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BAKING BUCKET LIST: RAW VEGAN BROWNIES

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BAKING BUCKET LIST: RAW VEGAN BROWNIES

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SINFULLY RICH RAW VEGAN BROWNIES MADE WITH DATES, NUTS, AND A DASH OF ESPRESSO GLAZED WITH A COCONUT CHOCOLATE GANACHE.

Years ago Whole Foods used to sell these delicious vegan raw brownies.  They were found in a dessert case right near checkout and I absolutely loved them.  The brownies were made with finely chopped nuts, dates, cocoa, and cocoa nibs. It had a thin chocolate ganache-like frosting and it was the most decadent treat.

In comparison, the Whole Foods’ raw vegan brownie was like a Larabar’s evil step sister — bittersweet, gooey, rich and sinfully delicious.  I’m not sure whatever happened to that raw chocolate brownie but it disappeared from Whole Foods.  Even now, from time to time I look for it but it seems like a lot of Whole Foods’ raw/vegan dessert offerings have switched over to local producers and none of them are serving up a raw brownie similar to the one I remember.

Dreams of this raw vegan brownie are what inspired my February Baking Bucket List Challenge. I wanted to recreate the raw brownie I loved so long ago.  Inspired by the Whole Foods’ brownie, and with a wish list of ingredients, I pulsed together pecans, walnuts, hemp seeds, cocoa powder and dates to form my raw brownie batter base.



brownie batter with nuts, dates and hemp seeds

unfrosted brownies ready for their first chill in the fridge

Though already full of nuts, I wanted more crunch in my brownies so I added sweetened cacao nibs and roughly chopped walnuts & pecans to the batter.  And, to enhance the chocolate flavor, I also added a tablespoon of espresso powder.  The espresso powder addition strays from Whole Foods’ original flavor palette but I took some creative liberty and customized the brownie a bit to my own flavor preferences.  But, if coffee isn’t your thing, you can easily omit the espresso powder.

After a quick chill in the fridge, the brownies were ready to be frosted with a vegan coconut chocolate ganache made of coconut oil, maple syrup and more cocoa powder. With one more 30-minute trip to the fridge, the brownies had stiffened up, the ganache hardened, and they were ready to slice!

To slice the raw vegan brownies, I advise you to utilize the ‘hot knife’ method.  A regular knife will drag through the brownies while the hot knife method will leave you with clean lines and perfectly intact brownies.

To do this, you dip a sharp knife into a very hot cup of water, wipe the knife dry then cut one line through the chilled brownies.  Dip the knife in the water again, wipe it clean and slice again.  Repeat this process until you have 16 brownies.

SO, HOW DID THESE BROWNIES TURN OUT? THEY WERE EVERYTHING I WAS DREAMING OF.

Rich, bittersweet dark chocolate flavor, a perfectly nutty texture, and a creamy, smooth vegan ganache topping.  You probably won’t believe me, but I loved my raw vegan brownies more than the gluten-filled, butter-heavy, double shot espresso brownies I shared last week.

EATING THESE RAW VEGAN BROWNIES FELT LIKE A DIRTY LITTLE SECRET.

I just wanted to be left alone with my brownie, a fork, and a tall glass of milk.  I know in the future when I need some chocolate comfort, these raw vegan brownies will be on the top of my baking list.

Are you a fan of raw foods? If so, what’s your favorite raw dessert?

BAKING BUCKET LIST: RAW VEGAN BROWNIES

INGREDIENTS

  • ½ cup walnut pieces
  • ½ cup pecan pieces
  • ½ cup hemp hearts
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoons sea salt
  • 250 grams pitted, Medjool dates
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped walnut
  • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped pecans
  • 2 tablespoons cacao nibs
  • 1 tablespoon espresso powder
  • For the coconut chocolate ganache:
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Line an 8×8 inch pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a large food processor, pulse the ½ cup walnut pieces and ½ cup pecan pieces until a fine crumb forms. Add the hemp hearts and dates and pulse again until finely chopped. Scrape down the sides and add the vanilla extract, salt, espresso and cocoa powder. Pulse to combine.
  3. Test the dough by pinching a tablespoon size to see if it holds together. If it’s still crumbly, add the tablespoon of water and pulse again. Retest and continue the process until the dough forms a ball when pressed together.
  4. Once the dough forms, add the remaining 2 tablespoons walnuts pieces, pecan pieces, and cacao nibs. Pulse to combine.
  5. Place the dough in the lined pan, evenly spreading the dough into a single layer. Place the brownies in the fridge for 30-minutes or freezer for 10-minutes while you make the ganache topping.
  6. In a small sauce pan over low heat, melt the coconut oil. Once melted, whisk in the maple syrup. Add the cocoa powder, vanilla extract, and sea salt. Once the brownies are fully chilled, pour the warm mixture on top of the cold brownies. Working quickly, evenly spread the ganache over the brownies to form a thin layer.
  7. Return the brownies to the fridge for another 30-minutes or freezer for 15-minutes for the ganache to set. Use the ‘hot knife’ method to slice the brownies into 16 pieces.
  8. Keep the brownies chilled in the fridge until serving or store for up to 5 days in the fridge.

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