Recipe Review: Brownies!

It’s the post I’ve been talking about/mentioning since the end of January. It’s FINALLY time for my brownie review!

But before I get to that, I have to write a little about my Jensen Beach vacation (I know, I’m such a tease).

It was fantastic. I’m from Upstate New York, and shortly before my mom and I left for our trip, we got 18″ of snow dumped on us. So, we were incredibly happy that our flight didn’t get canceled, and that we were able to enjoy 80 degree sunny days for a whole week.

This is the view from the balcony. I love the sound of the ocean!

This is the view from the balcony of our condo. I love the sound of the ocean!

We went to the Brevard Zoo, and were able to kayak around the giraffes, and later feed them.

We went to the Brevard Zoo, and were able to kayak around the giraffes, and later feed them.

Heathcote Botanical Garden has one of the largest Bonsai Tree collections in the country - over 100 of them!

Heathcote Botanical Garden has one of the largest Bonsai Tree collections in the country – over 100 of them!

We also went to a flea market, a wine tasting, saw a movie, and, of course, went to the beach every day. But now I miss the sun. Two more months…?

Okay, on to the brownies! I made four different brownie recipes within a week. Thank goodness I had friends and family to help me eat them! These are not ranked in favorite order, but in baking order.

Brownie #1: Grass Fed Girl’s Fat Bomb Coconut Brownies.

Ingredient list: cocoa, eggs, sweetener choice (maple syrup/honey/birch xylitol/stevia powder extract), coconut oil, canned coconut milk, vanilla extract, almond flour, baking soda, shredded coconut, and chopped walnuts.

My adjustments: I chose to use honey as my sweetener, and did not add in the walnuts.

These brownies were the perfect middle-of-the-road, Goldilocks brownie: not too fudgy, not too cake-y…they were “just right” and nicely balanced. I loved the texture the shredded coconut added, but if you want it a little smoother you could try putting the coconut in a food processor to make a more finely-shredded coconut. I also loved that I didn’t need to have a huge piece to satisfy my sweet tooth. And due to the satiety factor of the fat from all the coconut, I rarely found myself going back to eat more than the amount I allowed myself each day.

Brownie #2: tigpaleo’s Avocado Brownies.

Ingredient list: unsweetened chocolate melted in coconut oil, avocados, honey, eggs, cocoa powder, vanilla, coconut flour, baking soda, and a little salt.

My adjustments: I was out of honey, so I had to sub in coconut sugar.

I don’t think my sugar substitution affected the flavor at all – the brownies were plenty sweet for me. Then again, I love dark chocolate and prefer it over milk chocolate, so you might need to play around with the sweetness if you aren’t a dark chocolate fan. And no worries – these brownies will NOT taste like avocados! These brownies were the perfect cake-y brownie – somewhat light and airy, but sturdy like a typical brownie. So if you love your brownies with a cake-like texture, these are the ones to bake (out of the ones I’ve tried, anyway). For me, I like my brownies to be fudgy, so while I liked this one the least, it was still very tasty.

Brownie #3: Living Nutrition’s Triple Chocolate No-Bake Brownies.

Ingredient list: for the brownie – walnuts, cocoa, sea salt, medjool dates, liquid stevia; for the ganache – cocoa powder, maple syrup, coconut oil, vanilla extract and a little sea salt

My adjustments: I didn’t have stevia, so I just left it out…it’s been a while, but I don’t think I replaced it with anything. I find dates are sweet enough on their own, and the maple syrup in the ganache helped on the sweetness level. I’d say taste the batter before you add in any sweetener – you might not need any!

Oh. My. God. These are one of the fudgiest brownies I’ve ever had. And the ganache adds a lovely chocolately layer to the brownie. I had a very hard time eating only one, so these need to be carefully controlled. These were relatively quick to make Out of all the brownies, I was the most sad when these were all gone.

Brownie #4: Primal Palate’s Grain-Free Fudgy Brownie with Dairy-Free Fluffy Chocolate Frosting.

Ingredient list: brownie – dark chocolate, unsalted butter, vanilla extract, egg, chestnut flour, sea salt, baking powder, coconut sugar; frosting – coconut cream, enjoy life chocolate chips, vanilla extract

My adjustments: This recipe had a lot of unique ingredients to me, but I love trying new things. I got the chestnut flour online, as well as the corn-free baking powder. But I hear it’s pretty easy to make your own chestnut flour if you have a strong enough food processor. I happened to have a can of coconut cream concentrate, but if you don’t, just chill a can of coconut milk in the fridge and then only use the creamy part – not the water. I love the Enjoy Life brand of dairy-free and soy-free chocolate, but I’m having a difficult time finding it in dark chocolate. So I used the milk chocolate chips for the frosting. I also didn’t use the recipe’s recommended brand of dark chocolate since it was too expensive for me to get at the time. I either used Green & Black or Ghirardelli.

This brownie was similar to the Fat Bomb Brownies in texture – not too fudgy, and not too cake-y. But they certainly weren’t fudgy like the No-Bake Brownies were, and I feel they were a little dense. The chestnut flour added a unique flavor – not a bad one at all, just different. I’m more used to baking with other nut flours like almond and coconut, so I was aware of a different flavor than the typical grain-free brownie. But like I said, it wasn’t a bad “different” taste at all, so I look forward to using chestnut flour again. If you want a brownie that can be topped with paleo ice cream without getting soggy, I would think this recipe would work nicely.

Now, I’m not usually a fan of frosting on brownies, but the frosting really helped balance the dense-ness of the brownie. Due to user error I couldn’t make the frosting as fluffy as the picture on the recipe page, but the taste was so awesome it is in my top three list of paleo frostings. I had a lot of it left over after spreading it on the brownie, so I stuck it back in the fridge and it firmed up to a mousse-like consistency. I am not ashamed to admit that I ate the rest of the bowl of frosting by itself the next day. It was that good.

And the winner is…

For best fudgy brownie: Triple Chocolate No-Bake!

For best cake-like brownie: Avocado Brownies!

For best “regular” brownie: Fat Bomb Brownie!

For best brownie with frosting: Grain-Free Fudgy Brownie! (I know, kinda lame category…but it had to win something.)

Out of all of them, I will make the Triple Chocolate No-Bakes and the Fat Bomb Brownies again. I will also make the frosting that went with the Grain-Free Fudgy Brownie again, and use it as a cake frosting.

Questions for the readers: What kind of brownie do you like? Is there a “paleo” brownie recipe you’ve tried that you love?

Coming up in future posts: I’m exploring with/creating an Asian honey mustard glaze or spice (haven’t decided which yet), I just cooked a whole chicken in my slow cooker that turned out AMAZING and want to share it with all of you, and I want to do another “Let’s Talk About” post, either about dairy, soy, or vegetable oils. Until next time!