Sometimes it feels like in Australia we are truly in the land of topsy turvy! The Canadians complain of snow and we are suffering a heat wave, the Brits celebrate a winter solstice and we are celebrating our summer solstice, the Americans get excited about Spring and here it is Autumn!
So spare a thought for us Australians this Easter Sunday as you celebrate new life and new hope that spring brings. We are celebrating this holy day that Blackadder might describe as being as Springy as a Spring day that is very Springy (or maybe that is just what students who have watched too much Blackadder might say)! But we celebrate as the days draw in, the weather gets colder, and we watch the leaves fall from the trees. No wonder I get confused!
I write this as Easter approaches and a few blog events are asking us to think about Easter goodies. I am very fond of the Heart of the Matter event which turns one year old this month! That is a year of being challenged to think about heart healthy food. This month Ilva of Lucilian Delights is hosting and the theme is Party Food.
Now when it comes to parties, I think decadence and indulgence. I want people to enjoy themselves. But who said you can’t eat healthy and have fun. Just because guests are watching their weight or on restricted diets doesn’t mean they can’t join in the merriment. Party food for me usually involves dry biscuits, dips and crudités, finger food, maybe mini-muffins or grubs and definitely a chocolate cake. Lots of options. But party food at Easter time really demands chocolate! Healthy and chocolate aren’t great mates in most sentences.
Then I remembered a recipe I had been keen to try for some time. It is called Spring Chocolate Brownies. It suits my schizophrenic attitudes. I want to celebrate the spring of new life but to prepare for winter, I want to eat chocolate and still be healthy, I want to have my cake and eat it too! Impossible, you say! But I think these brownies make a good compromise. Sitting on the couch in front of old BBC series Century Falls and eating warm fudgy gooey brownies straight from the oven, the answer seemed to be Yes!
They are vegan, sugarless, full of fruit and still manage to ooze chocolate decadence. Too good to be true? I did a tedious calculation to prove to myself that they aren’t as bad as most. My dodgy result told me that if I have 16 pieces, each will contain approximately 642 kj and 7.24 g of fat. Not bad but not quite virtuous. I did amend the recipe slightly by omitting to spread melted chocolate on top and opting instead to add some choc bits and dried blueberries. (Apologies for the photos - it is so fresh out of the oven I haven't even got it on a plate yet.)
So if you must have chocolate (and there aren’t many who don’t), this is a comparatively healthy recipe. It is light enough for spring, dense enough for autumn and guaranteed to please everyone at a party!
Spring Chocolate Brownies
(adapted from The Vegetarian Society)
Makes 16- 20 squares
225g/8oz dates (I used 190g)
60g/21/2 oz (generous ⅓ cup) wholemeal flour
2 tsp baking powder
45ml/3 tablespoons cocoa powder, sieved (I used Dutch cocoa)
1 very ripe banana mashed
75g/3oz pecans or walnuts, roughly chopped (I used 50g)
½ cup dried blueberries
⅓ cup dark chocolate choc chips
5ml/1teaspoon vanilla essence (optional – I forgot)
- Preheat the oven to 180°C.
- Place dates in a small saucepan and fill with just enough water to cover them. Cook over low to medium heat til pulpy (about 5 minutes). Puree and cool a little.
- Cream dates and margarine (or if you are very impatient like me and the dates are still quite warm you are just melting the margarine in the date puree).
- Stir in flour, baking powder and cocoa, Then add banana, blueberries, choc chips, nuts, and vanilla essence.
- Spoon mixture into a 7 inch square pan and bake 20-25 minutes. I used a 6 inch square pan and had to bake the brownie for 45 minutes and it still was very soft and a little on the gooey side in the centre. Perhaps my 20cm round cake tin might have been better. Use a skewer to check when cooked but beware melted choc chips!
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