bits and pieces

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Disturbingly Excellent Vegan Brownies: Oooh, baby I like it raw.

Updated! Now with photo from Tuesday coffee break at work!
I’ve been trying to eat healthier lately. Not for any weird diet reasons, but I’ve just been craving lots and lots of vegetables. As such, I’ve been trying to eat them in generally healthy ways as opposed to, tempura fried for example. Although tempura is a godly food. 

Anyway – a few weeks ago when I was lacking blog-spiration, my pal Kelsey suggested I look at the blog My New Roots for inspiration. I checked it out... it looked super vegan-y so I shuddered and went on my way. A week later however, I stumbled upon the blog via tastespotting or something while looking for things to do with kale. “Fine,” I thought grudgingly, “I’ll read you.. I guess”. Anyway, turns out I’m an asshole and the blog is awesome. It is SUPER vegan-y, which isn’t really up my alley, but some of the stuff on the blog is awesome. And I like the way the writer writes, as it reminds me of a much more informed, health conscious me. And who doesn’t like me?  Well. At least I like me. Let’s leave it at that. 

Whether you’re vegan or not, My New Roots is a cute blog that you should definitely check out. I’ve started drinking a cup of hot water with lemon every morning first thing, as per its recommendations and honestly, I feel a lot better and perkier in the morning. Although that could just be because I don’t hate my job and don’t dread going to work with every fiber of my being. I actually really like my job. But either way, My New Roots is full of articles on weird things like seaweed (which I actually do cook with sometimes), and less weird ones on why you should eat your vegetables.

 One of the recipes which caught my eye was the ‘raw vegan brownie’.  Other than sounding like a strange and disturbing adult film title, the raw brownie intruiged me. I’ve always been of the opinion that vegan baking is gross. I had a crazy roommate once who’d make the saddest looking little muffins with apple sauce and claim they were just as good as peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. That was clearly not true, and roommate was also not a vegan, so I was filled with confusion and pity. Now I have to say, I have had SOME good vegan baking. I had a flourless chocolate ‘cake’ once that I think was made out of potatoes and it was unreal. However, baking (to me) will always be something that necessitates eggs and butter. So I stared at this raw, vegan brownie recipe with suspicion and decided to try it. I honestly think the selling point was that the author mentioned she’s a huge date snob (dates are the main ingredient). I like being snobby about some obscure foods and even though I don’t really like dates, being uppity about dates seemed right up my alley. 

I made this the other day and it was.... weird.. It doesn’t taste like a brownie per say, but it’s also kind of delicious. I changed the recipe a bit (mostly in terms of proportions and I added the honey since it was a bit too bitter for me), but I think I’d like to tamper with it a little more. These ‘brownies’ are realllly dark chocolate-y. If you like DARK, bitter chocolate, these are for you. If you like the combination of sea salt and dark chocolate (and who doesn’t?) then these are for you. Honestly, while these are a little weird for me, I think you should all make them for these reasons:
  • They’re actually really good even if they don’t taste like the brownie you`re expecting.
  • There is no sugar, flour, egg, butter, etc., in them. They’re incredibly healthy. You can eat them all the time and feel totally fine about it. Which is not something you can do with regular brownies. I honestly actually think these are beneficial for you. I knew raw cacao was good for you, and I’m pretty sure dates are high in fiber or potassium or something healthy-ish. 
  • They’re really good frozen. I have a problem with freezing candy and chocolate as in I do it all the time. Frozen gummy worms are one of my favourite things in the word. Ditto on a frozen Caramilk bar.  I froze these to help them set, and I LOVED eating them cold and frozen-y.
  • They take like... 15 minutes to make. Which is awesome. I’m also pretty sure you could serve these as a petit dessert and people would be impressed. 
So y’all should try and make these and convince me I’m not crazy. Or tell me that these taste like gross and that I’m nuts and should stop making weird vegan food and go back to deep frying everything. Which I will do as soon as I buy a deep fryer.

Ingredients:
1 ½ - 2 cups of dates. In the original recipe medjool dates were recommended. I was poor and didn’t want to spend 9$ on dates, so I bought the 4$ dates which were I think just golden, average-joe dates. If I make this again (which I will), I’m going to buy the fancy dates. Making this recipe made me wish I was in Israel again because dates are errrwhere. Use as many dates as you need to make your ‘brownie’ mix stick together all nice like.These should be pitted, obviously.
1 cup of walnuts
1 cup of lightly toasted almonds/hazelnuts/cashews/whatever. I had almonds originally but then burnt the fuck out of them when I started toasting them and then went and started to write this blog post. Subsequently I had to make do with the ½ cup of almonds I had left, and a handful of cashews and hazelnuts.
½ cup raw cacao. Make sure it’s raw cacao powder, not some weird powdered hot chocolate thing.
¼ tsp (plus a tiny pinch more) sea salt
Honey + raw cacao + cinnamon for garnishing, sprinkling, and drizzling.

Other things you will need:
A pan to press your brownie mix into, lightly greased with olive oil. God you`re such a hippy.
a bowl
A food processor. I don’t know if a blender can chop dates, but maybe that would work? I know most people don’t have a food processor.
  1. In your food processor, grind your walnuts up until they`re finely ground - almost powder-y. Add your cacao and sea salt. 
  2. Slowly add your dates, one or two at a time. I pulsed mine until it started to look like crumbs as per the original recipe`s recommendation.
  3. In the mixing bowl, combine with your nuts. I smashed my nuts up a bit (the hazelnuts and cashews mostly), and mixed them in with the `batter`. 
  4. Then, using your hands if you want, press the `batter`into your cake pan. Smoosh them down firmly. 
  5. Freeze for an hour or two. 
  6. Take them out, turn them upside down and smack your pan until the brownie-cake falls out. Drizzle with honey, and sprinkle conservatively with cacao powder, and a little teeny bit of cinnamon. 
  7. Try one. It`s weird. But good. Not like a brownie. But GOOD. So healthy. TOO healthy. WEIRD. But good.

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