Raw Cacao Bean Brownies
These raw brownies were the first dessert I ever made using whole raw cacao beans. I buy raw cacao powder on a regular basis, but when I found a one-pound bag of cacao beans on sale at my local natural grocery store, I decided to give them a try. To be totally honest, I wasn’t wild about the cacao beans. Although I usually don’t mind the bitterness of cacao powder, I found the whole beans to be almost unbearably bitter, and I also thought that the texture of the beans was unpleasantly gritty and brittle. However, since I now had a large bag of cacao beans on my hands, I decided to try putting them to use in raw brownies, and I was very pleased with the results!
Since I was starting out with the whole cacao bean instead of just cacao powder, I made the brawnies with the beans taking the place of both the nuts and the cacao powder that I would normally use to make raw brownies. The cacao beans that I bought needed to be peeled, so I started by soaking the beans in water to loosen the skins and make the process easier. Next, I ground the peeled cacao beans in my food processor until they were as finely chopped as possible, and then added some Medjool dates, agave nectar, and cinnamon. I don’t have exact measurements for the ratio of ingredients that I used (since I had eaten some of the beans beforehand and I tend to snack on dates as I pit them), but I would say that I used roughly one pound of cacao beans and two pounds of Medjool dates as the base for the brawnies. I added as much agave nectar as I thought was necessary to offset the cacao beans’ bitterness (you can just taste-test as you go), and a dash of cinnamon for flavor. I spread the finished brawnie batter into my 9×12-inch baking dish, placed it in the freezer overnight, cut the brownies into pieces, and finally started eating them.
The chocolate flavor in these brawnies is very intense, and even with all of the dates and the agave nectar to add sweetness, the brawnies are still quite bitter. Even with my limitless capacity for desserts, I had a hard time eating more than one brownie at a time due to their intensity, and I also felt quite buzzed afterward, as though I had drunk a cup of coffee. Another method that I used to further mitigate the cacao beans’ bitterness was to add one of these brownies to a batch of raw ice cream or other chocolate-flavored raw dessert, or simply to re-process the brawnie with more dates to lessen the ratio of cacao (the amount of ingredients I mentioned about made a huge batch of brawnies, so there was plenty of opportunity for experimentation). I think that these Cacao Bean Brawnies are as close as I’ll ever get to enjoying chocolate in its natural form, and I’m very glad I tried them!