Monthly Archives: July 2012

Mexican Protein Brownies

Well, you can tell I’m pulling out all the stops on the food styling, hey?  😛

Hopefully, you can forgive my lack of imagination in that department as I’ve been working on various chocolate protein brownie recipes to suit various tastes.  The last post was all about rich, decadent brownies because we all know that fats can be our friends too.  Plus it was fabulous if, like me, you happen to suffer from food intolerances or like your treats with fewer carbs.

This recipe isn’t so great if you have a fructose intolerance, although I find that these brownies don’t affect me at all as the fructose load in a small serving isn’t enough to cause a reaction.  You be the judge of your own sensitivity as it varies from person to person.  It is great if you’re feeling a bit fat phobic or want to leave your fat intake to salad dressings or cooking your main meals.

These brownies have much less fat but are no less fudgy in texture and intensely chocolate in flavour.  They are sweetened purely with a fabulous blend of fruit and given a little bite from the addition of cinnamon and ground cayenne.  If I had any ground Habanero to hand, I would have used that, but I’m all out so I used cayenne.  How much chilli you add is really up to you.   I used one half teaspoon, double the amount in the recipe, but I love my chilli!

I used Lindt Excellence 99% chocolate this time.  I would normally use one of my hard to find and crazy expensive 100% cacao chocolates but thought I should test these with a readily available chocolate.  Fabulous.  Use any 100% or 99% cacao chocolate of your choosing.

These are still gluten and lactose (dairy) free.  At 204 kCals per serve, with 14.5 grams of protein, these are one delicious brownie post workout snack.   Hell, if you decide to polish off one-quarter of the lot in one go, you’d be up for 305.5 kCals, 21.75g protein, 30g carbs, 11g fat, and 4g dietary fibre.  For the win.

You are welcome ♥


Makes 6 large or 12 small brownies

120 grams (about 6) fresh medjool dates, pitted
110 grams Heinz Pear & Banana 100% Fruit*
315 grams liquid egg whites
40 grams pea protein isolate (I used Professional Whey Pea Protein Isolate)
20 grams unsweetened cacao (I used Valrhona Cacao Poudre)
1 teaspoon organic vanilla powder or paste (I used Professional Whey Vanilla)
15 millilitres (1 tablespoon) macadamia nut oil
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne (or preferred ground chilli)
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
50 grams 99% – 100% dark chocolate, broken into small pieces (I used Lindt Excellence 99%)

*Normally, I would purée my own fresh fruit.  However, you don’t always have fruit that is ripe and flavourful enough handy when the brownie craving strikes.  These 100% fruit purées are perfect to keep in the pantry when you want to bake these on a whim and you’ll never be caught short.  I like using pear and banana as I think the flavour and creaminess it adds is just perfect.  However, if you have a preference for apple, pear, whatever, go for it.  The flavour will vary, of course.

Preheat the oven to 180℃.  Line the base and sides of a 20 centimetre square pan with non-stick baking paper.  Set aside.

Now, I’ve broken with my usual habit of melting the chocolate first :-0

If you wish, go ahead and melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl, over simmering water.  Once melted, remove from the heat and let cool slightly as you prepare the brownie batter.  But hey, if you are feeling lazy, or want something with a slightly different and delicious texture, don’t melt the chocolate for this recipe.  It really isn’t necessary 🙂

Process the medjool dates in a food processor or purée them in a blender.  In the bowl of a food processor, add the dates and all the other ingredients, except the chocolate pieces.  Process briefly, just until smooth.

Add the chopped chocolate and process until the chocolate “melts” into the batter.  This won’t take long.  You don’t want to see a lot of chocolate flecks, but there may be a few left in the batter.  The batter will turn dark chocolate in colour fairly quickly as the chocolate melts with the heat generated by the processor.

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan.  Tap the pan on the bench a few times to remove any air bubbles.

Bake for about 15 minutes until cooked.  Do not over bake these brownies!  If anything, check them after about 12 or 13 minutes.  The centre will still be fairly soft, although the edges will start to set more quickly.  Remove from the oven and let cool completely in the tin before removing and slicing into bars.

These are great served with a dusting of cacao to which you can add a little cinnamon and ground cayenne.   They also make a great high protein dessert, served with some thick Greek yoghurt, protein ice cream, or fruit.

They keep well for up to a week, stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  If they last that long!

Macronutrient Profile
As usual, I have included macros based on the ingredients I have used.  There may be slight variations if you use different brands of chocolate, cacao, and pea protein isolate.   In that case, the macros, below, are still a good guide, but may not be exact.


Filed under All Recipe Posts, Chocolate, Protein, Protein Brownies, Special Diet

Sea Salt Protein Brownies

I like brownies.  Come to think of it, this is a monumental understatement.  I’ve had a love affair with brownies since childhood.  I first learned to make them as a teenager and I still have a collection of recipes that I tested and experimented with back then until I finally ditched them all and came up with my own.  I spent a while finding the perfect balance of flavour, intensity, and texture before I settled on my signature brownie recipe that I’ve used ever since.  I’ve developed other brownie recipes, some of which I’ve posted on this blog, but this long-standing recipe is the one I make and play with most of all.  I have yet to post the recipe here although I did have a base version of it published here when I was writing for the epicure section of a Melbourne newspaper.  Perhaps I will post it soon 🙂

A friend called me the brownie whisperer a while back.   That’s a title I would gladly work towards.  But I know I’m far from it.  Light-years away.   Something to aspire to though, isn’t it?

I have wanted to make a protein version of those brownies for ages but I didn’t want to do the usual thing of using beans or mashed up vegetables.  I didn’t want to use cacao.  My brownies require chocolate.  Melted.  In sufficient quantity.   So here we are.

Protein brownies … these are neither low in calories, nor in fat.  However, most of the fats are good fats, even most of the saturated fats, as they come from stearic acid in the chocolate.  It’s good for you and doesn’t make your cholesterol go nuts, if that’s a consideration.

I have substituted a stevia blend sweetener for the sugar I usually use and the amount of chocolate has been reduced, but not to the detriment of the chocolatiness of the brownies.  They have a rich, fudgy flavour and texture.  The sea salt adds a zing to what is otherwise a plain brownie.  Sea salt + chocolate is a match made in heaven.  The salt intensifies the chocolate flavour and adds a sweetness of its own.

These are great for satisfying that chocolate craving and they’re suitable for anyone living la vida low-carb or on a gluten or lactose (dairy) free diet.  At between 9 to 10 grams of protein per brownie, they make a better choice than your average brownie, for a protein treat, by a country mile.

Have them on their own or with a little sea salt sprinkled on top.  They’re also a great high protein dessert if served with some thick Greek yoghurt for added protein or a ricotta cream.  Berries, fruit puree, and nuts, all make for great additions.   They are also lovely if warmed slightly in a microwave for about 10 seconds or so.

I hope you enjoy these.  They are not quite like my proper brownies, nor do they provide insane amounts of protein.  But, seriously, it’s a decent amount and if you can eat two you’re getting almost 20 grams of protein, so what’s the big?   As a treat you can justify, I think they do rather well.  YUM is the word I’m looking for here 🙂

I like to let them rest for several hours or until the next day to let them settle and allow their fudginess to develop fully.

You can substitute rice protein for the pea protein and butter for the macadamia nut oil but please note that I’ve used these specific ingredients to achieve the texture and flavour.  Macadamia nut oil is highly underrated during this current phase in praise of fats.  With olive oil, it has the highest amount of oleic acid, the essential fatty acid that makes olive oil so famously good for us.   It also makes a fantastic substitute for butter in baking.

Makes 9 standard or 12 petite brownies

180 grams dark chocolate* (≥ 70% cacao solids)
6 large eggs** (59 grams in shell)
100 grams Natvia or preferred sweetener/stevia blend
1 teaspoon organic vanilla powder or paste (I used Professional Whey Vanilla)
40 grams pea protein isolate (I used Professional Whey Pea Protein Isolate)
50 millilitres macadamia nut oil
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

*I used Valrhona Araguani this time, which is a lovely nutty 72% Criollo chocolate from Venezuela.  I just happened to have it handy and in quantity.  You can use whatever you like.  If you opt for a higher percentage chocolate or, indeed, a 100% cacao chocolate (as I often do), you will need to check the batter for sweetness and adjust to your taste.

**If you prefer to use only egg whites, substitute 315 grams of egg whites for the eggs in the recipe.  Be aware that the reduction in fats mostly reduces the good fats, as can be seen in the macro counts below.  I prefer whole eggs for this recipe as I think the flavour and texture is better and you get more micronutrients, but each to his/her own 🙂

Preheat the oven to 180℃.  Line the base and sides of a 20 centimetre square pan with non-stick baking paper.  Set aside.

Chop the chocolate and place in a heatproof bowl over simmering water.  Let the chocolate melt, stirring occasionally until smooth.  Remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly.

Place the eggs, sweetener, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl and whisk gently with a hand-held whisk until combined.  For fudgy brownies, you don’t want to whisk or beat air into the mixture or you will end up with air pockets in the brownies as they bake.

Add the protein powder, macadamia nut oil and salt to the batter and mix well.  Finally, stir in the melted chocolate and whisk gently until smooth.

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan.  Tap the pan on the bench a few times to remove any air bubbles.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until cooked.  The centre should still be a little soft but the edges will seem set.  Never over bake brownies!  Remove from the oven and let cool in the tin before removing and slicing into bars.

Serve sprinkled with a little sea salt as a garnish.  These also make a great dessert served with a little Greek yoghurt and fruit puree, or whatever takes your fancy.

They keep well for several days, stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry spot, at room temperature.

Coconut:  Substitute coconut oil for the macadamia nut oil and add 35 grams of unsweetened shredded coconut to the batter.  Reduce the sea salt to 1/8 teaspoon.

Peanut Butter:  Add small dollops of peanut butter (or other nut butters) to the batter once you’ve placed it in the pan for baking – you’ll get surprise bites of peanut butter.  Alternatively just add 50 grams of peanut butter to the batter and whisk in until combined.

Nuts & Seeds:  Add around 100 grams of chopped macadamia nuts, almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, pistachios, or peanuts.  Alternatively, add in some chia seeds, pepitas or sunflower seeds.

Mexican: Add 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ground chilli to the batter.

Citrus: Add in the zest of a large orange, lemon, tangelo, or a couple of mandarins.

Chocolate Chip: Add in some chocolate chips.  Fold them through the batter or scatter on top.

Note that all of these will change the macros, mostly they’ll increase fat, possibly carbs, but for nuts, you’ll also get a protein boost.

Macronutrient Profile
I have included macros for the basic brownies with both whole eggs and egg whites only.

For the variations, you will have to adjust the macros accordingly to account for substitutions and additions, as indicated above.

Whole Egg Version

Egg White Only Version


Filed under All Recipe Posts, Chocolate, Protein, Protein Brownies, Protein Desserts, Special Diet