Spring is finally here and if you need confirmation (which you might if you live here in the DC area where there’s still a bite in the air) you only have to look at the deep pink magnolia blossoms blanketing tree limbs that were bare only yesterday.
This is my favorite time of year, not just because everything’s so gorgeous after a long, bleak winter but because Spring is a reaffirmation of life and a reminder that the cold and the dreary and the dark always gives way to resplendent, perfect beauty.
Very soon the cherry blossoms will be out on the Tidal Basin and if you’ve never been, you must. A manmade reservoir that runs along the spectacular Jefferson Memorial, D.C.’s Tidal Basin is home to thousands of cherry trees — a gift of friendship from Japan a century ago. Early each Spring the trees flower, creating a profusion of pink and white blooms that turns an already beautiful landscape into something almost other-worldly. It has to be seen to be believed.
You know how, when you have something in your backyard, you get blase about it. I haven’t been to see the cherry blossoms in years now, and this year I am putting it on my list of Things I Absolutely Must Do This Spring. That, and keeping my eye open for great yard sales. And giving my brown thumb another workout in the vegetable garden.
What are your plans this Spring?
I have for you today this delicious — and healthy — recipe for my Whole Wheat Sweet Potato Squares with a Peanut Butter Glaze, which are just about the most perfect breakfast food ever invented. Honest.
I used a muffin batter to make these squares partly because I was too lazy to scoop out individual muffins (yes, I am just THAT lazy sometimes) and partly because I thought the squares would look rather cute. The squares are all whole wheat and low fat and they are yummy without being cloyingly sweet.
I love sweet potatoes because they put a healthy halo around just about any food. They are particularly perfect for breakfast and a great way to sneak some nutrition into a kid-friendly snack. The peanut butter glaze complements the sweet potato flavor and adds some more sweetness and crunch to the cakey squares.
Here’s the recipe. Happy Spring, all, and may yours be filled with all the beauty in the world.
- For the squares:
- 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 cup applesauce
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ cup cooked sweet potato, well mashed (about 1 small sweet potato)
- ⅓ cup sugar
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 1½ cups non-dairy milk (I used soy. Almond milk would be great too)
- 2 tsp chai spices (I used a combination of cinnamon, cloves, green cardamom and nutmeg. You can go with just cinnamon if you'd rather)
- For the peanut butter glaze:
- ¼ cup crunchy peanut butter
- ¼ cup water
- A few drops of vanilla extract
- 6 tsp powdered sugar
- In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices and salt.
- In a smaller bowl, whisk together the applesauce, oil, sugar, vanilla extract, sweet potato and non-dairy milk until well mixed.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix just until you have a smooth batter.
- Grease a 9-inch square cake pan or, for easier removal, line the bottom of the pan with parchment or foil and oil the surface.
- Pour the batter into the pan and with a spatula or ladle spread evenly and smooth out the top.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake in the oven 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Make the glaze by whisking together the peanut butter, water, vanilla and powdered sugar until you have a smooth mixture.
- Let the muffin "cake" cool for 10 minutes. Unmold the cake, place on a rack, then pour the glaze over with a spoon, ensuring you spread it evenly.
- Cool thoroughly before serving.