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.
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.