Happy Hemp Two-Bite Brownies (Grain-Free, Sugar-Free, Vegan)*

* Or, You Put WHAT in Those Brownies?

*Or, Cheech and Chong’s Favorite Dessert

FIRST THINGS FIRST–A BIG “THANK YOU”: Before I get to all the “hemp in brownies” jokes (and you know that I will), I wanted to post a quick update about my absence this past week and express my thanks to all of you.

A huge, heartfelt THANK YOU to each and every one of you who commented, who emailed, who tweeted or who sent your good wishes for my dad (and me) on Facebook.  I was incredibly touched by the outpouring of sympathy and all the positive energy and virtual hugs that were sent my way.  I appreciate all of your support more than I can say. 

And guess what?  It worked! After a hellish (or should that be “Heller-ish?”) week in the hospital, my dad is now stable and was flown home to Montreal yesterday.  We are waiting to hear from the doctors about whether he’ll be sent to rehab (aka convalescent home) or something else.  Given that he had a heart attack followed by emergency surgery to unblock an artery (and a stent inserted in said artery), he is doing amazingly well.  I will still likely be travelling back and forth between Toronto and Montreal most weekends, though, so I may not be posting quite as regularly.

But for now–we can celebrate with brownies!  This is a recipe I developed before I left but never had a chance to post.  Apart from the obvious associations of hemp in brownies, I’m calling these “Happy Brownies” because they represent the happy outcome after my dad’s ordeal. :D

And for anyone who suspects that hemp brownies are truly a throwback to the 60s, let me say, first of all, that the hemp seeds in these are the edible kind, so you are not ingesting any mind-altering chemicals whatsoever here (unless you count the flood of serotonins in the brain due to their heavenly taste); and second of all, hemp is not the same thing as hash, and of course the classic hippie confection was a hash brownie; and third of all, how the heck would I even know, because I never did manage to consume any of the latter, even in my undergrad days, because I am such a nerd that nobody ever offered me any, and hash brownies never appealed to me, anyway–I mean, why sully your chocolate with psychedelic drugs?

These ethereal little bites came about a few weeks ago when I decided to recreate a packaged product I found in the health food store. I know there are lots of blogs and websites out there attempting to reproduce other foods; for example, this site recreates restaurant meals; this one tries to recreate convenience foods; this one converts elaborate omni meals into vegan ones; and so on.  While I do, occasionally, find inspiration in restaurant meals, I am not one of those people who makes a point of creating a copycat version of something I’ve eaten. 

Having said that, though, I nevertheless sometimes feel the need to develop my own take on a food because (a) I just love it so much that I want it again at home; (b) I may not be able to access it in stores where I live; or (c) I am so ticked off at the price of the original item (and I know I could probably reproduce something almost the same at home) that I feel I should do so. 

These hemp brownies fall into that last category.  You see, there exists a grain-free, sugar-free, vegan hemp brownie already right here in Toronto, and it’s available in single serving packs at most health food stores. The other day, I was shopping at Ambrosia (I swear, they should just put out a cot in one of the aisles for me) and saw these little squares.  The ingredients were almonds, hemp, agave nectar, cocoa, palm oil, soda–and that’s about it. 

The brownie was really good–surprisingly fudgy, in fact–and it contained ingredients I could (at least occasionally) eat.  I bought it despite the $1.99 price for a teensy, tinesy, terribly wee piece (about 2″ x 1.5″, or 5 cm x 3.8 cm). Then I went home and started playing in the kitchen.

Well, I daresay I like my version better than the original.  Mine possess a dryer, slightly crispy exterior and a dense, fudgy, moist interior.  The flavor intensifies and blossoms as they cool–I tried one warm (the way I used to like “regular” brownies) but it was too soft in the middle and the chocolate flavor didn’t speak loudly enough. But upon cooling, those characteristics changed entirely.  The HH (the arbiter of all things healthy and GF) decided that they were as good as any brownie he’d ever tasted.

Given that I first created the recipe a few weeks ago, there remains not one of these little gems left in my refrigerator.  But with the happy, healthy vibes buzzing throughout the house today, I may just have to whip up another batch in celebration of my dad’s return home.  Given his age and current condition, though, I’d better not tell him they contain hemp.

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This recipe is linked to Amy’s Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays event, where you can find lots of other healthier recipes, too.

Last Year at this Time: Virtual Spring: Katie’s Aspara-Dip

Two Years Ago: Maple Mania I: Maple-Flax Cookies (ACD maintenance only, GF).

Three Years Ago: Ten Things that Make Me Happy (meme)

© Ricki Heller

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Comments

  1. So pleased to see you blogging again – had worried it might be much longer – but it just goes to show the power of your dad’s salad a day :-)

    The hemp brownies look great – when it is something a bit out of the ordinary I am torn between supporting producers who goes outside the regular sugar, flour and butter route but the price is often ridiculous – just proves that home made always tastes better

    And those photos are just dreamy – reminiscent of elegant high tea in a posh establishment (rather than the grungy coffee shops of amsterdam where hash brownies are rather easy to come by)

    • Thanks, Johanna! Yes, my dad is quite amazing–the nurses’ aide told us she had never seen anyone so determined to get back to his old self, pushing himself to get up, feed himself, etc. even when it was incredibly tough. I guess if you make it to 90 without being sick, you must have a pretty hardy constitution! (Only hoping I inherited some of that). ;) And glad I transported you (virtually) away from the Amsterdam hash brownie shops–not the tone I was going for! ;)

  2. I missed your lovely posts! I am gald to have you back!!!

    I am glad to hear that your father is doing better! Finger’s crossed here! :)

    These Hemp brownie bites look so irresistable & apart too!
    MMMMMMMMM,…all the way!!!

    Beautiful tea or coffee cups!!

    • Thanks so much, Sophie! :D The tea cups are ones I inherited from my mom–she used to collect odd cups and saucers. I’ve started buying my own here and there as well, but you just can’t find ones that look as pretty any more, I find. :)

  3. Oh, yum, Ricki! I’ve got all the ingredients … that’s what I call baking karma. ;-)

    So glad to hear that the outlook is brighter for your dad. Don’t worry about us … we’re always here waiting for chocolate desserts with Cheech and Chong references. :-)

    Shirley

    • Loving good karma! And thanks for the good wishes re: my dad, who is doing incredibly well, considering. While I am not a fan of the two Ch’s myself, I knew they’d want a mention in this particular post ;)

  4. Glad to hear things are on the mend with your Dad.. and that you are back in the blogging saddle!

    These look like a wonderful treat and I can’t wait to try them out. :)

  5. I’m so glad that you’re home and your Dad is on the road to recovery!

  6. Ricki,
    Happy to hear your dad is doing okay, and that you’re back. :)

    Thanks for this recipe. I saw hemp and almost gagged, but I see you used the seeds and not the powder. I can’t handle anything with a lot of hemp protein powder (although Manitoba is okay as long as a lot of stevia is involved). Love that you recreated these and yours turned out better. They look and sound amazing.

    • Thanks so much, Heather! I do actually use hemp protein powder in my smoothies sometimes, but for something like these, I wouldn’t have even thought of it. I know they contain coconut sugar (and you’re abstaining right now), but maybe I can whip up a stevia-based version for you. ;)

  7. Ricki,

    I’ve missed reading your posts so much!
    I’m so happy to hear that your Dad is doing better! I sent some prayers up for him!
    These brownies look amazing! I wish I could sit down with you, eat a brownie, have a cup of green tea, and just talk with you in person! :)
    I am following the candida diet and it’s working! Praise the Lord!
    I actually created some grain free cookies the other day. The only problem is I was measuring some of the items. So, I need to re-make them. When I get them perfected, I will let you know. It’s cookies we can actually eat on our diet!

    Blessings,
    Jeanie

    • Thanks so much, Jeanie. And thanks for the good wishes and prayers–they made a difference! And I’d be happy to share tea and brownies with you any time. :) Also glad to hear that the diet is working for you. And do let me know when you get the recipe completed–I’d love to see it.

  8. So glad to hear your dad is ok. My stepdad’s dad is also 90, sick, and sadly not doing as well.

    Now, can you tell me about coconut sugar? I’ve been asked about it but never tried it – less processed I assume? What CAN’T coconut do? :-)

    • Thanks, Michelle! Sorry to hear about your stepdad. I know that my dad is exceptional for a 90 year-old (well, 3 months shy of 90). Most of the hospital staff thought he was 70.

      Re: coconut sugar, it’s from the sap of the coconut palm. Looks like a very light, slightly less moist brown sugar and has a distinct caramel flavor. It’s very low glycemic–about 35 on the GI–and can be used one-for-one with sugar. I love it and have been playing a lot with it lately–but I do find that, even 2 years into the ACD, I still can’t eat it more than once or twice a week without a reaction. It’s still sugar, after all. :)

  9. I’m so lad that your father is doing better! Your “special” brownies sound like a good way to celebrate his recovery.

  10. Yah!!! I’m so glad to hear farther Heller is doing well. Best wishes still go out for a speedy recovery.

    So glad you are back so quickly (that was unexpected!), but take your time, we’ll be here :)

    • Thanks, Alisa! :) The hospital staff were all amazed at how quickly he got better. He is remarkable, even for someone much younger than him–very determined, very much the fighting spirit. I am hoping I got some of those “indestructible” genes!!

  11. These look wonderful in every way! I love that they have natural, whole-food hemp protein, and are sweetened with (my favorite!) coconut sugar. I might try coconut oil for the oil. I bet I could even leave out the leaveners and dehydrate these into raw brownie bars! Thanks, Ricki – another one of yours I’m bookmarking :)

    • Thanks so much! And I’m a lover of coconut sugar now, too. :) If you try these as raw brownies, PLEASE come back and let me know how they turn out–sounds like such a great idea!

  12. I’m so happy to here your dad is fighting back! I’ll keep praying for him.
    Those brownies look amazing. I need to make a grocery list!
    I got the AMAZING candy bar in the mail. I eat a little bit every day :)
    Thanks again!

  13. Ricki, How fortuitous it was that you mentioned Ambrosia this morning…. because I don’t normally head up north, but I was picking up my bike and stopped by since they were closeby. And wow! Loved it! I picked up all sorts of things I shouldn’t have! Now I have a new snack/break point when coming home from north-bound cycling trips. Youpee! :)

    • Yay!! I am so glad you liked it as much as I did (though I warn you, a great health food store with discount prices is rather addictive). ;) But a place to take a break and get a snack is a good thing!

  14. Ricki, So glad to hear that your Dad is stable and on the road to recovery. You’ve been in my thoughts and prayers. Was excited to see the new post this morning. Yay, for brownies!!!

    • Christy, thank you so much for the good wishes and prayers–I think they all did make a difference, as his continued recovery is amazing. :) And brownies are definitely a good thing, too! :D

  15. Ricki these sounds delicious! We love hemp seeds :) we just made brownies the other day,so these are just perfect!!!

  16. Oh yum! I love those evil little two bite brownies from the grocery store, not the healthy kind. They make me so sick. I can’t wait to try these! It will be nice to have some that don’t make my stomach hurt :) I’ve never had hemp seeds, but I am always up to try something new!

    • Hi Lisa, I wasn’t specifically thinking of those evil mini ones (though I borrowed their name, since these look the same), so don’t expect exactly the same texture. But these are still a fudgy, chocolately, yummy treat. And with the hemp seeds completely ground up in the mix, you won’t even know they’re there. :)

  17. So glad that your Dad is on the mend. It must have been a really stressful week for you. You were missed so very much and many prayful thoughts went out for a positive outcome.

    • Thanks, Gretchen–yes, a very stressful week, and he is not out of the woods yet, but at least he’s in a hospital in his own city so he feels better about being “home”. Thank you so much for the prayers and good thoughts–and the welcome back! :D

  18. I hope your Dad continues to recover and that it is quick & stress-free! Or at least minimally stressful. In a brownie related question, what is the difference between using almond flour or meal and grinding up your own? My food processor is on its way out and it doesn’t do the job very well…

    • Kate, to be honest, I almost always use raw almonds that I grind myself mostly because I buy them in bulk and always have them on hand; and I find the cost of the almond flour to be ridiculoulsy high. I am fairly certain that my home-ground “meal” isn’t quite as fine as the stuff you buy in bags. I’m not entirely sure how that would change the texture–I have found that home-ground meal creates a slightly moister result in some other recipes, but I can’t vouch for this one. Because a cup of fine meal versus a cup of ground almonds (my way) would mean more actual almonds in the meal, I’d remove about 1-2 Tbsp (15-30 ml) of meal per cup if you’re using the pre-packaged almond flour and see how that goes. In other words, measure out your 1/2 cup almond flour from this recipe (120 ml), then remove a tablespoon (15 ml) and use as the recipe suggests. If you try it, let me know how it turns out! :)

      • Thanks for the advice Ricki! I used Almond Meal from Trader Joe’s, which is ground with the skins and is much more affordable. I removed 1 Tbsp from 1 cup, and actually made a great double batch. They turned out really well, in fact I used them as quick energy bites during marathon training. Dang, talking about them makes me want to eat one!

        • Ha, ha! Glad they worked out. And what a great use for them. . . so nice to know that yummy chocolate concoctions can help to train someone for a marathon! (especially since that’s one thing I know for sure I will never get to do). :)

  19. What awesome news about your dad! I am really happy for you.

    Those brownies look wonderful. So moist.

  20. i’m soooo happyfaced to hear your father is doing sooo much better, Ricki. that’s such awesome news! yay!

    your happy hemp brownies look perfect and uber fudgy ‘n awesome! mmmmmmm! a while back we bought a 5lb bag of raw hemp seeds and are still workingo our way through them….i know what some of them will be used for now. w00t!

  21. Hi there-

    First time commenter-long time reader. I have all of the ingrediants for these right now(yipeee!!!) except the coconut sugar? What would you suggest as a sub-I have touch of nature Baking Formula Stevia blend? I wonder…Thank you!

    • Thanks for commenting and nice to “meet” you! :) If you are able to consume regular sugar, I’d suggest that brown sugar or Sucanat would work better than a stevia blend (the coconut sugar confers a bit of caramelization here, I think). You could also try maple syrup and reduce the water accordingly, or do the same with agave nectar. If I could eat maple syrup, I’d probably use a little of that, reduce the water by the same amount, and make up the sweetness with stevia.

      Let me know how they turn out if you do give them a try! :)

  22. wow, that is great news, I’m glad your dad is on the mend. these look so good, I’d love one with my afternoon tea :) Finally got some coconut sugar, but now I need to get hemp seeds!!

  23. I’m so glad to hear your dad is doing better. I’ve been thinking about you.

    The brownies, like everything you whip up, look delish. I’d LOVE to be able to tell unsuspecting guests they are made with hemp seeds, but maybe you’re right about not telling your father. :)

    • Thanks, Andrea–much appreciated. :) I have a feeling my dad wouldn’t quite understand about the hemp (ha ha). But I’d love to be a fly on the wall when you tell your friends, “These brownies have hemp in them”! ;)

  24. Hehehe, I love that the jokes write themselves! Still, they look SO good.

  25. You are a genius, even if you were inspired! I must try these babies. And more importantly, I am sooo glad your Dad is on the mend. xo

    • Thanks, Maggie! I guess I’m just to cheap–er, frugal–to pay for something that I can recreate myself. ;) And thanks for the good wishes about my dad :D

  26. Sario@Olive Information says:

    Oh my, they look so good! They look just like Babycakes gluten free brownie bites which are so good. But yours looks more moist and fudgy so they are probably better. I shall try.

  27. so glad to hear your dad’s getting better xx

  28. Ricki, these look unbelievable! I need to get some cocoa, but I’m really looking forward to trying these! Any suggestions for those of us who may not have any mini-muffin tins?

    • You could certainly try them in regular muffin tins or even a small square pan (or mini loaf pans, for smaller square brownies). My concern with a square pan would be that the center would take forever to become firm, and by then the edges would be overbaked. I’d even be tempted to try these as “brownie cookes”, just plopping tablespoonfuls of the batter on a cookie sheet and see what happens (though I suspect they might spread too much). If you have smaller pans or muffin cups, I’d say that’s your best bet. But if you feel adventurous enough to try any of the other things, let me know how they turn out!

  29. Oh my… these brownies were DELICIOUS! I bought coconut sugar after seeing it in a few of your recent recipes and this was my first time using it. Such a great flavour. Anyway, the brownies… just awesome! I halved your recipe and still got 6 brownies (at 95 cals a piece). Thanks for a great treat :)

    • So glad you liked them! And happy you tried out the coconut sugar–it is by far my favorite sweetener at the moment. And thanks for the calorie count–I had no idea they were so reasonable! :D

  30. Melanyann Garvin says:

    Hi there. I’d love to try this recipe, but wondering if you think I could successfully substitute chia seeds for the hemp seeds? Also, would palm sugar work in place of the coconut sugar? Just trying to work with what I already have on hand.
    Thanks!!!

    • Chia absorbs huge amounts of liquid and creates a slightly gummy texture, so I wouldn’t use chia. A better option would be sunflower or pumpkin seeds (lightly toasted)–but for that, you’d have to weigh them to ensure that you get the same amount (as the same volume of those would be a very different weight from hemp seeds). You could also try sesame seeds, which are closer in size and weight to hemp. I’m not sure how they’d work–but it would be worth a try! As for palm sugar, it’s virtually interchangeable with coconut sugar, so there should be no problem with that, at least. :) Do let me know how they turn out if you are brave enough to try them with the other seeds!

      • Melanyann Garvin says:

        Thanks for this info! Guess I’ll just get some hemp seeds. Don’t really want to blow a whole batch of these yummy snacks with the wrong ingredients! And I don’t trust myself experimenting with other seeds!

  31. This caught my eye on Health Freak Food. I wanted to let you know that they must set your page in a frame, since their URL, not yours, is not the one that is showing. I’m going to mention this to them and express my displeasure. I think it’s a great site (I’ve just discovered it) but they should direct traffic to you fully. (Perhaps you might want to email them?)

  32. Ricki, you are going to have to help me find coconut sugar in Toronto. Does Ambrosia carry it? I tried Essence of Life and Tutti Frutti in Kensington, and neither had it.

  33. Yaey I’m so happy to hear your dad is doing well!! :) And these little brownies look really delicious!

  34. Does the hempseed refer to shelled or unshelled hempseed?

    • They’re shelled–I’ve never seen unshelled hemp seeds! (it would be a crazy amount of work to shell them yourself, since they are so tiny!). :)

      • Oh. It’s good that I asked then. At least in some parts of Europe the default hempseed is unshelled. Many people use that for various things (of course they don’t shell it at home, they just use it as is), and hemp flour is made with it, so I was hoping I could use hemp flour (instead of blending hemp seed) since it’s about 1/4 the price… It works great in many baked goods and I reasoned the chocolate could cover the earthy taste. Maybe I’ll try with a mixture of shelled hempseed and hemp flour.

  35. The only problem with these is they’re only 2 bites – I can see myself munching through the whole batch! I just need to find hemp seeds in West Yorkshire, we can’t buy reliable stevia easily either – I will use apple sauce instead of water and make these beauties!

    • Ricki Heller says:

      Sounds like a great variation, Vicky! Let me know how they turn out! :)

      • I’ve ordered my hemp seeds on-line so hope to try them this weekend!

      • I made these today with apple sauce. I think I could have just used the water because they were sweet enough for me – they turned out a little soggy in the middle with the apple sauce but nevertheless, absolutely delicious! 8 are still cooling – I couldn’t resist eating one straight away! This is the first time I’ve cooked with hulled hemp seeds – I can taste their nutty flavour and this blends so nicely with the cocoa!

        • One of my very favorite recipes, Vicky! I’ve never thought to try with applesauce. My recollection is that they are very moist when warm but will become firmer as they cool, and even more brownie/fudgy the next day. And glad you like the hemp seeds–I just love them! :)

Trackbacks

  1. [...] about my absence this past week and express my thanks to all of you. …Read the original post: Diet, Dessert and Dogs » Happy Hemp Two-Bite Brownies (Grain-Free … /**/ Filed Under: Hemp News Tagged With: absence, big, past, past-week, quick-updateSpeak Your Mind [...]

  2. [...] Hemp brownies. No… not that kind. [Diet, Dessert and Dogs] [...]

  3. [...] Happy Hemp Two-Bite Brownies [...]

  4. [...] ingredient lists… that usually have uncommon ingredients. I was immediately smitten by her two-bite hemp brownies, and after a trip to Ambrosia, I finally had hemp seeds, coconut sugar and stevia. These [...]

  5. [...] Happy Hemp Two-Bite Brownies [...]

  6. [...] Stevia Stevia is my go-to sweetener of choice. It’s natural (derived from an herb you can grow in your own back yard); it can be up to 100 times sweeter than sugar, so you need very little; and it doesn’t affect blood sugar levels, so you don’t have to worry that it will feed candida or increase your risk of Type 2 Diabetes. The only drawbacks to stevia are that it can’t replace sugar directly in recipes (you use so little that the dry/wet balance of the recipe will be affected); and some people find that it has a bitter or aspartame-like aftertaste (I avoid the latter by using it sparingly; smaller amounts tend to avert the problem). Stevia is also great in savory dishes that need a little boost of sweetness, like pasta sauce or salad dressing. Some of my favorite stevia-sweetened recipes on my blog are Mint Chip Ice Cream and Happy Hemp Two-Bite Brownies. [...]

  7. […] up was these Happy Hemp Two-Bite Brownies from Ricki Heller. They’re grain-free and also don’t contain any refined sugars. I use coconut […]

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