There’s a little health food store I go to whenever I’m feeling like I have way too much money and would like to get rid of a bunch of it. They always give me a complimentary copy of a magazine called
alive, Canada’s natural health and wellness magazine
which contains lots of information on ways to go broke in the pursuit of health. But that’s not all. Along with the nice pictures of supplements and protein powders and smiling people with healthy immune systems there are recipes with random ingredients I’ve never heard of and promises of great results that are disgustingly good for you.
If you would like to go directly to alive.com and the mocha date brownie recipe you will miss all the incredible photos of my brownie baking experience. I’m sharing them here because I feel like everyone should know that not everything I bake goes directly into the compost bin.
Here’s the list of ingredients (with my substitutions and helpful comments in brackets):
1 1/2 cups (350 mL) whole dates
1 cup (250 mL) fresh orange juice (I think the stuff from a jug is fresh enough)
1 Tbsp (15 mL) vanilla extract
2 large free-range eggs (I used ordinary eggs)
1/2 cup (125 mL) cocoa
1 1/2 tsp (7 mL) espresso powder (I do not know what this is exactly or why anyone would have it in their kitchen at all times, so I used a couple of packets of Starbucks Via ready brew. It’s all coffee, right?)
1/2 tsp (2 mL) baking powder
1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
1/2 cup (125 mL) unsalted butter (my butter is salted, so I used that and left out the above 1/2 tsp of salt)
1 cup (250 mL) all-purpose flour (I am trying to go mostly gluten-free, so I used gluten-free brown rice flour)
1 cup (250 mL) chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 325, line a square baking pan with parchment paper. Check. So far, easy peasy.
Simmer dates with orange juice until tender. Looks like lumpy brown sludge, but smells good.
Purée to a smooth paste.
Look ma, no more date lumps. Well, hardly any. Use the same saucepan to melt the butter, and then pop this goop back in with it and stir it until it’s warm and bubbly. Still looks like sludge only smoother and more oily.
Okay! Now you’re supposed to whisk the eggs with cocoa, espresso powder, baking powder, and salt (if you added the salt.) I took them seriously when they said to use a large bowl.
…after. You know what? Using an actual whisk for this was a big mistake. The reason there’s a knife in the picture is because using it was the only way I could get this stuff unstuck from between the blades of the whisk. Just stir it with a fork. No one will know.
Next you add the date mixture to the chocolate mixture, and then fold in the flour and the chocolate chips.
I forgot to take a picture of this all mixed up, but you’ve probably seen brownie batter before and it’s not that exciting. You’re supposed to smooth the top when you put it in the baking pan, and now I know why. I also didn’t take a picture of the oven ready stage, but it’s okay because it came out of the oven looking pretty much the same as it did when I put it in there, unsmoothed top and all.
Yes, this is baked. It takes 30 to 35 minutes, which, if you’re anything like me, is about how long it takes to clean up the colossal mess you just made in the kitchen.
I would like to take credit for this last photo, but it’s from the magazine. Let’s just pretend mine were identical to these. The brownies are dense and rich (even though there’s no added refined sugar in them!) and they’re soft and chewy and really, really good.
They are also all gone.