Buckwheat Pistachio Brownies
When I was younger, my sister and I had a nanny, Denise. She was a hilarious, sarcastic, caring and sometimes stern lady with curly red hair and the best hugs. She always said to me, on my particularly bratty days, “would you like some cheese with that whine?”
But on my good days, she would break out the boxed super fudgy brownie mix and let my sister I go after the bowl of batter while we waited for the brownies to bake. I don’t know if this is what did it, but I have a soft spot for brownies to this day. If there is one at a bakery, I have to try it. I even went on a somewhat obsessive venture during my first years of adulting to try to make the perfect brownie. I dream of that gooey, soft center with the flaky, crispy top and cake-like corners. I mean is there anything better?
I have made so many variations of brownies over the years: vegan, oil-only, butter-only, all flour, all cocoa powder, 4 eggs vs. 6 eggs, all cane sugar, all brown sugar and so many more. All gluten-free of course.
This brownie recipe gives you that perfect brownie texture and can be made dairy-free. I love this particular variation for a few reasons.
I recently discovered date syrup and have been in love with it since. It is basically a caramel-tasting agave nectar? I don’t know if that makes sense. I mostly love that it is only made from dates; nothing added, just those lovely dates.
An added bonus of using date syrup in these brownies is that it gives more moisture to the brownies without needed to add any additional fat or eggs. Trust me, ultimate gooey middle.
There are a few date syrups that I love: the Date Lady and Soom Foods are what I keep in my pantry. There isn’t much difference in taste or texture. They’re both delicious and available online. Whole Foods also carries date syrup, but I have never tried it.
Not just butter
A lot of brownie recipes call for all butter and I have tried them all. They are delicious, but there is one issue with butter: the moisture evaporates more rapidly than oil. Butter will no doubt give you a better flavor, but oil will help to give you that chewy, moist center.
I use a mixture of half-and-half butter and neutral oil (like avocado oil) to get the best of both worlds. You can certainly use all butter if you prefer. If you use all oil, use 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon, which is slightly less than the 1/2 cup of fat I would use normally. If you use the full 1/2 cup, I find that the brownies are just too greasy. Vegan butter also works great; just use the brand you like best.
A bit of crunch
Ok, this might be a polarizing statement, but I hate walnuts in brownies. I said it. Walnuts are just not my thing. They are there for texture, but then they get all waxy and I ask myself why? But I do love the idea of adding a bit of texture to these soft brownie babies, but there are far better nuts for it.
My favorite nuts are pistachios. Not only does their green color look beautiful against the deep, dark brownie interior, but they keep their crunch even when baked. They also have a very subtle flavor so they won’t take away from all the chocolate-goodness we like.
If you are not a pistachio person, try pecans. Their buttery flavor added to this recipe result in a deliciously decadent treat.
And now, brownie time.
4 1/2 oz (1/2 cup + a small handful) super dark chocolate (70% cocoa content or over)
2oz (1/4 cup) butter
2 oz (1/4 cup) neutral oil (avocado or olive oil are great)
2 tbsp vanilla extract
5oz (1/2 cup + 2tbsp) date syrup
1oz (about 1/4 cup) organic cane sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp buckwheat flour
2 tbsp dutch process cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup chopped pistachios
1 cup chocolate chips (optional, but why not?)
Preheat the oven to 350F and grease and line an 8 inch square baking dish with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Add the pistachios and chocolate chips and toss to coat in the flour mixture. Set aside.
In a large bowl, add the chocolate, butter and oil. Melt over a double boiler (or the microwave). Once melted, set aside for 15 minutes to let cool slightly. Add the date syrup, cane sugar and vanilla extract and whisk to combine. Add the eggs and whisk again until just combined; don’t over whisk after adding the eggs.
Using a spatula, fold in the flour mixture. Go slowly, scraping the bottom of the bowl to make sure to get all the flour. Once just combined, pour batter into the prepare baking dish.
Before baking, give the pan a good couple of smacks on the counter to get out any air bubbles. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, just until the center is set.
Let cool completely before slicing. If you want to get super clean cuts, throw the brownies in the fridge for 1 hour to chill.
Store in a closed container at room temperature for a week (if you don’t eat them all in a 2 days). These are unreal when warmed in a low oven for 8 minutes and topped with ice cream or runny yogurt.