[And don’t forget–if you’re looking for other low glycemic, ACD-friendly desserts, I’ve got 19 of them in my new ebook, Desserts without Compromise! To see what’s in the book or to order, click here.]
I do love my HH, but he is so often a conundrum to me. I mean, how is it that the guy (and most guys, really) can tell the difference between, say, a Corvette from 1974 and one from 1976 when I can’t even discriminate between a Corvette and a Porsche–from different decades? (And believe me, I’ve tried. Since the HH is such an autophile*, he’s often pointing out sports cars as they pass us on the roads, and eternally surprised that I can’t differentiate one from the other). It’s all in the details, he tells me.
In the kitchen, that same ability to differentiate between two similar but ultimately unique ingredients is a key requirement for a discerning palate. While I may suck at vehicular identification, I’ve always excelled at culinary classification.
Back in high school, for instance, I took a course called “Home Economics” (for all you young’uns, that’s what “Domestic Science” was before political correctness was invented). Our cooking teacher, Mrs. Jennings, could have been plucked from the pages of a Dickens novel. Almost six feet tall with clay-brown hair cropped tight to her head, she tended to wear stiff cotton or linen shirtdresses in varying shades of brown, black, or beige, tightly belted at the waist (well, to be honest, she didn’t actually have a waist; but the belt was sort of midway between her knees and her shoulders). With buttons just a bit too tight and the hem clinging to her knees, she’d stride through the classroom like a union leader marching at a pep rally, barking orders.
One day, she set up an impromptu quiz in the classroom: six miniature plastic cups–the type you get samples in at supermarkets–were lined up at the front of the room, each containing an opaque white liquid. “There are many types of milk,” she told us, “and you should know the different kinds and their uses. Who would like to sample them and try to tell us what is in each cup?”
Nobody raised a hand. I was conflicted: I’d been baking since I was six, drinking milk for many years before that, and I was absolutely confident that I’d be able to identify them all. At the same time, Mrs. Jennings was, shall we say, about as approachable as an angry porcupine. Add to that the fact that we had just completed the “sewing” section of the course, and she had been none too pleased with my crooked stitching, uneven hem, and brown thread on a turquoise blouse. My mark already in jeopardy, I knew I was taking a risk.
I stretched my arm toward the ceiling. “I’ll do it,” I said. Her eyes widenened, but she motioned me over to the table.
One by one, I sipped from the samples. “This is evaporated milk,” I pronounced, swishing the thick, slightly gray liquid in my mouth. I took up the next cup. It contained a thinner, blue-tinged liquid. “And this one skim milk.” A third: “This one is homogenized.”
One by one, I sipped from the containers, and with each sip, Mrs. Jennings’ face turned a deeper shade of crimson. By the time I had finished, she looked like she’d been hit with two overripe tomatoes, one on each cheek.
“That’s. . . very. . . good, Ricki,” she hissed through clenched teeth. “You got them all. .. correct.” She pronounced it “CO-rrrrect,” like two words, as if she were contemplating her next move between syllables. After that, she never called on me again. But she did put me in charge of Christmas cookies for our end-of-term party.
You’d think that someone with such a sensitivity to minute variations in taste and texture would likely possess a discerning palate as well, wouldn’t you? Um, nope. In the house of my childhood, we didn’t discriminate. If it was sweet, we liked it. I was equally happy with a Hershey bar, a Godiva Hazelnut Praline Chocolate Truffle, or a handful of Chipits chocolate chips. I mean, they’re all chocolate, right?
Ironically, it’s only since I changed my diet to embark on the ACD (having to eliminate pretty much all conventional treats of any kind) that I’ve truly begun to consider the quality of the ingredients I use (and even then, I still sometimes ignore that, too). When dessert is a rarity instead of a twice-a-day indulgence, you want to be sure you really, really enjoy it. And when you know that the crappy desserts you used to binge upon are the main reason you’ve been sick for 18 months (who am I kidding? I’ve been on the diet for 18 months, but the illness began long before that), you want to be sure that they are the finest quality you can get.
When I came across the inspiration for this recipe a while back, I immediately thought, “there’s no way I could make these healthy!” The original contained all the horrific sweets from my childhood: hydrogenated, sweetened peanut butter, sugar-laden chocolate chips, white flour, eggs, butter, and various other artery-hardening ingredients. Then I got to thinking: my palate may not be so discriminating, but it sure can be creative. So I decided to go for it and turn the recipe into an ACD-friendly delicacy.
This is actually a reworking of two other recipes on this site, my Bean Brownies (from way back in 2008) and the Cookie Dough filling from earlier this year. I’ve revamped each of them just enough that together, they really do constitute a new recipe. All the ingredients in these babies are, on balance, good for you–and they taste good, too. Really good.
Almost like a nanaimo bar in its tri-level structure, the brownie combines a fudgy, densely chocolate base with a slightly lighter raw chocolate chip cookie dough topping. Poured over all is a thick, bittersweet chocolate coating that’s midway between a crunchy topping and a ganache, glossy and firm yet soft enough to slice without cracking.
When I served one of these to the HH, he announced (after relishing it bite by bite and even licking the melted chocolate off his fingertips), “These are a triumph.” Seriously, that was the word he used! He went on, “They’re like something you’d buy in a fine European pastry shop, that dark imported chocolate you get. And you think, “oh, well, these are supposed to be like this,’ and you gobble them up.'”
Could I have asked for a better compliment? I think not.
So next time you have friends over for dinner, serve them a platter of these brownies for dessert. No matter how discering their palates (and even if they drive a 1976 Corvette), you can proffer these with pride, knowing people will never guess that they’re “healthy.”
. . . And now it’s time for a “Back-to-School Swag” Giveaway–Number Two!
I’ve just recently started experimenting with a couple more conventional low-glycemic sweeteners, and these squares make use of agave. If you’d like to read about the brand I used or win some for yourself in a giveaway, click here.
[Side note: as a member of the BlogHer ad network, I am required to place my review and giveaway on a separate page–apologies that you have to click through before you can enter the giveaway! I figured I’d offer you this awesome recipe to help mitigate the pain. ]
*no, it’s not some perverted onanistic activity, though it sounds like it. All I meant was “car-lover.”
Cookie Dough Topped Brownie Bars: Gluten Free, Sugar Free, Egg Free and Dairy Free (suitable for ACD Stage 3 or Maintenance)
Don’t let the long ingredient list deter you here–the brownies come together quickly since almost everything goes into the blender and blends up in just a few minutes. While they bake, you can mix up the cookie dough and chocolate topping. [Edit, January, 2015: ideas about ACD-friendly sweeteners have changed since I first created this recipe. If you prefer to avoid agave, you can sub coconut nectar in equal amounts instead; you may need to increase the stevia slightly.]
For the brownie layer:
1.5 cups (360 ml) white, navy or white kidney beans, rinsed and well drained (canned beans work best for this recipe)
2 Tbsp (30 ml) unsweetened almond, soy or rice milk
2 Tbsp (30 ml) tahini (sesame paste)
3 Tbsp (45 ml) coconut oil, soft at room temperature (if it’s solid, melt before using in this recipe)
4 tsp (20 ml) chia seeds, finely ground, or 2 Tbsp (30 ml) pre-ground seeds
3 Tbsp (45 ml) agave nectar (I used Xagave)
6 Tbsp (1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp or 90 ml) coconut sugar (palm sugar)
35-45 drops plain or vanilla stevia liquid, to your taste
2 tsp (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
6 Tbsp (1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp or 90 ml) sorghum flour
6 Tbsp (1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp or 90 ml) unsweetened cocoa
3/4 tsp (7.5 ml) baking powder
1/4 tsp (1 ml) baking soda
1/4 tsp (1 ml) fine sea salt
3/4 tsp (7.5 ml) xanthan gum
2 oz (60 g) good quality unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped, or 1/4 cup (60 ml) cacao nibs
Cookie Dough Layer:
2/3 cup (70 g) old fashioned rolled oats (not quick cook or instant)
1-1/3 cups (210 g) lightly toasted or raw cashews
1/8 tsp (.5 ml) fine sea salt
1/8 tsp (.5 ml) cinnamon
1 Tbsp (15 ml) coconut oil, preferably organic
3 Tbsp (45 ml) agave nectar (I used Xagave)
25-40 drops plain or vanilla stevia, to your taste
1 Tbsp (15 ml) pure vanilla extract
2-4 Tbsp (30-60 ml) unsweetened soy, almond or rice milk
3 Tbsp (45 ml) cacao nibs, slightly ground, or chopped unsweetened chocolate
Chocolate Topping Layer:
4 ounces (120 g) good quality unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 Tbsp (30 ml) coconut oil, preferably organic
1/4 cup (60 ml) agave nectar (I used Xagave)
20-30 drops plain or vanilla stevia liquid, to your taste
Make the brownie: Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Line an 8 or 9 inch (20 or 22.5 cm) pan with parchment, or spray with nonstick spray.
In the bowl of a powerful blender (a food processor is not suitable for this recipe), combine the beans, milk, tahini, coconut oil, chia, Bragg’s, Xagave, coconut sugar, stevia and vanilla until velvety smooth and absolutely no lumps remain. (If using a conventional blender, you can still make it this way: blend the beans, milk, Xagave, vanilla and stevia first until perfectly smooth, blending in smaller batches if necessary. Add the tahini, coconut oil, chia and coconut sugar and blend again until well combined. Proceed as below.)
In a large bowl, sift together the sorghum flour, cocoa, baking powder, soda, sea salt and xanthan gum; whisk until everything is evenly distributed. Pour the wet mixture over the dry and stir just to combine well. Stir in the chopped chocolate or cacao nibs. Pour into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, rotating the pan once about halfway through, until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes, then place in freezer to hasten the cooling process while you prepare the cookie dough topping.
Make the cookie dough: In the bowl of a food processor, blend the oats, cashews, salt and cinnamon until they are the texture of cornmeal. Add remaining ingredients except cacao or chocolate and blend until you have a smooth, soft cookie dough. It should be thin enough to spread (like a frosting), yet slightly too firm to pour (don’t worry: it will thicken up overnight in the fridge as it chills). Add the cacao or chocolate and stir it in by hand.
Once the brownie is very cold, spread the cookie dough mixture on top, spreading it as evenly as possible. Pop the pan back in the freezer for 10-15 minutes to firm up.
While it chills, make the chocolate topping: in a small, heavy-bottomed pot, melt the chocolate and coconut oil. Stir in the agave and stevia and blend well. Pour the mixture over the cookie dough topping. Place the pan (uncovered) in the refrigerator until the chocolate is firm; then cover with plastic and continue to chill for at least 4 hours or overnight. Slice into squares and serve. Smile as you receive grateful praise. Makes 16-20 small squares. May be frozen.
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Last Year at this Time: Appetizers in Absentia
Two Years Ago: Don’t Mock Tuna Me
Other Brownie Recipes on DDD:
- Gluten Free Bean Brownies (ACD maintenance)
- Flour Free (Grain-Free) Happy Hemp Two-Bite Brownies (ACD Stage 3 and beyond)
- “Marry Me” Brownies (flour-free, grain-free) (ACD Stage 3 and beyond)