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cacao “brownies” — or, um, something

19 June 2011

Today was a very productive day in the kitchen. Started out with a delicious breakfast oat bake; also managed to cook up a batch of dried garbanzos that had been soaking overnight, cook up a week’s worth of brown rice, use some of that rice to make rice milk (kept it simple this time: 1/2 cup rice + one pitted date + 2 cups water), brew a pitcher of vanilla sun tea, oh and read an entire book on modeling complexity; but all that’s going to have to wait. I’m even going to have to postpone the post on popcorn that I was so excited about because, oh em gee. You guys. These brownies.

br-uffin?

br-uffins? things?

I woke up to find this recipe in my google reader, and for some reason knew I had to make them ASAP, despite the fact that my most recent attempt to make “healthy brownies” was so disastrous that I foreswore the enterprise altogether. There’d have to be some modifications to Angela’s recipe, of course (and not just because I seem to be incapable of following recipes as printed anyway): unsurprisingly, I don’t have any teff flour; perhaps surprisingly, I loathe bananas more than any other food; and . . . I’m out of cocoa powder.

But! I did have half a bag of raw cacao nibs that have been in my pantry forever, so I decided I could probably grind them into something like cacao powder. Threw the rest of the bag in the vitamix but must’ve gone a little too vita-happy because I ended up with this:

cacao powder/butter

That is, something in between cacao powder and cacao butter. Ah well, no matter, that’ll work; measured some out and stuck the rest in the fridge to await future inspiration. (I’m pretty excited about this stuff’s potential, actually. Stay tuned.)

Anyway, quite a lot of modifications later, I’m not sure I can say these bear any significant resemblance to their inspiration. I can, however, say they are delicious.

Cacao “brownies”
(inspired by Oh She Glows)

4 pitted medjool dates
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tbsp natural peanut butter
2 tbsp brown rice syrup
5 drops stevia
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup ground cacao nibs
1/4 cup almond meal
1/4 cup oat flour
1 tsp espresso powder
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 350. Combine dates and applesauce in a food processor/vitamix; add the rest of the liquid ingredients and process until smooth. In a bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. (If you’re using ground cacao nibs, like I did, combine with the wet ingredients; if you’re using actual cacao/cocoa powder, whisk with the dry.) Add wet to dry and mix until just combined.

I halved the original recipe and baked these in individual muffin cups (yielded 10 brownie-muffin-things); feel free to double this recipe and bake in a parchment-lined 8×8 pan, if you’re planning to share. Let cool for longer than you can stand before serving; the freezer helps.

Again, I’m not sure I can honestly call them “brownies,” because where a good brownie is basically a dense and intensely chocolate punch in the stomach, these are far more nuanced. A pleasant bitterness from the cacao+espresso, a subtle sweetness from the dates+brown rice syrup, a bit of crunch from the almond meal . . . all together magic happens. Fudgey in the center with that subtle chewy crispiness on top that I thought only unmentionable quantities of butter and/or oil could produce, though kind of cake-like at the edges.

brownies

whatever you call them, make them now!

While I can’t in good conscience call them brownies, I can say that they are without doubt the best thing I’ve baked in a long, long time, if not ever. Plus, full of only whole ‘n’ wholesome ingredients, and gluten-free (if you use certified oats)!

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