Chocolate Espresso Brownies

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If you're a sucker for brownies like me then you'll love these Chocolate Espresso Fudge Brownies. They're caffeine and refined sugar free, and they're perfect for afternoon tea or dessert!
Prep Time 10 mins
Total Time 1 hr
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raw walnut espresso brownies with almond ganache and cacao nibs on white plate

Hello lovely human. It’s 956pm, the kids are well asleep, lights are off in the rest of the house, and I’m sitting here at my desk writing to you. Beside me – a cup of calming tea, my diffuser popping out this blend, a melatonin-inspired playlist humming from the speaker, and a plate – topped with sliced bananas, berries, coconut yoghurt, and one of these Chocolate Espresso Brownies.

If you’ve never tried adding coffee to your chocolate desserts, I think you might just fall in love with these. Rather than making them taste overtly coffee-like, it instead serves more to enrich the rich chocolatey flavours. Think…

  • Intense
  • Deep
  • Dramatic

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my time experimenting with food, it’s that good things don’t need to be complex. The base of these brownies is in fact made with just five simple ingredients. Take a few good quality components, pair them together, and I’m continually surprised at how amazing things can be.

So grab yourself a cuppa, and dive into these fudgey, rich, chocolate espresso brownies. I’m sure they’ll put a smile on your face, as they have mine.

How to Make Chocolate Espresso Brownies

What is a raw brownie?

Quick disclaimer – these brownies are raw. That means no baking, simply blitz, press, and pop in the freezer to set. Quicker, easier, lazier than a regular brownie, yet still just as tasty. I’m pretty happy with that.

So what’s in a raw brownie that’s different to regular? Well – here’s what a regular brownie will dish us up:

Butter, dairy chocolate, white sugar, brown sugar, white flour, eggs, cocoa powder, vanilla, salt

Raw brownies in contrast are made with nuts for richness, dried fruit for sweetness, and without the eggs. They don’t have the fluffy texture of a cooked brownie, but honestly I like them better.

gif of Buffy Ellen holding raw walnut  espresso brownies with almond ganache and cacao nibs on white plate

Ingredients for these easy no-bake vegan brownies with chocolate ganache

Here’s what you’ll need (not much):

  • Walnuts
  • Dates
  • Cacao powder
  • Espresso
  • Vanilla
  • Salt

If you want to go the extra mile and top them with my chocolate almond icing, you’ll also want to grab some:

  • Almond butter
  • Coconut butter (use my recipe to make your own here)
  • Coconut sugar
  • Cacao nibs (to top)
top down of raw walnut espresso brownies with almond ganache and cacao nibs on white plate

Why add coffee to my brownies?

Contrary to what you’re thinking, these brownies aren’t super coffee-y.  Agree that isn’t a word, but you get me.

Instead, they’re just more chocolate-y.

Adding espresso, either as a proper shot, espresso powder, or just some strong brewed coffee, is a quick hack to enhance the flavour of your chocolate desserts. Of course, if you love coffee, by all means add more. But try this recipe as I’ve written, to get a feel for what I mean.

If you’re not a coffee drinker, then feel free to sub this out with either decaf, or some dandelion tea. Or you can just skip it entirely. I feel you on the no-coffee front too. I gave up coffee when I was diagnosed with Graves’ autoimmune disease back in 2011. As Graves’ puts you in a hyperactive state, it’s a good idea to reduce compounds such as caffeine that can increase the heart rate and production of adrenalin. I am already full powered adrenaline, no need to enhance that too much.

In recent years I’ve bought coffee back into my life. One per day, a good quality Americano, and I feel good. I do notice if I have more than two, the heart rate starts to quicken again. Test what’s right for you. Our bodies do tend to adapt to certain substances, so the more you consume them, the less they react. Reel yourself in slowly.

buffy ellen woman holding raw walnut espresso brownies with almond ganache and cacao nibs on white plate and jar of cacao nibs

What makes a brownie more fudgey?

Back to our brownie, the panacea of all your brownie dreams is I’m sure – a fudgey chewy texture. How do we achieve this? Both in a cooked and raw brownie, the key is a high fat ratio. Most cooked brownies achieve this with a shiz-tonne of butter and eggs. We’re going to do it with walnuts.

Walnuts are one of my favourite sources of omega 3s, an essential fatty acid which our body can’t produce and thus we must get from our diet. Aside from hemp seeds, chia seeds, and flax seeds, walnuts come in at number four on the omega 3 front. Just 6 walnut halves per day is enough to achieve your daily recommend dose of omega 3s, otherwise known as alpha linoleic acid or ALA. This is the precursor compound to produce DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), and DPA (docosapentaenoic acid) – three long chain fatty acids needed for our brain health, mood, cellular function, and hormone balance.

You know how a walnut half sort of looks like half a brain? That’s how you can remember how fabulous they are for your noggin.

Buffy ellen taking bite of raw walnut espresso brownies

Substitution ideas for these espresso chocolate brownies

Alright, your favourite part (ok, my favourite part). Sub ideas. Honestly it kills me that you might read one of my recipes and have to go especially shopping for something. So this section is here to save you from that drive, so you can instead spend your time munching on the good stuff.

  • Walnuts – whilst I love walnuts in these brownies, you can also use brazil nuts, almonds, cashews, hemps seeds, or a mix of these. As long as you’ve got something fatty, you’re still going to achieve that lush brownie richness.
  • Dates – I love the neutral flavour that dates bring to raw desserts, it’s like you can’t even taste they’re there. But subs are sultanas or raisins, or go a 50:50 mix of both. By the way, I don’t use fancy medjouls here (I barely use them at all). Good old regular dates will do you just fine.
  • Cacao powder – you can use regular cocoa powder, or if you’re caffeine sensitive, try carob powder (they’ll be a bit sweeter, as carob is naturally sweet).
  • Espresso – brew a super strong plunger of coffee with just a little water, and use 2 tablespoons of this. Or add 2 teaspoons of espresso powder, or even instant coffee. If you’re caffeine sensitive, add a shot of dandelion or chicory tea, or try adding a teaspoon of reishi mushroom powder, or ashwaganda powder, for a different serotonin hit.
  • Almond butter­ – cashew butter or tahini for the icing.
  • Coconut butter – I used a jar of my homemade stuff here, but you can buy this from the supermarket. Otherwise just use coconut oil here. We want something that’ll go hard once cool for our icing to set.
  • Coconut sugar – xylitol or a pinch of stevia work great too.
top down of raw walnut espresso brownies with almond ganache and cacao nibs on white plate

Tips for making the best raw vegan brownies

You’re about to become a raw brownie guru. Here’s how:

  • Food processor – your blender and these brownies will not be best friends. A food processor instead has an S blade, which serves to chop up the walnuts and dates and swing them around, rather than fling them up in the air while creating a gooey mess at the bottom (what will happen when you try these in a blender).
  • Nuts first – yep, blend the hard things first. Because you’re blending them when everything’s nice and dry, they’ll blend a lot easier than if you add your sticky wet things and then give it a go. So blend those walnuts to a nice finely ground flour, and then get going with the remaining ingredients.
  • One at a time – if your processor is a little on the rugged side, try adding your dates one by one through the shoot, while the processor is running. This will give it a chance to chew each one up, before you add the pressure of a next. My processor is an absolute animal, so I can be lazy and add them all at once.
plate of raw walnut espresso brownies with almond ganache and cacao nibs on white plate

How to store your unbaked brownies

My recommendation is store in the freezer for ultimate chew. They do survive in the fridge just fine, and also out of the fridge for a short while. They’ll go soft, but they certainly won’t melt in your fingers like some raw treats do, thanks to the zero coconut oil content.

In the freezer they’ll be good for 2 months, in the fridge for 2 weeks. Mine lasted in our freezer approximately 4 days. I wish you luck.

Want more easy slice recipes? Try these next:

If you make these Chocolate Espresso Brownies, I’d love to hear from you. Leave me a comment and rating below (it helps others find these lovely brownies too), and if you want to go the extra mile, tag me in your version @begoodorganics on Instagram, TikTok, or Facebook. I can’t wait to hear from you.

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Chocolate Espresso Brownies

If you’re ready to take your brownies to the next level, these fudgey Chocolate Espresso Brownies are for you. Intense, deep, dramatic, they’re spiked with a dash of espresso to enrich all those chocolatey flavours. And all you need is 5 simple ingredients.
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AuthorBuffy Ellen
Servings 16
Prep Time 10 mins
Total Time 1 hr

Ingredients

  • 2 c walnuts
  • 1 ¾ c dates
  • ¾ c cacao powder
  • 30 ml espresso (1 shot)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp sea salt

Ganache:

  • 3 tbsp almond butter
  • 2 tbsp coconut butter
  • 1 tbsp cacao powder
  • 1 tbsp coconut sugar
  • pinch sea salt
  • 3 tbsp cacao nibs

Instructions

  • Blend walnuts in a food processor until finely ground. Add dates, cacao powder, espresso, vanilla, and salt and blend again until well combined and sticky. If your food processor is older, try adding the dates one by one while the processor is running.
  • Pour the mix into a lined square baking tray. Press down firmly with a spatula until it's flat, then place in the freezer while making the ganache.
  • Melt the ganache ingredients (excluding the nibs) in a small pan on low until smooth, then spread over the brownie base. Sprinkle with cacao nibs, and place in the freezer for an hour to set. Slice and serve from the freezer to keep it chewy.

Equipment

  • Food processor

Recipe Notes

  • Nut free: Use hemp, sunflower, or pumpkin seeds instead of walnuts, or a mix of two.
pin of raw walnut espresso brownies with almond ganache and cacao nibs on white plate