My go-to brownie recipe is pretty much the simplest thing ever.  Melt chocolate, mix in sugar, flour and eggs, bake, done.  But sometimes people need or want a little less, well, brownie in their brownies.  That’s when things start to go sideways.

Last year, I need to put together a gluten free brownie that would also make some paleo friends happy. My first attempt was pretty bad. The finished product was pitch black, smelled like burning honey, and somehow still mostly water. Clearly, zucchini and I don’t get along.


Some gym friends came through with a much better plan.  They’d been passing around variants on an almond butter brownie for ages.  The version I got had a great texture, but was entirely too unsweetened for my tastes.  My next challenge was to raise the sweetness and bring out the chocolate flavor in what might’ve been the healthiest thing I’d ever made.


Almost Paleo Brownies

  • 16 oz. almond butter
  • 2 extra large eggs
  • 8 oz. maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla paste (or 3 vanilla beans)
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup extra chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Mix almond butter until it’s texture is crunchy and uniform, like creamed butter and sugar. Try to choose a very smooth almond butter like Justin’s or Barney Butter, instead of a courser natural style or store-ground nut butter.

Mix in eggs one at a time.  They should smooth the nut butter slightly.

Add vanilla, and mix until incorporated.  You can substitute vanilla extra if you have to, but I like the texture of these better with a less liquid vanilla.

Mix the maple syrup in gradually, then mix in the baking soda and salt until fully incorporated.

Stir in the chocolate chips.  Want to work backwards to something healthier?  A proper paleo recipe would skip these, or call for bittersweet or unsweetened chocolate.  The recipe I started from used a lot less of them too, closer to 3/4 cup.

At this point, the brownie batter should have a texture like play-doh. If it doesn’t, mix it some more.

Smear the batter evenly into a buttered and sugared 8×8 pan, then sprinkle the extra chocolate chips over the top. Speaking of healthy, if this is for a potluck at your gym, you might want to skip the sugar and extra chocolate. Maybe replace the butter with coconut oil…

Bake for 40 minutes. Let the brownies rest at room temperature for at least an hour.