This weekend was almost like any other weekend, although not quite. Breakfast and/or brunch are major parts of most of my weekends, but this week a Juice Cleanse from Raw Press turned up on Friday, and like all genuinely healthy foodstuffs and drinkstuffs, these things go off. It couldn’t wait until monday.
So Saturday was kinda sad. I didn’t brunch, hell i didn’t even eat. But I was full in other ways. Full of nutrients, vitamins and surprising amounts of energy, and full of overplanned ideas about what I’m going to eat first on monday.
Then I was also full of guilt because my sister, whose birthday happened to fall on day two of my juice cleanse, and whose gluten intolerance is much more serious than mine, was coming over for the evening and i hadn’t made her a cake. With a food blog centered around a hatred for gluten and miraculous ways in which to create things without it, this was the one day of the year that she deserved one of my gf creation the most.
Thankfully, with a pretty well stocked kitchen (rule one, guys), i managed to wing a no-recipe, use-whatevers-in-the-cupboard creation in under 10 minutes because as well as being unprepared i was also late and my sister likes to avoid telling us her ETA until it is about 30 minutes away so i had to act fast.
Proof is in the pudding though (literally) that it is possible to create truly delicious and truly madly deeply nourishing provisions quicker than you can get to the nearest shop to buy standard ones.
I do have a few disclaimers for this recipe though. It contains more natural sweetener than I would usually use, mainly because I had different kinds of guests with different kinds of tastes on this particular evening (inc. a boy with a very boyish diet). My relationship with dates, which never really took off, has almost entirely diminished mainly because of how sickly i find them. I have also been rethinking my relationship with nuts, as, although they have tremendous health giving qualities, i find them quite rich and indulgent and difficult to digest. These foods are healthy, but in a world where fad diets are frowned upon, they have ironically become faddy themselves. Because they are healthy, people assume it’s okay to eat them as if they’re going out of style. But, dates and natural sweeteners, although more nutritious, still have the same affect on our blood sugars, glucose levels and insulin responses as refined sugars. And too many nuts can be tough on the system, especially if they are not prepared properly. So, by all means embrace them and replace the nutritionally void alternatives, but be mindful of quantities and frequency of consumption.
That being said, this is far healthier than artificial, shop bought cakes which, as well as refined sugar, contain a hideous selection of other hideous ingredients like hydrogenated fats, margarine, white flour, colourings, flavourings and preservatives. You can reduce the amount of natural syrups used in this recipe, although I have a feeling the texture might suffer a little.
I’ve done this recipe in grams as I’ve been testing new recipes for Qnola products and I’m just in that frame of mind. When developing recipes for big-scale production, you have to work in grams even with liquids in order to percentagise the recipe, to scale it up or down as painlessly as possible. I’ve also provided ml and tbs, just in case.
Makes 12 Large or 24 Medium
50g Hazelnuts or walnuts
60g Ground almonds
60g Flaked almonds
100-120g (about 8 tablespoons) Coconut Nectar or natural sweetener of choice (to taste)
4g Salt or Tamari
6g (1 tablespoon) Vanilla bean paste powder or extract
100g Cacao nibs
45g Cacao powder
8 Dates (soaked in boiling water for 1 minute)
20g (2 tablespoons) Coconut Oil, melted
30g (2 tablespoons) Almond butter
50g Coconut Milk Powder or Coconut Flour
1 Teaspoon Reishi Powder, optional
1 Teaspoon Chaga Powder, optional
1 Teaspoon Lucuma, optional
Start by pulsing the nuts, including the ground almonds, and the cacao nibs in a food processor.
Once the ingredients begin to come to a fine flour consistency, add the salt, vanilla, cacao powder, maca, mushroom powders or other superfood powders if using, coconut flour, syrup of choice and almond butter and blend for another 1-2 minutes, first on a low speed, and then a higher speed for the last 30 seconds.
The mixture should begin to thicken and stick together when you pinch it between two fingers.
Next, add the dates. Remove the pits and place in a small bowl, then cover with about 1-2 inches of boiling water. Soak for just 1 minute and then squeeze gently to remove as much liquid as possible before adding to the food processor.
Blend for another 1-2 minutes on a high speed, scraping down the sides and breaking the mixture up if it forms a tight, doughy ball. In order to get the smoothest consistency, break the ball up a couple of times and blend further until you are happy with it.
To set, choose a baking tin or dish, a muffin tin or something like mini loaf tins. I scattered the bottom of my dish with cacao nibs and pressed the brownie mixture onto it. This adds a subtly crunchy base layer to the brownies. You could also add crushed nuts to make a quick, simple cheesecake variation, or you can leave them au naturale. Press the dough into your mould/s as compactly as possible. You can decorate the top with just about anything. I like using cacao powder, maca and coocnut flour to create a galactic effect, as well as chopped nuts, almond butter drizzle and, of course Qnola.