I made these in honour of a low-carbon cake sale we had at work this week. The idea behind these brownies being low-carbon is that because there is no baking involved then no energy is wasted using up gas for the oven. OK I’ll admit I did have to use a little electricity for the food processor and blender and fridge power to help them set. BUT the fridge would have been on anyway right? And I’m sure the electricity is negligible in comparison to a loaf cake in the oven for 60 mins?
These brownies are made from very few ingredients (less packaging), whole unprocessed foods (less carbon emissions from each processing stage) and on the whole Organic ingredients (less pollution from pesticides). As they are also vegan there are no carbon emission to add from the rearing of livestock for eggs or dairy – Not bad going. Oh and did I mention they are delicious too?
Other cakes in the sale were no-bake cheesecakes and cakes using locally sourced ingredients, or those people had on hand at home that would otherwise be chucked out. If only my dates, walnuts, avocados and coconut oil were available in the UK… Maybe I should move to California to make these truly legit! Anyway we made enough money from the bake sale to plant a tree and carbon offset some of our energy use for climate week. Hurrah!
These are so simple to do and there are literally hundreds of raw chocolate brownie recipes on the internet to chose from. I based mine with some small adaptations on the one on the Yoga Traveller website. I first heard about these brownies from Yoga teacher Michelle who told me about them on my Maltese yoga trip last Autumn. Credit where credit is due! This was my first attempt at raw brownies and I fear a love affair to follow… Maybe next time with pecans… or a coffee topping…
Ingredients (makes 16 small squares)
- 180g walnuts
- 200g soft pitted dates (I used standard dates, you could also use medjool just make sure they are soft and gooey and don’t buy the ones that have added vegetable oil – yuck. You are usually safe with Organic ones)
- 50g 100% Unsweetened Cocoa powder (preferably organic, fairtrade, raw)
- Pinch salt
- Tsp vanilla essence
- 1 large ripe avocado
- 60mls melted coconut oil
- 50g 100% unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 Tablespoons of Sweet Freedom (this is made in the UK!)
- Tsp vanilla essence
- Pre-heat oven… No not this time!
- In a food processor pulse the walnuts until they resemble fine crumbs. Remove and set aside. No need to clean out processor in-between stages.
- Add in the dates and process until they come together to form a large sticky ball. Add the walnuts back into the machine along with the cocoa powder, salt and vanilla.
- Process again. At first the mixture will look like muddy crumbs and at this point I feared it wouldn’t come together, but have patience! Finally magic will occur and all the ingredients will come together to form a ball of sticky chocolate brownie dough.
- Remove and place the dough in a square parchment lined square (roughly 7inch square) tin. Tip: If you use a long rectangle of baking parchment which overlaps 2 opposite sides then its easier to lift the brownie out of the tin when it is set. Using a spatula push the mixture out across the tin till its evenly spread a little less than 1cm thick. It should be fairly malleable with a spatula.
- Place in the fridge to set either overnight or for at least 30 mins whilst you make the topping.
- Place the avocado flesh into a small hand blender beaker, and blend until smooth. Add the cocoa, melted coconut oil, sweet freedom, and vanilla essence and blend again till completely smooth and brown. You can adjust the sweetener to your taste and also the coconut oil. The more oil you add the more solidified the topping will be.
- Using a spatula spread the topping all over the base which should remain in its tin.
- Finish off by dusting with additional cocoa powder.
- Place in fridge to set for at least 30 mins or ideally overnight.
- Remove from tray and cut into 16 squares.
Be warned this is completely messy (if anyone saw Aki on UK Masterchef recently you will know what I mean). The licking of the spatula and beaker afterwards is absolutely required!
You might recognise the frosting from my Chocolate cake frosting! I made extra from the above quantities to serve as an indulgent pudding in a shot glass later this week! So versatile!