Make Something Monday: Healthy Brownie Cakes!

My name is Michelle and I’m a Choco-holic.  Dark chocolate, chocolate chip cookies, chocolate-flavored Luna Bars, I’ll pretty much take my fix wherever I can find it.  That’s why, anytime I can find a way to make my favorite indulgence seem healthier, I’m a happy girl.  Thank goodness for Gwyneth Paltrow’s recipe for healthy brownies from her new book, My Father’s Daughter. Though not a totally vegan cookbook, My Father’s Daughter has many vegan recipes and others that are easily converted.

Here’s how I made my version of the brownies so delicious you’d swear they were bad for you [but they’re not]:

satisfy your sweet tooth without the sugar.


2 cups white spelt flour [we were out so I used 1 cup all-purpose/1 cup whole wheat]
1 cup cocoa powder [I used Ghirardelli]
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup vegetable oil applesauce
1/2 cup brown rice syrup
1/2 cup strong brewed coffee [depending on how you feel about caffeine, you can alter or omit this measurement]
1/2 cup soymilk So Delicious coconut milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract [as always, I over-pour for extra flavor]
2 tablespoons oil [I used olive oil]
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips a few handfuls of Sunspire grain sweetened chocolate chips
My addition: Chia seeds, muffin pan

Preheat oven to 350°.
Sift flour, cocoa powder, & baking powder into a bowl.
Whisk maple syrup, applesauce, oil, brown rice syrup, coffee, coconut milk & vanilla in another bowl.
Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients.
Pour batter into greased muffin tins [I prefer all edge pieces for my brownies] about 3/4 full.
Top each brownie cake with a few chocolate chips and a sprinkling of Chia seeds.
Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out nearly clean.

22 thoughts on “Make Something Monday: Healthy Brownie Cakes!

  1. YUM! They look amazing! I’m so glad you made them with So Delicious Coconut Milk. It’s been such a lifesaver for me. I use it in everything. And such a great idea to use applesauce to cut down on the fat. I’ve used 50/50 oil and applesauce, but haven’t tried using just applesauce. I’m really looking forward to trying this recipe. Thank you for the inspiration!

  2. Thanks for reading Val! I’m in love with So Delicious as well. Coconut milk is honestly the only milk I use these days because I like to cut back on the soy wherever possible. As for the applesauce, it’s becoming my go-to egg replacer and I always have great results. Hope you enjoy the recipe! Feel free to let me know how it turns out. 🙂

      • Michelle, brown rice syrup is an amazing sweetener that’s so much healthier than sugar. You can find it at Whole Foods in the baking section, but if that’s too much trouble, you can use Agave Nectar or Stevia [or in an absolute pinch, sugar, but that will make the recipe less healthy]. You need to alter the measurements slightly for each of these, but you can easily find sweetener conversion charts online. Let me know if you have any other questions. Good Luck! 🙂

      • Oscar, brown rice syrup has a low glycemic index so it doesn’t cause the intense sugar rush that regular sugar is known for. Therefore, it’s a sweetener without the energy crash. There are also many more nutrients and minerals in alternative sweeteners than in refined sugar. I try to avoid refined sugar whenever possible and replace it with sweeteners with at least a little nutritional value, even if it’s just beet sugar or organic cane sugar.

        If you’re curious, you can read a bit more about brown rice syrup here:

  3. i’ll have to give these a shot soon. my hubby recently got into real estate. baking cookies at open houses makes the place smell ike home and gives you something nice to offer people, but your typical chocolate chip cookie isn’t suitable for everyone. i’ve been wanting a recipe that would suit almost anyone…something vegan, suitable for diabetics, with no common food allergens. this just might be exactly what we need! also, i may be overlooking it, but if tehre isn’t one, you need a “printer friendly” button for your recipes!

    • Thanks for the suggestion, Amber! I’ll definitely look into adding a printer friendly button for this blog [if anyone has some tips in this area, please feel free to share]. Hope your open house visitors enjoy the brownies!

  4. these look amazing!!! can i sub honey for the maple syrup AND brown rice syrup? don’t want to go to the store 🙂

    • Jody, Personally, I try to avoid baking with honey because it’s not considered entirely vegan [there are several schools of thought on this and I’m kind of on the fence, but still avoid it whenever possible]. However, if you’d like to try it as a substitute, I imagine you’d have to thin it out a bit to achieve the right consistency since honey is much thicker than brown rice and maple syrup [I’ve heard apple juice is good for this]. Also, honey is not as gentle on the blood sugar as brown rice syrup so you’re sacrificing a bit of the recipe’s healthiness [though not as much as if you used refined sugar]. Feel free to do some researching of your own, but my quick google search produced this site on liquid sweetener substitutions that you might find helpful:

  5. here is the “skinny” from gp’s site. notice there is no sugar stat….scary
    348 calories per brownie, 15 g fat (3 g saturated), 53 g carbs, 4 g fiber, 5 g protein

    i’m sure they are delicious but i think i will stick with my luna bar and trader joe’s frozen dark chocolate covered banana slices:)

    • Good point, misty, these are not a low calorie food. And to that end, even Gwyneth points out that these are “as healthy as brownies can get without sacrificing flavor.” Personally, I’m not much of a calorie counter [nor do I find that I really need to be on a vegan diet]. I’m more interested in making my indulgences free of refined sugar and packed with extra nutrients not found in the typical baked good. I still love this recipe, but if it’s not your style, Luna Bars are certainly an amazing sweet tooth satisfier as well. 🙂

      • i totally agree….i try to make all our choices free of the yuck and as natural as possible so i would probably make these for a dessert night with friends but not for fun in my house. they wouldn’t last an hour and i don’t really count my calories or fat either but a pan of these (or anything like these) can’t be a good thing for my hips:) lol!!!!! ~brownies are my weakness!~ sorry if i came across as a downer. i love gp’s site and noticed the stats and figured some would want to know:) glad i found your site as well. it’s totally up my alley:) have you tried the new coconut dipped luna bar- i don’t think it gets any better than those:o) also, do you have a trader joe’s by you….there semi sweet choco chips are vegan and delicious!!!! i just can’t get into the sunspire…i tried:)

      • No apologies necessary, misty, I’m glad you pointed out the stats. As I said, it’s not something that I often take into consideration so I’m happy you provided the info for anyone who might be curious. 🙂

        And OH MY GOD YES! I’ve tried the coconut luna bars! I think I buy one every time I pass by my local Trader Joe’s. As for the Sunspire, I find that they only work well in certain recipes [chocolate chip cookies NOT being one of them, they tend to melt too quickly and burn a bit], but they are pretty good in this recipe as well as Alicia Silverstone’s peanut butter cups from The Kind Diet.

  6. you tried her pb cups? i wanted to but haven’t yet….i figured i would mess them up or love them way toooo much:) if i do get around to trying them, someone said they put coconut in theirs…..i think i will try that!

    • I DO love the peanut butter cups way too much. 🙂 Thankfully, they are rich enough that you really can stop at just one. Because I buy creamy peanut butter instead of crunchy, I have yet to make them exactly like the recipe calls for which makes them a bit messier, but still delicious. Some day i’ll get around to purchasing crunchy peanut butter to try them the proper way.

      And coconut makes everything better! Too bad my boyfriend detests it [it’s a texture thing for him, not taste, which is why I can get away with coconut milk]. Let me know how they turn out if you try it that way!

  7. You can find brown rice syrup at whole foods and other healthy food stores. Perhaps even a supermarket might have it in their healthier food section?

    • Jasmine, while I don’t know that much about gluten free diets, I’m assuming that the presence of flour in the ingredients list makes it not gluten free. sorry. perhaps there are some flour substitutions that can be made to make it so, but again, I don’t know that much about the topic so I am hesitant to give any certain answer.

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