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!
I made this dip as a snack for my Spring into Balance stress-management workshop on March 7th at Willow Glen Yoga. The photos could be better, but I’ll update them the next time I make it.
The idea for this dip was planted in 2012, during my first visit to Australia to meet my future in-laws. My Aussies have an afternoon ritual called “Cheers Beers.” It’s like afternoon tea, or chai-time; but instead of chai, you have beer; and instead of khari biscuits and chivda, you have chips, dips and cheeses. Instead of musing about the weather and cricket, you muse about the weather and cricket with an Aussie accent.
As you’d expect, I was there for the snacks. In particular, there was a ‘roasted pumpkin, cashew and parmesan cheese dip‘ that checked all the scrumptious boxes for me. It was savory, nutty, slightly cheesy and very addictive. I couldn’t get enough of it!
As I loaded up my cracker with a dollop of this deliciousness for the 37th time, I began to wonder how sustainable this dip addiction was. My time in Australia was running out, and since there was no feasible or legal way to take this dip home with me, I knew I’d have to figure out how to recreate it back in California.
Then, as is often the case (blame it on jet lag), I forgot all about the dip until I went back to Australia two years later.
So, there I was in December 2014, scanning the Queensland supermarket aisles for “Cheers Beers” snacks, when I vaguely remembered a “pumpkin-cashew dip” and became obsessed with finding it. But as luck would have it, they’d stopped selling it. And since I could no longer locate the original ingredients, I had to rely on my memory to piece it together.
So, here it is – my version of “the dip.”
- Roasted butternut squash
- Pumpkin seeds
- Nutritional Yeast
- Extra-virgin olive oil
The combination of flavors makes it comforting, yet dangerously addictive.
But what makes it useful for stress?
First, all winter squash is rich in beta-carotene and vitamin C – which are antioxidants and helpful for lowering oxidative stress. Next, most nuts and seeds (particularly pumpkin seeds) are rich in zinc, another key antioxidant beneficial during times of stress, along with magnesium (a relaxant), along with an ideal nutrient profile for blood sugar regulation – namely, fiber, protein and healthy fats. Nutritional yeast (AKA hippie fish food) is not only full of B-vitamins which are helpful for energy production, stress reduction and a healthy nervous and immune system) but also tastes like cheese and what could go wrong with that? Finally, rosemary ranks high on the antioxidant scale (ORAC) and garlic is both anti-viral and anti-microbial (helpful for the immune system).
You can find the seeds and nuts in any health food store, in the bulk bins or packaged snacks section. You’ll also find the nutritional yeast in most health food stores in the seasoning section (although it may not be available in every country). Or you’ll find it in a bulk bin. Either way, you can start with the Bragg’s brand of nutritional yeast (if available).
While this is not quite the Aussie pumpkin-cashew dip I remember, it’s the dip of my dreams and I hope you’ll enjoy it. xo
Savory Roasted Pumpkin Cashew Dip (Vegan)
This dip is a stress-busting, nourishing and highly addictive snack that comes together quickly once you have all the ingredients. I whole-roast a pumpkin/butternut squash for easy meal-prep during the week, but you could use steamed pumpkin instead.
Servings: 2 cups
- 1.5 cups roasted butternut squash (any winter squash or pumpkin will work)
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (shell-free)
- 1/2 cup raw pecans
- 1/4 cup raw cashews
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 tbsp fresh rosemary leaves (more if needed)
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 tsp sea salt (more if needed)
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp lemon juice (if needed)
Put all the ingredients into a food processor. If using a hand-chopper, start with the oil, garlic, rosemary and sea salt to make sure it gets mixed in properly.
Blend until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.
Serve with crackers or veggie sticks.
Last week, I shared my favorite recipe for almond milk. She’s simple, quick and nourishing AF. Yes, my homemade almond milk recipe goes by “she.” My obsession is real, people. She’s outlasted all my romantic relationships, and will always have a soft spot in my heart.
So it was a surprise when homemade cashew milk came along. A dear friend casually mentioned it five years ago over WhatsApp, and I was like, “what is this crazy talk?”
And yet, there it was – homemade cashew milk. Even simpler than almond milk, quicker, and dare I say, creamier too. A cashew milk that I now make once a week as a base for smoothies, cereals, pasta sauces, chia puddings, or straight up drink plain.
Because of how straightforward this recipe is, you don’t need a lot of advanced planning.
All you need is:
- raw cashews
- a blender (high-speed is preferable, but optional).
- 30 minutes of soaking and 1 minute of blending.
You don’t need to peel or strain anything either – it’s the ultimate low-maintenance recipe!
Plus, cashews come in a pretty sweet package nutritionally. Check it out in the table below.
Nutrition in 1/4 cup of raw cashews:
|Protein||5.9 g||A reasonable range of amino acids.
|Fats||7.7 g||A good balance of unsaturated and saturated fats.
|Resistant starch||7.6 g||A soluble fiber that helps regulate blood sugar and improve insulin sensitivity
|Other||A good balance of copper and zinc, Vitamin K and B vitamins.
In addition, raw cashews like other raw nuts and seeds contain essential enzymes that are only activated when you soak them. Heating (roasting/boiling) will damage the enzymes, so keeping them raw increases the nutritional value.
And sure, you can buy cashew milk at the store, but I have my reservations about all store-bought nut milks (you can read about it in my almond milk recipe).
So, what are you waiting for? Time to make some cashew milk!
Easy Homemade Cashew Milk
A creamy, dreamy cashew milk that you'll want to make every day.
Servings: 1 cup (8 fluid oz)
- 1/4 cup raw cashews
- 1 cup filtered water (more needed for soaking)
Soak the raw cashews in filtered water for at least 30 minutes (overnight is fine too).
Rinse the cashews thoroughly, then add to a blender with 1 cup filtered water. Add more water to make it thinner if you like.
Blend for 30-60 seconds until creamy.
Drink, use immediately in your favorite recipe, or store for up to 3 days in an air-tight jar in the fridge.
If you plan on heating this milk, do so at a low temperature - otherwise it may separate.
For a cool chocolate drink - Blend with a pitted date, 1 tsp raw cacao and a vanilla bean (or drop of vanilla extract).
For a cool turmeric latte - Blend with a pitted date, 1/2 tsp turmeric and a dash of black pepper.
Did you make this recipe?
Let me know below, and tag me @muxcooks on Instagram or Facebook if you try it! As always, share with your friends too. xo
I’ll go ahead and say it. The world doesn’t need another homemade almond milk recipe. A quick Google search brings up 149 million hits (which, granted – is a lot less than a search for ‘Brad and Jen’. Seriously, why is this still a thing, people?).
And yet, I still get loads of questions (and perplexed looks) when I talk about my homemade almond milk. Don’t get me wrong, I love going on about almond milk: how I first started making it 10 years ago without a high speed blender. How I got hooked when I found it could taste like kheer (hint: add cardamom and a date!). How it’s soo much better than store-bought…
This is probably why I don’t get invited to parties.
But that’s okay, I’m about to gate-crash your party to tell you ALL about it. Listen up – homemade almond milk is one of the simplest luxuries that you will make in your own kitchen. It’s also a nourishing substitute for dairy, especially if you’re lactose-intolerant or trying to go dairy-free.
All you need is:
- raw almonds (soaked overnight)
- a blender (a high-speed one like a Vitamix, Blendtec or Nutribullet is helpful for this)
- a clean, air-tight jar or bottle to store it in.
- optional: a nut-milk bag, cheesecloth or clean t-shirt/pantyhose (I’ll explain why this is optional).
So, what’s up with store-bought?
While I’m all about convenience, and get that homemade almond milk can be a pain to make every few days, here are my gripes with store-bought almond milk:
Gripe #1: Store-bought is full of junk (but there are exceptions).
Where to begin? First, there’s carrageenan (admittedly a type of seaweed) – a filler ingredient used to emulsify and thicken the milk. As early as the 80s, carrageenan was observed to suppress the immune system, later shown to trigger symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease in sensitive digestive tracts and even suspected to be potentially carcinogenic. Some almond milk brands now pride themselves on being “carrageenan-free!” for that reason (but know that carrageenan is also in some brands of ice-cream, cottage cheese, yogurt, and deli-meats, so read the labels!).
Then there are gums like xanthan, guar, gellan and locust bean that are used as thickeners. To be fair, these gums are also used in gluten-free cooking, but what are they doing in my almond milk? No.
And, then we have BS like rapeseed oil, once again, an emulsifier, typically found in almond milk creamers. WHY, why why why! Finally, don’t get me started on the added sugar, natural flavors, etc, etc.
Here’s the thing. Almond milk is already mostly water (as it should be: almonds+water). Does it really need all the other fillers to increase its shelf-life and make it thick like milk? You tell me.
(Exceptions: check out Malk and Elmhurst, as of 1/22/20, the only brands that seem to have minimal ingredients).
Gripe #2: Store-bought is mostly water.
So is home-made almond milk. But bear with me a sec.
Almonds by themselves are nutritional powerhouses. 1/4 cup almonds contains 7g protein, 4g fiber (with prebiotic benefits), 16g healthy fats (of which 10g are monounsaturated, 4g are polyunsaturated and 1.2g is saturated), a stellar vitamin E profile (8mg or 75% of your daily required intake), a good range of B-vitamins (needed for energy production), and reasonable amounts of copper, magnesium, manganese and zinc. Almonds are a nutritionally balanced food.
But almonds ≠ almond milk. Let’s compare the above to the nutritional facts of a few store-bought almond milk brands.
The problem is not the added minerals – it’s that your body may not know how to process them, when they’re consumed in an isolated form (i.e., not as a whole food).
(Exceptions: check out Malk and Elmhurst, as of 1/22/20, the only brands that seem to retain a lot more protein, fats and fiber. They’re also more expensive than other brands.)
Which begs the question – what are you paying for? Water mixed with a multivitamin? Oh, right…the packaging.
Gripe #3: Store-bought involves packaging.
That means more plastic or Tetra pak packaging that not only require resources (some sustainable, some not) to be produced, but also more packaging that you now have to recycle, reuse or discard in a way that minimizes your carbon footprint.
Tetra pak, by the way is not fully recyclable – it’s made of paper, aluminum and polythene, and only 75% (the paper portion) rebirths as a new Tetra pak, the rest goes into a polyaluminum compound that eventually ends up as a single-use plastic. And we now know that not all plastics are recycled either.
See, I told you I’d talk your ear off. Let’s get back to this recipe already!
So, what makes my homemade almond milk different?
Well, most almond milk recipes involve 5 steps: 1) soaking the almonds overnight, 2) rinsing the almonds, 3) slipping the peels off, 4) blending with water – with sea salt and yummy additions like vanilla bean, dates and more, 5) straining the milk of all the almond meal before drinking.
My recipe involves 3 steps. That’s right, the key element differentiating my recipe from the others is (my) laziness. I’ve found ways to make my homemade almond milk more convenient and a breeze to make. Will it be as creamy as the other recipes? Probably not – but it will be more nutritious, and that works for me.
Here are my 3 steps:
- 1. Soak the almonds overnight. This is a critical step to activate the enzymes in the almonds.
- 2. Rinse the almonds. Peeling the skins is optional; the skin contains potent flavonoids (antioxidants) that are bioavailable when combined with vitamin C&E. Although, some claim that the skin contains tannic acids that are nutrient inhibitors, I haven’t found specific evidence to confirm this (shh, I never peel #lazy).
- 3. Blend! Straining the milk using a nut milk bag is optional, and will make the milk creamier. Not straining (as shown in the photo below) allows you to retain all the lovely fiber (and prebiotic benefits) and almond goodness, such as protein, healthy fats, and powerful antioxidants. Bonus – your body knows how to use them!
You can now store your almond milk in the fridge in an air-tight container for 2-3 days. Use it for smoothies, chia puddings, overnight oats and dairy-free pasta sauces. Heating this almond milk will make it separate, so heat at low temps if you must!
No-waste hack: Almond milk goes bad if stored for longer than 3 days. So to avoid the risk of waste, I now prefer to blend almond milk on-the-go. To do this:
- Soak a bigger batch overnight – say 1 cup of almonds for 4 days.
- Rinse and blend up what you need (usually 1/4 cup for 1 smoothie.
- Rinse the rest and thoroughly dry them (air-drying is fine).
- Store the remainder in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to a week.
This way, you can have fresh almond milk on demand all week!
Easy Homemade Almond Milk
Almonds + Water = Almond milk. No peeling, no straining, just soak, blend & drink!
Servings: 1 cup (8 fl oz)
- 1/4 cup raw almonds (organic if possible)
- 1 cup filtered water
- pinch sea salt (optional)
Soak the almonds in cool, filtered water overnight or for 8 hours.
Rinse the almonds thoroughly. (Optional: slip off the skins)
Place in a high-speed blender with 1 cup of filtered water, and blend for about 30 -60 seconds until smooth. (Optional: strain using a nut-milk bag and use the remaining almond meal in baking, or add to soups/stews/pasta sauces for more fiber.)
Use immediately, or store in an air-tight jar in the fridge for 2-3 days.
Did you make this recipe?
Let me know below, and tag me @muxcooks on Instagram or Facebook if you try it!