Monday, August 1, 2011

BakerGal Chewy Paleo Brownie Recipe: The BEST Paleo Brownie Recipe!

the best paleo brownie recipe ever
A close up of the delicious paleo brownie recipe.
After testing and reporting back on a slew of paleo brownie recipes, it was time to take what I'd learned and try to design my own, hopefully better, paleo brownie recipe. Hint: I succeeded.

I had originally tested five paleo brownie recipes: one relied heavily on almond butter, another two incorporated chopped fruit for sweetness, and the last two called for coconut flour and coconut oil. All used honey as the main sweetener. (Also, since this attempt, I've also tested six paleo chocolate chip cookie recipes and crafted my own delicious paleo cookie recipe.)

Determined to get as close as possible to traditional chewy brownie taste and texture (and to avoid complicated recipes and exotic ingredients), I decided to ditch the fruit and coconut brownie recipes and use the first, almond butter-based recipe, as a starting point. I turned to one of my favorite publications - Cook's Illustrated - to glean tips about making the perfect brownie.  They had discovered the secret to a make-at-home brownie with the satisfying chew of box brownie mix (use the right ratio of saturated to unsaturated fat) and also knew how to get that shiny/crackly brownie top (use white sugar, not brown sugar).

Even armed with this new info, though, I was still at a loss: With no added fat in this recipe, I had no ingredients I could tweak to get anywhere near the perfect ratio. And, with white sugar on the not-paleo list, I had no chance of scoring a crackly brownie top.

I decided to just jump in and try things out on my own. Three paleo brownie batches later, I finally hit on success: a recipe with a deep chocolate flavor that was sweeter and chewier than last week's almond butter brownie. These paleo brownies are not too cakey or too dense, and not soggy like some of the recipes I had worked with before. The main changes I made include:

  • Instead of honey, I used light agave syrup, which has a light caramel-like flavor (and added more of it).
  • I added more cocoa and "bloomed" it by heating it in the agave syrup to intensify its flavor.
  • I removed the eggs: With so much moisture coming from the agave syrup and almond butter, eggs made the brownies too moist for my taste. Below, I explain how to add an egg to the recipe if you'd like. 
  • It's hard to imagine an entire family on the paleo diet, so I also downsized the recipe from a 9x13 pan to an 8x8 pan.
my version of the best paleo brownie recipe
A more-baked layer forms on the brownie top and edges that provides chewiness and protects the paleo brownie's inside from drying out.
Note: I preferred the egg-free version the day I made it, but I thought it was a little dry the next day, so I am considering one more eggless variation where I use 1 cup of almond butter and 1/4 c applesauce, assuming the applesauce might help bring more lasting moisture to the mix. Taste-testers preferred the version with the egg, saying that it still tasted moist without getting too dry or chewy, and felt that it was more like box brownies than the eggless version.

BakerGal Chewy Paleo Brownie Recipe: The BEST Paleo Brownie Recipe

1 1/4 cup raw light agave syrup, gently heated (or raw honey)
3/4 cup natural cocoa powder
1 1/4 cup almond butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp chocolate extract (optional, flavor intensifier)
1 tsp instant espresso powder (optional, flavor intensifier)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

1. Heat agave syrup gently over stove until warm (do not allow to boil). Stir in cocoa powder over low heat until smooth. Cocoa burns easily, so keep the heat on very very low.
2. Remove from heat and stir in remaining ingredients except salt until thoroughly mixed.
3. Sprinkle batter with salt, and fold batter to mix it in.
4. Pour into foil-lined or parchment paper-lined 8x8 baking pan (or, grease the pan with coconut oil or your preferred oil)
5. Bake paleo brownies at 325F for 40-50 min.  Insert a toothpick in the center of the pan to determine done-ness. (I baked mine in a glass pan at 325F for 45 minutes, and it seemed perfect). Let cool completely before cutting. Store in a plastic ziplock bag to preserve moisture.

The recipe can accommodate an egg. It will make the brownies more tender and moist, and a little less chewy. To include an egg:
Reduce almond butter to 1 cup. Mix egg with vanilla extract, chocolate extract, espresso powder, and baking powder before combining with agave-cocoa-almond butter mixture.

I hope you enjoy these paleo chocolate brownies!