Let them eat brownies! You can feel good about munching on these raw brownies, made with nuts and dates… and don’t pass on making the frosting, it’s what makes these brownies especially delicious. These brownies took 1st prize in Everyday Health's gluten-free recipe contest.
Ingredients (9-12 brawnies)
- 1 cup raw almonds (see note)
- 1/4 cup raw cashews (see note)
- 1/2 cup raw walnuts (see note)
- 1 3/4 cups (packed) pitted medjool dates (see note)
- 1/4 cup dried organic pitted cherries (OR more dates, ie can use 2 cups dates in whole – omit almond extract if not using cherries)
- 1/3 cup raw cocoa powder (or regular cocoa if you prefer)
- 1 vanilla bean (see note)
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp almond extract (optional)
- 1/2 cup coconut butter (not coconut oil; I use Artisana coconut butter - can substitute raw nut butter)
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup (or raw agave nectar for pure raw version)
- 2 tbsp raw cocoa powder (or regular if you prefer)
- pinch sea salt
- In a food processor, first add almonds and cashews and process until very fine (the almonds are the hardest, and need to be worked until crumbly). Let them process for a minute or two until quite fine. Then add walnuts, dates and cherries and pulse/process until mixture is quite crumbly, but not yet coming together. Then, add cocoa powder, salt, and almond extract, and pulse through. With a sharp tip knife, slice the vanilla bean down the outer side to open up the bean. Using a blunt (butter) knife, scrape out all the tiny seeds from the bean on both sides, and add them to the processor (or add vanilla extract). Process again, along with the almond extract if using. Process until the mixture comes together. The mixture should be sticky and hold together when pressed with your fingers. 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.
- Once you have a good, sticky mixture that will hold together, remove it from the processor and press into a brownie pan (8” x 8”) lined with parchment paper. Use a small piece of the parchment to help press and flatten the mixture evenly into the pan. Press it firmly to ensure the mixture holds.
- For the frosting, in a mini-food processor, first combine the coconut butter and agave nectar until smooth. Then add the cocoa powder and salt, and pulse through again until just combined. Do not overprocess or the frosting will begin to separate with the heat of the churning and become oily. (If you don’t have a mini-processor, you can follow the same steps stirring by hand in a bowl).
- Smooth frosting over base, and refrigerate for an hour or more until set. Cut into squares and serve! You can also freeze the squares after cutting, and enjoy them out of the freezer!
- A combination of ¾ cup almonds and ½ cup cashews also works well, and I have also made these with only almonds and they still work beautifully - you just need to be sure to process the almonds long enough to become fine/powdery before moving on with dates, etc.
- You can substitute 1 – 1 ½ tsp of pure vanilla extract for the vanilla bean seeds.
- If your dates are on the dry side, you can add 1-2 tbsp of water to the mixture to help assist the pureeing and the mixture easily coming together.
- 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.