The Fall Flavors Raw Brownie




I loaded up on Italian plums at the farmers market last weekend. Their sign said “last of the season” and I sighed because we’ve moved so quickly into the autumn months. It was a game day and all the college students have arrived back in town. These past few days, the temperature still got uncharacteristically up into the ’90s ’round these parts, but the mornings and evenings say summer has ended. It’s dark until 7:00 am. It gets dark at 7:00pm. Blink and those last few plums will be missed. The remaining local peaches sold out early at the market a week ago and the melons are on their final hurrah.




Well and truly, though I’m reluctant to transition at this time every year, I’m a sucker for each new seaon. There are new-again flavors to be savored and weather and beauty in the natural world to be appreciated. Fall is my MOST FAVORITE of all because of the crisp mornings, colorful leaves, and the natural bent of light that slants just so each afternoon. Plus, I like comfy sweaters, hugging my cuppa throughout the day, the return of the rain, and warming spices that mean more in this season than all the others.




The Recipe Redux folks requested a recipe this month with dehydrated food. I don’t have the equipment or the space these days to go all DIY and and get my dehydration-station on, but I do have grandparents that have stocked my parents’ freezer with no small shortfall of prunes. My mom never uses them. I’m the only one who ever takes a random bag home, and even then, I’ve only developed one recipe over the years that I really like to eat prunes in. No longer. They go well with hazelnuts, chocolate, and spices. Plus, they can be enjoyed all season long, since you know, they’re dehydrated and all.


This brownie really is lovely and boasts a huge plus: it’s nutrient-dense. I know all my friends and relatives roll their eyes because I make desserts that always have some form of health benefit, but raw desserts are simply the best. These brownies have all the good flavors, natural sugars from the fruit, and are packed with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats from the raw cacao and hazelnuts.

Fall Flavors Raw Brownies, adapted from Oh, Ladycakes
2 cups roasted hazelnuts
6 Tbs. cacao powder
pinch salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
8 medjool dates
1/2 cup prunes
1-2 Tbs. water
  • In a food processor, blend the nuts, cacao powder, salt, and spices until they are all finely chopped and incorporated.
  • Next, toss in the dates (pitted and halved), and the prunes. Process until a paste begins to form, and add 1-2 Tbs. water until the mixture just begins to form a dough, but isn’t too sticky.
  • Line a 8×8 pan with parchment paper, and scoop the brownies in. Flatten them across the whole pan, and then stick in the freezer to harden up for about 30 minutes. They can then be removed and cut into square. If you’re not going to serve and eat them all right away, store them in the fridge or freezer in a covered container. This batch makes about 16 brownies.

Who I Want to Be & Summer Brownies


The smoke filled air instantly takes me back to standing in the smoking porch of a favorite pub, years ago now.  Almost another life.  I watch the dazed people look up from their gaming machines.  They meander around as if possessed, plunking more cash into the slots.  At the tables, the dealers’ hands flash and fluidly swoop up another round of cards.  My sister, and then my friend, squeal when up a few and then subsequently moan when all of it is lost.  The lady across the aisle sits reclined and relaxed, one elegant hand holding a long cigarette, the other poised on the ‘bet 5’ button.   The woman two seats down banks $1,500 on a quarter machine.  Her carefully contained delight emanates the space as she makes plans to see her friends there again within the week.

I delight in nothing more than watching these people, knowing this is not my place.  I’m not a smoker.  Or a gambler.  Not necessarily even a drinker.  Oddly enough, this place, this observational haven, reminds me of who I want to be.

W reminded me recently that how I see myself and how I present myself don’t always coordinate with each other.  Analyzing this statement and realizing he’s correct got me thinking.  I value authenticity, yet don’t always live authentically.  Often when surrounded by family, I retreat into a shell and only show the pieces that can’t be so easily criticized.  I camouflage how I truly feel because I think someone else will be aided by my self-sacrifice, or I long to avoid conflict and judgement.

As I sit surrounded by people delighting in only the next moment in a smoke-studded casino, I realize they don’t care what anyone else thinks. Heck, they don’t even care about what’s going on in their own lives in this moment.  For the moment, they are all-in.


That’s who I want to be.  A person that chooses to confront controversy, to embrace how I feel, to present the same person to the outside as I feel inside, despite another’s observation, perhaps in their eyes coming up short.  To live a life that’s all-in every experience.

That’s what I did with these brownies.  I wanted chocolate and nectarines, the ones on the counter going soft.  Not in a pastry or cobbler or something usual.  In something gooey and cakey. Yet still with a tinge of health and nutrients. I’m being true to myself now after all. My gluten-free flour blend has a bit of buckwheat in it so it has the fairest hint of a rustic tone, I threw in some honey from my uncle’s bees, a small zucchini, and used extra virgin olive oil.  The result was exactly me.  Exactly what I wanted to taste and share.

Summer Brownies with Zucchini and Nectarines, adapted from Happyolks
  • 1 cup grated zucchini
  • 2 cups grated, smashed or finely chopped nectarines with juice
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2.5 cups gluten free flour blend
  • 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
  • 3/4 cup  cocoa powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2.25 tsp baking powder
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 11 baking pan with a tsp of oil and set aside. Grate zucchini and dice nectarine and juice onto a cutting board.
In a large bowl, mix together oil, eggs, honey, and vanilla.  Fold in the nectarine and zucchini. In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa, salt, and baking powder. Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture slowly, stirring to combine. 
Bake for 30-45 minutes and let cool on a wire rack.