Dark Chocolate Espresso Brownies & Roasted Balsamic Strawberries {paleo, gf, sugar-free}

Dark Chocolate Espresso Brownies & Roasted Balsamic Strawberries {paleo, gf, & sugar-free} by Cheeky Baker

Sometimes things are in their most glory when they are kept simple. When they are being true to them selves, and shining just the way they were created to, something  in you is at rest.

It’s like love. When you are with the person you were meant to be with, you fit like puzzle pieces. Mind you, that doesn’t mean that you are the same or never disagree; on the contrary, most of the time you are complete opposite, your communication styles are way different, and you don’t see the world the way your partner does. In that same vein of thought, these two pieces have to be different to fit together properly. They compliment each other and work together to form something greater than they could by themselves. They are also able to make a greater impact on the “big picture”  and the world around them when working together. When you see couples in these relationships, they are also bringing out the best in each other. They are simply being exactly who they were created to be, and they are shining so brightly (like a diamond, as Rihanna would say :).

It’s wonderful to see couples who compliment each other so well you couldn’t imagine them with anyone else. I had the privilege to be a bridesmaid in my baby brother’s wedding this past week, and as I was watch him and his dear wife together, they were an incredible example of this kind of love. The kind of love that brings out the best in your partner, and creates a safe space for that person to flourish. Geeze, I love these two crazy kids.

Jack & Rachelle's Wedding

Jackson & Rachelle, I am so immensely proud of you both. Your love is intense, inspiring, & fun-loving, and I know that your love for Christ and each other will take you so far in your life and in your marriage. I love you guys so much!

Also, these are my siblings, and I freaking love them.

Pollock Siblings @ Jack & Rachelle's wedding

And look at that wedding party! It was so awesome to be surrounded by their large group of friends who were so supportive of them. And what a good looking crew, right?

Wedding Party @ Jack & Rachelle's wedding

And this was my date. What a hottie, amiright?

Matt & Anna @ Jack's wedding {by cheeky baker}

Want to know what else is just like puzzle piece love? Brownies & strawberries.

Dark Chocolate Espresso Brownies & Roasted Balsamic Strawberries {paleo, gf, & sugar-free} by Cheeky Baker

These brownies are moist, fudgey, and have a delightful crumble. They are also paleo, but don’t taste like you would think a paleo treat would. I don’t about you, but before I was experimenting with anything gluten-free or paleo or anything of that nature, this is how my brain worked:

sugar+ butter+flour+more sugar= happiness + stomach ache + headache

gluten-free+sugar-free+dairy-free= this can’t be good and probably tastes like cardboard?

But now ladies and gentleman! I have seen the light. Doesn’t this mean that I will never eat sugar again? Hardly. But this is how my brain works these days:

sugar+ butter+flour+more sugar= headache+stomach ache + low energy +mood swings + low self-confidence

gluten-free+ dairy-free+sugar-free = still incredibly delicious & indulgent, dessert minus feeling like crap after, not feeling like I have to start over on my health goals, feeling like I can conquer the world.

I’m not sure about you, but I definitely prefer the last option. Also, I’m talking about health food and brownies and strawberries in the same post. So as you can see, I don’t exactly live a life of deprivation over here.

And do you see these strawberries?! Hulled, halved, and tossed with a bit of olive oil, maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, & sea salt, and they are roasted to their full glory. Hallelujah.

Dark Chocolate Espresso Brownies & Roasted Balsamic Strawberries {paleo, gf, & sugar-free} by Cheeky Baker

I will be making these again soon, because strawberries are abounding and I need chocolate.

Dark Chocolate Espresso Brownies & Roasted Balsamic Strawberries {paleo, gf, & sugar-free} by Cheeky Baker

Enjoy, beautiful friends!

Dark Chocolate Espresso Brownies & Roasted Balsamic Strawberries {paleo, gluten-free, sugar-free}

for the brownies:

4 ounces dark chocolate (I used 75%)
1/2 cup butter or coconut oil, melted and cooled*
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
3 eggs
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons very strong coffee
2 tablespoons fine coffee grinds

     *I used 1/4 cup butter, 1/4 cup coconut oil.

for the strawberries:

8-ounces medium strawberries, hulled

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 tablespoon olive oil

pinch of salt

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the melted dark chocolate, butter or oil (or fat), pure maple syrup, and eggs. Slowly sift the cocoa powder over the wet ingredients, whisking it evenly. Add the strong coffee and the coffee grinds and stir until well combined.

Line a 9×9 inch square pan with parchment paper and fill the pan with the brownie batter. Bake for approximately 22-25 minutes, or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.

While the brownies are cooling, hull and slice the strawberries lengthwise; set aside. Whisk together remaining ingredients in a medium bowl. Toss strawberries in the medium bowl until even coated. Line an edged cooking sheet with parchment paper, and empty the strawberries evenly onto the parchment. Roast for 30-40 minutes (this time will vary according to your size of strawberries). When finished, remove from oven and let cool.

When the brownies are cool, slice into 9 (or 16 if you itty-bitty squares) squares. Waiting until they are cool is so difficult! But worth it. They slice so much prettier that way. Top with a couple spoonfuls of strawberries, and drizzle with a bit of extra syrup.

You guys, it’s so. good.

Source: adapted from Practical Paleo

Listening to: Billy Joels’ Greatest Hits (it’s totally a Billy Joel afternoon!)


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