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


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

Raw Strawberry Cheesecake Cups

Strawberry Cheesecake Cup

In spite of the fact that I’m absolutely addicted to raw cashew butter, I almost never have raw cashew nuts around in my kitchen, mainly because they’re just so expensive.  I decided to splurge and buy a big bag of cashews a little while ago, and one of the recipes I tried was the Raw Strawberry Cheesecake from the Post Punk Kitchen Blog.  The cheesecake was creamy and luscious, and the fruity flavor balanced perfectly with the rich cashew base.
I’ve mentioned before that I only like to make desserts that are easy and straightforward, and even though this cheesecake certainly fits those requirements when compared to other raw cheesecake recipes I’ve seen, I decided to make only the filling of the cheesecake for the sake of simplicity.  I used lemon juice instead of lime, omitted the vanilla extract, and used frozen strawberries instead of fresh, but otherwise I followed the recipe for the filling exactly.  Since I used frozen strawberries, the blades of my food processor were so cold that the melted coconut oil re-solidified almost instantly, so I think thawing the strawberries beforehand would be a wise decision if you are using frozen berries.  I also think that I may not have processed the filling quite enough, so the next time I make the cheesecake I will make sure to continue processing the mixture until it’s completely smooth.  One great thing about making only the filling (aside from catering to laziness) is that it makes it easy to adjust the yield of the recipe, and even to reduce it to just a single serving.  I poured the filling into cups before chilling it in the refrigerator to set, but using ramekins would be an easy way to make the presentation fancier (of course, you could also make any of the accompanying toppings in the original recipe to spruce up the presentation).  This cheesecake filling has a great taste and consistency, and I’m sure that the whole cheesecake would be just as delicious.  For anyone who’s interested in making an easy raw cheesecake, this recipe would be a great one to try!

Strawberry Cheesecake Cup

January 5, 2010. Raw. Leave a comment.

Raw Ice Cream Brownie Balls

Raw Ice Cream Brownie Balls

One of the best things about making raw desserts from simple ingredients like fruit and nuts is that no matter what ratio of ingredients you use, you’re almost certain to end up with delicious results.
In the case of these Ice Cream Brawnie Balls (I can’t think of anything better to call them), I didn’t follow a recipe and had no idea how the dessert would turn out.  The ingredients I used were soaked walnuts, the flesh of a mature coconut, Medjool dates, cacao powder, and a little bit of agave nectar.  The soaked raw walnuts were the primary ingredient, so the finished dessert was rich and creamy and reminded me of ice cream.  The coconut added a great depth to the flavor, and the Medjool dates helped the dessert stick together while boosting the sweetness.  The cacao powder gave the walnut mixture a rich chocolate taste, and the agave nectar helped balance the cacao’s bitterness.
To make the balls, I just processed the walnuts and coconut meat in my food processor until they were very finely chopped, then added the other ingredients and processed again until the mixture became a cohesive dough.  I scooped the dough into even portions using my cookie scoop,  rolled them into balls, chilled them in the freezer until firm, and then rolled the balls in more raw walnuts that I had soaked, air-dried, and finely chopped.  The finished product was a bit like bon-bons, a bit like brownies, and a lot delicious.
Even when there’s no precise recipe to follow, it’s hard to go wrong when making desserts with such healthy and tasty ingredients!

Ice Cream Brawnie Balls

December 5, 2009. Raw. 5 comments.

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