Friday, June 22, 2012

Miso Bakes :: No-Bake Vegan Brownies

Last month I had visited my cousin Tracy while I was in Vancouver for the Dyeing to Get Some Colour workshop.  Tracy and I talk fairly often, see each other whenever we can, and have a ton of things in common.  One of those things?  We both have an insatiable sweet tooth.  I like to think we get it from our Grandmother (our Moms are sisters and I know my Mom has quite the sweet tooth as well).  Whenever we see each other there are 3 things that we like to indulge in together: sushi, coffee, and sweet treats.  This visit was no different.  We (well, more me than Tracy) gorged in delicious sushi (mmmm...tuna sashimi...), drank green tea and strong coffee, and Tracy made me vegan brownies.

Tracy promised me that they were delicious and that I was going to get punched in the face with the taste of chocolate (ok, those weren't her words).  I will admit that I was a little weirded out at first.  I think it was because there was no baking involved, and because of the coconut oil.  I have nothing against coconut oil, I just haven't had much exposure to it and my previous baking experiences with it were less than stellar.  My taste buds were also quite confused.  You see, the top layer is thick and chocolate-y and the bottom later was cake-like with texture.  It reminded me of a Nanaimo bar and I was totally expecting to chomp on coconut flakes (which I'm not a fan least, not with chocolate) amongst the chocolate goodness.  Tracy didn't think I liked it cause my reaction was fairly ho-hum, but in my defence I was so beyond exhausted that I could barely keep my eyes open and like a little child I refused to go to bed.  Eventually Tracy had to force me to go to bed.  

Anyhoo, I did like the brownies and wanted to try making them myself.  So I texted Tracy and asked if she could share the recipe with me.  She doesn't remember where she got the recipe from and had quickly emailed me what she did.  Luckily I had all the ingredients in my cupboards and gave it a try that day.  The results?  They were insanely delicious!  So delicious that I couldn't stop eating them and almost had to pull a Miranda on them (for those of you who don't watch Sex and the City, I almost had to throw the rest of the brownies in the garbage and squirt dishwashing soap all over it so that I wouldn't be tempted to eat any more).  Yes, there were that good.  I was hooked.  And before I knew it, they were gone and I was frantically whipping up another batch.  And another.  I know, obsessive much?

The first time I made these bad boys I had posted a photo on Facebook and Instagram, and immediately had people leaving comments and messaging me for the recipe.  I'm all for sharing yummy treats and thought why not share it here on the blog?  Cause if I love them a ton, I'm sure some of you will too!  But be forewarned...if you have a sweet tooth and are weak in the face of chocolate, you might not be able to contain yourself.  Don't worry, I won't judge.  If you eat the whole pan by yourself, I won't say a word.  Shhh...your secret is safe with me!  To make yourself feel somewhat better, you can whip up these brownies using all organic ingredients.  That's what I do, and I tell myself, "hey Melissa, eating that entire pan of brownies all by yourself is ok.  Why?  Cause you're getting a good amount of fruit, fiber, and nuts.  Oh, and it's all organic.  I won't tell Brett what you did.  Heck, does he even need to know you made brownies today?".  Yeah...I'm a little delusional.  But whatevs.  Anyhoo...

Let's bake!

UPDATE: As of July 7, 2012 these brownies were featured on!  Check out the post, as well as other yummy no-bake treats here.

Certified Yummly Recipes on

:: No-Bake Vegan Brownies ::

You'll need:

:: Brownie ::
1 cup walnuts (doesn't matter if they are whole or in pieces)
1 cup pecans
11 - 13 Medjool dates, de-pitted
1/2 cup cocoa powder

:: Topping ::
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 - 3 tbsp agave nectar
Pinch of salt

First, you'll want to line an 8x8 pan with either parchment paper or plastic wrap, making sure there is an overhang.  Trust me, you'll want to do this.  It'll make getting the brownies out the pan that much easier, and clean up will be a breeze!

In a food processor, mix the walnuts and pecans together and chop until it's grainy.  If you're the kind that likes chunky bits of nuts in their brownie, I suggest roughly chopping the nuts and then scooping out a 1/4 cup and reserve it for later while continuing to process the rest.  You don't want the nuts to be like flour, just finely chopped.

Add the dates, making sure you removed all the pits.  Process until you get to a sticky state.  How many dates you use depends on how big your dates are and how fine you processed the nuts.  I've used 12 or 13 dates in each batch I've made and never thought it was too much.

Add the cocoa powder and process until completely mixed in.  The first time I made these I had used a double-dutch dark cocoa powder that was a mix of Dutch-process cocoa and extra dark black cocoa, and oh my...they were the best brownies of all the brownies I had made!  The other times I had used unsweetened cocoa, which still turned out delicious but not as great as the mixed cocoa.  I highly recommend using a good quality cocoa powder since it's the star taste in these brownies.

If you had reserved some chunky bits of nuts, now is the time to mix them in!

Dump the brownie mixture onto your lined pan and press firmly into pan.  Make sure you try to get the brownie mix as level as you can.  Set brownie layer aside.

Melt the coconut oil over a bowl of hot water, making sure you get 1/2 cup.  Don't worry if the coconut oil doesn't melt immediately.  Just let it sit and stir it up every now and then while the hot water warms it up.  You'll know it's completely melted when it's no longer white and cloudy looking.

Once the coconut oil is all melted, stir in the agave nectar, salt, and cocoa powder until well mixed and smooth.  We don't want lumps!  Pour the chocolatey coconut oil mix over the brownie, there should be no need to use a spatula to smooth anything out.  

Put the brownies in the fridge for half an hour to set the topping.

Once the topping has hardened, use the overhang of the parchment paper or plastic wrap to pull the brownies out of the pan.  Unlike with regular brownies, you'll want to cut up these brownies a little on the smaller side.  Trust me, they pack quite the chocolate punch!

 :: Enjoy! ::

I find these to be quite rich and can definitely knock out a chocolate craving!  

Because of the coconut oil, these brownies are best kept in the fridge and should be served immediately upon being taken out of the fridge.  Stored in an airtight container they should keep fresh in your fridge for a week.  

Keep in mind that the warmth from your hands will cause the coconut oil in the topping to start melting a bit and so you'll need to lick (or wipe, if you're classy that way.  Obviously I'm not) your fingers after consuming one of these morsels. Even if they are left out at room temperature these brownies will still be quite delish, but they will soften up a fair bit and the topping might "sweat" - meaning beads of moisture will form on top of the brownies.  Also note that because of the coconut oil content, these brownies aren't really great for toting around in a lunch bag or purse, or for anywhere that is overly warm.  The topping can melt quite a bit and can get pretty messy.

These brownies are great with a strong cup of coffee or black tea, and would you believe that even Brett likes them?  Yup!  Even a meat and potatoes type of guy likes them!

So...since the weekend is here, why don't you whip up a batch of these brownies?  You know what?  I think I will too.  Cause nothing's better than enjoying an afternoon cup of coffee with a bite of brownie and some knitting!!  Yay!

Enjoy a great weekend and happy eating and knitting!! ♥


  1. wow these look yum! thanks for sharing! of course i love your plates, and all that jazz.. xo

    1. They are yum! ;)

      After years of working at Starbucks I've accumulated a fair amount of cup and saucer sets!

  2. Wow, these have sent my little gluten free/grain free heart all a flutter;)

    Can't wait to not have to turn on the oven in the summer to eat loads of yummy chocolate!

    Thanks sooo much for sharing Melissa:)

    You rock!!

    1. No prob Aja! :D

      I hope I didn't pump them up so much that if you make them you'll be disappointed!

  3. Dude... Can I pretend these are healthy? Please? Why is it raining? I need to get to the grocery store like NOW! Waaaah why don't I have any brownies!?!?

    Sigh. I might be feeling a little menstrual today.

    1. Hahaha....we all have those moments Em! ♥

      Hey, these are much better for you than regular ol' brownies! Or at least that's what I tell myself!

  4. YUM!!! This reminds me of a more delicious and chocolatey version of a Larabar (with the date and nut mixture) DEFINITELY making these! I like to pretend my vegan cupcakes are healthy too...but we know the truth :)

    1. Shhhh...!!! We won't tell our brains the real truth about our treats! ;)

      Mmmm....Larabars...I was once majorly addicted to those!

  5. Em, they are totally healthy ;b!!!!

    I subbed a few things and they where still great, my taste spuds thank you but my hips don't:)

    1. Oh Aja, what kind of subs did you do? I would love to know! :)

  6. These look so yummy! I really wish I had a food processor to make a batch :(

    1. Aww, that's so sad. If I ever see you again I'll try to remember to bring some! :)

  7. Just finished washing up the dishes from yet another super yummy batch of these brownies;)

    I subbed out the coco powder and agave in the topping for a half cup of enjoy life chocolate chips (any choc. Chips would do).
    I also don't have pecans so i used 1 cup almond meal, it tastes great. I bet you could use any nut with the walnuts.

    This will make that 30minute work out i just busted out worth it right?

    1. long as you don't eat the whole pan yourself! ;)

      Those subs sound awesome! I definitely want to try almonds instead of pecans. Yum! Thanks for sharing! :)

  8. I finally made these and oh my gosh YUM!!! So delicious with very little sugar and lots of good stuff!!! Thanks for the recipe Melissa, I will definitely be making these again.

    1. Yay Jane!! I'm so glad you liked them!! :) These little morsels definitely pack quite the chocolate-y punch without a ton of guilt. That's my kind of chocolate! ;)


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