Jul 5, 2013

Raw Fudge Brownies (no bake, gf, paleo, vegan) Recipe


My husband and I were invited to a friend's for the 4th of July yesterday and while we weren't expected to bring anything, I decided to try to make something to bring.  I wanted to make something most people would like that could hold up for a half in our in our car with no air conditioning, was picnic friendly (don't need a fork to eat!), healthy, and easy and didn't require baking (cause who wants to bake in July). 


What does Raw Mean Anyway?
In deciding what to bring with for the 4th of July I looked to my raw pinterest board for inspiration.  What is raw food you ask?  Well raw food means that nothing in the finished product has been heated more than 180 degrees which keeps all the nutrition and enzymes (that help you to digest the food).  When I first discovered raw food I fell in love with the raw desserts.  They look amazing (and taste amazing too) and are mostly made of only fruits, nuts, and liquid natural sweeteners like raw honey.  The best part is most of them are as easy as putting ingredients into your food processor, and that's it.  Just what I was looking for.

So How Did It Turn Out?
I decided to make a raw brownie.  I never have made one and didn't know if I'd even like it but it looked easy enough and similar enough to other things I've made that I figured it was worth a try.  I  felt like quite the rebel yesterday, making up a recipe for something I've never tried let alone made and to bring with my for the 4th of July none the less. Luckily it got the thumbs up! It ended up being super rich and decadent with layers of flavour.  It definitely didn't taste healthy or easy!

I plan to make this often since it's so easy.  It seriously as easy as throwing ingredients into your food processor and then pressing it into a pan.  That's it!  And while it's calorie dense, it's also dense in nutrition and GI (glycemic index) friendly because the healthy fat, protein, and fiber in this will help slow down the absorption of the sugar in this recipe.
Image: from My New Roots check out their raw brownie recipe
How I Developed This Recipe
The Base 
I compared a bunch of brownie recipes (too many to credit them all), found the similarities to form my base recipe and tweaked it based on what I know from making other recipes in the past.  I noticed for the most part they consisted of a nut and date mixture that was flavoured with chocolate.  This sounded alot like my raw chocolate cookie dough recipe.  Which taste a lot like a sweet chocolatey rich granola bar.   I was worried that most of the recipe I found would taste closer to a richer than usual granola bar and less like a real brownie.  So to help with this I included elements of my raw chocolate pudding into it by adding an avocado and vanilla extract (you would want to use a vanilla bean instead to be truly raw).  And I also added hemp as my flour for added protein, fiber, and good fats (is high in omega 3).  I know what your thinking and no these brownies won't get you high! I added it because I thought this would help thicken the pudding element along with adding extra nutrition. 

The Frosting
I also created two different frosting recipes to add a different dimension of flavour, which I highly suggest adding because the base is so rich I feel it needs a little different flavour and texture to balance it.  One is a vegan raw frosting that is reminiscent of a thicker version of raw chocolate pudding, and the other one is a chocolate yogurt ganache frosting recipe (this recipe is not raw) I developed last year for my vanilla bean cake (which is flourless GF and fabulous too).  I got the ideal because I wanted to make a ganache frosting but we were out of cream.  I know I needed to add something to the melted chocolate so it wouldn't just turn into hard tempered chocolate.  So looking in my fridge I decided to try yogurt, and...it worked like a charm.   It even added a nice background tang to the frosting, plus it has probiotics.  Gotta love that!

The Toppings 
I also added the magic of salt to this recipe.  Salt is fine when the right kind is used in moderation (in other words never use table salt).  It heightens certain flavours when used in the right way.  Chocolate is so much better with a hint of salt!  So to accent this I increased the salt a touch in the base recipe from the average amount I found in most and changed it to pink salt (since I think it's the healthiest).  I then added a sprinkle of kosher sea salt on the frosting because kosher sea salt has bigger flakes than sea salt with the same amount of sodium.  So you taste the salt easier without putting to much in it.  Unless you have a problem with salt please do not skip this step!  If you can't find kosher sea salt that's OK you can sub with sea salt but do not sub with a fine salt.  I also topped it with our very first raspberries of the season today.  This also added a much needed contrast to the richness of the brownie.  I highly suggest trying to add raspberry or strawberries to this dessert.


Raw Fudgy Brownie Recipe
Makes about 9 brownies
Active time: 20 minutes
Total time: 2 hours, 20 minutes


Ingredients:

Base:
1 3/4 cups raw walnuts (can sub cashews or pecans)
6 oz of dates (about 1 cup)
¼ cup raw honey
1 Tablespoon stevia (optional can omit so it is raw)
1 cup raw cacao (can sub cocoa powder but won't be raw anymore)
1 cup raw unsalted almonds, roughly chopped
1 large avocado, ripe pitted and peeled about 7.5-8 oz
¼ cup hemp protein powder
2 tsp. Pure vanilla extract (optional can omit so it is raw)
1/2 tsp. pink salt

Directions

  1. Place walnuts alone in your food processor and process until the walnuts become small and crumbly.
  2. Add dates to the raw brownie recipe and process again until the mixture sticks together and the dates are well processed.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients to this raw brownie recipe and process again until the mixture turns a lovely dark chocolaty brown. Stop processing before it gets too buttery. You don’t want to overmix (to prevent the nuts from releasing their oils, see note), but the mixture does need to hold and be sticky. If it’s not doing so, add a few drops of water, as your dates might be dry. If you process the mixture too long, the heat generated by the food processor will bring the oils out of the nuts. If this happens, the brownies won’t be ruined necessarily, but they will have an oily appearance and be oily to the touch. So, process minimally to begin, rather than over processing the nuts at the outset. There should still be air between the small bits so that you will be able to press them down into a 8-inch square baking pan.
  4. Spread frosting on (see recipe below), sprinkle a pinch of kosher sea salt on it, cover and freeze at least 2 hours. Cut into 2-inch squares and serve cold. Keep leftovers in the freezer (otherwise the avocado will go rancid). See note for more detailed storage instructions.

Vegan Raw Frosting Version:
2 large avocados, ripe pitted and peeled
1/4 tsp. Pink salt
½ cup raw cocao powder (can sub cocoa powder but won't be raw)
½ cup raw honey, plus more to taste
a pinch of kosher sea salt for finishing

Directions
Puree all frosting ingredients in a food processor and spread on base. Cover and freeze at least 2 hours. Cut into 2-inch squares and serve cold. Keep leftovers in the freezer (otherwise the avocado will go rancid). See note for more detailed storage instructions.

Yogurt Ganache Frosting (not raw this is the one I made in the photo):
¾ cup melted dark chocolate chips
3 Tablespoons plain or vanilla pasture raised organic yogurt (I use Trader Joe's European Style organic yogurt and it's only $3 for 32oz)
1/8 tsp pink salt
a pinch of kosher sea salt for finishing

Directions

  • Put ¾ cup of dark chocolate chips in a small glass bowl and microwave on soften or melt or the lowest setting you can find, and stir until melted throughly, then add 1/8 tsp pink salt and yogurt one tablespoon at a time while stirring.

  • Pour onto brownies once thoroughly mixed. Sprinkle with a pinch of kosher sea salt. Cover and freeze at least 2 hours. Cut into 2-inch squares and serve cold. Keep leftovers in the freezer (otherwise the avocado will go rancid). See note for more detailed storage instructions.


*Note: Since this recipe has avocado and yogurt (depending on what frosting recipe you use), you will want to keep it as cool as possible to help keep the fat in the avocado from going rancid, think about how guacamole can turn brown. It can be left out for awhile non refrigerated, so you can use this for a potluck. Just think about how you would store guacamole. If you wouldn't be worried about bring guacamole to your potluck, then your brownies should be fine. Keep leftovers in the freezer (otherwise the avocado will go rancid). Avocados can keep for months in the freezer no problem (I have some in our freezer all the time!). So as long as you package your brownies to prevent freezer burn (I would suggest wraping in plastic pvc free wrap and then aluminum foil over that) they should keep well for up to a few months! So you could make a big batch and freeze extra to have in your freezer. This would be great to do ahead for a party, for lunches, or just to have as a snack all the time. 

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