Raw Brownies

Brawnies

I’ve been trying my hand at raw dessert recipes recently, with an important prerequisite that the recipe be quick and easy, and that it not require any specialty kitchen appliances to prepare.  As a quick confession, I have an undeniable urge to include the word “raw” in the name of any raw recipes that I make, so I actually always think of these as “brawnies.”  These brawnies are even easier to throw together than regular brownies, contain ingredients that should be available at any health foods store, and taste absolutely fabulous!
I came across various raw brownie recipes while researching on the internet, and this is a recipe I made by combining and adapting the recipes that I encountered.  I’m not at all an expert when it comes to soaking nuts, but I usually soak the almonds overnight in a glass bowl of cold filtered water in order to make them easier to digest.  I like to prepare the raw almonds in advance by soaking them overnight, draining and rinsing them in the morning, letting them air dry on my kitchen counter, and then storing them in my freezer until I’m ready to use them.  I imagine that substituting other kinds of nuts (walnuts would be a good choice) or dates would be equally delicious, although doing so would obviously alter the finished brawnies.  The cinnamon is completely optional and could certainly be omitted or substituted with any spice that strikes your fancy.  The agave nectar is also optional since the dates should provide ample sweetness, but I like to add a bit of agave to help balance the slight bitterness of the cacao powder.
The taste and texture of the finished brawnies is more like brownie dough than cooked brownies (which I consider to be bonus!), so I always keep the brawnies in the freezer to make them as firm as possible.  One fun alternative to pressing the dough out in a baking dish is rolling spoonfuls of the dough into Brawnie Balls, which you can then roll in chopped almonds and then likewise store in the freezer.  I love to serve the brawnies topped with a big scoop of raw ice cream, although there are certainly countless other ways to jazz up the presentation of the finished brawnies.  If you’re interested in raw desserts but feel overwhelmed by some of the labor-intensive recipes and obscure ingredients you’ve encountered, then making a batch of brawnies could be a great recipe to try!

Brawnie a la Mode

Almond Brawnies
Yield: 16 brawnies

2 cups raw almonds, soaked and dried
1 pound Medjool dates, pitted
5 heaping teaspoons raw cacao powder
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon (optional)
1-2 tablespoons raw agave nectar (optional, to taste)

Pulse almonds in food processor until finely ground.  Add remaining ingredients and process until they combine to form a homogeneous dough.

Press the mixture into an 8×8-inch baking dish and place in the freezer for at least an hour.  Cut into pieces and enjoy!

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April 25, 2009. Brownies, Raw. 16 comments.

Pineapple Heaven

Pineapple Heaven

I’m a huge fan of tropical fruits, and pineapples are towards the top of my list (alongside mangoes, bananas, and coconuts).  Fresh pineapples can be pretty expensive, so whenever they’re on sale, I always buy a few and then freeze some of the pineapples in chunks to make them last longer.  Having access to lots of fresh and frozen pineapple also creates a great opportunity to do something fancier and more fun than just eating it plain!
After having such great results when making ice cream out of frozen bananas, I decided to experiment with desserts made from other frozen fruits, and the abundance of frozen pineapple in my freezer presented the perfect opportunity.  I was originally planning to call this dessert a sorbet, but the consistency ended up being so fluffy and creamy that I thought it was more like sherbet. The first time I made the sherbet, I didn’t add any spices, but I have added some sort of spice to every subsequent batch because I think it adds a wonderful depth to the flavor.  One of my favorite additions is a tiny pinch of cayenne pepper, since the resulting sherbet is the perfect blend of sweet, sour, and hot.  If cayenne pepper isn’t for you, then another delicious option is to add a dash of cinnamon, which brings a certain warmth to the otherwise cool and tart concoction.

Pineapple Cayenne Sherbet

Just like with the banana ice cream, there’s no real recipe to share for the sherbet.  On the bright side, it’s so easy to throw together that it’s also very easy to duplicate.  To make the sherbet, simply chop frozen pieces of raw pineapple in your food processor until the pineapple in reduced to uniformly small pieces.  Add a squirt of agave nectar (about 1-2 tablespoons depending on your taste and the sweetness of your pineapple) and a dash of cayenne pepper or cinnamon (it’s important to add the cayenne very sparingly since it is so hot!).  Process the pineapple again until the mixture is whipped into a frothy, creamy consistency.  That’s it!  You can either serve the sherbet right away or put the finished mixture back into the freezer to firm up.

Grilled Pineapple

Now that you’ve made a delicious pineapple sherbet, you can serve it in a bowl or you can go all out in a pineapple dessert extravaganza and serve a scoop of the sherbet on a slice of grilled pineapple.  I had always heard about how delicious grilled pineapple was, but I never bothered to try it until recently. I was amazed by the warmth and sweetness that was produced simply by grilling the pineapple, and it’s so easy to do that it is absolutely worth it.  After cutting off the skin of your fresh pineapple, simply cut the cylinder of fruit into 1/2-inch rounds and then grill them for a minute or so on each side until they obtain the desired char marks.

Pineapple Heaven

As a quick side note, I used to think that preparing whole pineapples was a lot of hassle, but after I learned that the crowns of fresh pineapples twist right off, the process became much more manageable. I never bother to remove the core from whole pineapples, since it gets pulverized in the sherbet, and helps provide stability to the grilled pineapple.  The sherbet is completely raw, so if you follow a raw diet you could serve a scoop on a slice of raw pineapple instead of grilled, or simply eat it plain.  Please don’t forget that frozen sherbet + pineapple hot off the grill = melting, so if you want to serve the pineapple sherbet of a grilled pineapple base, you should put the two together immediately before you serve.
This dessert is super easy to make, and is sure to impress your dinner guests and your taste buds with a little piece of pineapple heaven!

April 15, 2009. Frozen Desserts, Raw. 1 comment.

Maple Oat Muffins

Maple Oat Muffin

Second only to my Orange Poppy Seed Muffins, I would have to say that these Maple Oat Muffins are my favorite muffins.  One of my standard breakfasts is a bowl of oatmeal with plenty of maple syrup and a dash of cinnamon, so these muffins are like eating my oatmeal in muffin form.
My mom used to make non-vegan Maple Nut Muffins when I was growing up (largely motivated by the fact that she had a maple leaf-shaped muffin pan), and so I often found myself craving maple-y muffins after I went vegan.
I experimented with several recipes and creative variations (including making a granola topping for the muffins, using agave nectar in addition to maple syrup, etc.) and this recipe is a combination of my best results.  I know that maple syrup can be pretty expensive, but the syrup in this recipe is crucial and infuses the finished muffins with a delicious hint of maple without being overwhelming.  If you’re feeling fancy, you can toast the pecans before adding them to the batter (or if you don’t like pecans you could just omit them).
These muffins are light and moist, and I would be happy to have one for breakfast every morning!

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Maple Oat Muffins
Yield: 1 dozen

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon (or to taste)
1 1/4 cups oat milk (or substitute your favorite non-dairy milk)
3/4 cup maple syrup
3 tablespoons flaxseed meal
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup pecans pieces

Preheat your oven to 400°F.

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.

In a separate bowl (or a liquid measuring cup) combine the oat milk, maple syrup, flaxseed meal, brown sugar, and vanilla.

Make a well in the dry ingredients, add the wet ingredients, and stir just to combine, then fold in pecans.  Let the mixture sit for at least a few minutes so oats can absorb some of the moisture, then distribute batter evenly into muffin cups.

Bake for about 17 minutes and allow the muffins to cool before removing them from tin.

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April 5, 2009. Muffins. 10 comments.