Earl Grey and Vanilla Flourless Blondies

It’s easy to exist in a bubble. Particularly when the sky is blue, the ocean beckons and your head is giddy because your best friend just gave birth to twin boys.

When you spend a good smattering of your life tending to the whims of shin-high folk, the outside world can get smaller. Not because you want it to, because your mental horizon can only stretch so far.  A day is driven by the dual essentials of toddler distraction and adult errands. Sometimes it’s about vaccinations, parks, playgrounds. Occasionally aquariums or farmer’s markets. But mainly, it’s about cleaning gunk off a floor and standing on the side of a set of swings and trying to stop a child from a) hurting itself or b)hurting another.  The biggest lesson in this whole lark of life-with-a-sidekick; it’s not about you.  It might sound like a small thing, but it’s taken this fat ego of mine a while to digest. In this cartoon-life, at this stage, Robin runs the show.

A good day can be cemented by something as simple as ten minutes out with a cup of tea and something mildly sweet and celebratory. Other triggers; making a new local friend (a practice which oddly feels like dating), scraping through to 6.45 pm with your  humour still intact (and a minimum of cutlery hurled across the floor).  Or receiving some positive communication from the outside world.

These blondies were inspired by such an outreach. It’s easy to forget in the bubble that there are many lovely people who read these weekly missives, beyond my Dad (hi Pa). But last week there was a lovely email that cropped up, from Sassy. She found ‘A Suitcase and a Spatula’ at her local library. She now subscribes to the blog. And knowing of my fondness for Earl Grey tea, she wanted to alert me about a drink she’d stumbled upon that was common to Canadian hipster cafes, known as a London Fog.

“A luxurious combination of Earl Grey tea, steamed milk and vanilla, the warming drink was created in Vancouver but has been popularized and perfected on the island of Victoria, on Canada’s western coast.” Read more: http://www.tastingtable.com/drinks/national/how-to-make-london-fog-tea-earl-grey-latte#ixzz3TCTc8xbe

Apparently Starbucks now even does a version.

The brain spiral that was spawned started with how much I’d like to go to Canada. One day perhaps. It traversed to how much I miss London; crummy weather and all. I miss the bustle of Borough Markets. I miss the umami, jammy slivers of jamon and stout glasses of pink wine we’d drink the window seats at Jose, in Bermondsey. I miss our epic Oscars parties and the months when some of our great friends lived just three metres from our front door and we had spontaneous boozy nights midweek. I miss the sound of ‘Mind the Gap’ when we stepped onto the tube and the sight of Westminster cresting over the Thames. I love my life by the sea.  I love my boy. But gosh I miss the unabashed hedonism of that city.

I started thinking about how lovely it is that there are people out there, across the interwebs that would thinking of me . And I ended with musing about how terrific Earl Grey and a throaty note of vanilla would be in baked goods.

And so these blondies were born. They take the flavours of the London Fog beverage; the bergamot of Earl Grey, creaminess of almond and coconut (I’ve learned that superior London Fogs are made with non-dairy milks) and the lushness of vanilla and bind them together into a squidgy square. They rely of tea steeped dates for sweetness and smuggle in blitzed beans for protein and substance (which means they’re perfect for your gluten free or slow carb chums).  There are pecans for crunch and a little salt to make the sweetness really shimmy.  They’re crazily swift to make (all you need is a blender) and way too easy to demolish.

I kept some for us (Will ate half of one and crumbled the rest in his fist like confetti) and parceled some up for my best friend at home with the twins. Incidentally, one of her nicknames is ‘blondie’.

As fortune may have it, we may have cause to go and visit the twins and her in Canada someday. Together we sat and marveled at the small people we made, ate a few sweet squares and shared cups of Earl Grey.

Thus; a good day was made.

Earl Grey and Vanilla Flourless Blondies

Makes 12 blondies


1/2 cup/125 ml boiling water
1 Earl Grey tea bag
20 pitted dates/ 100 g pitted dates
1 x 400 g tin of white beans
1/2 cup ground almonds
3 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs
1 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp coconut oil
20 pecans
Pinch of sea salt flakes (optional)


1) Preheat the oven to 180C/350 F and grease and line a brownie tin, approximately the size of an A4 sheet of paper (29 cmx 21 cm) with baking paper.

2) Steep the tea bag in the boiling water for one minute. Add the dates and allow then to mellow in the tea for 10 minutes.


3) Remove eight of the dates and set aside. Place the remaining dates and tea in a blender or food processor.

4) Blitz until you have a sweet slurry.

4) Add the beans, almond, vanilla, eggs, baking powder and coconut oil.

5) Blend until you have a cohesive batter.

6) Pour the batter into the prepared tin. Slice the dates that you set aside earlier into slivers and scatter over the top of the batter. Sprinkle over the pecans and the salt.

7) Bake for 20 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool in tin for 10 minutes, then slice into 12 brownies. They will keep in the fridge for a week.




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