I haven’t made these brownies in a very long time; but over the weekend, I found myself promising my kids that I would make them a treat. For them, that means something with chocolate in it. So, I decided it was a good excuse to give an old recipe a bit of a revamp.
When I first developed this recipe, I was having some difficulty getting my kids to eat vegetables (and at the time, my oldest wasn’t even eating fruit), so hiding some spinach into this recipe was really about just plain old hiding spinach in something. But, I also discovered that the spinach really helped the texture of these brownies (we all know how tricky grain-free baking can be). The original recipe made for a very delicious, but very cake-like in texture, brownie. I had always intended on revisiting this recipe to see if I could get more of a chewy textured brownie, ideally with that slightly crisp top that traditional brownies have.
So, I gave this a go with my new found best friend: the plantain. I hadn’t intended on making this a nut-free recipe (although I was trying to steer clear of ground flaxseed and coconut flour), but by the time I needed to add any almond flour, the batter was quite thick and I decided to try it without. I’m glad I did because it worked perfectly! Also, while I was at it, I decided to tone down the sweetness a bit to accommodate our more sensitive palates.
A note on green plantains: Plantains look a little like large bananas and are often found close to bananas in the grocery store (they are also called raw bananas in some countries). Green plantains are, well, green and the greener the better typically (they are starchier and have a more neutral flavor). They can be a bit challenging to peel. I like to cut in half lengthwise and in half crosswise and hen pry off the peel with my fingers. I typically stock up on green plantains when they have them in the store. They will stay green in a crisper for about 5-7 days (the peel will look like they are ripening but they are still green on the inside). I often buy a bunch, puree them in my food processor and then freeze in 1 cup portions in freezer bags for easy use for making pancakes or baking. Plantains turn first yellow and then get black spots and then almost completely black as they ripen. For any recipe that uses ripe plantains, the blacker the better. Plantains can range from white to yellow to orangey pink inside, which doesn’t seem to affect how they cook but does affect the color of the baking (not relevant for this recipe but this is why people find their pancakes turning anywhere from white to dark brown). I have come to love plantains as a flour substitute, especially for anything I want to have a chewy texture.
A note on chocolate: I always look for organic chocolate (typically sweetened with evaporated cane juice) and am very picky about looking for chocolate that is completely dairy-free (usually pretty easy, as long as you stick with semisweet or darker) and soy-free (much more challenging). One of my Go To brands is Enjoy Life (which comes in chunks and in mini chocolate chips). I’m also a huge fan of Equal Exchange (their 80% is our Go To snacking chocolate, but I also use their 71% and 65% in baking). Typically semisweet chocolate is about 55-60% cocoa, which isn’t very difficult to find organic and dairy-free but a little harder to find soy-free. Most people tolerate the small amount of soy lecithin in chocolate, and if you are one of these people Dagoba brand is a good one to look for. I typically consider my 65% Equal Exchange close enough to semisweet for baking.
I’ve posted some very potently chocolatey recipes lately (like Decadent Double Chocolate Cookies (Nut-free, Coconut-free, Egg-free) and Dark Chocolate Shortbread Cookies (Sandies or Meltaways)), but these brownies are a bit more traditionally chocolatey (so, not the uber intense flavor of those other treats), which I think works well as a brownie and also as a treat for my kids.
This makes a 9″x13″ tray of brownies, which I cut into 24 generously sized squares. Store in an airtight container for a couple of days at room temperature or in the fridge or freezer for longer.
- 1 ¼ cups frozen chopped spinach (measured frozen)
- 1 cup pureed green plantain (1 large plantain or 1 1/2 medium plantains)
- 6 oz semisweet chocolate (substitute bittersweet for a less sweet brownie)
- ½ cup extra virgin coconut oil
- ½ cup palm shortening (or substitute butter)
- 6 eggs
- 1 Tbsp honey
- 1 Tbsp molasses
- ½ cup cocoa powder
- 1 Tbsp vanilla (or substitute espresso)
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp cream of tartar
- pinch cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 325F. Line a 9”x13” baking pan with wax paper or use a silicone baking pan.
- Melt coconut oil and chocolate together over low heat on the stove top or medium power in the microwave. Add vanilla and stir to incorporate. Let cool.
- Mix cocoa powder, baking soda, cream of tartar, salt and cinnamon.
- Blend spinach, plantain, egg, honey and molasses together in a food processor or blender, until completely smooth (2-4 minutes).
- Add palm shortening to food processor and process until full incorporated.
- Add melted chocolate mixture to egg mixture slowly and processing/blending constantly.
- Mix in dry ingredients and process/stir to fully incorporate.
- Pour batter into prepared baking pan and spread out with a spatula.
- Bake for 40 minutes. Cool completely in pan. Cut into squares. Enjoy!