Fudgy chocolate brownies
“True strength is when you can break a bar of chocolate into four pieces with your bare hands – then just eat one.” – Unknown
For chocolate lovers, the struggle between balancing your cravings for more versus what you really should eat can be a little frustrating. Since my boys discovered the enchanting world of chocolate, it’s been a constant challenge to try and make all things chocolate a little healthier.
Chocolate milk, chocolate cake, chocolate brownies, chocolate chip cookies – there’s no end to what you can make with good quality chocolate. But what is good quality chocolate? An ordinary slab of milk chocolate (100g) contains about 50% of sugar while a 70% dark chocolate can contain around 30% sugar. That’s quite a bit a sugar, and you can see why the darker the chocolate, the better it is for you. Even dark chocolate should be eaten in moderation.
Lately, my sons have been asking for chocolate brownies. To be fair, I’ve avoided making them because I simply did not grow up eating brownies, and I never saw what everyone else sees in them. My mother never baked or bought them, in fact I don’t think she even knew what they were. I bought a few gluten-free, dairy-free brownies because I loathed the thought of having to make them. After trying a few “healthier” versions, I found them surprisingly sweet. Whenever I find myself questioning the ingredients of any product, I usually go back to basics and make my own. After a few tries and tweaks (mine are dairy-free and with spelt flour), I discovered some simple tips you can apply to a basic brownie recipe:
1. If you can’t eat butter but can’t live without the butter taste, substitute with a dairy-free spread such as Nuttelex (free-from Australian brand which you can find in Dubai).
2. For a healthier veggie version, substitute 1 cup of butter with ¾ cup cooked and mashed sweet potato or pumpkin (obviously no butter flavour here).
3. Use min. 70% dark chocolate. It gives the brownies a richer flavour with less sugar and some brands are dairy-free.
4. Coconut sugar is an easy substitute for white sugar in baked products. It’s caramel flavour is not as sweet as white sugar, it’s unrefined and does not contain additives.
5. Use good quality flour. Look for unbleached, preferably organic all-purpose flour, wholemeal flour or substitute with spelt flour (1 cup all-purpose flour = 1 cup spelt flour). I recommend trying spelt flour as it’s easier to digest and more nutritious than regular wheat flour. The higher fiber in wholemeal spelt flour also works well in chocolate baked goods and kids won’t notice the difference.
Fudgy Chocolate Brownies (Dairy-free)
250g dairy alternative spread (I use Nuttelex)
250g 70% dark chocolate, broken into pieces
200g coconut sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
225g wholemeal spelt flour
Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°F / Gas 4. Grease and line the bottom of a 23cm square baking tin with parchment paper.
Melt the spread and chocolate pieces in a saucepan and set aside to cool a little.
Beat the eggs, coconut sugar and vanilla until pale and fluffy. Slowly pour in the chocolate mixture while beating on low speed.
Fold in the flour until everything is just combined (no need to over mix). Pour into the prepared baking tin and bake for about 20 – 25 minutes or until the top is firm but the inside is still a little gooey. Don’t be tempted to bake them longer otherwise they will turn out dry.
Leave the brownies to cool for 10 minutes in the baking tin, then remove and allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Cut into small squares for kids or medium sizes for adults.