A Sweet Ending to 2016

From a current event perspective, it's been a wild and crazy tumultuous year with countless twists and turns and unexpected bumps in the roads. Many lows (the presidential election, the untimely and early deaths of so many beloved artists and musicians, the overarching themes of normalizing misogyny, racism, narcissism, sexism, hate and sexual assault) and one high (the Dow almost reaching 20,000).

With all of this insanity almost in our rear view mirror, I can only think about doing my part to ensure 2016 ends on a sweet note. Something decadent, rich, sublime and yet guilt-free. Something that will make me forget about the last 12 (or is it 16?) months and something that will make the next 12 months news cycle possibly a bit more palatable.

Enter these flourless brownies.

The recipe comes from Angela Liddon's second cookbook, "Oh She Glows Every Day." This vegan blogger has concocted a bevy of creative recipes that will make the most rigid carnivore look forward to Meatless Monday. With 150 delicious plant-based recipes, I set my sights on one single recipe I knew would facilitate a sweet closure to a year so many people are trying to forget.

These brownies passed the test of three extremely harsh critics (including myself) and, in between bites and oohs and ahhs, were deemed truly "magical," "spectacular," "ridiculous good," "OMG," and "the best brownies eva."

If you are ready to bid farewell to 2016 and ring in a bright and healthy 2017, let this recipe be your reward for both surviving and having and a positive outlook on the future. Let me assure you, with these vegan, flourless, grain-free and refined sugar-free brownies in your life, nothing will be able to dampen your spirit.

Buen provecho!
The Ultimate Flourless Brownies
The Cowgirl Gourmet slightly modified this recipe from Angela Liddon's second cookbook "Oh She Glows Every Day"

Print recipe

If brownies are your jam, but you can't do flour, sugar or eggs, bookmark this recipe or print it out and sleep with it underneath your pillow. It's that good. Just a few simple ingredients make this recipe a stand-out in a year that more resembles a Shakespearean tragedy. But, really, after a few bites, you'll never even think about 2016 again.

Makes 8 brownies

2 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons ground flax seeds
3 tablespoons water
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted, if needed
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon coconut sugar
3/4 cup almond butter
3 1/2 ounces finely chopped dark chocolate (I used the Enjoy Life mini chips, but just learned of Pasha that I can't wait to try)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, optional

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9x5 loaf pan with parchment paper, allowing for some overhang to remove the brownies when they are cooked and cooled.
In a large bowl, add the ground flax seeds and water and rotate the bowl to stir. Allow it to sit for a few minutes. The flax will soak up the water and will become somewhat gelatinous.
Add the salt, baking soda, maple syrup and vanilla. Mix well.

Add the cocoa powder, coconut sugar and almond butter and stir well to thoroughly incorporate the almond butter. The batter will be very thick--thick enough so that a spatula stands up in the batter. This is what you want.
Now stir in the chocolate and nuts.

Place the batter in the loaf pan and place a piece of parchment paper on top of the batter.
Using your hands, press down on the parchment paper so the batter spreads evenly in the loaf pan. Start in the center and push outward until it's even.
You can remove the paper and, using slightly damp fingers, use your fingers to smooth out the batter.
Bake for 24-28 minutes, until the edges are starting to firm up. The center may look underdone and may be soft to the touch, but fear not. Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool in the pan on a cooling rack for at least 30 minutes.

After cooling, place the loaf pan in the freezer for 30 minutes. This will ensure they cut beautifully. Cut the brownies into 8 pieces, share and enjoy.
If any leftovers remain, store them in the freezer and thaw in the fridge or at room temperature before eating.
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