Happy Hemp Two-Bite Brownies (Grain-Free, Sugar-Free, Vegan)*
* Or, You Put WHAT in Those Brownies?
*Or, Cheech and Chong’s Favorite Dessert
FIRST THINGS FIRST–A BIG “THANK YOU”: Before I get to all the “hemp in brownies” jokes (and you know that I will), I wanted to post a quick update about my absence this past week and express my thanks to all of you.
A huge, heartfelt THANK YOU to each and every one of you who commented, who emailed, who tweeted or who sent your good wishes for my dad (and me) on Facebook. I was incredibly touched by the outpouring of sympathy and all the positive energy and virtual hugs that were sent my way. I appreciate all of your support more than I can say.
And guess what? It worked! After a hellish (or should that be “Heller-ish?”) week in the hospital, my dad is now stable and was flown home to Montreal yesterday. We are waiting to hear from the doctors about whether he’ll be sent to rehab (aka convalescent home) or something else. Given that he had a heart attack followed by emergency surgery to unblock an artery (and a stent inserted in said artery), he is doing amazingly well. I will still likely be travelling back and forth between Toronto and Montreal most weekends, though, so I may not be posting quite as regularly.
But for now–we can celebrate with brownies! This is a recipe I developed before I left but never had a chance to post. Apart from the obvious associations of hemp in brownies, I’m calling these “Happy Brownies” because they represent the happy outcome after my dad’s ordeal.
And for anyone who suspects that hemp brownies are truly a throwback to the 60s, let me say, first of all, that the hemp seeds in these are the edible kind, so you are not ingesting any mind-altering chemicals whatsoever here (unless you count the flood of serotonins in the brain due to their heavenly taste); and second of all, hemp is not the same thing as hash, and of course the classic hippie confection was a hash brownie; and third of all, how the heck would I even know, because I never did manage to consume any of the latter, even in my undergrad days, because I am such a nerd that nobody ever offered me any, and hash brownies never appealed to me, anyway–I mean, why sully your chocolate with psychedelic drugs?
These ethereal little bites came about a few weeks ago when I decided to recreate a packaged product I found in the health food store. I know there are lots of blogs and websites out there attempting to reproduce other foods; for example, this site recreates restaurant meals; this one tries to recreate convenience foods; this one converts elaborate omni meals into vegan ones; and so on. While I do, occasionally, find inspiration in restaurant meals, I am not one of those people who makes a point of creating a copycat version of something I’ve eaten.
Having said that, though, I nevertheless sometimes feel the need to develop my own take on a food because (a) I just love it so much that I want it again at home; (b) I may not be able to access it in stores where I live; or (c) I am so ticked off at the price of the original item (and I know I could probably reproduce something almost the same at home) that I feel I should do so.
These hemp brownies fall into that last category. You see, there exists a grain-free, sugar-free, vegan hemp brownie already right here in Toronto, and it’s available in single serving packs at most health food stores. The other day, I was shopping at Ambrosia (I swear, they should just put out a cot in one of the aisles for me) and saw these little squares. The ingredients were almonds, hemp, agave nectar, cocoa, palm oil, soda–and that’s about it.
The brownie was really good–surprisingly fudgy, in fact–and it contained ingredients I could (at least occasionally) eat. I bought it despite the $1.99 price for a teensy, tinesy, terribly wee piece (about 2″ x 1.5″, or 5 cm x 3.8 cm). Then I went home and started playing in the kitchen.
Well, I daresay I like my version better than the original. Mine possess a dryer, slightly crispy exterior and a dense, fudgy, moist interior. The flavor intensifies and blossoms as they cool–I tried one warm (the way I used to like “regular” brownies) but it was too soft in the middle and the chocolate flavor didn’t speak loudly enough. But upon cooling, those characteristics changed entirely. The HH (the arbiter of all things healthy and GF) decided that they were as good as any brownie he’d ever tasted.
Given that I first created the recipe a few weeks ago, there remains not one of these little gems left in my refrigerator. But with the happy, healthy vibes buzzing throughout the house today, I may just have to whip up another batch in celebration of my dad’s return home. Given his age and current condition, though, I’d better not tell him they contain hemp.
Happy Hemp Two-Bite Brownies (ACD Stage 3 and beyond)
These brownies are a perfect little treat for after school, with tea, or when you want a little pick-me-up. The combination of almonds and hemp seeds provides a good hit of protein, making these a healthy indulgence.
1/4 cup (60 ml) coconut sugar
30-35 drops liquid vanilla stevia, to your taste
3 Tbsp (45 ml) water
2 tsp (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp (20 ml) olive or nut oil (I used macadamia nut; walnut oil would be great in these, too)
1 cup (160 g) raw natural almonds, with skin
1/4 heaping cup (30 g) hemp seeds
2 heaping Tbsp (15 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp (1 ml) baking soda
1/4 tsp (1 ml) baking powder
1/4 tsp (1 ml) fine sea salt
Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Ideally, line 9 mini muffin cups with mini paper liners. If you can’t find or don’t have the liners, spray nine compartments of a mini muffin tin with nonstick spray or grease with coconut oil, then dust with cocoa. Tap out any excess cocoa by inverting the pan and tapping on the bottom of each compartment; place upright and set aside.
In a small bowl or glass measuring cup, combine the coconut sugar, vanilla, water and oil and stir to begin dissolving the sugar. Set aside.
In the bowl of a food processor, whir together the remaining ingredients until you have what looks like a powder (there should be no pieces of almond or hemp seed visible–this may take a few minutes). Add the wet ingredients and blend for a second or two, just until combined. Scrape the sides of the processor bowl if necessary.
Using a small scoop or tablespoon, divide the batter (it will be thick and sticky) evenly among the the muffin cups; they should be very full. Bake in preheated oven 15-18 minutes, until a tester comes out just clean (it’s okay if it still has a few moist crumbs clinging to it). Allow to cool 10 minutes before removing from the pan. Cool completely before consuming (if you can stand it). Makes nine two-bite brownies. May be frozen.
This recipe is linked to Amy’s Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays event, where you can find lots of other healthier recipes, too.
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