58 In Desserts

Raw Brownies

Raw Brownies

Mmm, rich, chocolatey brownies.

What if I told you that behind the rich and chocolatey taste, there was no sugar, no oil, no flour, no butter, and no eggs? (Therefore making these brownies gluten-free, sugar-free, vegan, and all-natural.)

What if I told you they were made only of things that were actually good for you – natural foods that contain important nutrients?

And what if I told you that they require no baking, and actually take only about 5 minutes to whip up?

If you told me these things, I’d say you’d found the perfect dessert.

I must admit, I was skeptical at first. (Especially since the original recipe over at My New Roots claimed it would change my life.) However, after one taste of the chocolatey dough, I was a believer!  I am still amazed that the combination of Medjool dates, walnuts, and cocoa powder can transform into a fudge-y “brownie” that is just as satisfying as the real thing.

Once you’ve tried them yourself, test them out on your family and friends (and make them guess the magical ingredients)!  We did, and I think it’s safe to say they received rave reviews.

So are they dessert perfection? Pretty darn close for us – not only do they make up for my lack of baking skills, they are all natural and thus totally guilt-free!  Let us know if you too become a believer in this new kind of treat!

Read all about the nutritional benefits of Medjool dates, walnuts, and cacao here.

Raw Brownies
Adapted from My New Roots
Makes about 10 small brownies (double as necessary)

Notes: The original recipe called for raw cacao powder which wasn’t easily accessible to us, so we substituted cocoa powder with good results. However, no substitutions with the dates! Medjool dates are a type of date that is exceptionally large and sweet; it is important to find the real thing for this recipe. We were able to find them sold in bulk at our local grocery; they are also available for sale online.

If you can’t imagine a dessert without chocolate, you could add a few dark chocolate chips if you’d like, or top with a bit of sea salt if you prefer the sweet / salty combination.

What You Need
1 cup walnuts (unsalted)
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt or sea salt
1 1/4 cups Medjool dates (about 12)
1/4 cup almonds (unsalted)
Cinnamon

What To Do

Remove the pits from the dates. If the 1/4 cup almonds are not already chopped, place them in a bag and hit them with the back of a spoon to break them into pieces (we’ve found this is easier than chopping).

2  In the bowl of a food processor, place 1 cup walnuts. Process on high until the nuts are finely ground.

3  Add 1/2 cup cocoa powder and 1/8 teaspoon kosher or sea salt. Pulse to combine.

4  Turn on the food processor. As the processor is running, add the dates one at a time. Once all the dates have been added, the mixture should be crumbly but easily formable (it may form into a ball depending on how long you process it). Throw in the almonds and pulse a couple times to combine (if a ball has formed, you can also mix in the almonds in a bowl).

5  Form the brownies: Line a small square dish with wax paper and press into the desired thickness (don’t worry if it does not fill the entire pan; the brownies are easy to shape). Alternatively, press the brownies into a mini-muffin tin or other mold. Place in the refrigerator or freezer for 5 to 10 minutes to firm up; they can easily be cut when cold.

To serve, dust with cinnamon. (You also could add a bit of cinnamon to the brownie dough if desired.)

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58 Comments

  • Reply
    kirstin
    September 8, 2011 at 8:41 am

    YUM!! I don’t have a food processor but do have a vita-mix blender. Do you think I could use that?

    • Reply
      Alex
      September 8, 2011 at 8:59 am

      I don’t know about a weaker blender, but I think the vitamix could probably handle it – but you may have to stir in almonds rather than adding them at the end. Good luck!

      • Reply
        Sonja
        October 6, 2011 at 12:16 pm

        Per Kathy’s comment below, looks like this works in a blender! Let us know if you gave it a try with the vitamix… :)

  • Reply
    Jennifer @ Raisin Questions
    September 8, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    Wow! Great, please report back if you try it in the blender. I also don’t have a food processor, but I am simply taken by this idea!

  • Reply
    Kelly
    September 8, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    Can’t wait to try these!!

  • Reply
    Fran {The Flavorful Fork}
    September 8, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    Sounds good! I recently tried some no-bake Peanut Butter Power Balls and loved them. When you are using figs or dates, there really is no need for sugar. http://www.flavorfulfork.com/2011/08/peanut-butter-power-bites/

  • Reply
    Christine
    September 8, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    Sounds wonderful. Yum!

  • Reply
    Erin @ Dinners, Dishes and Desserts
    September 8, 2011 at 9:37 pm

    I will freely admit I am skeptical of these. But would love to try them and see what I think. Just not sure where to get some of the ingredients.

  • Reply
    Erica
    September 9, 2011 at 11:19 am

    After seeing your post yesterday, I was so intrigued that I had to give your recipe a try this morning. I used Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa which says that it is 100% Cacao. I have used this cocoa in other recipes, and it is not my favorite cocoa, but I thought I would try it since this recipe suggested the use of Cacao. I also have some Droste Cocoa which I prefer, and I think I will use that next time. Since the cocoa is the main flavor, I think it is really important that you use a good tasting cocoa in this recipe, so I think I would like it better with a different cocoa. I bought Medjool dates in the bulk bins at my grocery store, and I think my dates may have been on the dry side because my mixture was a bit crumbly. I am not sure how they are suppose to be though…this being my first experience with dates:) These were good, and I feel very good about the health benefits in the ingredients. I added some cinnamon to the “batter” and some ground green cardamom powder from the Indian food store. Thank you for introducing me to the world of raw foods. I saw this recipe when I was looking at raw recipes last night http://www.flavorfulfork.com/2011/08/peanut-butter-power-bites/ and I think that I may give it a try. My husband loves peanut butter, so I think he would enjoy these.

    • Reply
      Sonja
      September 18, 2011 at 11:02 pm

      Thanks so much for sharing! I’m glad you enjoyed it – cardamom is a great idea for adding another hint of flavor!

  • Reply
    German Mama
    September 9, 2011 at 11:29 pm

    Sorry to barge in here but I am rather skeptical about your “sugar-free” claim. You don’t add sugar but if you do some research on the sugar content of dates, you will find that it’s extremely high! (I just wanted to bring it up. Feel free to delete this comment if you don’t like it.)

    • Reply
      Alex
      September 11, 2011 at 2:08 pm

      Hi! We did not mean to confuse anyone about the presence of natural sugars in dried fruit. We simply believe that there are a lot of complex health benefits of eating a sweet made from whole fruits versus adding refined sugar to a recipe. Thanks for pointing it out!

  • Reply
    Julia
    September 13, 2011 at 8:09 am

    They look delicious! And sound so simple!

  • Reply
    Amrita
    September 14, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    You’re not serious, are you? Those are raw brownies?!

    :-0 This one’s after my own heart!

    • Reply
      Alex
      September 18, 2011 at 10:21 pm

      Haha! So serious. You’ll have to try them out :)

  • Reply
    Robbie
    September 18, 2011 at 11:10 am

    They look absolutely gorgeous!!! I’ll have to try those :) yummm they sound easy to make and they are not unheathy which is awesome.
    ps: I love you blog (and the whole idea behind it) and your recipes are lovely!
    Its on my faves! x

    • Reply
      Alex
      September 18, 2011 at 10:18 pm

      Thanks so much! These brownies are so easy and delicious – you’ll love them!

  • Reply
    Kathy
    October 6, 2011 at 12:04 am

    I just made this (at 9:03pm!) with my Black&Decker blender. It worked ;)
    Very yummy too!!!

    • Reply
      Sonja
      October 6, 2011 at 12:15 pm

      Ooo, I’m glad to hear that this worked in a blender! Glad you liked them!

  • Reply
    Shari
    October 7, 2011 at 10:03 am

    These are delicious! I’ve made them twice for different groups of people and everyone has really enjoyed them. Instead of squares, I formed the dough into little balls.

    • Reply
      Sonja
      October 7, 2011 at 6:02 pm

      Great idea — I’ve done that too! (And pretended they were truffles :) )

  • Reply
    The Savvy Sister
    October 12, 2011 at 9:05 pm

    These are just what I needed after my attempt at vegan chocolate mousse that failed. The moistness of the batter really surprised me, and NO REFINED SUGAR! YAY! The batter fit nicely into 12 mini muffin molds.

    I hope it’s ok that I post a copy of this recipe and credit your site.
    Thanks and keep this good stuff coming!

    • Reply
      Sonja
      October 12, 2011 at 9:15 pm

      Go for it – I’m glad you enjoyed it! (I got the recipe over at My New Roots – she has lots of great recipes with no refined sugar.)

      We’ll keep them coming – thanks for the feedback! It’s great to know that people enjoy these types of “desserts” as much as we do!

    • Reply
      Alex
      October 12, 2011 at 9:22 pm

      If you’re looking for another vegan chocolate recipe, you could try our tofu pudding too! (though it does have sugar – I wonder if honey would be good…)

      http://www.acouplecooks.com/2010/09/chocolate-chili-tofu-pudding/

  • Reply
    Lynda
    October 17, 2011 at 1:24 am

    Have you ever heard of the brownie recipe made from black beans? Saw it on Dr. oz.

    • Reply
      Sonja
      October 17, 2011 at 3:56 pm

      I had not heard of it, but just checked it out! Looks like it uses the same type of ingredients as regular brownies (butter, sugar, eggs, etc) but adds black beans as well. If you like traditional brownies, that might be a good bet. Since my stomach has trouble handling the richness of butter, I tend to prefer the “raw” version :)

      • Reply
        Hallie
        February 13, 2013 at 7:34 am

        I was disappointed when I searched for and found Rocco DiSpirito’s “good for you” brownies after seeing them on his show, “Eat This, Not That.” The borwnies were filled with all sorts of processed foods that made me cringe. I kept searching and came across a recipe that I decided to try and I was very pleased with the results. Note that I used 8 medjool dates in lieu of the prunes, as that’s all I had on hand at the time, but they were still yummy. I’ve been wanting to make another batch for Valentine’s Day treats for my little fellas. http://www.blogher.com/vegan-chocolate-black-bean-cupcakes-really

        Perhaps I’llbe making these brownies instead… :-)

        • Reply
          Sonja
          February 21, 2013 at 3:32 pm

          Sounds great – hope you enjoy them!

  • Reply
    Catherine
    November 4, 2011 at 4:15 am

    These are not substitute for the real thing. My husband and my daughter both rejected them outright. I find it to be more like a candy than a brownie–a chocolate candy that I do not feel sick after eating and tastes really good with glass of milk.

    • Reply
      Alex
      November 4, 2011 at 8:04 am

      I’m sorry that your family didn’t enjoy them! They certainly do not have a cake-like texture. I’m glad at least they didn’t leave you with a sick stomach :)

  • Reply
    Sarah Haege
    December 3, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    Wow these look good but I’m super allergic to all nuts except for peanuts. Wish I could figure out a nut-less way to do these!

    • Reply
      Sonja
      December 4, 2011 at 7:14 pm

      Wow, that’s too bad! You could probably try it with peanuts in place of the walnuts (and skip the almonds) – it would have a different flavor, but I think it might work! Let us know if you try it out!

  • Reply
    Jennifer
    February 10, 2012 at 7:59 pm

    These are really yummy. I’ve made them a few times and now favor these date-based ones over the other ones! Mine have been pretty crumbly, and while I’ve pressed the mixture together and chilled them, they still have a way of breaking easily in route to my happy mouth. In my most recent batch, I used ground chia seed and water (3:1) to make an adhesive that also packs an nutritional boost! I used about 1/2T of the egg-substitute. It did help the brownie stick together and added some moisture, making it more of a fudge brownie. I think this would be especially helpful if one is going the truffles route!

  • Reply
    Tallulah.C
    April 11, 2012 at 11:14 pm

    This recipe looks really great, however I was just wondering if there’s anything that would work as a substitute for the dates?
    Thanks!

    • Reply
      Alex
      April 12, 2012 at 7:34 am

      I’m sorry – I haven’t seen any similar recipes without the dates. They are pretty essential to the texture.

  • Reply
    Chef Paul
    April 14, 2012 at 10:34 am

    I love this recipe, I am using it with my Baking Science class this week. We may feature it in our new cafe/bakery opening in August.

    I was wondering if Tallulah C. objected to the dates, or dried fruit in general. It seems that it would be easy to substitute dried apricots, prunes, even raisins. The flavor and sweetness profile would change, but could be pleasing. Many thoughts for variation come to mind. Apricot, toasted almonds, extra virgin olive or nut oil for flavor and texture…

    Thanks,

    • Reply
      Sonja
      April 14, 2012 at 2:02 pm

      Great ideas! And these come from a real chef, everyone! :)

      We have tried these with another type of date (deglet noir) and found they did not have nearly the sweetness or the texture of Medjool dates. However, we’ve never tried apricots or prunes — interesting idea! Some good food for thought :)

  • Reply
    Tallulah.C
    April 14, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    Hi, thanks for all your suggestions. I was just thinking of trying it with different dried fruits, and I like your suggestion for toasted almonds! Thanks!

  • Reply
    Cait
    June 7, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    These look so good! I have been trying to find a recipe for something like the Chocolate Brownie Pure bar. I’m thinking these might be like those and a whole lot cheaper!

  • Reply
    Rhi
    August 8, 2012 at 8:03 pm

    I don’t have the medjool dates, just ordinary. I’m going to attempt this today with them.

  • Reply
    Beth
    January 7, 2013 at 8:38 pm

    Sounds super yummy! I’m on a health kick for the new year (we’ll see how long it lasts), & I’m so glad I found your recipe for the perfect dessert! :0)

  • Reply
    Emily
    January 8, 2013 at 1:50 pm

    I’ve been cutting gluten and refined sugars from my diet and was extremely excited when I found this recipe! I made it the other night and it turned out really great (even my fiance and super picky roomies approved!). Much better than other chocolate cake recipes I’ve tried that use dates and coconut flour. However, mine were super crumbly also. I may try the Chia egg mentioned above or maybe I didn’t process the walnuts fine enough. Definitely excited about this recipe though!

    • Reply
      Sonja
      January 8, 2013 at 2:03 pm

      Hi Emily! I’m glad you enjoyed these! I’ve had mine come out fairly crumbly too at times. When that happens, I try to run the food processor for a bit longer; it will help to keep things together more. Sometimes if you run the processor for a long time, the mixture will all clump together into one ball in the bowl; usually that texture seems to stick together well in brownie form. It is also good to process the walnuts very finely before adding the dates. One last thing I do is to really press the brownies together into the pan, and then consider refrigerating them a bit to let them set. Give it a try and let me know what works!

  • Reply
    Annetta
    January 10, 2013 at 10:50 am

    I have a huge problem. Unless I double the batch, then none of my mixture will make it into brownies… this is too good, I can’t resist not eating entirely from the bowl.. omg

    • Reply
      Alex
      January 13, 2013 at 1:30 pm

      Hah! That certainly is a problem :) Glad you like it!

    • Reply
      Sonja
      January 13, 2013 at 8:46 pm

      You know, I have the same problem too! Luckily, loving dates and nuts isn’t too much of a guilty pleasure :)

  • Reply
    Lisa
    January 14, 2013 at 4:16 pm

    Wow. This is my second recipe trial in three days. (First, the poblano stuffed peppers!) And I must say, that I loved these just as much. I am hooked to your ideas and your site now.

    • Reply
      Sonja
      January 14, 2013 at 5:36 pm

      So glad you enjoyed them both! Hopefully you’ll continue to find recipes you enjoy (no pressure, right?! :)) Thanks for writing!

  • Reply
    Leslie
    February 22, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    Wow, I never post comments on things but I have to say that these are really good! I’m a sweet lover and I feel a little less guilty eating these and they really satisfy my sweet tooth:-) Thanks for posting – I’m going to try the other recipes now too!

    • Reply
      Sonja
      February 25, 2013 at 8:59 pm

      Glad you enjoyed them, Leslie! And thanks for commenting too — it’s so helpful to know your feedback! Let us know if you try anything else :)

  • Reply
    Megan
    March 20, 2013 at 5:07 am

    These are sensational, I am a newly converted healthy eater from Devon in the UK with a sweet tooth. I love the ooey gooey rich texture of these brownies and have shared them with colleagues at work and a few friends, they just can’t believe how delightful they are, even the rough, tough boys like them. Instead of using cinnamon I used peppermint extract for a mint chocolate kick (a personal favourite). Thanks for sharing your recipe, utter brilliance.

    • Reply
      Alex
      March 20, 2013 at 9:15 am

      So glad you enjoyed the recipe! The mint version sounds good. The great thing about this recipe is that it’s totally adaptable. Have you seen our gingerbread and pumpkin spice versions? http://www.acouplecooks.com/tag/dates/

      • Reply
        Anonymous
        March 20, 2013 at 1:43 pm

        Not seen those versions! I think I will be spending a lot of time on your website. I like the look of your peach salsa.
        Back to the brownies I’m going to see if I can persuade my sister to try these delicious treats.
        Taking a sample to the chiropractor and the guys at the gym, Awesome!

  • Reply
    ingrid
    March 16, 2014 at 1:32 am

    Love these! So happy to have found this recipe! I add a little bit of coconut oil (1tbsp?) It Helps moisten them & holds them together nicely

  • Reply
    Dani
    April 24, 2014 at 11:32 am

    I’ll be honest, I didn’t believe you when you said you could make a brownie out of dates, cocoa powder and walnuts, but you pulled it off! Topped mine off with a few sliced strawberries to brighten them up. I’m so impressed.

  • Reply
    Sam
    April 18, 2015 at 8:30 pm

    Hi! So I was really excited to make these, always looking for new ‘healthy’ desserts and so I made this earlier. I put it in the fridge for the required time but it was still very crumbly.. Anything I can do to make it more formable?? Thanks!!

    • Reply
      Sonja
      April 18, 2015 at 9:50 pm

      Hi Sam! Thanks for writing. I would try adding another date or two and processing the dough, then tasting and adding more cocoa powder for a more chocolate-y taste. Sometimes the moisture in dates can vary. Did you use Medjool dates? The dough should be easily formable (not too crumbly) at room temperature, so adding a few more dates can help that. The only issue would be adding too many dates can make the dough sticky and gooey, so try not to overprocess. Let us know if this helps!

  • Reply
    Natasha
    February 18, 2016 at 3:53 pm

    I made these yesterday and my kids loved them! Do you know the nutritional facts for theses brownies?

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