I have long been on the hunt for a healthy brownie recipe. They are one of my favorite desserts, and I refuse to believe that the only edible versions are patently unhealthy. I believe that somehow the gooey chocolatey buttery cakey goodness of brownies can be achieved without too much butter or eggs or flour or sugar (but if you don’t care about all those things and want an incredible brownie you should try this one – thanks to my friend Emma for that recommendation!)
And so I tried brownies with zucchini, and banana, and applesauce. I tried brownies with black beans, for crying out loud. And then, I am somewhat ashamed to admit, I tried to combine those recipes. I was attempting to make a brownie with the ingredients of a salad. Friends, this was a mistake. It did not taste like a brownie. It tasted like black bean chocolate banana bread. And if you want black bean chocolate banana bread, boy do I have a recipe for you! But brownies, it was not.
And then I tried this recipe for no-bake brownie balls. It was exactly what I was looking for. No added sugar, no flour, no eggs. NOT a salad. But also no weird gluten-free flours or coconut oil or nut butters or stuff that I don’t have in my cabinet and is expensive. There are but 5 basic ingredients, and they all pack a powerful healthy punch:
- Dates – filled with fiber and good for digestion, among other things.
- Cocoa powder – an antioxidant, it also may positively impact blood pressure and cholesterol. Yessssss! An excuse to eat chocolate (but only the dark kind).
- Honey – honey is THE superfood, with antibacterial and antiinflammatory properties.
- Nuts – nuts have gotten a lot of good press in recent years, and for good reason – full of protein, unsaturated fats, and omega 3 fatty acids, they are crazy good for your heart.
- Water (which doesn’t actually count as an ingredient, right?) – the building block of life, the little bit in this recipe doesn’t really count but it doesn’t hurt, either!
Not only was this recipe simple and healthy and FAST, it was delicious. The “brownies” were to die for, and I am not ashamed to say I consumed my entire first batch within a few days. And THEN I thought, you know what would make this even more delicious? Candied ginger. Because it’s one of my favorite snacks, and why not? Ginger is ALSO super good for you, often used to treat nausea and inflammation. So I tinkered with the recipe a little, and think the result is somehow even more delicious. But, if you don’t like ginger, use the original recipe.
Here she is: a simple, quick, good-for-you no-bake brownie recipe. You’re welcome.
No-Bake Brownie Balls with Candied Ginger
Adapted from this Snack Girl recipe
Time: 20 minutes Serves: 30, petitely or 15, largely
For 30 balls (1 ball serving): 55 calories, 3.5g fat, 6g carbs, 1.5g protein
- 10 pitted dates
- 40 g (about 1.5 oz) candied ginger, chopped
- 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (plus extra for rolling)
- 1 cup no salt added nuts (I use walnuts; the original recipe uses almonds; I also think pecans would be delish)
- 1 T honey
- 2 T water
- powdered sugar (optional, for rolling)*
*I like them just dusted with cocoa powder, but Husband found them too dark and bitter. When I dusted them with powdered sugar instead, they were much more to his liking.
Toast the nuts – this brings out their flavors. Spread on a foil-lined baking sheet and toast in your toaster oven or oven for a few minutes, but keep a close eye – nuts burn easily. I’ve scorched more than my fair share.
While the nuts are toasting (but remember to keep an eye on them!) remove the pits from your dates. But be careful to completely remove the pits from your cooking area, because guess what looks surprisingly similar to a date pit? A walnut piece. And trust me you do not want date pits in these brownies.
Now the nuts should be well and toasted. Add them to the food processor and pulse several times until ground. Add in all the remaining ingredients and keep pulsing for a few minutes until mixture is sticky and comes together.
Now comes the fun part. At this point you can form balls with your hands, but I’ve found an easier (and less messy) way. Spread a sheet of wax paper on your cooking surface, and dump the sticky mixture onto it. Fold up the sides of the wax paper and press with your hands, forming the mass into a square or rectangle. Keep pressing and forming, and voila! A lovely mess-free block o’ brownie.
Now I like to use a sharp knife to cut gridlines – just like you would with a pan of brownies – to help me get them to equal size. You can make them any size you want; the original recipe says there are 15 servings but I found that size to be too big for me – I like bite-size (or 2-bite) brownie balls, so I usually make 24-30 balls.
Pour powdered sugar or cocoa powder – or even a mixture – into small bowls.
Press the mixture into balls in your hand; I find it’s best to press and not roll, or they fall apart. Drop the ball into your preferred coating and shake it around to coat the ball completely. Set ball on wax paper or in a container with an airtight lid. Continue with remaining balls.
You can store these in the fridge for up to a week… but I doubt they’ll last that long!