“I wish I were enough of a health nut that I didn’t give in as often as I do, but I eat dessert daily. The bit of control I do exercise is with the kinds of natural sweeteners and flours I use in baking and making other desserts.” –The Sprouted Kitchen: A Tastier Take on Whole Foods author Sara Forte on her attitude toward sweet treats (p. 197)
Sweet treats are my kryptonite. I love sweets too much – eating them and baking them – to eliminate them from my diet (because there is no way I could eliminate sweet treats from my diet and still bake them. Let’s be real.). Desserts are meant to be indulgences, but I really like the idea of creating desserts and other sweets that use wholesome, taste good in the recipe and are good for me ingredients, too. I forsee my diet including a healthy combination of both types of dessert.
The recipe below is one of those that uses “wholesome, taste good in the recipe and are good for me” ingredients. The finished product is just as delicious as my mom’s brownies for the ingredients they are made with. Friends, that is saying something. My mom’s brownies are, unashamedly, downright famous. Uber-chocolate-y. Rich. Indulgent. I was so. dang. surprised. at how get-up-and-dance delicious these brownies are, for they too are bursting with chocolate flavor, moist, and (deceivingly) indulgent. Baking them satisfied my thirst for (refined sugar-free) baking, and eating them satisfied my hunger for (refined sugar-free) chocolate more than I ever expected.
I used a gluten-free flour mix instead of what the original recipe called for, almond flour. I didn’t have almond flour on hand and thought using a gluten-free flour would be the best way to yield similar results to the original recipe. In the future, I would like to try using almond flour (just to follow the original recipe), hazelnut flour (bacio anyone?), or whole-wheat pastry flour (my go-to flour – I always have it on hand).
Refined Sugar-Free Brownies recipe adapted from Cooking ala Mel
1/2 cup pitted dates (I used deglet dates, but I believe the “date of choice” for baking is medjool. If medjools are used, the amount of honey may need to be adjusted, as the level of sweetness and/or the consistency of the batter may be different than with deglets.)
1/4 cup raw honey
1/2 cup unrefined coconut oil, melted and cooled
4 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup gluten-free flour mix
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a square baking dish with cooking spray.
2. Using a food processor or blender, purée dates until smooth. Add all ingredients except flour and salt, and process or blend until thoroughly combined.
3. Add in flour and salt, and process or blend until no whitish specks can be seen in the batter. (Note: After dates are purèed, a hand or standing mixer can be used to make the batter.)
4. Pour batter into prepared pan, spreading it evenly, and bake it for approximately 15 minutes.
5. Allow brownies to cool completely in pan. Store in an airtight container. Enjoy!