Brown Velvet Brownies

IMG_7455Many brownie recipes purport to be for the ultimate brownie, but it’s hard to narrow down which is the best. This Brown Velvet Brownie is high on my list, and is for the true chocolate fiend. The original recipe came from Practical Paleo (more on this later) by Diane Sanfilippo.

IMG_7451 Here is the recipe.

Brown Velvet Brownies

4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped up
1/2 cup butter, salted or unsalted
1/2 cup maple syrup (not maple-flavored pancake syrup)
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons strong coffee
2 tablespoons ground almonds

Grease a 9 x 9″ or 7 x 11″ inch metal baking pan. Line with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place the chopped up chocolate and the butter into a microwavable bowl, and microwave for about two minutes. Remove, and stir until completely melted. Add the maple syrup and the eggs, and stir. Sift in the cocoa powder. The batter will seem pretty thin. Add the coffee and the ground almonds, and the batter will thicken up.

Fill the prepared pan with the batter, and bake for 30 minutes. Allow to cool in the pan completely before cutting.

Baking notes: The texture of these brownies is that of a velvety fallen soufflé. Just delish! The original recipe had the brownies topped with bacon! Bacon is the rage right now, and it goes amazingly well with lots of things, including chocolate. Nevertheless, I like to spread the calories out a bit, and have bacon for breakfast. I made this recipe twice–once with Moser Roth Premium Dark Chocolate 70% cocoa, and the second time with Bakers Corner Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate with 54% cocoa. (Both from Aldi.) Both were delicious, though the first batch was super chocolate-y. You might wonder if the maple flavor intrudes, but, surprisingly, it’s undetectable, probably because it’s blown out of the water by the chocolate. I prepared the strong coffee by mixing one teaspoon of instant coffee with two tablespoons of water, and microwaving the mixture for 30 seconds. This made a bit more than two tablespoons. The original recipe called for fine coffee grounds, but I used the ground almonds. Ground almonds are becoming more and more readily available, and I will be having a cookie recipe made with them in the near future. They can be kept in the freezer.  This recipe would be fun made with Moser Roth Chili Chocolate–just warn your diners that the brownies will have a kick!

You may have noticed that there is no white sugar in the above recipe, and that instead, there’s the half a cup of maple syrup. This is because, starting now, I will be presenting recipes for baked delicacies that are low in sugar. Two reasons: The typical 9 x 9″ pan of brownies usually contains from 1-1/3 to 2 cups of sugar. Two cups of sugar is 1,546 calories. A half cup of maple syrup contains 420 calories. So there’s that reason. Here’s the other reason: Some of you may remember that my husband Jim was diagnosed with colon cancer a number of years ago. He’s fine now (I say this with crossed fingers) but he hasn’t reached the five-year mark. Since his diagnosis I’ve learned a few things about diet and cancer. For one thing, researchers have found that colon cancer survivors who eat little or no sugar have a much higher five-year survival rate than patients who eat a carbohydrate-rich diet. Here’s the quote from the New York Times:

The patients who consumed the most carbohydrates and foods with high glycemic loads–a measure of the extent to which a serving of food will raise blood sugar–had an 80 percent greater chance of dying or having a recurrence during the roughly seven-year study than those who had the lowest levels.

Wow. Now, an article has appeared in Well Being Journal (March/April 2014). It’s called “Sugar, Cancer & Disease Prevention: A Strategy for Selective Starvation of Cancer.” This article notes that the energy source for cancer cells is glucose, a sugar. So researchers are starting to wonder if the diet of the the average American, who eats three pounds of sugar a year, isn’t setting the stage for cancer.

So, I’ve had to think about whether I should be providing sugar-rich recipes, not just because of Jim, but because of you. It feels irresponsible, knowing what I know. But I know something else–extremism tends to backfire, and eating sweets is incredibly ingrained in our society. So my compromise will be to seek out the best low-sugar or no-sugar recipes, and to recommend that they be eaten sparingly. For no sugar, I have already been experimenting with stevia, which is derived from an herb. Hope you haven’t minded my sermon!

I noted that the recipe came from Practical Paleo. A paleo diet only contains the foods that our long ago ancestors would have eaten, so there is no sugar, grains or dairy products. If you are interested in learning more, Practical Paleo is a good book to start with.

Lastly, I momentarily placed a vase of flowers in front of the computer screen, and came up with the following pictures. They look quite mysterious! Hope you enjoy. Namaste. Fran

IMG_7461 IMG_7462

8 thoughts on “Brown Velvet Brownies

  1. I am very glad to hear that you and Jim are eating healthy.

    Anyway, that brownie looks amazing. I have been on a strict diet since Labor Day (have lost about 47 pounds) and wouldn’t I like to cheat some night with a treasure like that?

  2. Will power is relevant for the first two or three weeks – until it becomes a habit – and after you achieve your goal (I am about 3 pounds away) and have to maintain. But if you grit your teeth for a couple of weeks or so, there is no will power challenge at all. Strange, yes, but true.
    But when it comes to a brownie like that, will power can take a break for the night.

  3. My homely thought about habits is that a habit means, at least unconsciously, ‘this is part of what I am.’ I smoked for 32 years, heavily, not just because I was hooked on nicotine, but because ‘being a smoker’ was part of what I was. Very tough for a few weeks to quit, but when not smoking became a habit, well, then being a non-smoker became part of what I was.

    Something like that. I am big on habit.

  4. That’s an interesting way of looking at it, though I’m struggling to jettison the chocolate-eating part of me! I can walk past anything but chocolate.

  5. Fran, I am glad that you will be experimenting with recipes having less sugar. When I make quick breads I reduce the amount of sugar , and Clarence and I enjoy them for breakfast. I am trying to find nutricious cookie recipes with less sugar.

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