OMG. I don’t normally rush to post a recipe right after cooking, but here I am, still swooning over possibly the best brownies I’ve ever made.
Granted, my track record of brownie making aint that impressive (considering the last time I made them was two years ago).
These brownies are quite simply, to die for. They’re:
- flour-less (I’ve been baking with nut- and seed-flour lately with delicious results).
- sinfully chocolatey (with cacao powder AND chocolate chips).
- the perfect balance of bitter-sweet (with a tinge of espresso).
And they’re small-batch (perfect for that quick-hit chocolate craving).
Because the recipe only makes 8 brownies, you’ll be tempted to eat it all in one go, but try not to.
Savor these brownies. Eat them slowly. Relish the wholesome, ooey gooey textures. And if you can bear to, share them with your neighbors.
The idea for these brownies came from Ambitious Kitchen’s Small Batch Paleo Almond Flour Brownies with Raspberries. I loved the idea of a small-batch brownie recipe, and one made completely with nuts (and no weird gluten-free flour blends) seemed too good to be true.
So, I’ve been trying to find an excuse to make them this entire lock-down.
But the longer I waited, the more this recipe evolved (you know me, I can’t leave a recipe alone).
I finally decided to make them for my dad’s birthday (my dad’s a chocolate monster; and yes, he might be in a different country, but a girl can still celebrate!).
So, here are the tweaks I made.
#1. Blitzed almonds and pumpkin seeds (pepitas) instead of almond flour. I don’t normally buy almond flour and instead grind raw unsalted almonds into a fine flour-like substance. I’m also a bit stingy with my raw almonds (especially in times like these, when grocery store trips are limited), so I used an almond-pumpkin seed blend, which totally worked.
#2. Maple syrup instead of coconut sugar. The recipe uses 1/3 cup coconut sugar. I used a little less than 1/4 cup maple syrup because that’s what I had at home. I don’t love overly sweet desserts, and this quantity worked well for me, but you can adjust it if needed.
#3. Espresso instead of raspberries. Since it was my dad’s birthday, I wanted something that represented him. And if there’s anything my dad loves more than chocolate, it’s coffee. So I swapped out the berries for 1.5 tsp of a strong espresso powder. I also added chocolate chips, a handful of walnuts and garnished with more pumpkin seeds.
Et voila – here it is, a dense, moreish, nut & seed-filled caffeinated masterpiece.
Hope you love it as much as I did (and if you make it, don’t forget to share and tag me!). xo
Small-Batch Flourless Espresso Brownies
These gluten-free brownies are adapted from Ambitious Kitchen's Small Batch Paleo Almond Flour Brownies with Raspberries. They're chockful of nuts, seeds, chocolate and espresso, and make an ooey, gooey, wholesome treat!
Servings: 8 brownies
- 1/4 cup unrefined coconut oil
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 egg (room temperature)
- 1/3 cup raw almonds
- 1/3 cup roasted pumpkin seeds (or raw almonds)
- 3 tbsp unsweetened cacao powder
- 1/8 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1 1/2 tsp espresso powder
Optional (but recommended)
- 1/4 cup chocolate chips
- 1/4 cup walnuts
- 1 tbsp pumpkin seeds (to garnish on top)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Line a 8X4 inch loaf pan with parchment paper. (The original recipe provides an option to make it in two 5-inch skillets, so if you want to try that instead, refer to the Ambitious Kitchen recipe).
Place a small saucepan over low heat, add coconut oil and maple syrup and stir until the coconut oil is completely melted. The oil will be separate from the maple syrup at this point.
Set aside to cool for just a few minutes, then transfer to a medium bowl and whisk in the egg and vanilla extract until smooth.
Next, in a food processor (I used a hand-held food chopper), blitz the almonds and pumpkin seeds together until the texture resembles sand. You don't want it to become clumpy or turn into paste, so don't go crazy with this!
Add the other dry ingredients - raw cacao, baking soda, sea salt and espresso powder to the ground nut-seed mixture. Blitz once so they mix together (you ca do this in a separate bowl if you like, but why dirty another bowl?).
Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients slowly and mix with a wooden spoon. The batter should be quite thick.
Drop in the chocolate chips and walnuts, and combine gently.
Now pour the batter into the parchment-lined loaf pan. Tilt the pan so the batter is evenly spread, then garnish with the remaining pumpkin seeds.
Place in the preheated oven for 18-23 minutes, or until the edges are set. Under-bake these brownies, so they remain fudgy once they cool down.
Once you take it out of the oven, let cool for about 5 minutes, then remove from the pan and let cool on a wire-rack, another 5-10 minutes (trust me, it's easier to cut once they cool down).
Cut into 8 brownies, and tuck right in. <3
- Almond meal is not the same as almond flour. The original calls for almond flour, and I used to mix of almond & pumpkin seed meal (blitzed). It totally works.
- I used a little less sweetener than the recipe called for. I tend to enjoy sweets that are less sweet, and in the bitter-sweet spectrum of chocolate, I gravitate towards the bitter end. The brownies was sweet enough for me (especially once you add chocolate chips). Don't knock it till you try it!
There’s just something about chai.
Something about a steaming cup of spicy chai that hits all the right notes of ginger, black pepper and cardamom, the boldness of black tea leaves and just a touch of milk and sweetener. Like the kind that chaiwallas serve on Indian train platforms, or the comforting mug accompanying a Parle G biscuit. Throw in a hot samosa, a cold afternoon and a cozy blanket – and we’re talking about one seriously crave-worthy combination that is difficult to match.
Having said that, combining the flavors of chai with chocolate was a little outrageous, even for my standards. Yes, it had been done before, but never in my kitchen. But there was just something, something about infusing ginger, black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, turmeric (yes that too) with dark chocolate in a brownie that Just. Made. Sense. And adding pumpkin created another layer of suspense that I frankly could not wait to try out.
But first, a quick back story.
Like most of my cooking, this one started with an idea: a dream, even. I woke up knowing I had to make pumpkin brownies. Blame it on the subliminal messaging on social media what with everyone’s PSLs, pumpkin muffins, cookies, cakes, smoothies, dips, butters, mac ‘n cheeses – it just had to be done! I looked up a few tested and tried recipes, settled on the basic framework of Ambitious Kitchen’s decadent “One-Bowl Paleo Pumpkin Brownies” and got to work.
As I started to add the blend the wet ingredients together, I scanned through the rest of the recipe and the what-ifs began. What if I added ginger? Wait, what about cardamom? Ooh black pepper! Hang on, surely I’d get away with turmeric? Hmm, chai brownie….must add black tea leaves……
And that was that, folks. With that, I give you the Pumpkin Chaiwalla Brownie: a scrummy fudgy spicy Indian square of yum.
Here they are. I was so proud, I took them on a special photo-shoot in the backyard!
(If you’re wondering why they’re so skinny, it’s because I used a larger baking tray (9×13). If you use an 8×8 square one, your brownies will be perfect).
Trying to settle on this recipe’s superstar ingredient was a massive challenge; there were just so many to choose from! But in the interest of time (I know you want this recipe already), I chose almonds. They really do shine in every bite, and take this from being a refined carb, blood-sugar hazard to a (dare-I-say) healthy dessert!
Studies have even shown that adding almonds to a potentially high glycemic index (GI) meal, actually reduces the overall glycemic index of the meal – which means that it keeps your blood sugar nice and steady. On top of that, almonds contain rich amounts of biotin, which supports the production of insulin (again great for your blood sugar); potent antioxidant vitamin E, which cleans up free radical damage; copper which is essential for energy production; and good monosaturated fats, which when combined with the vitamin E have shown to reduce LDL cholesterol!
With this fabulous nutritional profile, it’s no wonder that almonds were recently ranked the #1 most nutritious food in the world. Oi vey!
Pumpkin Chaiwalla Brownies
A brownie recipe that's part chai, part chocolate, part pumpkin, and entirely too delicious to pass up on!
Servings: 12 brownies
- ¾ cup pumpkin puree (I used the pulp from a roasted pumpkin)
- 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp. freshly grated ginger
- ¾ cup almond flour (I made almond-meal by blitzing raw almonds in a chopper)
- 3 tablespoons coconut flour
- ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used raw cacao powder)
- ½ tsp. baking soda
- ½ tsp. cinnamon
- 1-2 tsp. cardamom (I like this strong!)
- 1 tsp. black pepper (you can add ½ tsp if you want less)
- 1 tsp. turmeric (you won’t even know it’s in there)
- 1 tsp. black tea leaves (lightly crushed)
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 1/3 cup chocolate chips
- 1 tbsp. olive oil or unsweetened applesauce (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 8x8 inch pan with parchment paper (I used a 9x13 inch pan and my brownies became a little skinny).
In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin puree, maple syrup, eggs, vanilla extract (if using) and grated ginger until smooth.
Mix in the dry ingredients: almond flour, coconut flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cardamom, black pepper, turmeric, tea leaves and salt until smooth. If the batter is too dry, you can add 1 tbsp. of olive oil or unsweetened applesauce.
Fold in 1/3 cup chocolate chips. Add batter into prepared pan and spread to the edges. Smooth top with a spatula. Bake for 20-25 minutes until knife comes out clean. Brownies will not look completely cooked but as soon as the knife comes out clean, they will be done (mine took 30 minutes).
Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes and store in the fridge in an airtight container. It will keep for up to a week.