Sunday, June 11, 2017

Paleo Double Fudge Brownies

Over the years, we've made a lot of dietary and lifestyle changes and I will definitely be making a post all about that soon, but one thing that has always stayed the same for us is our sweet tooth. When I was pregnant with Jackson, Jack and I began ending our evenings with chamomile tea and eating a sweet treat. They're days that I look back and feel so much thankfulness for. We would call it our "Tea Time" and it helped ease some of the anticipation of Jackson's arrival. Now that he is here with us and usually likes to join in on our evening ritual I decided to start making treats that were a little healthier without the harmful sugars that would send him into a wild frenzy before bed. Let's be honest though, it was a much needed switch for Jack and I, too.

It took many failed attempts, crumbly messes, and lots of moments of Jack running to the trashcan to spit things out, but they gradually started getting better. It wasn't until I ran across a few other Paleo cookie recipes that I realized I was choosing the wrong base flours and the wrong sugar replacements. After a few test runs, I finally nailed down exactly what I was looking to do--make a brownie that didn't lack in flavor, texture, and density. That's how this little beauty came about.

Choosing Your Base

As someone who always had white bleached flour on hand, I never even thought twice about any other base for a brownie let alone the health concerns of using that product. I would just throw things together and it would turn out every time. Over the years, I gradually stopped buying white flour and transitioned to whole wheat flour which is better for you, yes, but in moderation! Too much wheat sends our bodies into a glucose frenzy. I've also found lately that buying sprouted whole wheat flour is even better for you because it aids in better digestion of the flour.  

I wanted to stray away from the wheat, I believe it is partly the reason for some of Jack's stomach issues anyway, but there seemed to be way too many gluten-free substitute flours with lists of words I had no idea how to pronounce. I decided to stick to the basics--coconut flour, oat flour, and almond flour. I practiced with the almond flour and experienced lots of very dense and heavy desserts, next I tried the coconut flour and ended up with very dry and dense desserts, and finally I tried the oat flour which turned out better than the first two, but still not what I was looking to create. 

I began experimenting with mixing the flours and that is where I began to find the most success with my desserts. I was extremely grateful to run across a blog that made some delicious Paleo Chocolate Chunk cookies because a) they became a staple in our home b) finally I realized where my ratio mistakes were happening with the flour blends. 

It wasn't until I finalized this recipe that I discovered that the blend that works best for our family is the oat flour and coconut flour blend. 

What About The Sugar?

Who is addicted to sugar, raise your hand! My hand is raised high as I type awkwardly with one hand. Sugar is my weakness and a cruel one at that. It wouldn't take much research for you stumble across a handful of documentaries on Netflix, articles in google, or books at Barnes & Noble to see the havoc that it's doing to our bodies. I'm currently going through the book WomanCode and I am complete astonished at just how much sugar and our blood sugar level spikes affect our hormones. This book is seriously changing my life. I highly encourage you to read it. It will teach you about your body and how it operates.

Back to sugar, just because there isn't any cane sugar in this recipe doesn't mean it has to be any less desirable of a dessert. Coconut sugar has been the answer to my tastebud dreams. The rich toasted, brown sugar-like taste will send your tastebuds on a wildly delicious ride. The toasted flavor is the perfect additive for brownies because it still allows you to achieve that syrupy base that you need to get your brownie batter started. I also found that by adding a little raw honey it not only helps you retain some moisture in your brownie, but you also get the added benefit of nutrients in it as well.

Double The Chocolate?

You bet! What's better than a brownie? A double chocolate brownie! I played around with using dark chocolate chips, varying percentages of dark chocolate bars, and used a few different methods of adding them in. What worked best for me was buying real dark chocolate bars at our local health food store (I just discovered I can buy them at Target, too). They are a bit pricey, but I always buy them when they go on sale and I don't mind spending a little bit more on better quality when I am able. Out of the different bars that we tried we ended up falling in love with Chocolove. I, personally, loved that they are certified sustainable socially and ethically. They have lots of different concentrations of cocoa ranging from their extreme dark to their milk chocolate bar, but we almost always buy their strong or extra strong dark bars with an occasion splurge on their sea salt almond bar. 

When it comes to the method of how you add it in, I have found that melting the chocolate down in a double boiler worked the best for brownies. Let's be real though, chocolate is chocolate no matter how you add it so if you'd rather have those chocolate chunks then go for it! 

Let's Talk Oil

I have the gift of very receptive tastebuds and because of that I choose my oil very wisely. I found that the taste of olive oil, which I love mixed with herbs, balsamic vinegar, and dripping off bread, stood out way too much for me. Coconut oil has a sweetness to it that adds a depth of flavor and avocado oil has very little flavor so I switch between both of these. 

Mix It, Baby, Mix It!

I always make sure to mix wet ingredients + coconut sugar first, then in a separate bowl mix the dry ingredients, so that I can lightly fold the two together. I just notice that if I blend it all at once, I over mix it and the texture and density change.

Bake It + Eat It All Up

My oven is not very reliable. It's one of those ovens from the dawn of time and the temperature always seems to be off every time. What I'm getting at is you're going to have to play around with the bake time on these. For my oven, I crank up the heat to 400 and bake for roughly 30 minutes. Just make sure that the center isn't gooey and you're good to go.

Bake, Love, Share, + Repeat

I hope that you fall in love with this brownie and it becomes a staple in your home to fill those sweet tooth cravings! Something that we found is that we love it fresh out of the oven, but we love it even more after it's chilled in the fridge! Please feel free to share this recipe with your family and friends. I mean who doesn't love a good brownie, especially when it's delicious and nutritious!