When I was barely 20, a fresh young junior at university still trying to figure out the world, I’d often wonder what the future would be like.
I’ve always been idealistic, so there was a big part of me that dreamt about being a real writer, and having my words impact those who read them.
There was another part of me though: the pragmatic side, the side that had been influenced by whatever was taught at business school, and reminded me every once in a while that writing was probably not the most practical job of choice.
Listening to the practical side, I decided I’d go into the financial world. I first did a a finance internship with Singapore Press Holdings, before embarking onto a global data internship at Bloomberg, Singapore, and just before graduation, I signed a contract with Standard Chartered Bank to participate in its Finance International Graduate Program.
I remember dressing up for work, wearing my nice ironed dresses and walking around in high heels, feeling tall and proud to be starting a career at an international bank. I knew my professors at management school would approve; after all, an international graduate program was a fast track to climbing up the corporate ladder, wasn’t it?
Yet despite my pretty outfits, blister-producing heels and comfortable monthly pay check, the bank still felt cold to me and I couldn’t seem to find enthusiasm or joy in the countless Excel spreadsheets I’d have open on my desktop. The numbers didn’t shine or call out to me, and once again, I’d wonder what it was like to live a life that actually mattered (at least to me).
So naturally it made perfect sense – when Juan and I were talking about one of us moving so we could make our relationship work – for me to give it a shot living in Buenos Aires. I was only 24 back then, bright-eyed and hopeful and excited for adventure.
Living in Latin America, specifically in “the Paris of South America”, a city on the other end of the world, where I had no kin nor friends nor job waiting for me, where I could barely speak its language, sure seemed like a perfect adventure. Plus, I would be moving for love, and that sounded pretty darn romantic to me.
Six years have passed since I took that decision, and in slightly more than half a decade, I feel like I’ve become a completely different person – I’ve learnt to live independently, but also with someone; I’ve learnt what its like to be without family but still feel incredibly loved; and I’ve learnt that it is possible to build your home in more places than just one.
I’ve discovered the beauty of speaking a foreign language – which gives you access to a completely different world and culture, and almost makes you feel like you belong. I’ve found that beyond the different skin colors and facial features, humans usually have very similar sense of humor and treasure the same family values. I’ve realized that life is worth so much more than just chasing a dollar figure that may not even grant you to sense of happiness you’d expect it to.
And I’ve started writing again, seriously this time, and every day, I know that I’m a step closer to the life that I’m meant to live.
A life that seems like a dream but is real as real can be.
Life has constantly surprised me in the past few years; and I’m content to go with the flow and wait to see doors opening and new experiences forming, all over the world.
As I said, November is my favorite month – a month of birthdays to be celebrated with much joy, happiness and thanksgiving.
To celebrate this wonderful life that we all live – I’ve made an almond butter brownie tart adapted from the recipe I saw on Hummingbird High.
Instead of nutella, which the original recipe indicated, I’ve used almond butter in its place, which was what I had on hand. I find it gives the tart a delicious hint of almond flavor that I’ve a weak spot for.
For the tart itself, in addition to almond butter, you’ll need unsalted butter, chocolate chunks, sugar, vanilla extract, eggs, and our favorite brand of gluten-free flour, Wholesome Chow gluten-free all purpose baking mix.
We only started using Wholesome Chow two months back when we moved to DC, after trying a couple of other brands of gluten-free flour mixes available here in the US.
To date, Wholesome Chow’s gluten-free all purpose baking mix has produced great baking results, but most importantly, Juan, who’s Celiac, doesn’t have any allergic reactions to it! Hip hip hurray! Thank God for a baking mix that makes great baked goods, without all the unpleasant allergens!
(Plus, it’s organic, free of eggs, wheat, soy, dairy, casein and gluten, all at a reasonable price, so pretty much everyone can use it without worry! That sounds like a pretty good deal to me.)
Now, back to this amazing gluten-free almond butter brownie tart.
This is a tart that is slightly crispy on the outside and so moist and full of flavor on the inside, without being overly sweet, so a light chocolate glaze makes for lovely company.
Slice the tart into six even pieces, drizzle chocolate glaze over in the design you like, and serve it alongside the berries of your choice.
- ½ cup (1 stick) of unsalted butter
- ½ cup of creamy unsalted almond butter
- 3.5 ounces good quality gluten-free chocolate chunks (I used milk chocolate but dark is perfect too)
- ⅓ cup of cane sugar
- 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- ½ cup of Wholesome Chow gluten-free all purpose baking mix
- ½ cup chocolate chunks + 1 tablespoon hot water, optional for the glaze
- 2 cups berries of choice, optional for garnishing
- Pre-heat oven to 350 deg. Fahrenheit (180 deg. Celsius)
- Grease an 8-inch tart pan with a removable bottom or use a non-stick disposable aluminium tart pan
- Place butter and almond butter in a large microwave-proof mixing bowl and heat in 30-second intervals until butter is softened and you can mix it with the almond butter until combined
- Add chocolate chunks into the bowl and let it sit for a while as the residual heat melts the chocolate
- Stir in melted chocolate with the rest of the mixture until a uniform liquid is formed
- Add in cane sugar and still well until sugar is dissolved
- Break in one egg at a time, stirring well to full incorporate the first egg before breaking in the second egg
- Finally sift in the Wholesome Chow gluten-free all purpose baking mix and stir until homogeneous batter is formed
- Pour batter into prepared tart pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean
- Let cake cool before removing from pan
- Heat chocolate chunks in a small bowl in the microwave at 10-second intervals, mixing well after about 3 intervals, and then mix in the water until you get a thick chocolate liquid
- Slice tart into 6 even slices and drizzle chocolate glaze over slices.
- Serve tart slices with berries of your choice