It’s that time of year, when people start making resolutions to eat healthier. And hopefully what that means is they’re selecting foods that best support their health goals and aren’t doing some crazy deprivation diet. Because eating healthy doesn’t mean you have to go to extreme lengths – it just means being intentional about the food you’re eating and paying a little more attention to what you put in your body. The biggest thing to remember is that it’s still okay treat yourself and have a little fun! And these Healthy Cacao Nib Brownies are the perfect example of that. They’re gluten-free/dairy-free/refined sugar free and still taste like the perfect cakey brownie!
Well, I wasn’t kidding when I said I’ve been getting lots of requests for gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan recipes. This is another one that came at the request of a friend. She asked if I could make something for her son’s birthday……the only kicker was that it had to be both gluten-free and vegan. And since I believe every kid (and really every adult) should have an awesome dessert on their birthday – I immediately accepted the challenge.
Can we all agree that Costco has the best/most unnecessary stuff ever? I mean, yes, there are tons of necessary things like screaming deals on bulk butter, nuts, and even lobster. But they also have things that you don’t really need, but REALLY want once you see them. Take for example the 3 lb tub of Reese’s Pieces I recently bought. Did I technically need 3 lbs worth of peanut butter goodness?? Probably not. Did buying it totally make my day and maybe even life infinitely better?? That’s debatable, but I’m leaning towards yes.
So now you’re probably wondering, “What do you do with 3 lbs worth of Reese’s?” Well, I’m glad you asked. First, you eat it….like a lot of it. Then you hide it from your husband cause he’s eating it faster than you and you’ll be damned if he gets to eat more of it than you (I have candy sharing issues). Then you realize you still have an insane amount of Reese’s Pieces left and should probably figure out a way to use it up. That’s where this recipe comes in.
Sometimes when you’re developing a recipe, you have a very specific image in your head of how you want the finished product to look. This was the case five years ago when I came up with my original Salted Caramel Brownie recipe. I had the most insanely, frustratingly specific idea of how I wanted them to look. I wanted two fudgy, dark chocolate brownie layers with a layer of thick salted caramel in the middle. It couldn’t be pockets of caramel or a faint ribbon of caramel – it had to be a distinct, gorgeous, continuous copper layer of caramel.
No joke, I drove myself crazy trying to accomplish this. Every time I pulled the brownies out of the oven, I’d get my hopes up thinking maybe this adjustment fixed it. But, more often than not, the caramel layer would bake into the brownies and all I’d be left with is the faintest caramel remnant. I was just about to give up, when a seemingly crazy idea popped into my head. What if I created a frozen layer of salted caramel??? This would give the brownies enough time to bake and because the caramel was frozen it wouldn’t immediately dissolve into the brownie layers.