Guilt-free, gluten-free, almost sugar-free chocolate brownies.

When I first tasted these brownies I had a moment of pure bliss. As Van Morrison would say, ‘I’ve been searching a long time, for some[thing] exactly like you’. For while these brownies are free from naughtiness they are most certainly not free from tastiness. There is a tiny amount of sugar in there furnished by the chocolate, but the higher the rating of the chocolate you buy, the less there will be. (About 2g per brownie if you use 85% chocolate

I’ve never been a baker, as my friends will attest, but I do get the urge to eat something that resembles cake every now and again. Luckily for me the urge only happens every couple of months, but since I went ‘Dissident’ I haven’t been able to indulge it.

That’s why one of my new year resolutions is to find some recipes that tickle the old high-carb spot so well that they fool the brain into thinking it’s getting old-style rewards. So I’ve spent a couple of self-sacrificing weeks in January perfecting a formula that keeps the best bits of traditional brownie recipes while leaving out the naughty bits. If you are a new recruit to the ketogenic diet it’s probably best to avoid sweet tastes like this while your metabolism is adjusting and learning to switch easily between glycolysis and lipolysis, but if you have been following it for 3 months or more (or if you are simply trying to keep carbs down as part of an overall healthy diet) you should be OK.

This recipe is dense and fudgy, rather than sticky and gooey, with a pleasing not-too-uniform texture. You can whip it up in about 15 minutes. It’s very chocolatey and someone commented that you get all the pleasure when eating them without the aftermath of having overdone it.

See for yourself. These brownies are so innocent you could even eat them for breakfast. Which is exactly what Chris and I did yesterday morning – the leftovers from a supper party the night before! (Though convention demands that I don’t recommend it as a daily breakfast option.)

At supper I served them with raspberries macerated in a small amount of framboise liquor and a home-made, sugar free Greek Yoghurt and Raspberry Ice Cream. For breakfast we ate them with some poached spiced plums and plain Greek yoghurt.


  • 200g dark chocolate (preferably 85%) broken into squares
  • 50g organic coconut oil (use all butter if you want a richer option)
  • 50g organic butter (use all coconut oil if you are dairy-free)
  • 120g ground almonds
  • 50g almond flour (optional if you don’t keep any in stock)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 50g xylitol
  • 1 dessertspoon Madagascan vanilla paste


  1. Preheat the oven to 180’C/Gas 4.
  2. Line a 15 – 20cm square cake tin (depending on how deep you like your brownies) with baking parchment.
  3. Place the chocolate and fats into a mixing bowl and heat carefully – either over a saucepan of boiling water or on the medium/low setting of the microwave. Remove from heat as soon as the mixture is warm enough for the chocolate to melt into the fat. Finish the melting process by stirring. (This avoids the need to let the mixture cool for a long time before adding to the eggs later on.)
  4. Combine the almonds, almond flour, salt and baking powder in a bowl large enough to take all the ingredients.
  5. In a separate bowl (or in your nutribullet) beat the eggs with the xylitol and vanilla until combined and a little bit frothy.
  6. Stir the eggs into the bowl of dry ingredients and then add the cool chocolate mixture, stirring until you have a stiff batter.
  7. Transfer the mixture into the prepared baking tin using a spatula to level it off and push it into the corners. Bake for about 20-25 minutes until the top looks firm.
  8. If you can, leave the brownies to cool completely and eat them the next day, they seem to benefit from settling. Serve at room temperature for a softer effect or refrigerate for a firmer, more fudgy texture.
  9. I find that this quantity makes 16 brownies.


You can use this recipe as a base and add any number of things to the batter during step 6. The first time I made them I added about 75g of whole pistachio nuts and pumpkin seeds, the next time walnut pieces. Last time I meant to add hazelnuts but forgot, and they were just as nice unadulterated. You could try adding a dollop of peanut butter and some chopped peanuts, desiccated coconut would work well too. Swap the vanilla paste for a tablespoon of very concentrated expresso if you prefer a more bitter and sophisticated chocolate hit.

For the spiced plums:

Rinse a punnet of the supermarket ‘ripen at home’ plums and, without drying them, place them in a small shallow pan with a lid. Sprinkle over a teaspoon or two of xylitol (to taste) and 2 ‘starts’ of Star Anise. Poach gently over a low heat until the plums start to collapse. These are excellent served with Greek yoghurt for breakfast (normally without brownie garnish) or with ice cream desserts; they freeze well too.

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One thought on “Guilt-free, gluten-free, almost sugar-free chocolate brownies.

  1. Sharon says:

    A woman after my own heart. Thank you for making the effort
    Here in Cuba – all carbs are grey – easy to avoid but the fish and veg make up for it…

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