It’s Monday. Let’s start the week off to a good start, shall we? Healthy and parsimonious after the excesses of the weekend. Just a bowl of fruit and yogurt for breakfast with a mug of green tea. Let’s say no to buttery croissants and fry ups with conviction. And determination. By next weekend all sense of self discipline may well have melted away, but let’s at least go through the pretense – the rigmarole – of starting off the week on the right foot.
So I have a very special treat for you. Fudge-y chocolate brownies peppered with ruby like cherries, sweet bursts of goodness. Dense. Dark. Divine.
I taunt you not with forbidden fruit. These brownies are completely and utterly guilt free – in fact, they are bona fide healthy. Think of me as the Monday Morning Brownie Fairy. And love me forever. Gluten free – the cake batter uses a blend of aduki beans and crumbly almonds instead of flour, so they are also high in protein; dairy free – I use coconut oil instead of butter; and sugar free – instead they are naturally sweetened with medjool dates and some very, very dark chocolate. Ideal for people who suffer from gluten or dairy allergies, vegans, and those who want to gorge on chocolate-y brownies first thing on a monday morning, and not be riddled with guilt for the rest of the week. Bonjour – yes, that’s me.
I could, of course, wax lyrical about how utterly fabulous they taste; but frankly, after the first bite – and by the time you realise that you have just eaten four in the one seating – they speak for themselves. Instead, let me enlighten you as to their stunning health properties. The green tea, aduki beans, cocoa and dried cherries are all high in antioxidants, which fight those free-radicals circulating in your body – especially after a heavy weekend – and prevent premature aging. Not to be sniffed at. The coconut oil and cream are high in omega-3, so they stimulate your metabolism to help you burn more fat – could we really ask for anything more? – and support your little grey cells to make you cleverer. Case in point.
I like to cut the brownies into small squares – about three fingers wide – and pile them up dramatically on a cake stand for the perfect close to a dinner party – whether your guests have any of the myriad of dietary requirements that these brownies cater for or not. I then, for aesthetic purposes, sprinkle a little icing sugar over the tower of brownies. Not technically kosher, but very pretty – and, in my view, such a negligible amount of sugary indulgence that the brownies’ healthy integrity remains uncompromised.
However, they are equally delightful to serve for afternoon tea with girlfriends. Or box them up and give away to people that you like. People that you like lots and lots. Otherwise, keep them all to yourself and indulge. Guilty as charged.
To Make Dark Chocolate and Cherry Brownies
I have adapted this recipe from Elizabeth Peyton Jones’ brilliant book ‘Eat Yourself Young’. I have added the cherries and the green tea and tweaked the quantities so as to err on the side of generousity. The green tea is completely optional, it doesn’t add hugely to the flavour but it packs in the antioxidants: if you have some in your fridge – or you would like to have some in your fridge – pop it in, otherwise feel free to leave it out.
Makes 15-20 small brownies
Prep Time: 20 mins; Baking Time: 30 mins
- 200g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)
- 160g coconut oil
- 60g cocoa powder
- 200g tinned aduki beans
- 200g pitted medjool dates
- 100 ml coconut milk
- 100g ground almonds
- 2 eggs
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp matcha green tea powder (optional)
- 100g dried cherries
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees; and grease and line a – ideally square or rectangular – baking tin. Spoon the coconut oil into a heavy based frying pan, break the chocolate into small pieces and add it to the oil. Slowly melt the two together over a gentle heat. When the oil and chocolate are fully melted – you should have a silky chocolate cream – add the cocoa powder to it and mix well. Remove from the heat and set to one side to cool. Drain and rinse the aduki beans in a colander, before putting them in a food processor or blender along with the dates, coconut milk and ground almonds. Then blend until you have a thick, creamy paste. In a mixing bowl, lightly beat the eggs and vanilla together, then fold in the bean paste, and finally the melted chocolate cream. Mix throughly and stir in the cherries and the green tea powder, if you are using it. Mix well once again. Pour the batter into your brownie tin and set in the middle of the oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes – be careful not to over-bake, as you want the brownies to be wonderfully gooey in the middle. Leave to cool in the tin for a few hours. When they have cooled slice into small squares and store in a tin or airtight container in the fridge. They will happily last like that for three to four days. If you don’t eat them first.