Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Chosen Brownies for Passover

Happy Passover to all who celebrate!  



I have a special treat today for those who keep Kosher for Passover. For those who do not have much familiarity with the Jewish holiday, people who celebrate Passover generally do not consume bread and cakes that rise for about a week. It is something that is practiced in memory of when their Jewish ancestors wandered the desert with only unleavened bread to eat (known as Matzoh). These ancestors fled enslavement in Egypt and had such a short amount of time to flee that their bread famously did not have time to rise before it was baked. The result was bread that turned out more like crackers. 

Many things are required to keep Kosher at Passover. One of the major stipulations is that you eat Matzoh and foods made from Matzoh meal for a week, and sacrifice foods that rise when they are cooked which are made from wheat, rye, rice, oats, barley, beans etc. Throughout the Passover week most people observing the holiday eat special foods. Most of these foods are fairly bland and flat. Desserts are included. Most desserts that would traditionally involve a flour base are not served and instead replaced with desserts made from Matzoh meal (ground up Matzoh bread). Cakes, cookies, cupcakes -- all are traditionally made from Matzoh. Until now!  

It turns out that quinoa is considered 
Kosher for Passover because it is technically a seed and not a grain.

Many Jews round the Globe have rejoiced at the news as it adds a little variety to the somewhat mundane Passover diet. Some people, I am certain, would still prefer to not take any chances and would personlly consider quinoa not Kosher for Passover. I however, embraced it full force (I have had many Passover desserts that can only be described as dreadful). 

I am not religious but attend and contribute to a Passover celebration every year. I am always in charge of desserts. It usually means that I experiment a lot. 


Luckily for me, most people familiar with Passover desserts don't expect much!  

These folks are used to mealy, dry, gag-worthy delights. I strive every year to change their expectations.




This year was an amazing success! Thanks to my new knowledge of the quinoa exception to the Passover rule, I was able to make a truly delicious dessert for the desperate masses. What I made was a decadent but healthy brownie. Don't like brownies? Try my Vegan Chocolate Chip Breakfast Cookies instead!

My healthy brownies are gluten free, dairy free, low fat, fruit-sweetened and received rave reviews from 14 unassuming guests including my brownie-connoisseur-husband and even my
health-food-phobic brother-in-law.  

These delicious and decadent treats are a perfect dessert whether you are keeping Kosher for the week or just want a great brownie without the guilt. I love them and hope you do too. These brownies are not vegan but can be made vegan by substituting either vegan egg-replacer or two "flax eggs" for the two real eggs in the recipe.






NB: The brownie layer is fairly cake-like. If you want something fudgier, reduce the quinoa flakes to 1.5 cups and bake for only 10 to 15 minutes.

Healthy Brownies ("Chosen Brownies")

  • 4 large frozen bananas
  • 4.5 tbsp unsweetened pear butter (or apple butter if you cant get pear butter)
  • 1 tsp baking soda  (if keeping Kosher for Passover, and choosing to omit refer to "Passover Variation" note below)
  • 2 tsp baking powder (if keeping Kosher for Passover, and choosing to omit refer to "Passover Variation" note below)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
  • 8 tbsp 100% cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 cup filtered water
  • 2 large organic eggs (or vegan egg replacer, or 2 "flax-eggs") (if keeping Kosher for Passover see note below for instructions)
  • 2 cups quinoa flakes 

Note: Passover Variation
There is much debate whether Kosher baking soda and baking powder should be permitted during Passover. I am of the opinion that they are acceptable. If you are keeping Kosher for Passover and choose to omit the baking soda and baking powder in this recipe because these chemicals act as leaveners you will need to substitute for them. To get your brownies to rise a little you will need to separate the two eggs you are using. Add the yolks to the recipe when it calls for the 2 eggs. Whip the egg whites separately in a mixing bowl with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. When the rest of the batter is blended in your food processor as instructed below, transfer the batter to a large mixing bowl and FOLD in the whipped egg whites gently. Pour into your prepared baking dish and bake as instructed below.

 If you choose to omit the baking soda and baking powder and are following the VEGAN version of this recipe, add one flax egg in place of the two egg yolks in the paragraph above. Whip the second flax egg until soft peaks form using an electric mixer and fold in instead of the egg whites according to the instructions in the paragraph above.

To learn more about the baking soda and baking powder Kosher for Passover debate, read this article.

Baking Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350F.

Blend bananas, pear butter, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and half the sea salt together until very smooth and creamy. Taste. The texture will be like gelato (its delicious actually and is the same base I use in my Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies!). Scrape down sides and blend again.


Add the cocoa and blend until smooth. TASTE! Add more pear butter if it is at all bitter. It needs to be a bit sweeter than you want it. Add olive oil and the chia seeds and blend. Add water and blend until smooth. Add the eggs and blend until smooth, about a minute. Add the quinoa flakes and blend until very smooth, about a minute. Scrape down sides and blend again.

Pour batter into a large lasagne dish lined with parchment paper. Spread the batter to the edges, ensuring that it is distributed evenly. Bake in the oven until slightly risen. A fork or toothpick inserted in the middle should come out nearly clean after about 20 minutes. Cool on stovetop. Make the chocolate glaze while the brownie layer cools.



Vegan Chocolate Glaze
Please note that this glaze is NOT SUGAR FREE. Chocolate chips are sweetened. If you want a sugar free glaze, replace the chips with a bar of sugar free chocolate.
  • 1 cup Enjoy Life brand vegan chocolate chips or another vegan chocolate chip                     (or if avoiding sugar you could use 1 sugar-free chocolate bar OR 1/2 cup coconut oil and 3 tbsp cocoa powder and stevia drops to sweeten)
  • 1 heaping teaspoon unsweetened pear butter
  • 1 dash sea salt
  • 1 dash cinnamon

Melt all ingredients until very smooth and glossy in a small sauce pan over low heat. Allow to cool slightly. Pour over cooled cake layer.

Variations for serving:

If you want the chocolate glaze to set like a doughnut glaze, refrigerate or freeze the iced brownies for an hour before serving. If you want gooey hot brownies, don't cool the brownie layer, make the chocolate glaze while the brownies bake. Pour the hot glaze over brownies, slice and enjoy!




These brownies are gluten free, dairy free, low fat, fruit-sweetened and totally delicious!