and mix thoroughly. Stir in toasted, chopped walnuts and chocolate chips.
Spread batter in prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes. The edges will be slightly browned and the center will be slightly firm to the touch.
Let cool in pan for 10 minutes and then invert onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
Serves 20. Each serving has 8.8g total carbs (this varies slightly depending on what chocolate you use), but only 4.5g if you subtract erythritol.