Thursday, August 18, 2016

A Recipe for Surprise Parties & Killer Peanut Butter Walnut Brownies

Good foods like Slice Pizza (they make vegan pie), unforgettable fresh homemade salsa, Whole Foods mild guacamole, tortilla chips, and this strawberry topped peanut butter chocolate brownie (by me) were great party fare. In the background is a pretty scrumptious looking vegan gluten-free Sweet Freedom Bakery cupcake gift. Yum!
This is more than a step by step process of preparing something in the kitchen.
This is a walk outside, a train journey, eleven floors up the elevator.
On a casual, seemingly innocent Tuesday evening, we the Visitor Services Staff of PAFA threw a little appreciation party for Matt-- our kind, sweet, cool as a cucumber supervisor. He works super hard and often can't spend time with us outside of museum life due to hectic schedules and whatnot.
It was high time to bring the party to him, to celebrate him, let him know we just appreciate.....
The idea escaped the mouth of one appreciative devotee and spread like a delightful communal virus. I say delightful because no sneezing, coughing, hiccuping or anything hazardous transpired between us. Nope. Just conspired a plot to celebrate a super amazing person.
Everyone was stoked-- wide-eyed and joyous over throwing a surprise shindig.

Just a few treasured words to describe Matt-- calm, peaceful, fabulous, stylish, eclectic, and creative are some other words I should have added. He's a terrific artist and phenomenal writer. I've spent many a time at PAFA's Arcadia Library reading his thesis.....
We had major trickery help from museum education department-- one of his besties and PAFA class of 2014 gal pal. She lured him up to the eleventh floor. We bombarded him with loud cheers and rambunctious clapping. It was such a sight, a wonder, to see him so happy and astonished at the same time. Of course, we had the same rowdy glee when the pizza arrived.

Most of the gang in present with Matt holding the Scrabble board of adjectives.
A huge thanks to another of my co-workers (fellow vegan alert) for co-conceiving this killer peanut butter brownie recipe. I knew that brownies would be involved, especially aince Matt liked the previous batch. There is no cocoa butter (used remainder for homemade lotion) and coconut oil was a big giant no-no.
I used Whole Foods Organic Peanut Butter-- the only ingredient is peanuts. Stored at room temperature, the peanut butter had a nice oily consistency mirroring melted oils or butters. It's not the same as subbing with applesauce, pumpkin, or a ripened avocado, but since the peanut butter flavor was desired that mattered not.
Overall, the surprise party was amazing. The pizza, these brownies, that salsa, my co-worker/friends....
We definitely celebrated in style.

Killer Peanut Butter Walnut Brownies Ingredients and Preparation

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup almond milk (or any dairy free alternative)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup walnuts, crushed
1/2 cup unsweetened peanut butter
1 package Driscoll's Strawberries, sliced (optional, but it gives the brownies lovelier presentation by covering fork marks of impatience)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 8' x 8" baking pan.
Mix dry ingredients together.
Add in dairy free alternative milk and vanilla to dry ingredients. Stir evenly.
Pour in that bit of apple cider vinegar. Combine.
Lastly, swirl up the peanut butter and walnuts in the brownie batter.
Lay and smooth batter over in the baking pan. 
Let bake for 25-33 minutes.
Cool for an hour before placing strawberries or any other fresh fruit.

Dessert at the party.....
Here's what remained when I brought the pan back home.
One piece with an ice cold cherry smoothie served in a mug. Superb dessert-- a satisfying end to a wonderful surprise party day.


  1. Sounds like a wonderful day. I will be making these brownies soon, they look delicious, and so beautiful with the fresh strawberries!

    1. It was really quite nice. He was really surprised.
      The brownies themselves are super moist and have that amazing peanut butter- complement everyone knows and loves. Let me know what you think after you've made them. :)