It’s not a secret that I don’t believe in diets for this project. I mean, a quick browsing of each of these recipes and you’ll see vice after vice, all of which end up on the “do not eat” list of some diet. I never said dessert was healthy. However, that’s not to say that I dismiss every healthier variation for their more indulgent counterpart. Frankly a dessert can be made up of all the healthiest ingredients Whole Foods can muster, but if it tastes good, I’ll eat it. There’s just so many diets and food restrictions these days, that everyone on one seems to want to make things that are satisfying, yet still sticks to their regimen. One of those diets is Paleo which has proved quite popular here in Guam. Frankly, I don’t know too much about it, but I do know that those who follow it avoid grains (wheat, barley, oats), legumes (beans, peanuts), dairy products (gasp), refined sugar (double gasp), salt, and highly processed foods…to name a few. I came across a blog called Well Plated which focuses on putting together healthier alternatives to some classic dishes. So when I saw that Erin, its creator, had a recipe for Paleo Brownies, I needed to give it a try. I should preface that I’m not a strict Paleo dieter, so I wasn’t too concerned at the possibility of some ingredients not conforming. If that’s your thing, use caution.
What’s great about the recipe is that all of these ingredients can easily be found in your typical grocery store. Even here in Guam, we tend to lack a lot of basic things, however even trendier products like coconut sugar are popping up more and more each time I go. The brownies start off in a medium bowl to which we add almond butter, unsweetened cocoa, coconut sugar, maple syrup, one egg and vanilla extract. Almond butter serves as the main fat here in place of butter and I think it really contributes to the overall fudginess of the finished brownie. I’d recommend swapping for peanut butter if you want, but then they won’t strictly be paleo- though I won’t tell, if you won’t. That mix sits for about five minutes to let the coconut sugar fully absorb that liquid. I noticed that the consistency was the same as other brownie recipes I tried, so that was promising. Baking soda and salt are then mixed into the batter, after which chocolate chips are folded in. Again, if you want to follow a strict Paleo diet, look for Paleo friendly brands or brands that lean on the darker side with no added dairy or refined sugar. The brownie batter is poured into a prepared 8×8 pan that’s been lined with parchment, and is baked for about 17 minutes. Once the brownies are cooled, you can then make the chocolate frosting which consists of melting down coconut oil, almond butter and chocolate chips until smooth. After that, stir in some almond milk and vanilla, and spread that all over the cooled brownies. A sprinkling of some more chocolate, and these babies are done.
The recipe was super simple to put together, however I did run into an issue with the frosting. The mix was a bit greasy- likely due to the coconut oil separating. I ended up draining it out and spreading the remaining mix over the brownies. It may not be quite the same as Erin’s, but it still worked fine. In terms of flavor, these were great! Not great because they’re Paleo, but just great in general. They’re rich and fudgy with that classic brownie taste and sweetness. The almond butter flavor is a bit pronounced, likely because I didn’t use chunky almond butter, but really the combo works great. Now there’s a debate on whether or not these are strictly paleo, and the short answer is no– but they can be. It really all comes down to the chocolate which can be a debate in of itself. Really I’m sure there are ways to make this truly paleo, but a bit of leeway won’t hurt right? The fact remains that these are healthier than normal brownies, so Paleo or not, they’re a great recipe to add to your collection.
Recipe | Method from Well Plated: