Ladies and gentlemen, today I present to you brownies, made without butter. Someone circle this date on your calendar. Check to see that hell hasn't frozen over too. I mean, who knew something so good could contain no butter? And it's full of things like figs and dates too. Don't be frightened, friends. I would never present anything to you that I wasn't head over heels for, and these little beauties have sent me a-tumbling. And no I haven't been on skates or skis, or any other sharp objects that propel me forward.
While a butter-free treat, these brownies also contain no gluten. I know this makes the Celiacs, and those who have to bake for them, do a little dance of joy. My brother is on a very strict gluten free diet, as he is afflicted with Celiac. Given he turned a year older a few days ago, these brownies were made specially for him (I know, I'm like the best sister ever.) When he was a babe, my bro was very, very sick, and Celiac was not commonly diagnosed some 30 years ago, especially in rural Saskatchewan. Mom tells us stories how they would go from doctor to doctor, because he was rapidly losing weight - every mother's worst nightmare. Finally it came down between two diagnoses - Celiac or Cystic Fibrosis. Thank God it was the former, and with a strict gluten free diet, my bro has thrived. He's a cool dude who I knew would appreciate my attempt at making some freaky-ass brownies. "Ren, these have got some kick!" was how he put it. He liked. Sister happy :)
Another nutritional bonus: these babies have no white sugar. The absolutely gorgeous Medjool date brings the sweet love; the walnut the texture; the cocoa the richness; the chipotle powder and cinnamon bring the spice and the fig brings the fun. Bust out your food processors and go to town. I added a touch of agave to help bind things together, and that worked really well. Pressed into a pan and slathered with ganache, they really do set up like "real" brownies. No baking required. Nifty, hey? Assembly completed in under 15 minutes, giving you time to chill out while your brownies errr... chill. Okay, that was bad, but I'm not scratching it out.
Let me back up and yak about the ganache. It's simply hot whipping cream meets chunks of dark chocolate. Stir it up until well combined and pour over the brownies. You could add the chipotle powder to the ganache, or not. Or you could omit it in the brownie and add it only to the ganache. Or add it to both! It's all up to you, and how much heat you want your brownie to have. If chipotle powder is not in your spice cabinet (um, get some!), just add a little cayenne pepper. I adore the whole chocolate and chipotle as a flavour combo thing. Remember that chili? That was good stuff. (Vegan friends, click here for an alternative to the creamy ganache that I used. If I would have had coconut oil in the house, I would have tried it out too. Let me know how it is!)
Whether you are on a gluten free diet, or into raw foods, or vegan or just crazy about finding new and exciting ways to eat brownies, I think you should give these a shot. High in fibre, Omega 3s, and loaded with dark chocolate, I'm thinking these are kinda good for me, too...almost like an uptown power bar, minus the uptown price. I baked without butter and hell has not frozen over. Woo hoo! What in the world could be next?
Walnut & Date Brownies with Chiptole Ganache
2 cups walnut pieces
1 cup cocoa
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp chipotle powder
pinch coarse salt
2 cups Medjool dates, pitted (Do not substitute these for the drier, smaller ones)
1/2 cup dried figs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp Agave nectar (or honey)
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup plus a bit more, chopped dark chocolate
1/4 tsp chipotle powder
1 tbsp Agave nectar (or honey)
In a food processor, add the walnuts and process until fine. Add the cocoa, and process more. Scrape the sides down. Add the chipotle, cinnamon and salt; process until combined. Add the dates and figs, 1/2 cup at a time, scraping after each addition. Add the vanilla and agave. If it seems too dry, add a touch more agave. Press into a 8x8 inch square pan. Set aside while you make the ganache: In a small bowl, combine the chocolate, chipotle and agave. In a small sauce pan, heat the cream until it starts to simmer. Pour over the chopped chocolate mixture and stir very well. When it is smooth, pour over the brownies, smooth the top and refrigerate for about 50-60 minutes until topping is set. Cut into small squares and revel in their butter-free, gluten free glory. Recipe adapted from Rawmazing.