So rich and fudgy, you’ll never guess that these no-bake vegan brownies are made from just a few basic ingredients and without any oil or added sugars.
The original inspiration for this recipe was my desire to make a healthier version of cosmic brownies.
Growing up I was never a fan of those snack cakes, like Ding Dogs, Ho-Hos, or Zebra cakes. But cosmic brownies were just so irresistibly fudgy and chocolatey.
Super dense and not at all cake-like, the key to making a cosmic brownie imposter was to make a brownie base that melted in your mouth.
After playing around with various baked options, I kept coming back to the idea of a no-bake brownie.
Besides the perk of not having to turn on your oven, this raw brownie base had a more consistent texture than any of the other baked experiments.
Once I finally decided on the right ratio of nuts, dates, cocoa powder and liquid to keep the brownies melt-in-your mouth rather than overly crunchy, the next step was a bit harder: frosting.
While I’ve been experimenting a lot with avocado and chocolate combos lately, I couldn’t get the idea of a date frosting out of my head.
If you haven’t experienced the magic that is date paste, prepare to be amazed.
The key is using dates that are still moist and having a powerful blender.
While you can try making the frosting in your food processor, I haven’t been able to keep the mixture from spilling liquid everywhere during the first step. If you know the secrete let me know!
Once you have everything made, all that’s left is to frost the brownies, let them set in the freezer for 15-20 minutes, slice and enjoy! Oh and top with sprinkles. The sprinkles are key for the cosmic brownie feel.
Is it a cop-out to say everything?
Let’s start with a comparison of nutrition facts:
Nutrition stats, alone, these fudgy vegan brownies are much lower in calories, saturated fat, carbs and sugar.
But what really makes these a healthier dessert is that they’re made from all natural ingredients: cashews (high in healthy fats), dates (high in fiber and micronutrients), cocoa powder (high in antioxidants), almond butter, a little salt and vanilla extract.
In comparison, Cosmic Brownies contain bleached flour, high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils, food colorings, and a handful of thickeners and stabilizers.
Absolutely! While I find cashews made for a creamier brownie base, I haven’t noticed a significant difference using almonds or walnuts.
I haven’t tried other nuts, but I’m sure pecans would also work really well!
Step 1: Measure out ingredients and cover a loaf pan or small baking pan with parchment paper.
Step 2: Prepare dates for the frosting by placing 1 cup of dates in a bowl (or blender) with ½ cup of warm water. Let sit for 10 minutes.
Step 3: While dates are soaking, make the brownie base.
Start by placing cashews in a food processor and pulse until soft and crumbly, almost a sand-like texture.
Next, add remaining cup of dates, ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract, pinch of salt, 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, and 2 tablespoons of water.
Pulse until mixture is well-combined and sticky. If too dry, add additional water 1 teaspoon at a time.
Step 4: Pour brownie batter into prepared pan. Using a rubber spatula, spread the mixture evenly in the pan.
Step 5: Make frosting by placing soaked dates and the water they’ve been soaking in into a high-powered blender (I saved time by just soaking them in the blender). Add the almond butter, ¼ cup of cocoa powder and ¼ teaspoon salt.
Blend on high until smooth and creamy.
Step 6: Spread date frosting evenly over brownies. Depending on how thick you want your frosting, you may end up with some leftover. Top with sprinkles if using.
Place brownies in freezer for 20-30 minutes or until set.
Step 7: Remove brownies from pan and slice into 10 squares depending on the size of your pan.
Enjoy immediately or keep leftovers stored in the fridge for up to 1 week or freezer for 4 months.
While you can use all the frosting on these brownies, if you prefer a thinner frosting to brownie ratio, there’s no need to worry about it going to waste!
My personal favorite is to skip adding chocolate chips to my gooey chocolate mug cake and top it with some of this frosting instead.
You could also use it as a dip for fresh fruit slices or make your morning a little more indulgent by spreading it over pancakes – no judgement here ;).
What’s one of your favorite childhood food memories?
I’d love to hear in the comments below. And make sure to pin this recipe for later!
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