The other day I took a first attempt at the brownies that #broketheinternet: The Black Bean Brownie. I made mine Almond Joy-ish. They were good, but I still prefer my brownies bean-less. That said, they were still nommy, I scratched something off my enormous baking bucket list, and now I’m on a brownie kick. Giddy up.
So less than a week since then, I have another biggg yummy batch of brownies at my disposal. This batch was inspired by two things: 1) The December Recipe Redux Challenge. 2) My favorite brownie combo of all times (chocolate + cherry + walnuts).
This month The Recipe Redux turns 42 months old. Congrats ! So their challenge was to “Grab a book and Cook,” meaning grab the closest cookbook, open to page 42 or 142 and redux the recipe. Pretty fun, huh?! Well, while searching for ornaments from the depths of my basement, I came across some of my grandma’s ancient cookbooks. I was also lucky enough to uncover some of her notebooks full of her own recipes, which are so invaluable I could cry. She was a brilliant innovator, cook, and creator, with ideas and food hunches far beyond her time. More on this in another post. Anyways, I picked up and was immediately amused by her yellowing, original Betty Crocker Cookbook. Oh my gosh, it has all the classic, unhealthy butter old-school desserts you could ever want as well as some comments that would probably offend most working women of this generation. When I hit page page 42, a recipe for “Cocoa Brownies with Walnuts” stared me back in the face.
I have to admit I was thrilled to have an excuse to make another batch of brownies. Making them the other day really reminded me how much I love them. The brownies in the Betty Crocker Recipe were full of butter, sugar, eggs, milk, and refined white flour. Mine are a bit revamped and given a modern, semi-sophisticated twist by using walnut butter as a fat, which I made by pureeing walnuts into a nut butter in my food processor to avoid spending $14 on a jar of walnut butter. #win #DIY.
The walnut butter provides healthy mono and polyunsaturated fats, as well as all the Omega’s you could ever want or need from a brownie. You know how much I love those #MUFAs and #PUFAs baby. I also reduced all the eggs/excess sugar/refined flour in the original recipe, replacing white flour with oat flour, and lowering the sugar without loosing flavor. Melting Baker’s chocolate is the KEY to delicious brownies, and adds a ton of flavor and a delicious fudginess that simply can’t be beat, so I added that to the original recipe, kept the cocoa powder (because as I discuss here, it’s practically a superfood), and added chocolate chips for more chocolate goodness and texture, and more walnuts and dried cherries, for flavor, texture, and simply because chocolate + cherry = one of my all-time favorite combinations.
The end result was a fudgy, delicious, gluten-free and vegan brownie that could satisfy any chocolate craving in a single square, but won’t leave you feeling icky or gross. I really ended up loving the walnut butter as the fat, as it gave it a nice, nutty flavor that made the brownies intriguing to the palate, and feel super grown-up and fancy without tasting like it was trying too hard.
These wonderful chocolate nuggets are perfect for the holidays, or really anyday. Because Katy Perry says you should make it like your birthday *~*everyday*~* and I have to say I totally agree with her. My mantra as of late has been “be as nice to yourself as you would to your friend.” So #treatyoself with yummy, healthy food every day, and do things that make you happy. Today for me this means, brownies, hot chocolate, my pups, and watching Throwdown with Bobby Flay on YouTube. Hope your day is as awesome as mine. Happy holidays and happy eating!
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Bake Time: 30 minutes
makes on 9″ square pan of brownies, roughly 12 servings
- 1 1/2 cup walnuts, divided into 1 1/4 cup to make butter and additional 1/4 cup to mix in
- 1 tablespoon water
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 4-6 ounces Baker’s chocolate (depending on desired chocolate-y-ness)
- 1 cup almond milk
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds or flax seeds
- 1 cup oat flour or other flour (I make oat flour by processing one cup rolled oats in a food processor until a powder forms)
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup dried cherries
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place 1 1/4 cup walnuts and a tablespoon of water in a food processor or blender and puree until a thick nut butter forms. When it looks like peanut butter, it’s done. Transfer to a large bowl and add brown sugar. Mix well.
2. Cut Baker’s chocolate in a small microwave safe bowl and melt in the microwave by heating in 30 second increments, mixing between each increment, roughly 1-2 minutes total, until smooth and melted. Set aside and allow to cool to cool slightly.
3. Place almond milk and chia seeds or flax in a cup and allow to thicken, at least 10 minutes.
4. In a large bowl, combine oat flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder. Whisk together well.
5. Once chocolate has cooled slightly (lukewarm is fine), pour into the walnut butter and brown sugar mix and mix well until chocolate is well combine. Add flour/cocoa mixture to the bowl and slowly add the almond milk mixture. Mix gently until well combine into a batter.
6. Add chocolate chips, dried cherries, and additional 1/4 cup walnuts. Pour into a lightly oiled or parchment lined 9″ baking pan. Top with even more walnuts if you’re as walnut crazy as I am.
7. Bake for 25-35 minutes, until the edges begin to pull away from the sides of the pan, and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted and removed in the center of the pan. EAT.
For more Page 42 challenge posts from fellow members of The Recipe Redux, click around below !