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Low carb chocolate brownies

This recipe is by a fab blogger I really respect – Kellie Anderson on Food to Glow. Click here for the recipe. It was right out of my baking comfort zone. Low carb is not something I have much experience of. Basically that’s because I love carbs. I love bread, cake, iced buns, squidgy cookies, pasta, potatoes, etc etc insert your fave carb here…

However I am always up for trying something new, so here goes! I decided to make these for our staff meeting at work. The original recipe contains eggs, but someone at work doesn’t eat eggs so – something new again – find an egg substitute.

The sugar substitute was easy enough to find but I was slightly taken aback at the price. The pecans are from Lidl – I highly recommend all the nuts from there. They are always fresh and good quality. Plus a good price. Toasted and ground in the blender the smell was amazing.

The egg substitute – I decided to use ‘chia eggs’ – you mix a 1 tablespoon of chia seeds with 3 tablespoons of water for each egg you need, and then leave to ‘gel’ for 5-10 minutes. I’ve never tried this before, but it seems quite standard in vegan cookery. I didn’t make the recipe entirely vegan though because I did use butter.

Far right – chia seed ‘eggs’. Top left – Xylitol – it looks just like ordinary sugar.

How did the bake go? It was very straightforward to mix. The baking time was slightly longer than 21 minutes – it looked decidedly not cooked after that time, but a couple of minutes later it was – probably. It did set as it cooled, but was very squishy. It did work, and the chia seeds added a certain texture that some people liked. The flavour was really good – dark chocolate. The fudginess was nice. I wasn’t so keen on the very greasy feel.

The first batch, eggless and super squidgy. But also quite oily..

So I had another go! This time I used proper eggs. And because I had just about used the whole packet of Xylitol I had to use a mixture of that plus erythritol. I have to say that this worked better. The texture was better, and overall the flavour seemed more rounded too. Verdict? Chia eggs don’t cut it. Sorry! You can get other egg substitutes so maybe I could try something different next time.

The second batch – more like the texture of a traditional brownie, and not as oily. It was difficult to get a good photo because they are very dark.

I think low carb baking recipes are interesting. But not necessarily for everyone. The sugar substitutes are something I will continue to experiment with, although I have to say the price does somewhat put me off.

NB my brownies weren’t quite as low carb as the original recipe because my dark chocolate chips were only 68% cocoa solids and to get really low carb you need to be at the 85-90% mark.

Vegan black bean brownies

The last vegan brownies I baked had sweet potato as a key ingredient. These ones have black beans and dates. Black beans are a great source of fibre and protein. Soluble fibre helps lower cholesterol, and insoluble fibre adds bulk and helps with digestion. Dates have been around for thousands of years, mainly in countries in the Middle East which is still the area where most dates are cultivated.

Dates are very sweet (and therefore high in carbs) but because of the fibre they have a relatively low glycaemic index. This means that glucose is not released into the blood stream in a big rush, causing big spikes and subsequent drops in blood glucose. These brownies have no refined sugar – dates are used as the only sweetener.

The recipe is from another Instagrammer with a great IG name: cakeontherun! Love it! (Her real name is Laura Nightingale – also a cool name…) I like this recipe because it’s not too sweet, and the dark chocolate taste really comes out.

The ingredients – none are difficult to get hold of

Here’s how I did it:

Ingredients:

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

200g dates, roughly chopped and soaked in hot water for 5 minutes or so

100g cocoa powder

100g oats blitzed to flour in a blender

100ml dairy free milk (I used oat milk) I actually used 150ml in the end

2 tbsp (30g) coconut oil

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt (a pinch?)

2 tsp vanilla paste

Optional: 50g dark choc chips; 50g chopped walnuts (I didn’t use these this time)

Method:

Heat the oven to 180 deg C or Gas mark 4. Line a 20cm square tin with baking parchment. Using a stick hand blender puree the beans – I found adding some oat milk made this easier. Drain the dates and blend in the same way. Put everything into a bowl and mix well. I found I had to add a little more milk than the original recipe stated to get it all to mix together.

Put in the tin and smooth the top. Bake for 25-30 mins. Mine took 25 mins. Cool on a rack. I finished off the brownies with the same chocolate ganache that I used for the sweet potato brownies and decorated with walnut pieces.

Out of the oven – the top is a bit cracked – maybe a bit more liquid next time? It wasn’t a dry texture though.
Glazed with a not too thick layer of chocolate ganache – using dark dairy free chocolate

These were very successful and popular with family and friends. I will definitely make them again. They are not quite as sweet as the sweet potato brownies, and not quite as squidgy. But for a ‘healthy’ chocolate fix they are great.