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April 28, 2013

Brownies (Vegan)

by Anne Paddock

Brownies made without pure creamy unsalted butter and fresh eggs seemed impossible to imagine until recently. These were the ingredients – along with cocoa – that made brownies taste so decadent. But, when my daughter decided to lead a vegan life, I started to re-think several recipes because I wanted to make food that all of us would eat; otherwise, I would be chained to the kitchen making separate meals for everyone.

One day, my daughter decided to make vegan brownies from a recipe she found on Instagram that called for almonds, dates, and cocoa as a base with a frosting made of avocado, maple syrup, cocoa, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. While she was at school a few days later, I altered the recipe because I’m not a big fan of maple syrup and chocolate together. Instead, I used agave nectar (but a smaller amount as the dates already provided sweetness), increased the cinnamon, and eliminated the salt. The result: rich, decadent, fudgy chocolate brownies that could make even the most fervent pure brownie connoisseur grin with joy.

DSC_0353The brownies are very easy to make (15 minutes preparation time), require no baking, but do require time in the freezer to firm up. They are gluten-free and there is no oil in this recipe so technically, these brownies qualify as raw brownies.

Ingredients:

1 cup of raw almonds
1 cup of dates (I use Medjool organic dates from California which can be purchased from most grocery stores or from www.nuts.com)
1/3 cup of cocoa (I use Pernigotti cocoa powder)*
1/2 ripe (but not overly ripe..there needs to be a gentle firmness) Haas avocado
1/4 cup agave
1/4 cup of cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

* A cocoa from Italy that has a remarkable flavor; a 2-pound bag can be purchased from the Chef Shop for about $22.

Directions:

  • Line an 8 x 8 square or 10 x 6 loaf pan with a piece of parchment paper making sure the paper comes above the sides of the pan.
  • Place the almonds, dates, and 1/3 cup of cocoa into a food processor and process until the mixture looks like crumbled dirt (really).
  • Pour the mixture onto the parchment paper in the pan and using a spatula press the mixture down to make a flat surface. Set aside.
  • Place the avocado, agave, 1/4 cup of cocoa, vanilla, and cinnamon in the food processor and process until the mixture is smooth and creamy (about 1 minute).
  • Dollop the creamy mixture (frosting) on top of the brownie mixture and gently spread covering the entire top of the dessert.
  • Cover the pan with a piece of plastic (but not letting the plastic touch the brownies) and place in the freezer for at least 2 hours., remove the plastic and lift the sides of the parchment paper to remove the brownies from the pan.
  • With a large sharp knife, cut into bars and place in a plastic storage container with a piece of parchment paper or wax between rows.
  • Place the storage container of brownies back in the freezer until ready to serve.
  • Place the brownies on a plate as they will be a bit crumbly and eat immediately.
  • Store any unused brownies in the freezer until ready to eat. Serves 12.

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