This holiday season treat yourself to guilt-free chocolate brownies with two secret (but healthy) ingredients to make them completely sugar free, but still utterly delicious…
It’s a super simple and quick recipe, and if you have kids, you can easily get them involved too. All the ingredients are healthy (licking the bowl is a must!).
They are vegan, gluten free, coconut free and paleo.
Want to know what the surprising secret ingredients are?
This recipe is adapted from Arman Liew at Big Man’s World. I’ve made a few changes to make them chocolatey-orange delights.
Meet a host of healthy ingredients!
1. Cacao powder
A great source of magnesium, zinc, iron and antioxidants… magnesium helps calm the body and helps to build strong bones.
2. Almond butter
A great source of both calcium and magnesium, along with many other nutrients and mono-unsaturated fat, which can help to reduce heart disease.
Don’t have almond butter in the cupboard? You can also do a peanut butter version – it just tastes more peanut buttery, which is tasty too!
3. Orange rind (contains anti-oxidant properties)
4. Pecans and walnuts (optional, if you like nuts in your brownies)
These nuts are a source of iron, zinc, magnesium amongst many other nutrients and are also a source of mono-unsaturated fat… plus walnuts are a great plant source of Omega 3 fatty acids.
Plus the two two surprise ingredients that make them taste just as sweet and yummy as normal brownies?
5. Sweet potato
A source of iron, calcium, selenium, B vitamins and Vitamin A – these brownies will help you see at night!
6. Monkfruit sugar
This ingredient has quite honestly revolutionised my sugar free baking and it’s a source of antioxidants, anti-inflammatories and it’s potentially cancer-fighting too (see below).
If you don’t have monkfruit, you can have a hard core chocolate hit and use no sugar (I have used this recipe with kids who love pop tarts and they have still gone down well, but I think the monkfruit sugar makes them really yummy).
You can also use coconut sugar or just normal sugar if you wish.
I use the brand Lakanto monkfruit sugar which I can get in the United Kingdom.
Fun facts and benefits of monkfruit sugar
1. Monkfruit have been used for centuries
Monkfruit was cultivated by Buddhist monks in the 13th century and is also known as the ‘Buddha fruit’.
2. The sweetener is safe (and my Lakanto pack is stamped ‘autistic friendly’)
It was declared safe by the FDA in 2010 and has been shown to be safe in animal studies in large amounts (though as a vegan I’ll admit I’m not into animal testing!)
3. Contains zero calories and won’t raise blood sugar levels
So monkfruit sweetener can be perfect for those on a keto diet or anyone with diabetes . Though please, as always check with your medical practitoner first. Some people need to raise their blood sugar levels at times too… I like the sweet potato in this recipe for providing slower release carbs.
4. Contains anti-oxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties
Monkfruit extract is super sweet (100-250 times stronger than sugar). This sweetness comes from its unique antioxidants called mogrosides.
5. Monkfruit may have anti-cancer effects
In animal and test tube studies it’s also shown to inhibit cancer cells (though no human studies as yet).
Also, monkfruit doesn’t have the same aftertaste of stevia, so often people prefer it. My choc orange brownies have gone down well, with no one realising that they contain sweetener.
(Vegan, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Egg Free, Nut and Coconut Free)
I wholly recommend doubling up this recipe, which is what I usually do, then I freeze a batch. They make great breakfast bars and snacks.
- 1 cup of cooked sweet potatoes
- 1/2 cup of almond butter (drippy is best)
- 1/3 cup of cacao powder (or cocoa powder if you don’t have cacao)
- The grated rind of two oranges (I like to use organic oranges which don’t have wax on, but go with what you’ve got)
- 1/3 cup chopped or bashed pecans/ walnuts (optional) (I like to use soaked and dehydrated nuts which are more airy and biscuity, but again go with what you’ve got!)
- Topping (optional) You can drizzle some melted chocolate and orange rind over the top for fun, or put melted chocolate inside.
I double up this recipe and freeze a load, then defrost and warm them up when I need them.
If your kids are getting involved, just a note that grating the orange can result in shaved fingers if not careful, so take extra care to show kids how to hold the orange so as not to get scraped. (And as my friend pointed out, finger shavings technically make this recipe non-vegan! Plus are painful for kiddies!)
- Cook a batch of sweet potatoes.
My favourite, zero prep way to do this is to the pop them in the oven with skins (pricked with a knife to prevent explosions. I cook mine at 200 deg C/ 180 fan (or 390/ 355 fan if using Farenheit)
When the potatoes cooked, let them cool, then you can just peel off the skin – super easy.
- Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Centigrade/ 150 fan (or 340 degrees Farenheit/ 300 fan)
Note: You can cook these brownies at a higher heat for crispier edges, but when cooking nuts and cacao powder, I like to keep the oven slightly lower, and cook for longer so as not to spoil the nut oils etc. You can even go lower, say 160 degrees C, and the brownies will simply be fudgier all the way through.
- Mix all ingredients
In a large mixing bowl (or you can use a blender, but I like to double up so use a bowl, and it’s fun for kids) mix the 1 cup of sweet potato, 1/2 cup almond butter, 1/3 cup cacao powder. Lastly add the chopped nuts (optional)… or bash them up a little in a pestle and mortar – my kids love doing that!
5. Pop onto a tray
The mixture is quite fudgey, so you can arrange into a cake shape of your choice – rectangular, round, unicorn…this is also great for birthday cakes of all shapes and sizes.
I like to use a silicon sheet for totally easy washing up – you can use the same ones that you cooked the sweet potatoes on (though I tend to cook my sweet potatoes on a different day and use the leftovers for this recipe).
5. Cook in the oven for 20 minutes.
Keep an eye on them – you can give them a bit more time… or less time if you’re cooking at a higher temperature.
6. Leave to cool, then use a spatula to cut them into suitable size bars or squares
7. Optional topping
We melted orange chocolate onto our brownies – I found this yummy one recently hen I was staying in the ‘chocolate street’ in Bruges, Belgium (heaven!).
I wholly encourage you (and kids if you have them) to play with this recipe!
You could add a little cinnamon or ginger to make a fudgey ginger cake.
Perhaps you’d like raisins, dates or cranberries inside too.
Maybe instead of an orange flavour, you’d like to try peanut butter, plain or a mint chocolate version.
Let me know what you love!
You can also serve the mixture as a pudding, without even cooking it (getting the benefits of cacao powder completely raw).
Over to you
Are you tempted to try out this super quick recipe for the holidays (or any time!)?
What ingredients would you mix in?
Any quick 5 minutes recipes you’d like to share?
Let me know in the comments below – I’d love to hear from you!
Love Emma x
(A thought – could you go NOW and try this five minutes recipe out? Because it’s totally adaptable if you don’t have quite the right ingredients!
Think of that yummy chocolate orange smell… mmm!