Brownies and I have had a love-hate relationship in recent years; in my efforts to create one that both satisfied my craving for that square of rich, fudgy chocolatey goodness whilst providing a nutritional twist, my experiments would always fall short of my aspirations. Too dry, too dense, not sweet enough, too “healthy” looking and tasting… something was always amiss. As I’ve progressed along my brownie-journey, I’ve realised that no “healthier” brownie will be able to totally replicate the taste, texture and appearance of your typical one, but I think this one comes quite close. Maybe they’re not perfect, but they taste pretty amazing either way and (hopefully) will satisfy your chocolate cravings.
The not-so-secret ingredient? Sweet potato. I know, it’s not incredibly original nowadays what with social media being rife with pictures of super thick, gooey sweet potato creations, but having a love affair with sweet potato meant that I couldn’t resist jumping on the bandwagon. They lend a subtle sweetness and moistness that means you have to add less sweetener to the batter, whilst also providing you with a hearty dose of vitamin A. I only use a small amount of wholemeal spelt flour in the recipe, lending them a slightly nutty, rich texture and flavour without being dry and/ or crumbly (my previous flaw was always adding too much flour). If gluten-free, try swapping with buckwheat or brown rice flour, or even ground almonds, although I’ve never tried this so if you do let me know how it goes!
I made the classic mistake of cutting these before they had fully firmed up, so make sure you resist the temptation and leave them to cool entirely before tucking in. They even get a slightly (very slightly) crispy/ crackly top which I thought was a bonus! I will definitely be making these again soon with the addition of optional goodies such as chopped walnuts, raw chocolate chunks, a peanut butter swirl… the options are endless! Get creative and tag me on Instagram if you have a go at them @fruitsandroutes 😊
Ingredients – makes 16 squares (or 12 larger ones)
-1 small sweet potato (about 300-350g)
-150g pitted medjool dates, soaked in boiling water for 10 minutes if necessary
-50g wholemeal spelt flour
-6 tbsp raw cacao powder (roughly 40g)
-4 tbsp virgin coconut oil (60g)
-3 heaped tbsp smooth peanut butter (100g)
-3 tbsp (unheaped) hulled tahini (75g)
-50g coconut sugar plus 2 generous tbsp pure maple syrup
-2 tbsp ground flaxseed mixed with 6 tbsp water to make your “flax eggs”
-1 tsp vanilla extract & a pinch of sea salt
- Preheat the oven to 200C/ fan 180C. Stab your sweet potato a few times with a knife, then bake in the oven for about 55minutes – 1 hour, until tender all the way through. Set aside to cool, then peel away and discard the skin.
- Meanwhile, melt the coconut oil, coconut sugar, maple syrup, peanut butter and tahini in a sauce pan over a low heat, stirring constantly until smooth and completely melted. Set aside to cool before stirring through the cacao powder until combined.
- Drain the dates (if soaked), then whizz them up in a food processor until mostly smooth, then add the sweet potato flesh and blend until smooth.
- Combine the sweet potato mixture with the chocolate in a bowl, adding the remaining ingredients and stirring until combined. Now is your chance to incorporate any optional add-ins!
- Grease and line a baking pan with greaseproof paper, then pour in your batter and press down with a spatula. Bake in the oven (at the same temperature as above) for 25-30 minutes, checking after 20 minutes and every 5 minutes after to ensure it doesn’t burn. The edges should be firm and the centre still a bit wobbly – this is perfect, just make sure you leave it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then turn it out and leave until entirely cool before cutting into 12 or 16 slices! I love warming them through gently in the oven and serving with Booja booja ice cream!
I hope you love these as much as my family and I did, and if you have a go at making them then don’t forget to tag me on Instagram – I love seeing your creations and versions of my recipes.
PS. I have my first “track” race this Saturday, although it’s actually on a grass track so won’t be that serious or accurate time-wise. I think I will only be doing the 3000m race due to it being on grass, but since it’s not particularly important I’m thinking of not tapering and just treating it like a training run.