*Just in case there’s any doubt, I meant that in the sense of, “These brownies will make him/her/you declare, “Marry Me!” and not in the sense of, “You will want to marry these brownies”–though weirder things have happened.
[What's that I see beside these squares of bliss? Could it be--?!!]
Now, I know it may seem a little odd for me to name this recipe “Marry Me Brownies” when I myself am not married (was that a collective gasp from the balcony? Sorry if you hadn’t realized that The HH and I are not technically living in wedded bliss–we just feel as if we are. Though I suppose that after almost 15 years, he may as well be my legal spouse. And besides, “Cohabitate with Me Brownies” just doesn’t have the same ring to it).
As you may recall, The HH and I met when we were both, shall I say, “mature” (I was almost 40 and he was 41), both having exited a first marriage on not-so-friendly terms. Neither one of us felt the need to revisit that same state of
incarceration ball and chain acrimony matrimony any time soon.
Besides, if you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you already know that when it comes to love and courtship, my sweetheart is an incurable pragmatist. Left to his own devices, he would never experience a desire to buy flowers, call for a date (I was the one who asked him out), celebrate an anniversary or even buy his beloved a birthday gift each year (in fact, when my 40th birthday fell less than a month after we moved in together, he neglected to buy me a present. Suffice it to say that, had he not already unpacked all his boxes from the move, we might not have stayed together).
Luckily, though, my honey is a quick learner: these days, he never forgets to ask, “Is this an occasion that requires a card?” before major events like anniversaries or statutory holidays, in addition to buying actual gifts.
So, back to the brownies. I figured that if a roasted chicken could prompt a proposal, then these brownies would, no doubt, achieve at least the same result–if not incite a full-fledged elopement or extemporaneous wedding ceremony. Yes, they are that good.
[Extreme Fudge Factor]
In fact, I’d say these brownies have been three years in the making. Actually, after 14–fourteen!!–batches made before I got them just right, it sort of feels like I’ve been baking them for three years. But that’s not what I meant; I meant that it’s taken me three years to create ACD-compliant brownie that is totally, entirely, completely, absolutely indistinguishable from a “real” brownie. Yes–these are real brownies!
Just like the excessively butter and egg-filled ones, you’ll find these little bars of bliss to be incredibly dense and fudgy, and–be warned–totally irresistible. With a slightly nutella-esque, intensely chocolate flavor and the perfect combination of dry, crackly top and moist, almost candy-like interior, you may just christen these the perfect chocolate confection.
Now, The HH enjoys his desserts in moderation, and he even likes brownies. However, he’s not a sweets addict like me, nor does he share my overweaning adoration of All Things Chocolate. But with these brownies, his reaction was entirely different from the way he’s reacted to any dessert before. He appeared smitten, even from his very first bite. In short order, he ooh’d and aaah’d and mmmm’d his way through the dark, decadent, delectable square.
And then, my non-romantic sweetheart surprised me with something I would never have anticipated he would do. He turned to me, his cheeks a little flushed and his eyes sparkling. His expression was very serious as he leaned over and touched me tenderly on the cheek.
He moved his face very close to mine, smiling softly, and uttered the question he has never asked before, not in the almost-15 years we’ve been together:
“So, can I have another one?”
That’s right–my honey asked for seconds! On dessert!!
Well, what else could a gal say–except, “Yes”?
“So, Mum, what’s the big deal on that question? We ask for seconds of everything, all the time!”
Marry Me Brownies (Sugar Free, Grain Free, Dairy Free, Egg Free)
Suitable for the Anti-Candida Diet (ACD) Stage 3 and beyond
It’s been a while since I ate a brownie as rich, fudgy and decadent-tasting as this one. These little packets of deliciousness will be devoured in fairly short order.
NOTE: For this recipe to work, it is IMPERATIVE that you follow directions and mix ingredients in the exact order described here. Otherwise you may end up with a grainy, non-cohesive brownie (it will still taste divine, but the texture won’t be quite right and it won’t hold together well).
2 cups (10 oz or 280 g) natural hazelnuts, with skins, lightly toasted (OR use 1 cup/240 ml natural smooth hazelnut butter)
2 Tbsp (30 ml) macadamia oil (or other nut- or vegetable-based, light tasting) oil
4 prunes (dried plums), cut in quarters**–make sure they are very soft!
6 Tbsp (90 ml/60 g) unsweetened cocoa powder (get the dark one if you can find it)
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) baking powder
1/4 tsp (1 ml) baking soda
1/2 tsp (2. 5 ml) fine sea salt
6 Tbsp (90 ml) light agave nectar
5 Tbsp (75 ml) plain or vanilla rice milk
2 tsp (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 325F (170C). Line a regular loaf pan or 8-inch (20 cm) square pan with parchment, or spray with nonstick spray. (The loaf pan will yield high, thick brownies, like those in the photos; the square pan will yield flatter squares. They will both taste divine).
If using toasted nuts: In a high-speed blender, blend the hazelnuts and oil until it forms a very smooth nut butter. Continue blending until you have a pourable liquid with absolutely no signs of any pieces of nuts. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl, cleaning out the blender container as much as possible. Set aside.
If using nut butter: Place nut butter and oil in a medium bowl and whisk until smooth. Set aside.
To the blender container, add, in order, the prunes, cocoa, stevia powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, agave nectar, rice milk and vanilla. Blend until very smooth. It will resemble chocolate sauce for ice cream (and, in fact, feel free to use it that way). Pour the chocolate mixture into the bowl with the nut butter, taking care to clean out the blender container very well (try not to leave anything behind!).
Using a wooden spoon (a whisk is no longer strong enough at this point), stir the batter until well combined, but do not overmix. (If the oil begins to separate, don’t worry; you can blot off any excess later on, after the brownies have cooled). Spread the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
Bake 45-55 minutes (for the loaf pan) or 30-35 minutes (for the square pan), just until a knife or tester comes out barely clean when inserted in the center of the pan (it may have some moist crumbs clinging to it; that’s okay). If you prefer more cake-like brownies, continue baking until the knife comes out perfectly clean. Allow to cool completely before cutting (they will be very fragile when warm). Ideally, allow these to sit in the fridge, covered, overnight for best texture (yeah, like that’s going to happen).
May be frozen. Makes 12 large or 16 more reasonably sized brownies.
**Note: Most ACD diets do not allow prunes/dried plums. However, at this stage (over 3 years on the diet), I am beginning to re-introduce some dried fruit to my recipes. Prunes are fairly low sugar, there are only 4 in the entire recipe, and, since the recipe aleady contains agave nectar, I am okay with the prunes. If you’re not, please don’t use them! You could try 1/3 cup (80 ml) pear puree–though I haven’t tried it that way yet, I’m almost certain the texture would be different in that case.
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Last Year at this Time: Chocolate “Buttercream” Frosting–gluten, soy, nut, sugar, dairy, egg free ( ACD Stage 3 and beyond)
Three Years Ago: Flash in the Pan: Grown-Up Fig and Walnut Baked Apples (gluten free; ACD maintenance only)