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Over the Top: Cookie Dough Topped Brownies (Gluten Free, Sugar Free, Egg Free, Dairy Free)

[And don’t forget–if you’re looking for other low glycemic, ACD-friendly desserts, I’ve got 19 of them in my new ebook, Desserts without Compromise! To see what’s in the book or to order, click here.]

I do love my HH, but he is so often a conundrum to me.  I mean, how is it that the guy (and most guys, really) can tell the difference between, say, a Corvette from 1974 and one from 1976 when I can’t even discriminate between a Corvette and a Porsche–from different decades? (And believe me, I’ve tried.  Since the HH is such an autophile*, he’s often pointing out sports cars as they pass us on the roads, and eternally surprised that I can’t differentiate one from the other).  It’s all in the details, he tells me.

In the kitchen, that same ability to differentiate between two similar but ultimately unique ingredients is a key requirement for a discerning palate. While I may suck at vehicular identification, I’ve always excelled at culinary classification.

Back in high school, for instance, I took a course called “Home Economics” (for all you young’uns, that’s what “Domestic Science” was before political correctness was invented). Our cooking teacher, Mrs. Jennings, could have been plucked from the pages of a Dickens novel.  Almost six feet tall with clay-brown hair cropped tight to her head, she tended to wear stiff cotton or linen shirtdresses in varying shades of brown, black, or beige, tightly belted at the waist (well, to be honest, she didn’t actually have a waist; but the belt was sort of midway between her knees and her shoulders).  With buttons just a bit too tight and the hem clinging to her knees, she’d stride through the classroom like a union leader marching at a pep rally, barking orders.

One day, she set up an impromptu quiz in the classroom: six miniature plastic cups–the type you get samples in at supermarkets–were lined up at the front of the room, each containing an opaque white liquid. “There are many types of milk,” she told us, “and you should know the different kinds and their uses.  Who would like to sample them and try to tell us what is in each cup?”

Nobody raised a hand. I was conflicted: I’d been baking since I was six, drinking milk for many years before that, and I was absolutely confident that I’d be able to identify them all.  At the same time, Mrs. Jennings was, shall we say, about as approachable as an angry porcupine.  Add to that the fact that we had just completed the “sewing” section of the course, and she had been none too pleased with my crooked stitching, uneven hem, and brown thread on a turquoise blouse. My mark already in jeopardy, I knew I was taking a risk.

I stretched my arm toward the ceiling. “I’ll do it,” I said.  Her eyes widenened, but she motioned me over to the table.

One by one, I sipped from the samples.  “This is evaporated milk,” I pronounced, swishing the thick, slightly gray liquid in my mouth.  I took up the next cup. It contained a thinner, blue-tinged liquid.  “And this one skim milk.”  A third: “This one is homogenized.”

One by one, I sipped from the containers, and with each sip, Mrs. Jennings’ face turned a deeper shade of crimson. By the time I had finished, she looked like she’d been hit with two overripe tomatoes, one on each cheek.

“That’s. . . very. . . good, Ricki,” she hissed through clenched teeth.  “You got them all. .. correct.”  She pronounced it “CO-rrrrect,” like two words, as if she were contemplating her next move between syllables.  After that, she never called on me again. But she did put me in charge of Christmas cookies for our end-of-term party.

You’d think that someone with such a sensitivity to minute variations in taste and texture would likely possess a discerning palate as well, wouldn’t you?  Um, nope.  In the house of my childhood, we didn’t discriminate.  If it was sweet, we liked it. I was equally happy with a Hershey bar, a Godiva Hazelnut Praline Chocolate Truffle, or a handful of Chipits chocolate chips. I mean, they’re all chocolate, right?

Ironically, it’s only since I changed my diet to embark on the ACD (having to eliminate pretty much all conventional treats of any kind) that I’ve truly begun to consider the quality of the ingredients I use (and even then, I still sometimes ignore that, too). When dessert is a rarity instead of a twice-a-day indulgence, you want to be sure you really, really enjoy it. And when you know that the crappy desserts you used to binge upon are the main reason you’ve been sick for 18 months (who am I kidding?  I’ve been on the diet for 18 months, but the illness began long before that), you want to be sure that they are the finest quality you can get.

When I came across the inspiration for this recipe a while back, I immediately thought, “there’s no way I could make these healthy!” The original contained all the horrific sweets from my childhood: hydrogenated, sweetened peanut butter, sugar-laden chocolate chips, white flour, eggs, butter, and various other artery-hardening ingredients. Then I got to thinking: my palate may not be so discriminating, but it sure can be creative.  So I decided to go for it and turn the recipe into an ACD-friendly delicacy.

This is actually a reworking of two other recipes on this site, my Bean Brownies (from way back in 2008) and the Cookie Dough filling from earlier this year.  I’ve revamped each of them just enough that together, they really do constitute a new recipe.  All the ingredients in these babies are, on balance, good for you–and they taste good, too. Really good.

Almost like a nanaimo bar in its tri-level structure, the brownie combines a fudgy, densely chocolate base with a slightly lighter raw chocolate chip cookie dough topping. Poured over all is a thick, bittersweet chocolate coating that’s midway between a crunchy topping and a ganache, glossy and firm yet soft enough to slice without cracking.

When I served one of these to the HH, he announced (after relishing it bite by bite and even licking the melted chocolate off his fingertips), “These are a triumph.”  Seriously, that was the word he used!  He went on, “They’re like something you’d buy in a fine European pastry shop, that dark imported chocolate you get. And you think, “oh, well, these are supposed to be like this,’ and you gobble them up.'”

Could I have asked for a better compliment?  I think not.

So next time you have friends over for dinner, serve them a platter of these brownies for dessert. No matter how discering their palates (and even if they drive a 1976 Corvette), you can proffer these with pride, knowing people will never guess that they’re “healthy.”

. . . And now it’s time for a “Back-to-School Swag” Giveaway–Number Two!

I’ve just recently started experimenting with a couple more conventional low-glycemic sweeteners, and these squares make use of agave.  If you’d like to read about the brand I used or win some for yourself in a giveaway, click here.

[Side note: as a member of the BlogHer ad network, I am required to place my review and giveaway on a separate page–apologies that you have to click through before you can enter the giveaway!  I figured I’d offer you this awesome recipe to help mitigate the pain.  😉 ]

*no, it’s not some perverted onanistic activity, though it sounds like it. All I meant was “car-lover.”

And wouldn’t this be a perfect contribution to Amy’s Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays event?  Hop on over to her blog to see what else people contributed!

Never miss a recipe–or a comment from The Girls! Click here to subscribe to Diet, Dessert and Dogs via email. (“We love subscribers, Mum. . . almost as much as treats!”)

Last Year at this Time: Appetizers in Absentia

Two Years Ago: Don’t Mock Tuna Me

Other Brownie Recipes on DDD:

© 2010 Diet, Dessert and Dogs


40 comments to Over the Top: Cookie Dough Topped Brownies (Gluten Free, Sugar Free, Egg Free, Dairy Free)

  • Yum, love the 3 layers. So pretty 🙂 Have not tried beans in brownies yet, maybe I will give this is shot!


  • Ooh these things look lovely! I’m about to do a 21 day raw vegan challenge, so these might well be the treat I award myself if I manage to complete it!


  • Swoon – beautiful desert and amazing photos. I am so adding these to my list (yes, i realize i say this for basically every recipe you post – I mean it too :)) Will have to look into Xagave. I use Real Raw Agave by Ultimate Superfoods when I want a neutral tasting agave and Madhava for a richer amber-y flavor, but always on the lookout for new brands. I eat it so little that I do find differences in agave flavors.


  • These are gorgeous and sound divine, and if ever I have the patience (and ingredients!) to make three layers of anything, these will be at the top of my list. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, you are one of the most creative cooks I “Know.” 😀


  • Courtney

    Oh wow, Ricki…you have really outdone yourself here! These look and sound amazing–the HH’s complement was well deserved! These are going on my “must make asap” list 🙂

    I love that you could tell the difference between all the milks! Oh, and I think we had the same home ec teacher, lol.



  • The “milk identification” story is hilarious! Right on!

    And as for this dessert? I have my best friend’s 40th birthday dinner to go to tomorrow and I told her I would bring dessert. Her husband has Celiac Disease and their son is deathly allergic to eggs. Can you believe that I have every ingredient called for in this recipe? I am soo going to make this for tomorrow. I think it was meant to be! 😉

    I will keep you posted on how they turned out, but I can imagine it will be outstanding, as are all of your recipes….


  • Those look so good..but my bean brownies never turn out. I’ve tried about 5 different recipes and I’ve given up!


  • These look divine! I’m going to give them a try 🙂


  • I remember Home Economics! I sewed an apron (sort of). I think this recipe would blow Mrs. Jennings’ mind! I am bookmarking this one for sure.


  • Mandie

    Wow, these look amazing! Although…I have to say — they aren’t really sugar free. Agave is still sugar, and the candida/yeast can still feed on that sugar. :/ While I would normally scramble everything together and make these, I’m going to have to pass as I am strictly on the ACD at the moment. But maybe in a few months!


  • You are too funny Ricki! As if you knew all of the milks! Why does that not surprise me 🙂 These brownies look amazing! And the pics are fantastic. I’m about to go try one of your butter tarts…


  • oh! I’ve made both (or versions of both) and they rocked. I’m afraid my brain might implode with the thought of combining the two…


  • I thought home economics was pc for this-is-the-class-that-will-get-you-a-husband! I admire your milk drinking prowess – I suspect I would have just spat it all out and said it all tasted horrible.

    I also admire these brownies – you sure know how to put healthy and indulgent into the same sentence – the ingredients are a stretch for me but at least the beans are easier to find than black beans – though can I check these white kidney beans are the same as what we call cannelini beans?


  • Jes

    Rock on for identifying the milk! I definitely couldn’t have done that back in high school (or now…well, maybe a couple, but not **all** of them)! I love how certain teachers/ people get so upset if you can actually answer the question. I mean, that’s what it’s there for, right? 🙂

    As for the brownies, I so believe in them. And must make them stat. <3!


  • Over the top is RIGHT! These look amazing. I normally would never leave a link in a comment but I hope you will consider entering my gluten free food photo contest, your photos are lovely! Does not have to be a new post http://simplygluten-free.blogspot.com/2010/08/gluten-free-photo-contest-scanpan.html


  • I have an “autophile” also and he is a “musicphile” among other things! LOL… Regardless of what he is he’s gonna love these brownies! Hafta pick up some chia seeds then I’m whippin’ up these babies!


  • I love your story about your Home Ec teacher. She sounds scary! Unfortunately I’ve had my fair share of teachers like that over the years too.

    Your cookie dough brownies look absolutely amazing! I bet they didn’t teach you to make stuff like that in Home Ec.


  • Olya

    I mean… really??? Is it possible to make THAT healthy? Amazing! Thank you very much for the recipe.


  • I think this might be your most visually stunning recipe yet, Ricki, and that’s saying A LOT! Loved the post, too. I can just imagining you surprising your teacher like that! (And, I could so picture her by your description.) Skim milk didn’t darken our refrigerator door until Mom joined WW … probably late in my high school life. But, I don’t think I even tasted it at that point. Evaporated and whole milk I definitely would have known though. I wish I had all these ingredients. You really outdid yourself, Ricki, and I think HH’s review captured that for sure. Oh, I can kind of see little figure “paintings” in the icing … someone dribbling a ball perhaps. Squint your eys and turn that one brownie sideways and you’ll see it. LOL



  • Whoooooaaaa. Yea, immafraid immaneed to confiscate those brownies ma’am. Sorry, they look so good I forgot my English and started talking like Kanye! 😀

    Mrs. Jennings sounds so scary! Yikes! She must have hated telling you that you did a good job! Mwahahahaha! 😛

    And by the way, I cannot tell a Ferrari from a Pinto (mild exaggeration)


  • Wow – those look plain out decadent! I can’t believe your home economics abilities! I would only be able to tell the difference between whole milk and skim!


  • Kim

    Ricki – You’re an absolute genius. These treats look delicious, but I can’t eat them right now since I’m back in Phase I.

    Anyway, I came here to gush about how brilliant you are. I’ve been making goodies out of your latest book. The custard was so yummy I couldn’t keep my hands off of it. Last night I made Carob Fudge and this stuff is soooooo good. It totally tastes like something I would “normally” eat. And one little piece is enough to satisfy that tickle for just a little sweetness.

    Thank you so much for all you do and sharing it all with us! (Vegetable glycerin is edible and sweet? Who knew?) Can’t wait to work my way through the rest of the book. Cheers!


  • Please Ricki, come and be my personal chef!


  • You. Have outdone yourself. I mean, serious WOW. I *always* mean it when I say “I can’t wait to try this” on people’s food blogs, but this time I mean it x100!

    Also, your milk sampling moment is so very Napoleon Dynamite. :O) You should whip up some candida-friendly Dang Quesa-dillas!


  • Hi Ricki! These look fabulous and I can’t wait to make them. But just one question for you on the last ingredient listed in the brownie layer: 2 oz (60 g) good quality unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped, or 1/4 cup (60 ml) cacao nibs. Maybe I am missing something but I can’t see exactly where this is used. Is the chopped chocolate just stirred into the batter or is it supposed to be melted and whisked in?



    Cara Reply:

    And one more question for you… believe it or not when I commented early this morning I decided I could no longer sleep and got started on the brownie portion (I had planned to do the whole thing tonight!) I found the batter to be very thick, almost like a cookie dough – definitely not something I could “pour” into the pan. (I was able to pat it in though.) Does that seem right, or should it have been thinner? I double checked the ingredient amounts and I’m pretty sure I did everything as written! I also looked at your original bean brownie recipe and noticed that you cut everything down about, but the new recipe the milk seems disproportionately low, and with the addition of xantham gum I wonder if that’s why the batter was so thick? Anyway, just wondering – I was dying to take a little taste but I’m waiting till it’s all said and done with the cookie dough and ganache!

    Thanks Ricki 🙂


  • Domestic Science? You’re kidding right? I had no idea political correctness had gone that far. Home Ec was how I knew it!

    I love your stories, so visual! And the brownies, don’t tempt me anymore, you are killing me! I am a sweets-aholic.


  • Wow. These look amazing. And delicious! And yummy! Great job. 🙂 Petra


  • I love this post! Everything from your HH being an autophile (I can relate to every point on that.) to the Home Ec story, and of course the fabulous-looking dessert! I can see that I need to buy a few ingredients before I can try it, though.


  • what a cute story 🙂 and this dessert?! must try. gah, this list is getting overwhelming!!


  • Ooo wow what an amazing creation! I don’t think there was a name for the home economics section in my high school, we just went through 4 rotations – sewing, cooking, woodwork and drafting.


  • Wow Ricki! I cannot believe I ever missed this recipe! This looks beyond amazing! Can I come eat at your house!! WOW! Divine! I can’t wait to make this! It’s at the top of my list. I’m just loving all your recipes lately!! 🙂


  • These sound incredible Ricki! Three layers of absolute deliciousness. 🙂 I loved your school story – I too took “home ec”. I loved it. I had a stylish teacher with flaming red hair and an incredible wardrobe of cool clothes she made for herself.


  • gosh Ricki, I am going through your recipe index here and feel like i could pin almost everything! I have been doing a lot of reading up on sugar and what it does do the body…I am proud to say my pantry is 95% cane sugar free now! I love all the different choices I have here on your site!


    Ricki Reply:

    Good for you! Not eating white sugar makes SUCH a difference. And glad the site offers some variety for you! 🙂


  • […] a roll, I can easily spend 12 hours in the kitchen just playing.  If I’m trying to re-create a recipe in a more healthy way, it’s not unusual for me to try out 10-15 versions in order to make it perfect. I think I […]

  • […] roll, I can easily spend 12 hours in the kitchen just playing.  If I’m trying to re-create a recipe in a more healthy way, it’s not unusual for me to try out 10-15 versions in order to make it perfect. I think I […]

  • Ricki, these look divine. I mean…really, really amazingly, drool-worthy divine. I love your creativity. I am definitely tucking this recipe away for a special occasion! 🙂


  • […] I was excited that there were still so many sugar-free treats I could enjoy. I baked up cookies, brownies, cakes and more, all within the parameters of my new eating […]

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