I remember back in the 1990’s when flourless chocolate cake was all the rage. Desserts with names like “Chocolate Orgasm” were on every menu. Of course, I had to make that. But even as an athletic college student, I was horrified at the ingredients list: unbelievable amounts of butter, cream, eggs, chocolate, sugar…. Like fudge, with eggs. Seeing as I aim to live to a ripe old age without requiring an emergency triple bypass, I’ve rarely revisited this recipe.
Fast forward to this month’s Bon Appetit (The New Healthy Issue, 1/15). The only time I can find to read this magazine is when the kids are in the tub. I’ll flip through and flag a few recipes while they splish and splash. This month, there is a feature on D.I.Y. energy bars. One of these is a no-bake chocolate-coconut date bar. I envisioned that these would likely resemble slightly undercooked, dense, dark chocolate brownies. Like that Chocolate Orgasm cake. But, without any butter, sugar, or flour whatsoever.
I’ve GOT to make these, I thought.
But several ingredients weren’t in my pantry, or in any of our usual grocery stores. So, in my spare mental time (especially on my evening commute home, when I’m starving), I worked out some readily available substitutions, and waited until I had a chance to put it all together.
That was today. It’s a football game day, and we usually get together with family to watch/ listen to hubby call the game. But, Babyboy is sick; actually, everyone in the entire family is sick, probably with the same URI. We’re all going to stay in our own respective homes, for better germ containment. So I’ve been home alone with both kids for most of the day. The game isn’t on until late, so I pulled out all of these ingredients (all of them long-lasting pantry items), my trusty Cuisinart, gathered the kids, and made these happen.
I knew when I was not only licking the spoon, but also scraping the moist, flavorful crumbs out of the processor and off of the parchment paper, that these would be a hit.
Super-Healthy No-Bake Flourless Chocolate-Coconut Brownies*
A sturdy food processor
8 x 8 baking pan
Parchment paper (or wax paper, as these aren’t going into the oven)
2 1/2 cups pitted dates (you want fresh, soft dates here; do not use little date bits, as they’ll be too hard)
3/4 cup 100% cocoa powder, plus some for dusting, if desired (we used Ghirardelli)
1/2 cup unsweetened baking chocolate, broken into small pieces (we used Ghirardelli)
1 cup unsweetened lightly toasted shredded coconut, divided (we used Bob’s Red Mill) (I think you could substitute slivered almonds or crushed hazelnuts here as well, also lightly toasted)
1/4 cup agave syrup (I think honey or molasses would work as well)
1/4 cup hot water (boiling is good)
1 teaspoon sea salt, divided
Line the baking pan with parchment paper, allowing long overhangs on either side, as you will need to fold these over the batter and cover it entirely. Get out your food processor. Throw in all your dates, cocoa powder, broken chocolate pieces, 3/4 cup of your coconut or other nut, all of your agave syrup or other liquid sweetener, all the hot water, and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt. Process. It will be very thick and heavy and you will need to scrape down the sides several times. Process until you don’t see any date chunks and it appears relatively smooth. Dump it into the parchment-paper lined baking pan. It will be very thick and not easily spread; instead, fold the parchment over it and press down. Press until it is kind of flat and filling the pan to the corners, and then open the paper. Now, sprinkle the remaining coconut (or other nut) and sea salt over the top, and fold the paper over again. Press very firmly; you may want to use another baking pan or other square thing to get the top evenly flat. Put the pan in the fridge for at least 20 minutes. Remove, and pull the entire square out of the pan by the parchment paper. Set down on a flat surface for cutting. Using a large heavy knife, cut into small squares. If saving for later, use wax or parchment paper on the bottom of your tupperware and between layers, as these are very soft and squishy, exactly like undercooked brownies!
I am SO not a food photographer, but I hope this conveys how yummy these are. Perfect for celebrating our team’s win tonight…
*This recipe was inspired by and adapted from Bon Appetit’s recipe for Chocolate Coconut Date Bars (by Dawn Perry, in The New Healthy Issue, 1/15, page 77)