When I was asked by Christine over at Nuts.com if I’d be interested in making a festive, healthy dish that incorporated nuts, I thought ‘Hell, yeah – nuts are right up my alley!’
Which was immediately followed by a total mind blank. Having already made a number of healthy nut recipes (honey-roasted nut butter, nut butter chocolate, seed & nut loaf, granola, nut, banana & cinnamon porridge), I was having a hard time thinking what else I could make that would fit the bill of both ‘healthy’ and ‘festive’.
Thankfully, the power of synchronicity clicked into gear, because in the process of wracking my brains (never a pretty sight), a good friend (thanks Karen!) just happened to send over a recipe she liked the look of – Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies. These were brownies with a difference, using the unexpected addition of mashed banana and including no flour, so totally gluten-free.
This great little recipe comes from Claire Aldous at Dish.co.nz (‘Dish’ magazine being one of my monthly favourite reads). I adapted the recipe a bit in order to get it as nutritious as possible, ditching the peanut butter and using home-made almond butter instead, swapping coconut sugar for brown sugar, raw cacao powder for the cocoa, and using a dark organic chocolate – Green & Black’s organic chocolate with 70% cocoa.
And, may I say…. wowsers! The end result was intensely deep, dark and chocolatey, holding its own as a cake, but bordering on fudgy, particularly when warmed. There’s a slight nod to the banana when you eat it, but it’s most definitely all about the chocolate. By the way, this recipe, as I’ve adapted it, is totally perfect if you like your chocolate bordering on slightly bitter. However, if you prefer yours a little sweeter, you might consider using less cacao (or cocoa) and chocolate with less cocoa content.
These brownies make a wonderful festive treat (who wouldn’t want to receive brownies?!) but you don’t need to wait till Christmas to enjoy them! And, if you’re interested in ideas for other healthy nut snacks over the holidays, head on over to Nuts.com ‘Healthy Snacks’. Enjoy!
- 1 cup nut butter (I made my own almond butter)
- 2-4 tablespoons raw cacao powder (or high-quality cocoa)
- ½ cup mashed ripe banana, about 1 large
- ⅓ cup coconut sugar (or you can use brown sugar)
- 1 large egg, size 7
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 80 grams dark chocolate, roughly chopped
- ¼ cup roasted nuts of your choice, roughly chopped (I used maple roasted almonds)
- Grease a 20cm square cake tin and line fully with baking paper.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (360°F).
- Place all of the ingredients in a bowl of an electric mixer and beat together until well combined and glossy.
- Tip the mixture into the cake tin, spread evenly then sprinkle over the chopped chocolate then the nuts over top.
- Bake for 20-30 minutes until puffed and risen. If you test with a skewer, there should still be a few moist crumbs (and just be aware the melted chocolate on the surface will skew your results!).
- Cool completely in the tin, then cut into squares or fingers.
- Serve at room temperature or slightly warmed, with a good dollop of whipped cream (mascarpone works well too) or vanilla ice-cream.
Food Photography Info: Canon 550D (EOS Rebel T2i); Sigma 30mm 1.4 DC ‘Art’ lens / Natural lighting