Thursday, 12 June 2014

'Better for You' Caramel Brownies

Don't get me wrong, I love a brownie loaded with butter and sugar and they are often my fall back recipe when I need to make a dessert for guests or take a plate to a gathering.  But there are other times when I still feel like a brownie hit but need a healthier alternative.

I was excited when I saw a recipe for a high protein raspberry brownie from The Kids Menu Nutrition and Fitness.  It didn't require any black bean or sweet potato puree and used banana, sour cream and almond meal to boost the nutritional value.  I then found this amazing paleo caramel sauce on The Iron You and my mind started to tick over.

Yep, I've got a healthy caramel brownie recipe for you! And the caramel is amazing!!

But first, why are the brownies 'better for you'?

I've made some of my usual substitutions; apple sauce and light sour cream for oil and wholemeal flour for white flour.  It also uses almond meal which increases the protein count hopefully making it easier to stop at one...or two. I've also used xylitol as the replacement for sugar.  
Xylitol is 'a sweet-tasting crystalline alcohol derived from xylose, present in some plant tissues and used as an artificial sweetener in foods'.   It is similar to stevia but I like the taste better.  I've found it doesn't give our baking the artificial sweetener taste you sometimes get from stevia.  I buy 1kg for $20 from the health food shop.  This isn't cheap but it lasts a while as you substitute xylitol for half the stated quantity of sugar.  The 'I Quit Sugar' program says it is okay to use xylitol in moderation as it is a sugar alcohol that can be digested by our bodies.

In trialling these brownies I've used both straight cocoa and a combination of raw cacao and cocoa. If you are just starting down the healthy baking path I'd stick with all cocoa first. I find raw cacao has a distinctive bitter taste that make things taste a little bit too 'healthy'.

But now, we really need to talk about the caramel sauce!  Made from coconut cream, rice malt syrup and a touch of maple syrup it is simply amazing!  I've been pouring the left over sauce on anything and everything this week!  It is incredible warmed up and poured over Greek Yoghurt.  It thins out when warmed and becomes thicker in the fridge.  It is straight out of the fridge in the photos - I should have warmed in up a bit for better photos.

Used in the brownie, the caramel doesn't form a distinct layer, but instead seeps into the brownie giving it a richer flavour.  Don't over cook the brownie and keep the oven low;  I let mine go a little far.  These brownies work well a little on the fudgy side; if you cook them too long they become more like cake. They also heat up really well in the microwave over the following days... if they last that long!

Clearly MJ loved the caramel, here he is snaffling it by the spoonful while I was trying to take some photos!

'Better for You' Caramel Brownies

1 cup almond flour
1 cup plain wholemeal flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarb soda
1/4 xylitol (or 1/2 cup sugar)
3/4 cup cocoa (or 1/2 cup raw cacao and 1/4 cup cocoa)
1/2 cup apple sauce
3 eggs
3 tbsp sour cream (or natural/Greek yoghurt)
1/4 cup roasted peanuts (optional)
1/2 cup caramel sauce (see recipe below)

Line a slice pan with baking paper and preheat oven to 160 degrees.

Whisk the apple sauce, sour cream and eggs together in a bowl.  Add the flour, almond meal, baking powder, bicarb soda, xylitol and cocoa and mix to combine.

Place half the mixture in the pan.  Top with caramel sauce and peanuts.  Top with remaining brownie mixture.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until just set.


Caramel Sauce  adapted from The Iron You

1 tin full fat coconut cream (or milk)
1/2 cup rice malt syrup
1 tbsp maple syrup
pinch salt
1 tbsp coconut oil
2 tsp vanilla essence

In a saucepan combine coconut cream, rice malt syrup, maple syrup and salt.
Bring to boil over medium-high heat. Lower the heat to medium-low and let reduce for about 40 minutes, stirring every now and then.
Add coconut oil and vanilla essence and cook for further 5 minutes until it reaches a deep caramel colour.
Remove from the heat, transfer to a bowl and let cool for about 5 minutes, then stir until smooth and glossy.

What is your favourite healthy baking recipe?

Linking up with Katie!
Keep smiling.



  1. Wow Dani! These look & sound incredible! I love brownies with all the trimmings too, but a healthier version is awesome. This recipe is going straight to the pool room! :)

  2. Hi there! I just found your blog through the link up and these brownies look delicious!! Brownies are definitely my weakness and I have a hard time saying no... :)
    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks Leslie, I think brownies are kryptonite for a lot of people! Thanks for visiting.

  3. Oh wow that caramel sauce looks DANGEROUS! Hehe love the idea of sour cream in the brownies - must give it a go!

  4. Dangerous is the perfect term for it, but you must try it!