Raw Brownies

October 15, 2011

Raw Brownies

Every time I watch Elaina Love (Pure Joy Planet), Chaya Ryvka (Living Vision) or Ka Sundance (Raw Food Family Life) I am intrigued and tempted to go raw myself. Raw food comes with all nutrients and flavours unaltered by cooking or processing, while retaining its natural moisture and enzymes required for digestion. Due to its nutritious, healing and preventive qualities, it is as beneficial for the mind and spirit as it is for the body, keeping you healthy, energetic and focused. At the same time, raw food has a minimal impact on the environment. It provides vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals that the body uses to detoxify and fight off the free radicals. Cooked/processed food is more acid-forming and provides the proper environment for diseases to develop. On the other hand, raw food helps restore the acid/alkaline balance the body needs for optimal health.

Before becoming vegan, I had never heard of raw desserts. I'd eaten raw food in the form of veggie or fruit salads, juices, guacamole, but...raw brownies? The interesting part is that the most common ingredients you find in recipes are dates, nuts, avocados, cocoa butter and coconut oil - with them you can make anything from simple ice creams and tarts to show-stopping cheesecakes and wedding cakes.

Last year I made Jennifer Cornbleet's Raw Chocolate Mousse Tart and it was sooo good. Then a friend suggested raw brownies. The dates usually found in supermarkets are rather dry and very sweet. With that in mind, I soaked them before blending and got a batch of soft brownies. Last week, however, I wanted a more dense texture, so I skipped soaking. Besides, I used my favourite Khadrawy dates (mostly available in the Middle East) which are less sweet. Their high moisture content and soft, very dark flesh make them perfect for brownies. Dates do most of the work in this dessert. They make up the body, provide natural sweetness and, having a mild flavour, they combine well with cocoa to give a chocolaty taste.

Khadrawy dates
Although easy to cut after setting in the fridge for a few hours, these brownies had their best flavour and texture 2-3 days later. If you're worried about their sugar content or weight gain, don't be. Dates contain simple sugars that the body easily converts into energy. They are calorie-dense and even one piece of brownie will fill you up and reduce your appetite. Due to their high fiber and tannin content, dates are excellent for cleansing the intestines (see below for more information).

Note: You don't need to stick with the amounts in my recipe. Change them to suit your taste and cut into any shape you like.


What you need...
  • 1 kg packed Khadrawy dates
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp rum extract

Update 20 January 2013: When I made these brownies I wasn't aware that in the raw food world the terms "cocoa powder" refer to the processed, often sweetened powder obtained from roasted cacao beans. "Raw cacao powder" does not involve roasting or sweetening and is available in health food stores. Vanilla extract can be made raw using vanilla beans and water. As for rum extract, it is derived from alcohol and that makes it not-raw. So for a 100% raw dessert, use raw cacao and natural flavouring.


How to...
  1. Pit the dates and halve them. Blend into a smooth paste (if you have a small blender, divide the amount).
  2. Finely chop the walnuts or coarsely blend them.
  3. Place all ingredients in a glass bowl and mix by hand until the cocoa is incorporated. Wet and cover the bottom and sides of a loaf pan with cling film, leaving more on both sides to cover the top and for easy removal (you can use an airtight container or a square pan as well). Spoon the mixture into the pan, press it down with your fingers to form a smooth layer with no air trapped inside, cover with cling film and refrigerate for a few hours (best would be 2 days, if you can wait that long).
  4. Carefully remove from the pan, discard the cling film and cut into 1 inch pieces using a wet thin knife, washing the knife before each cut. Place the brownies on a plate and serve; alternatively you can pour chocolate ganache over them (recipe below). For a raw ganache, mix 4-5 Tb coconut milk with enough cocoa powder to get a thick, runny consistency. If you're not using all the brownie, keep the leftover in the fridge wrapped in cling film.

Raw Brownies


Chocolate Ganache
50g dark chocolate (60%)
2 Tb coconut milk
1 Tb maple syrup
In a glass bowl over a pan of simmering water (water not touching the bottom of the bowl) melt the chocolate with the rest of the ingredients, mixing with a wooden spoon. Remove from heat and let cool down a bit before pouring over the brownies.

Note: You may as well turn this recipe into something fun: form small balls with the date paste and dip them in shredded coconut or cocoa powder to make truffles. Kids will love them.


A lot of time, effort and passion goes into each recipe I post. My greatest satisfaction comes from your feedback. If you made this recipe, then please take a minute of your time to leave me a comment. And if you like it, please share it so that others have access to it as well. Thank you all in advance!


Did you know...

Dried Dates, also known as "crown of sweets" or "happy-food", are valuable for their nutritious content - high levels of potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, iron, copper, manganese, zinc, selenium, vitamins A, B, C, E, K and folate. They benefit the body in so many ways:
- due to their cleansing power and high fiber content (both soluble and insoluble), they help maintain a healthy digestive system; relieve constipation, acting like a mild laxative; control diabetes by decreasing elevated blood glucose levels; lower LDL cholesterol; promote the growth of friendly bacteria in the intestines.
- they are calorie-dense and contain simple sugars that are easily digested to supply quick energy and revitalize the body; highly beneficial for people fasting or recovering from illness and extreme fatigue, and for pregnant women. They contain a substance similar to oxytocin that eases birth by increasing contractions of the uterus and helping the dilation during delivery; it also reduces bleeding after delivery, alleviates depression and reduces stress.
- dates help improve stamina and are used for their tonic effect on the body.
- rich in iron, they are especially beneficial for those suffering from anemia.
- dates are one of the best sources of potassium which is involved in the function of all cells, tissues and organs in the body. Potassium is very important for brain and nerve function, muscle growth and contraction, maintaining fluid, pH and electrolyte balance in the body, regulating heart rate and blood pressure (protects against stroke and cardiovascular disease). High levels of sodium combined with low levels of potassium lead to hypertension.
- they maintain stomach healthy, providing relief from acidity, heartburn, ulcers and colitis.
- they fight weight gain by inducing satiety and preventing overeating.
- rich in antioxidants, dates help strengthen the immune system.
- they contain high levels of calcium and phosphorus necessary for healthy bones, teeth and heart, and to prevent osteoporosis, arthrisis and muscle cramping. Vitamin D and magnesium are necessary for calcium absorption and metabolism.
- being packed with nutrients, fat and cholesterol free, and low on sodium, dates make a perfect snack (part of the trail mix - nuts and dried fruit).

For walnuts and cocoa, please read my notes on Carrot Cake.

20 comments:

Unknown

It was my first time making any raw desserts!
I am wondering does it always get SO messy and sticky? It was very fun but the messiest I've ever had the kitchen.:D
Do you have any tips to reduce the stickiness?
They are in the fridge now, but they look marvellous and my family will love them for sure!
Thank you for the recipe! ;)

Vegan Magic

Thank you so much for giving the brownies a try, I'm delighted that you like them and I'm sure everyone will enjoy eating them. It does get a little messy, especially if you have to make this in batches, but isn't it worth it?:) The stickiness can't be avoided and it also depends on how soft the dates are, but you can surely reduce it if you want by adding more walnuts, finely ground (or hazelnuts, almonds, whatever you like). After mixing everything well, just clean your hands and coat them with coconut oil, that way when you handle the mixture to shape it, it will no longer stick to your hands. Thank you very much for the feedback, I greatly appreciate it:)

Unknown

My father loved them! The texture is simply brilliant! I kept the rest of the batch in the fridge where it'll be resting until we attack it once more!
The messiness is so worth it. I quizzed my parents to guess the ingredients. My mother was literally in denial, "no, it can't be, they must have yoghurt, oats or something!" It was hilarious.
Really magical experience making this raw dessert. I'll be venturing into more of these in the future! Thank you! I'll keep in mind the coconut oil advice. ;)

Vegan Magic

Thank YOU for making my day:) You could turn this into a royal treat next time by spreading some Chocolate Mousse with no added sugar on top (the recipe is in another post), or adding some coconut flakes, making balls out of the "dough" and dipping them in raw cacao powder or shredded coconut...You could finely grind the walnuts and for crunch add a hazelnut in the centre of the balls. Coconut oil is your friend there, so it won't be that messy;) Just a little time-consuming;) Thank you for yet another happy-making comment:)

June @ Coffee Under The Umbrella

I love this! I had tried a similar recipe which I was totally addicted to til I ran out of walnuts and dates, but I'd love to try the ganache too. Thanks!

Vegan Magic

Thank you, June, I'm really glad you like the brownies. The ganache would surely make them ultra decadent;) But they're so worth it;) Thanks a lot for stopping by:)

Anonymous

I have a nut allergy, can I leave them out or add something else instead?

Vegan Magic

Hi and thank you for asking. Walnuts add texture and a bit of crunch to the brownies. If you're not allergic to seeds you can add sunflower or pumpkin seeds instead. I haven't done a conversion yet, but with these you'd need to use less than 1 cup. Just give them a quick blitz in a coffee grinder or blender and they're ready to be used. Alternatively, 1/2 cup of sesame seeds, flax seeds or chia seeds, or a mix of the three. I hope this helps. Thank you for stopping by:)

Lynette

LOVE LOVE LOVE your ideas! Thanks for sharing!

Vegan Magic

Lynette, thank you so much for visiting my blog. I'm very happy you like what you've seen so far. There's more to come;)

Sweta

Hi Adriana, I am big fan of your blogs. I love your "raw brownie" recipe. My question to you is if there is some substitute for rum extract. I would like to thank your for your wonderful recipes.

Vegan Magic

Sweta, thank you very much for your kind words. I don't know any raw ingredient that tastes like rum, so you can either leave it out or use orange zest. I absolutely love the choc-orange combination:)

Leny

Hola Adriana, it's me Leny again! I have just finished editing my new entry for tomorrow and it's about this delicious brownies. Just wanted to let you know, also all the related links to your blog are (of course) done.
Always is my pleasure to come by and get your recipes done in my kitchen, the pancakes are just amazing mmmm...
Hope you are well as you haven't been posting too often lately.
Big hug and kisses and thank you again for sharing all your recipes.
Lxx

Vegan Magic

Hola, Leny! It's lovely hearing from you:) Thanks so much for trying my recipes, can't wait to see your new post tomorrow. Funny enough, just earlier I was thinking that I haven't made these brownies in a long time and now I really miss their taste. I have been checking the blog every day, but it's been a very hectic time and couldn't get the time to post. So many pending recipes, I hope you like them. Big hugs to you too:)

Oliver Morns

Why don't you have a Vegan Magic page in Facebook?!! Please make one - thousands of people would LOVE it! :D

Vegan Magic

Oliver, thanks so much for your support! FB is no longer what it used to be and I find that promoting the blog on Pinterest is actually better for me.

Anonymous

Made your mousse ut was amazing! !

Vegan Magic

Hi there, thanks very much for trying the mousse and leaving your feedback, much appreciated:) So happy the mousse came our great.

Truly Scrumptious

Thank you for your "labor of love". Could you educate me by clearing up one thing, what is the difference between unsweetened Cocoa powder, and raw Cacao powder? I have asked and believe I have been given an incorrect "guess" by others. Thank you again for sharing your delicious morsels. Truly Scrumptious

Vegan Magic

Hi, thanks for your comment. From what I know raw cacao is processed at a low temperature that allows it to retain the antioxidants etc. Cocoa is processed at higher temperature and can be sweetened or unsweetened. I hope this helps.

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