Friday, 11 October 2013

Chocolate Cheesecake brownies

Last night my mom and I hosted a girls dinner at home. I thought this would be a great opportunity to try out a vegan dessert and see the reaction from some of the sophisticated ladies of Wentworth... I didn't quite expect the reviews to be as mixed as they were! After learning there were avocados in the brownies, one of the lady's wouldn't even taste them! Two others were not keen on walnuts which is fair enough - the choice of nuts can be up to you. The rest however loved them. I love them. 

The recipe is super easy, all you need is a blender, lots of nuts, dates, avo's and agave nectar. The agave nectar also created some speculation, the bottle being passed around to analyse. So I've done some research on this sweet alternative. 

Agave nectar is commercially produced from various species of agave, most of which coming form Mexico (Blue Agaves) and South Africa! It is also well known as the plant from which tequila is made..! The plant is large and spiky resembling a cactus in both form and habitat, but is actually a succulent similar to Aloe Vera. 

You can buy light and dark agave. The light provides a milder taste as it undergoes less heating and is the preferred use in the kitchen, compared mostly to honey. The darker syrup is filtered less leaving a much stronger taste compared more to maple syrup. Agave is less refined than many sweeteners and so considered more natural, also with a lower glycemic sweetener therefore potentially healthier. It is one and a half times sweeter than table sugar so to achieve the weight benefits if using as a substitute for sugar you should use less than you would normal sugar. 

My overall verdict is that this is the lesser of all evils in the sugar and sweetener substitute market. If you do need to sweeten up a dish or are battling to let go of your sugar kick this is a good transition. I wouldn't necessarily introduce it into my diet just to get the "health benefits". In these brownies the agave is great although I may try the recipe again without it just to see :)

Ingredients (makes about 20 squares):

For the bottom brownie layer:
1 cup of walnuts (or pecans)
1/2 a cup of cashews
1 and a 1/2 cups of medjool dates (pitted)
1/2 a cup of almonds
2 tablespoons of agave
2 tablespoons of raw cacao
For the top cheesecake layer:
5 avocados
4 dessert spoons of raw agave syrup
8 medjool dates (pitted)
2 and a 1/2 heaped tablespoons of raw cacao powder
1 tablespoon of coconut oil
1 tablespoon of water
1 teaspoon of cinnamon

To make the brownie layer add all ingredients to your food processor and blend for 2-3 minutes, so that the mixture is sticky and nutty. Depending on your blender you may need to do this is batches. 

Place the mixture into a deep cake dish and push down with the back of a spoon or spatula. Set to one side.

For the cheesecake layer simply blend all the ingredients until thick, smooth and creamy. Pour this over the brownie base and sprinkle with some nuts of your choice before placing in the freezer. Freeze for an hour and a half and then move to the fridge. I did cut my squares at this point as I couldn't wait to try them! But for best results leave them in the fridge for a few more hours to set properly. 

Enjoy and be careful who you share them with ;)