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Fudgy Brownies {Gluten and Dairy Free with Vegan Option}

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Ah yes. The age old question: Cakey or fudgy? In reference to brownies, of course. Excuse me, but if brownies are cakey, then they’re cake, not brownies.¬† Brownies in my book have to be fudgy. Not to say that I won’t eat them if they’re not. Why waste perfectly good chocolate cake, right?

I have made my fair share of “healthified” brownies using applesauce, less butter, less oil, etc. I’ve also just tried new recipes using different flours (I’m looking at you, pecan flour) in search of a fudgy brownie my brownie loving husband would¬† enjoy. And well, let’s just say he’s a tad picky when it comes to one of his favorite treats so if there’s even a hint of cakiness, I hear about it. So whenever I try something new that doesn’t quite match the results of my tried and true recipe, he asks, “Why did you have to experiment? They were already awesome!”

What’s the fun in always making the same thing, I say? I wouldn’t be here today writing to you if I didn’t experiment. That said, I’m through experimenting with brownies for my husband. Enough tweaks, enough substitutions. This is my recipe, and while it may not be the lowest calorie one out there, it satisfies that craving for something rich, moist, dense, and chocolatey. It also makes my husband yell “Yay!” like a happy little boy when I tell him I’m making them.

These fudgy brownies are gluten-free, dairy-free, with a vegan option. They also pair very well, I might add, with a scoop of ice cream and my vegan hot fudge.

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Yield 15 brownies.

Ingredients

  • 2 oz unsweetened baking chocolate
  • 1/2 cup vegan butter (such as Earth Balance) or dairy butter
  • 6 T Dutch process cocoa powder (such as Hershey’s Special Dark)
  • 1 T canola oil
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 organic egg OR 1 T flax seed meal mixed with 3 T water – allow to sit 5 minutes
  • 2 t vanilla extract
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1 cup gluten free flour blend (I use 1/3 cup each millet, sorghum, and potato starch) OR white whole wheat flour
  • 1 t xanthan gum (omit if using wheat flour)
  • Optional: 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, pecans, or peanuts. May also substitute almond or peppermint extract for the vanilla for a different spin of the traditional brownie. I sprinkled a handful of vegan chocolate chips on top.
  • May omit cocoa powder and canola oil and replace with 2 oz more unsweetened chocolate if desired.

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Place butter and unsweetened chocolate in large microwave safe bowl and microwave about 90 seconds to 2 minutes or until butter has melted. Whisk until all of the chocolate has melted. Add cocoa powder and canola oil if using and blend well. Add sugar and mix. Next, add vanilla, egg or flax egg, and whisk well. Add salt, flour of choice, and xanthan gum. Stir until combined. Dough will be rather thick.
  • Spread evenly in greased 11″ X 7″ baking dish (9″ X 13″ will work, but the brownies will be more thin) and bake for 27-28 minutes. A toothpick inserted in center should have fudgy crumbs on it. Do not overbake! Allow to cool on wire rack then enjoy.

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What’s your favorite kind/type of brownie? Links welcome.

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Paleo Date Nut Bars

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Valentine’s Day was approaching this past February, and I wanted to bring in a little treat for my fellow co-workers. I enjoy doing stuff like that. However, there’s a healthy eating movement going through my office (Hooray!), so I didn’t want to choose anything too buttery or sugary, lest nobody ate it, or it made someone feel guilty about eating it.

To add to the challenge of bringing a healthy treat, one co-worker in particular had just started a 30 day Paleo Challenge. Amongst other things, there’s no sugar whatsoever, no grains, no oils/butter except extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil. That meant no chocolate. No chocolate on Valentine’s Day?!? The horror!!

Anyway, everybody deserves a little sweet treat on Valentine’s Day, in my book, so I accepted the challenge, and Paleo Date Nut Bars were born. These are suitable for anyone following a vegan, paleo, gluten-free, and/or sugar -free diet. The only sugar is that naturally occurring in dates. I hope you enjoy them!

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Paleo Date Nut Bars

Ingredients (serves 12)

Crust

  • 1 1/2 cups whole raw almonds
  • 1 cup almond meal/flour
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 10 Medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped (about 125g)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil

Date filling

  • 20 Medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped (about 250g)
  • 1/2 cup water

Instructions

  • Grease an 8″x8″ pan well with coconut oil. In a food processor, process the almonds, salt, and almond meal until a fine crumble forms. Add the dates and process until crumbly again. Melt the coconut oil and add to the mixture and process until sticky. You can add a little more oil if the mixture is too dry. Remove from processor, setting aside 3/4 cup of the mixture for later, and press the rest of the mixture firmly and evenly into the pan.
  • Process the dates for the filling with the water until a smooth paste forms. Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl often. Mixture should be quite thick, but add a little more water if needed. Scoop out the date mixture onto the crust and gently spread with the back of a wet spatula until even.
  • Sprinkle on the 3/4 cup of mixture you set aside and gently press down with fingers. Refrigerate for overnight or freeze for an hour until set. Cut into squares and serve. Store in the fridge or freezer.

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Cookies and Cosby

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Kitchen Memories

Though I have many fond memories in the kitchen, one of my favorite is from my childhood. Thursday nights were known as “Cookies and Cosby” night. My Dad, my sister, and I would dash into the kitchen about a half an hour before The Cosby Show was scheduled to start to make Toll House chocolate chip cookies. (Mom was off the hook for this endeavor.)

One of us would get the dry ingredients, the other the wet ingredients, while Dad mixed them up in our stand mixer. We’d pop them in the oven (with a few generous tastes from the bowl directly to our mouths in the process) and with any luck be sitting down on the couch, licking warm chocolate from our lips, right as Bill danced across the screen in that fabulous sweater of his.

Why I Bake and Cook

Food. It’s more than fuel. For me, it’s time spent creating something special for someone I love, often with someone I love. Maybe that person requires special, pricey ingredients because of dietary restrictions. So what. I’ve just made them the first peanut butter cookie they’ve eaten in years. The response? “It tastes like home.”

Just the Beginning

Join me as I create sweet and savory dishes, many healthy, others decadent, that may be vegan, gluten free, dairy free, paleo, vegetarian, whole grain, etc. and above all delicious!