Choc Brownie Christmas Trees

I want to give you a very special gift, in the form of a Christmas Tree!

Though it may, and will take many other forms. My favourite, heart-shaped, though square, rough rectangle, Christmas tree, it doesn’t matter really.

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What matters, what truly matters, is the taste. And these trees are so good, so mouth wateringly delicious, I was smiling as I made them, broadly. I’m pretty sure, anyone who likes chocolate, will love these. And anyone who cares about their health would be wise to eat these too. Gluten-free brownie beauty is close to hand…

Like the twinkling star at the top of the tree, or the bauble that captures light, these delightful brownies are sure to become a family favourite, a gift of choice and a craving that satisfies.

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The natural sweetness comes from the marvelous Medjool dates, these caramel tasting jewels are perfect snacks for low blood sugar moments and are often at the centre of many Raw Treats, though avoid ones treated with sulfur, check the packaging before parting with your change.

The nuts pair together in a loop of nourishment that would make Rudolph pirouette, whilst smiling knowingly! These Christmas Tree nibbles are packed with Omega-3, the essential fatty acid that no life loving lady/ gent should be without, the kind that will help brain function, boost the immune system and relieve aches and pains, especially of the arthritic kind. They really are a gift.

Perhaps I’m saving the best until last? Yes, I am. Raw Cacao, yep, spelt cacao, packs a nutritional punch that cocoa (heat-treated) simply cannot compete with, or so I thought, it appears that there are many different schools of thought on the subject of cacao v’s cocoa.

The Jury’s out, you decide.

“Theobroma cacao (Cacao Tree) is the tree from which the Cacao bean comes. Cacao beans are found inside the “fruit” of the tree, pods about the size of a football. 

Cocoa is what the beans are called once they have been cleaned, roasted and processed. 
Cacao is the same bean but still in the raw state, uncooked and unprocessed. 

The ORAC value comparison per 100 grams 

1) Raw cacao powder 95,500 

2) Raw cacao nibs 62,100 

3) Roasted cocoa powder 26,000 

Raw cacao is comprised of over 300 compounds including: Carbohydrates, protein, fat, fiber, iron, copper, zinc, magnesium, calcium and sulfur. 

Cacao once cooked and processed (“Cocoa”) Loses much of its nutritional goodness which are destroyed by the heat. Once milk is added the antioxidant levels drop also dramatically. This is what you find in the popular chocolate bars and candies. 

Raw foodists will only use and advocate raw cacao for its high nutritional value which gives it the “superfood” status.”

It is very similar in smell, feel and taste, honestly I can’t taste the difference! Though my body felt it, after eating these brownies I didn’t get the lull that comes with the sugary highly processed kind, no, instead I felt great! I’ve read that cacao is an incredibly rich source of minerals and antioxidants, containing more antioxidants gram for gram than goji berries, blueberries, prunes, raisins and green tea! Whatever the verdict is on cacao v’s cocoa I’d strongly suggest you make a batch and make your own decision. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding!

There is something very alluring about raw food, I’m fairly new to the concept. I find its health benefits particularly attractive – though the cocoa/ cacao appears not to be as simple as I’d previously thought…

“What is considered “raw” cacao is supposed to be a cocoa powder that has been in a process that never exceeded 110 degrees Fahrenheit…which is already an almost impossible scenario, since cocoa beans are grown in the Equator, and you may exceed that temperature while drying in the patio under the sun covered with black linens (to heat it up and allow the fermentation of the bean)….and yes, you need to dry them, otherwise they will rotten in a few days, and the shell will be too difficult to peel off.

Back to cocoa powder….
ALL cocoa powder comes from the cocoa bean, which without the shell is called cocoa nib (a.k.a. cacao nib). The first step is grinding of the nib (which again, when you grind something to such small particle size you will create a lot of friction with -that’s right – heat!). That will give you the cocoa/cacao paste (a.k.a. cacao mass or liquor), which has about 50 to 56% fat (cocoa butter) in it…and ALL cocoa powders have to go through that stage.

Next stage is to take some of that butter away, which the raw community claims can be done through “cold pressing”. For any that don’t understand that term, cold pressing is done with oils like olive oil to preserve the oil almost intact by cooling the press plates while applying pressure (pressure generates heat, therefore it needs to be cooled). But here is a reminder, olive oil is liquid in room temperature, cocoa butter is SOLID, and it STARTS melting at about 100 degrees Fahrenheit … so, you cannot control and cool it to a point where it will be still in a solid phase, because it cannot be pressed and “flow” out.

Last operation is to grind the solids left in the press, again – heat…and there is your cocoa powder or cacao powder… you tell me if you call it “raw”, a term not defined by the FDA for cocoa, and that can be used by anyone just to sell the cocoa to a much higher price. Maybe that is why bigger, more serious companies don’t have this product, since they do not want to be liable for false advertising…

Regarding “Raw” cocoa nibs or cocoa beans…yes, that is possible, and the only concern is the high bacteriological plate count… but how much you want to train your immune system is up to each individual. And yes, the less manipulated the cocoa, the more polyphenols and healthy chemicals you will obtain from it.

There is also a difference between alkalized or ducthed powders, and the natural ones (which do not contain any potassium carbonate), being the second ones the ones containing more of the healthy properties (antioxidants). But that is totally different from claiming a “raw” cocoa powder.

So, that is my explanation, and again, I respect anyone’s opinion on what they want to eat or how they want to consume it. I just disagree with misleading the general public just to make juicy profits.”

The crux of raw, in a nutshell – when you heat food above 40 °C (104 °F), you destroy many of the fragile enzymes and vitamins it contains, here’s the science bit from the Raw Foodie…

“Your body is actually sort of an alkaline battery, running on electrons. All life-giving chemical reactions only happen when electrons or energy flows between atoms. Cooking or processing causes food to lose electrons – the source of the energy your body needs. Things that are healthy ‘contribute” electrons/energy, and are called alkalizing or “reducing.” Things that are unhealthy steal electrons/energy, and are called acidic or “oxidizing” (which means to burn up, rust, break down or decay).”

So you see, I really am giving you a gift, though take what you like, and leave anything, including the cocoa or cacao debate behind. Whatever floats your boat: )

With love from me to you…

Merry Christmas!

FFX

Feeling Food Chocolate Brownies

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Whole walnuts, 160g

Medjool dates, pitted 200g

Raw cacao, 80g

Raw unsalted almonds, roughly chopped 80g

Pink Himalayan sea salt, ½ tsp

Vanilla Essence, 1 tsp

PLACE walnuts in food processor and blitz until the nuts are crumble like.

ADD the cacao and salt.

PULSE to blend.

FEED the dates into tube of the food processor while it is running.

MIX the walnut-cacao mix with the chopped almonds in a large bowl.

PRESS into a lined cake tin or mold.

PLACE in freezer or fridge until ready to serve.

DUST over some cacao for a lovely finishing touch and some of Dr.Oetker’s golden pearls, for some Bauble Bling!

STORE in an airtight container.

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