Raw Cacao Bean Brownies

Cacao Brawnie

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!

Cacao Brawnies

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!

Cacao Brawnies

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January 25, 2010. Brownies, Raw. 6 comments.

Raw Brownie Bites

Walnut Brawnie Bites

These Raw Walnut Brownie Bites are a delightful healthy treat!  They are amazingly simple to prepare, and were inspired by the recipes for “Brownies” and “Flourless Chocolate Cake” in Raw Food Made Easy, by Jennifer Cornbleet.

Walnut Brawnie Bites

I’ve always heard that using unsoaked nuts in raw desserts results in a better consistency than soaked nuts, and it’s true that the texture of these brawnies was great.  This was my first time making a raw dessert with unsoaked nuts, and although the brownies were absolutely delicious, I intend to continue to use soaked nuts for everything in the future.  I thought that the unsoaked walnuts left a slightly bitter aftertaste, and even with my boundless capacity for sweets, I could only eat a few of these brawnies at a time (which could technically be a good thing), a feeling I’ve never had with raw brownies made using soaked nuts.  I made significant changes to the original recipes and left out several ingredients, but kept the ratio of walnuts and dates about the same.
To make these brawnie bites, simply process a heaping 1 1/2 cups of raw, unsoaked walnuts in your food processor until finely ground, then add 10 large Medjool dates and a few teaspoons of cacao powder.  I like to add a bit of agave nectar and a dash of cinnamon as well, but doing so is optional.  Process the mixture until it comes together to form a cohesive dough.  Use a cookie scoop to portion out bite-sized pieces of the dough, press a walnut half on top of each scoop, and chill in the freezer for at least a few hours.
Walnut Brawnie Bites are delicious, easy to make, and definitely worth trying!

Walnut Brawnie Bites

October 25, 2009. Brownies, Raw. 2 comments.

ChocoBanana Bars

ChocoBanana Bar

I was somewhat hesitant to post this recipe, because the truth is that no one else seems to like these bars as much as I do.  That being said, I absolutely love them, so I thought that it would be worth sharing the recipe for these ChocoBanana Bars in case anybody out there shares my tastes.
The end result is super dense and very rich, with a consistency that is somewhere between ganache and fudge and a brownie.  Maybe countless people have stumbled across this ratio of ingredients before while experimenting with vegan baking and simply moved on, but I’m a definite fan.
The recipe is very easy to throw together.  In the past, I’ve had to slightly adjust the amount of liquid when making the bars while visiting my family (maybe because of the altitude difference), so if the batter seems too stiff you can increase amount the oat milk (or vice versa).  The recipe does not contain any baking powder or baking soda or other leavening agent, so it’s very dense.  The banana in this recipe does not act merely as a binder, but also gives the bars a wonderful banana flavor.  I like to coarsely mash the banana so that there will be some visible banana pieces in the finished bars.  According to my omni sister, the bars tasted just like a chocolate-dipped banana (but, she also thought that the texture of the bars was “strange” and “springy”).  If you like nuts, adding some walnut pieces (pecan pieces would work well too) to the batter would be a good way to break up the density of the bars.  When the bars are done baking, the texture looks like it might be rubbery, but the end result is not rubbery at all.  The bars do tend to stick to the pan, so I usually line my 8×8-inch baking pan with a sheet of tin foil, and then spray the foil with non-stick spray to make it easier to remove the cooked bars.  The bars are great when they’re warm from the oven, at room temperature, or refrigerated, but I liked them even better when they’re frozen.  I really enjoy these rich Chocolate Banana Bars, and if anyone decides to make them, I would love to know what you think of the bars as well!

ChocoBanana Bars

ChocoBanana Bars
Yield: 25 squares

1 ripe banana, mashed
1 1/4 cups unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup oat milk (or substitute your favorite non-dairy milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup walnut pieces (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, mix together the wet ingredients. Add the dry ingredients and stir to combine.  Pour mixture into prepared baking pan.

Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the pan comes out clean.  Remove from the pan, allow to cool, and cut into small squares.

September 25, 2009. Brownies. Leave a comment.

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