Taza Chocolate Paleo Brownies
Grain-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free
Is there such thing as too many brownie variations? I don’t think so. Something so simple can be tweaked ever so slightly and you get wildly different results. Brownies are those treats that I always dream of. I just crave them. I love the ones that are somewhere between fudge and dense chocolate cake, with just a little crisp on the outside.
When it came to making a paleo brownie, I wanted to make something that would taste and feel just like the gluten, dairy-filled one. If you ask me, the key to making any brownie is adding melted chocolate to the batter. This means that you need to find a good chocolate to start with.
Taza Chocolate is my favorite because all the ingredients are organic, direct trade, no funky ingredients and the Wicked Dark Bar is paleo (at (95% cacao content, there’s hardly any sugar in there). It is just straight up delicious (not to mention gluten-free and vegan) and never bitter like other dark chocolates. Instead, you are a nice fruity, chocolate flavor. Did I mention that dark chocolate is good for you too? I will also admit, that I am biased because it is made by my brother and sister-in-law. I am wildly proud.
If you can’t get Taza Chocolate (I buy mine at Whole Foods or through Thrive Market), you can use an unsweetened baking chocolate bar. Just make sure to get the best quality chocolate you can. It makes a difference.
One other thing that I would not do this recipe without is a kitchen scale. While I try to keep kitchen gadgets to a minimum, a kitchen scale comes in handy with measuring out ingredients (and keeping dirty dishes down too). I absolutely hate measuring nut butter with measuring cups. If you think about it, one stick of butter weight approximately 4 ounces or 113 grams. So if I want to replace butter with another fat, I just measure out the same weight of nut butter, vegan butter, shortening, or half coconut oil-half nut butter. Also if you see any recipes that have weights in them, they will be infinitely easier to half or double using weights versus volumes (cups etc).
One of the key things in my pantry is gluten-free vanilla extract. Most shop-bought vanilla extracts are made with a mixture of alcohol, sugar and vanilla. The alcohol used in these is not always gluten-free and sometimes the sugar used is corn syrup. Since I like to avoid any added sugar, I make my own vanilla extract.
I buy 2 whole vanilla beans (you can buy them at most grocery stores or online), cut them in half, scrape out the seeds and put in a mason jar with 2 cups of agave tequila. Once all combined, screw on the lid and give a shake. Let sit in your cupboard for a week before using. Boom! You have homemade vanilla extract without the added sugar or any other funky ingredients.
When adding cocoa powder to a recipe, I have the same rule I do for chocolate: use the best you can get. I use Valrhona Dutch Process cocoa powder, which is super dark and has a really rich chocolate flavor. If you can’t find that, then I recommend using an organic cocoa powder (you can get Droste, Whole Foods Brand, or Ghirardelli) and the darker the better.
Alright, I am done chatting, let’s bake!
3 tbsps olive or avocado oil (you can use liquid coconut oil, just not solid coconut oil)
4 oz smooth, unsweetened almond butter
1/2 cup agave nectar
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1 tsp gluten-free vanilla extract (see note above, or use Madecasse Vanilla Extract)
2 large, free range eggs
1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp finely ground coffee (optional)
1/3 cup finely chopped chocolate (I used another Wicked Dark bar)
Preheat the oven to 350F and great and line an 8in square baking dish. You can also use tinfoil (don’t forget to grease it) to avoid more dishes.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the almond flour, cocoa powder, salt and ground coffee (if using). Make sure to get out any of the big lumps in the cocoa powder and almond flour. If there are still small clumps, break them apart with your fingers. Set aside.
In a large heatproof bowl, combine the chopped Wicked Dark bar, olive oil, and almond butter. Melt the chocolate in the microwave (going in 30 second spurts) or place over a saucepan of an inch of barely boiling water.
Once the chocolate is melted, stir with a whisk to mix together the almond butter, oil and chocolate. Add the agave nectar, coconut sugar and vanilla extract and whisk until smooth and combined. Add the eggs and whisk again.
Using a spatula, fold the dry ingredients and chopped chocolate into the wet ingredients until full combined.
Scoop batter into the prepared pan, spreading it around in the baking dish until even. I like to top with flaky sea salt and more chopped chocolate. Bake for 22 to 25 minutes.
Let cool completely before slicing and snacking on them.
Note: these are great when made with a mini muffin pan for little brownie bites!
If you want to make these vegan, substitute the two eggs for 2 flax eggs. You may need to add 1-2 tablespoons of water in addition to the flax eggs