Honestly, you sink your teeth into one of these brownies and you’ll never know it is gluten-free, and made with 5 simple whole-food ingredients. As denoted in the title, this is version number 3 of this recipe. Version one was good. Version three tastes awesome.
In addition to improved baking time/temperature, and a move from cocoa/fat to dark chocolate, I was inspired by Jules Clancy’s 5-Ingredient challenge on Stone Soup Minimalist Home Cooking to simplify the recipe even further. I’d gotten it down to 6 ingredients in version 2, but couldn’t think of how to cut anything else out. When I querried Jules on her blog, she kindly suggested buying a high-quality dark chocolate that included vanilla in it. That, in effect, kills two birds with one stone, and I was able to leave vanilla off the ingredient list (real vanilla is expensive, so yay!).
I taste tested version 2 on my brother’s family. All the kids had to say was, ‘yum,’ but my brother (skeptic that he is), very carefully tried to taste the dates (not his favorite thing in the world) in the brownie and was able to detect tiny chunks of them . . . though he admitted that if I hadn’t told them the recipe was based on dates that he probably wouldn’t have noticed. That wasn’t good enough for me, so I increased the time in the food processor for version 3 for a completely smooth consistency. The result?
Perfection. The people you serve this will think it is just a really good brownie and not an experiment in whole-food eating . . .
Ultimate Fudge Brownies III
- 4 ounces of salted, roasted cashews
- 8 ounces of deglet noor dates
- 3.5 ounce bar of Lindt Excellence 90% Cocoa Supreme Dark
- 1 large egg
- 1 tsp baking soda
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
- Place cashews in your food processor and spin them until they turn to nut butter.
- Add remaining ingredients to the food processor and spin until you have an even consistency.
- Press the thick mixture into an 8×8 glass baking dish and bake for 20 minutes.
- Cut into 9 squares.
Each square has about 220 calories of nutrient-dense goodness. Can be served warm, but will hold together better once fully cooled (just like a regular brownie).
- In versions one and two of this recipe, I used raw, unsalted cashews and they worked fine. I only made the switch to roasted, salted cashews to add a little deeper flavor.
- Pitted Deglet Noor dates come cheap at Costco and are the basis of several of recipes I’ve been working on. Do not bother to buy the fancy and expensive Medjool dates unless you’re going to eat them straight (yum).
- When processing all the ingredients together, you may need to scrape the sides and start it up again to get complete smoothness. Want some chunkyness in your brownie? Don’t process it as long. It will still turn out fine.
- Any high quality chocolate with vanilla will work for this recipe. I’ve tried several brands now. I settled on Lindt Excellence for several reasons: no soy lecithin, includes vanilla, is the best value in this kind of fine chocolate if you purchase it at Walmart (less than $2 a bar). I also intend to try out unsweetened baking chocolate in the future, but then will have to add back in a teaspoon of vanilla.
- For more ‘milk chocolate’ brownies, experiment with 50-65% cocoa bars. Lindt also offers some other flavored dark chocolates that might be fun to try: orange, mint and even sea salt. Just be sure to check the ingredient lists if soy is a problem for you. We found that many bars contain soy lecithin, even in brands that had soy-free bars as well (Lindt and Hageland, for example).
Someone pointed out to me the high GI of dates (saying they’re 110 as as opposed to sugar’s 100). Here’s my reply:
Wow, GI 110? I had to check that out. The highest estimate I found, and the most common, was 103 (which was taken from test results by The Glucose Revolution author Jennie Brand-Miller). That was still shockingly high. However, there seems to be some debate and confusion over dates and their GI value.
One study on dates tested three varieties for their GI, hoping to link it to the high rates of diabetes in Arab countries. It found however that their GI’s ranged between 30 and 50. That’s a big difference. Glycemic Index dot com only lists these three varieties in their index. So I’m guessing that they’re suspicious of earlier tests.
Glycemic Index pioneer Michel Montignac lists dates as a 70. Still High.
The problem I find with comparing dates to sugar is that sugar has nothing in it for you. Dates are not only high in fiber (one of the reasons such a high GI rating is questioned), but are loaded with vitamins and minerals. They are a nutrient dense food.
Also, there is at least one time that it is good to get a little easy energy for your body: right before an hour or longer cardio workout, and (for workouts longer than an hour), as fuel along the way. That is one time that Selene Yeager, author of Ride Your Way Lean (my guide as I’m switching from hiking to biking for the winter), says it is good to eat something that will give you the energy to keep going. Eating before you ride will also help you burn more calories along the way. I can attest to the fact that some kind of ‘energy’ food was absolutely necessary for some of the long hikes I did this last Summer.
Lastly, the nuts in this recipe should lower the glycemic impact.
Still, eating a pan full of these wouldn’t probably be a good idea. One serving before a workout or one with a balanced meal should be enough.