Naughty and nice: A healthy raw brownie base is taken to the next level with a luscious dairy-free chocolate fudge topping. Vegan, paleo, gluten-free and easily made sugar-free won’t be able to stop at just one.
That’s what my mum called these brownies. If there’s one surefire way to know I created a winning recipe it’s my mum shouting her approval to the rooftops. My mum? More like: my hardest critic. The woman who has never in her life counted calories, openly shows her fondness of full-fat products and daily dessert [that one’s quite refreshing for somebody struggling with food], – and has no hesitation to tell me something I prepared sucks doesn’t get her approval. Yet on her birthday this past Sunday she insisted on offering everybody a slice of these brownies even though she’d baked a stunning cream cake herself. For once, though, I was hesitant to share them until I’d taken good enough pictures. I’ve been wary of that since the unfortunate incident recently. Better safe than sorry.
* She literally said “heiße Teilchen” but for those of you not speaking German hot stuff is the closest translation.
Onto the food because I’m way too excited about this recipe: Do you like raw brownies? The mere fact you’re reading this isn’t necessarily saying anything. Because – shocking as it might seem [unless you read this post] – I actually don’t care about them much. Say what?! Yes. Don’t get me wrong: the base is delicious and I ate my share of “dough” plus my taste testers gave it their thumbs up. To meet my brownie standards, though, they required some more sophisticated chocolate action. Hence why I added the fudgy ganache layer here. Don’t you dare skipping it! Think about these as the brownie epitome of the 80/20 rule*: a nutritious base of nuts, dates and cocoa with an indulgent creamy and rich chocolate topping that’s still healthier than your average frosting.
*though you’ll notice my first batch – spread in a small tin – makes them look more like the 50/50 rule 😉
Whereas many raw brownies recipe call for walnuts, pecans or almonds when I think of this particular baked good hazelnuts come to my mind. Walnuts and pecans? My least favourite nuts unless candied and part of this particular ice cream my grandma often buys for family gatherings. Almonds? Fair enough but not quite there yet. Hazelnuts? Cocoa’s best friend. I’d call it the Nutella logic [the fact this spread contains a hilariously small amount of nuts aside]. Their deep, ever so slightly bitter and dark taste complements any chocolatey baked good perfectly. I adapted the brownie base from the truly genius Dana.
Usually, recipes like this packed with energy-dense ingredients come with the disclaimer that – don’
t worry – you’ll feel satisfied after just one. I’m afraid I can’t make any such claims because not a single person I served these wanted to stop after only one. They are satisfying – but also addictive. But yes, lots of nutritious ingredients you can feel good about eating.
No-bake Chocolate Fudge Brownies
- ½ cup [60 g] whole hazelnuts
- ½ cup whole almonds
- 1 ¼ cups dates* [~ 210 g]
- ¼ cup + 1 tbsp extra dark cocoa
- Pinch of sea salt
- Optional: salted peanuts [cashews for paleo version]
For the ganache
- 1 3.5-oz bar of dark chocolate**
- ¼ cup of full-fat coconut milk [shake your can well!]
- Place hazelnuts and almonds in a food processor or high-powered blender. Pulse until finely ground, resembling flour. Transfer the ground nuts to a bowl, stir in cocoa and sea salt.
- Process dates in the food processor until finely chopped/close to paste-like. Remove from food processor.
- Add nut meal back to the food processor, turn it on and slowly add the date mixture bit by bit, processing until a thick dough forms. You might want to stop in between, pushing the dates sticking to the sides of the blender/food processor into the blades and to prevent overheating.
- Press the nut and date mixture into an 8 x 8-inch pan and put into the fridge to harden [it will be very sticky and soft]. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts if using.
- While the base is chilling in the fridge, prepare your ganache layer. Finely chop the chocolate bar and set aside.
- Bring the coconut milk to a boil either on the stove or in the microwave. Pour over the chopped chocolate and (!!!) let sit for three minutes. Do NOT stir. No matter how impatient you are it’s crucial you don’t stir it earlier – or you’ll regret it, trust me.
- Stir to fully combine all fudge ingredients. Top the chilled brownie base with ganache and refridgerate for at least 45 minutes before cutting into it.
* These don’t have to be Medjool – just buy those labeled soft dates [I gather Trader Joe’s should carry them]
** Use unsweetened if you want to keep this refined sugar-free. I’d recommend adding some stevia to taste to the coconut milk before heating to ensure the ganache isn’t too bitter or use a stevia-sweetened bar/chocolate chips.
There’s so much more I could say about these but I’ll just go with: you need these in your life. A big statement? Well, they’re hot stuff after all ;).
Happiness-inducing today: Walking home from work as the weather finally decided to give us a break from rain and cold temperatures.
Random question: what is the price for a 7-oz bag of hazelnuts respectively almonds where you live? I was admittedly a little shocked when I saw how much they cost these days. Totally worth it obviously.