Ooey. Gooey. Chocolate-y. Fudge.
Need I say more? (I’m going to, anyway) These Hazelnut + Pear Brownies are so rich and indulgent. They certainly don’t feel like a healthier baked good. And yet, they’re made with hazelnut flour (which is just ground up hazelnuts), cacao powder, coconut milk and extra chocolate.
Oh yeah, these are the real deal. A few months ago, in baking lab for culinary school, I had tried to dream up a hazelnut chocolate loaf with poached pears. The result was an incredibly tasty failure: the batter wouldn’t hold, and even after it was cooked it just sank into a pool of yummy hot mess. But I’ve been dreaming about the day I could recreate that magical combination. This recipe is actually an adaptation from Vanilla and Bean’s Chocolate Hazelnut Brownies (whose recipe is tagged in the recipe below) who had adapted it from another blogger. Aside from the addition of pears that I added, a little more baking powder and a longer cook time, this recipe needed very little tinkering on my end–it’s utterly perfect.
I think the reason these Hazelnut + Pear Fudge Brownies works so well, and my past attempt fell short, is that the hazelnut meal is ground finer (to the consistency of almond meal), there’s the addition of tapioca starch, coconut oil and baking powder all of which help to give it shape.
Nut flours are so underrated when it comes to baking. I know everyone loves almond flour (myself included!) but what about all the other nuts out there: hazelnut, pecan, walnut, cashews! My favourite thing about nut flours is that I find they fill you up in a way that other flours just don’t. I don’t know about you, but I can eat an entire sheet tray of brownies without batting an eye. My brain goes on a frenzy for baked goods. But with nut flours, I find them to be much more filling, so even if I want to eat more (and I do!) I can’t: I’m full. Especially with these brownies–they are so incredibly decadent that you can only eat one piece at a time. This, coming from a girl who has been known to eat an entire cheesecake in a day. It’s news-worthy, if you ask me.
And I hope it’s clear that I’m coming at it from someone who struggled with disordered eating for years, in the form of binging and purging. I could eat and eat and eat and never feel full, even when my stomach was physically stuffed and aching. If you’ve ever felt like that, there’s a lot of guilt that comes from not being able to stop eating.
But you know what? It’s not your fault. Processed foods just don’t satiate. Refined flour and sugar bypass all the normal signals and cues that tell your brain to stop eating. So for years, I felt shame and self-loathing because I couldn’t control what I ate, and I was always hungry. And then when I was 18, I made the switch to paleo, and for the first time ever, my hunger cues kicked in. This didn’t solve my relationship with food (I would suffer from anxiety and restrictive eating for another few years), and I’m not exclusively paleo now, but that initial switch to paleo meant that for the first time in my teenage years, I felt full and I could stop binging and purging.
I’m sorry if this post got a little too real for anyone who came for the promise of a tasty brownie–we’ll get back to that I swear. I guess I just wanted to write this, because sometimes when we talk about healthy eating, it can feel very elitist, and very, ahem, snobby. The ingredients (like nut flours) aren’t cheap, and eating healthy all the time can make you feel like the odd man out at parties, and work gatherings (hello, office birthday cake). And I think healthy eating should absolutely include being able to eat some refined sugary goodness on special occasions. And I think emotional eating has its place in our lives.
But I also know what it feels like when you decide you want to eat junk food in moderation, and then you just can’t stop. You wanted a piece of cake, but now you’ve had three. And you feel like a failure, when in fact it really has nothing to do with willpower. It’s biology. Your brain wants foods that are high in sugar, and high in fat. It’s programmed to hunt for those high calorie foods to ensure its survival.
So for those people, of which I am one, I want there to be decadent, over-the-top rich treats–like these Hazelnut + Pear Fudge Brownies–that you can eat (and share!) and enjoy, and still be able to feel full and walk away after one piece. Because that’s been huge in my own journey to a healthy relationship with food.
And for those who don’t care about any of this, I want you to have a yummy baked good. Feel me?
In other news, September has me feeling really nostalgic for school. Like, real bad. So much so, that I think I’ll be enrolling in a class or two. As non-exciting as it sounds, I think I’ll be taking a class in website design and coding, because it’s starting to feel like I’m outgrowing my managed website hosting plan. You may notice some bugs on the website (like how you can’t scroll through my recipes anymore) that with my current child-proof plan, I can’t fix. So I think I’ll be upgrading in the future to have more control, but first, I should probably learn a thing or two about website design.
Okay, my ramble is over. These Hazelnut + Pear Fudge Brownies are delicious.
- 1 cup hazelnut meal
- 3/4 cup cacao powder
- 3/4 cup coconut sugar
- 1 tsp tapioca flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3/4 coconut milk
- 3 tbsp coconut oil, melted
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 cup dark chocolate, chopped
- 1 pear, thinly sliced
- Preheat oven to 400F. Line an 8x8 inch pan with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl whisk together hazelnut meal, coconut sugar, cacao powder, tapioca, baking powder and salt.
- In a medium bowl, combine coconut milk and coconut oil. Stir wet ingredients into dry and mix to combine.
- Stir in chopped chocolate.
- Pour half of the mixture into the baking pan and spread evenly. Layer half of the pears evenly onto the mixture. Pour the remaining mixture over the pears, and spread evenly. Top with remaining pears.
- Bake at 400F for 30 minutes, or until knife comes out clean.
- My oven tends to run less than hot, so you may want to check your brownies after 15 minutes, and every 5 minutes after until it is cooked through.