Yes to Yummy

Dark Chocolate Fig Brownies (gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, paleo)

January 22, 2014 Leave your thoughts Print this page

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Oh yes, it’s that time of year again. That time of year when heart sweaters and red shoes suddenly appear in stores, when sales in sugary milk chocolates exponentially increase. Those little boxes of paper Disney valentines show up on supermarket shelves and ads for chick-flick movies pop up in your browser. You know what it means. You may hide under your throw blanket or throw your shoes across the room, but there’s nowhere to hide.

Valentine’s Day is approaching.

When I was much younger (think kindergarten), Valentine’s Day meant sweets in class. Moms would bring in cupcakes and candy, and valentines would have little bags of Sweethearts or a bright red lollipop attached. That was until I got to about third grade, when school policy changed. Out went the goodies, in came the platters of cheese cubes and cut-up fruit, with an arts and craft activity to compensate. Nothing says “fun” like cheap string cheese and foam paper, don’t you think? While I now approve of these healthier changes, as an eight year-old with a massive sweet tooth, I cared to disagree with these new measures.

Now that I’m in high school–and regulations are much more relaxed–there are ample opportunities for indulgent sugar-highs. But I don’t want to wait until February 14th for Hershey’s kisses and Swedish fish (neither of which I’m interested in): I want an indulgent, chocolaty dessert, and I want it now.

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These brownies are incredibly decadent. You will fall in love with them–no, actually. Both chocolate and figs are considered aphrodisiacs, or foods that stimulate romantic desire. I’m not saying that if you give one to an attractive person, he/she will fall madly in love with you, but it could definitely help, I guess! As I’ve said many, many times before, to me, food is love, and making something delicious from scratch is one of the best ways to show someone that you care. And, oh boy, these brownies are insane–and meant to be shared. (Otherwise, I promise, you will eat the entire pan all by yourself.)

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On a non-Valentine’s-Day-related note, I have found “healthy” brownies extremely difficult to master. A looooooong time ago, I tried making banana brownies, and honestly, they were just OK. They had a nice cakey texture, but taste-wise, they were far from their rich, chocolaty cousins. A few months later, I tried making a version of the brownies in a paleo cookbook (which shall remain anonymous), and they really didn’t turn out well, both in flavor AND in texture. While I managed to master gluten-free, dairy-free blondies, that brownie attempt alone discouraged me from trying again for the past seven months.

But lately, I’ve had a serious craving for dark chocolate and figs. Maybe it’s my midterms, maybe it’s the fact I’m a hopeless romantic, but whatever it is, I haven’t been able to shake it. What better way to combine the two than an unbelievable brownie?

These are the best brownies I have ever made (in my opinion), regardless of “healthiness.” They’re gooey, dense, and filled with an intense chocolate flavor. They rose beautifully in the oven and came easily out of the pan. They were a breeze to put together, too. By the way, while these are made with coconut flour, allergy-friendly chocolate chips, and non-hydrogenated palm shortening, they are not healthy. There is no way something this decadent can be healthy, sorry. But they are worth the once-in-a-while indulgence, I swear.

Are you ready to experience the awesome? I hope so, because I am, and your loved ones probably are, too.

First things first: preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line an 8 x 8 baking dish with a square of parchment paper. Grease HEAVILY with some coconut oil. I literally took a chunk out of my coconut oil jar and used the entire thing to prevent the brownies from sticking. Even though our pans are supposedly non-stick, we’ve had some serious issues with stuck brownies in the past.

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In the bowl of a food processor, pulse 2 cups of dried, chopped, de-stemmed Turkish figs (the ones with the tan-ish skins) until sticky and no clumps remain, about two minutes. Scrape down the bowl once, and add a tablespoon of water if your figs are getting stuck.

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Once well processed, add in 1/3 cup of palm shortening OR coconut oil, melted and 2 eggs, whisked. Blend those guys with the figs until homogeneous, about 1 minute.

Meanwhile, in a bowl, melt 6 ounces of dark chocolate on 30 second intervals in the microwave until smooth, about 2 minutes. (You can also do this in a small saucepan over  low heat.) Stir between every interval to ensure that the chocolate won’t burn. Once melted, scrape the chocolate into the bowl of a food processor with 2/3 cup of full-fat coconut milk and 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract. Blend for another minute or two longer.

Using a fine-mesh sieve, sift 1/3 cup of coconut flour, 1/3 cup of cocoa powder, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda into the bowl of the food processor. Process for another two minutes until all of the ingredients are completely combined. If you like, you can also include in 1/4 cup of chopped almonds and 1/4 cup of raisins to add some texture!

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Now, it’s time to taste the batter. I know it has raw egg, but a little bit WON’T kill you. If it doesn’t taste chocolaty enough, add in 3 tablespoons cup of raw coconut nectar, honey, or maple syrup. Yes, I am telling you to add more sweetener. Call the health food police, feed me to the sharks, I don’t care. To bring out the chocolate flavor, you NEED sweetness, and there’s no way to get around that. While the figs are plenty sweet on their own, some added sweetener–even just a little bit–will do wonders for your dessert. Considering I cut my brownies into 16 squares, this will only add a little less than a teaspoon of sweetener per brownie. It’s your call: leave it out to be “healthy,” or add it in to have a delicious final product.

Scoop the batter into the prepared pan, spread out, and bake until firm on top and a knife comes out with a little residue in the center, about 25 to 30 minutes. Please, take these out before you think they’re done–overcooked brownies are far less appealing and happen ever-to-often. You will thank yourself later for your riskiness.

Let the brownies cool in the pan for AT LEAST half an hour before slicing and serving. Be prepared to die and go to brownie heaven.

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Er mah gurd. That roughly translates from the language of “THIS IS SO GOOD” into, “Oh my God.” You and your loved ones will be saying it as soon as you take a bite.

What’s your opinion about Valentine’s Day? Leave me a comment here or on Facebook and let me know!


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