Craving some rich chocolatey brownies, but don’t want all the hassle involved with baking?
Or maybe you’re on the hunt for a raw alternative to your favorite brownie treats. After all, no-one likes trying to fix undercooked brownies!
You’re in the right place.
These no-bake espresso and walnut brownies are perfect for vegetarians, vegans, and anyone following a gluten-free, refined sugar-free, or dairy-free diet. Or anyone who simply wants to eat healthier.
They’re delicious, guilt free, and packed with health benefits.
Why you’ll love this recipe
- There’s 5 main ingredients
- And no baking involved
- You can have them on the plate and ready to eat in 10 minutes
- No eggs, flour, sugar, butter, oil, or grains.
Pro tip: these brownies make an excellent pre or post workout snack! The caffeine will give you an energy boost, while the almonds provide some protein.
Here’s everything you need to create these delicious brownies!
- Walnuts: A delicious and nutritious nut, walnuts are high in healthy fats and antioxidants and they add crunch to the brownies.
- Almond meal: This versatile ingredient creates a smoother texture in the brownies, while providing a good dose of protein and healthy fats. You can also use whole nuts and make your own ‘meal’, which will give the brownies more of a crunchy texture.
- Medjool dates: Known for their natural sweetness and chewy texture, these dates act as the binder and sweetener in our brownies, keeping them added sugar-free.
- Cocoa powder: Choose a non-Dutch-processed cocoa powder for a rich, chocolatey taste without that powdery feeling some cocoa powders leave behind.
- Espresso powder: Adding just a touch of espresso powder enhances the chocolate flavor, giving our brownies a delightful depth and sophistication.
- Sea salt: A pinch of sea salt helps to balance the sweetness and brings out the flavors of the other ingredients.
A note on “raw”
These brownies may or may not be labeled as “raw”, depending on the ingredients you use.
If you want 100% raw food, make sure all the ingredients you use are raw. For example, I picked up a bag of walnuts from my local grocery store which aren’t roasted, but I’m not 100% sure I could call them completely raw.
Likewise with cocoa powder, this isn’t raw as it’s been processed. For a raw alternative to cocao powder, use raw cacao powder.
There’s definitely no cooking involved in the recipe though!
Step 1: Prepare your ingredients
Pit your Medjool dates and roughly chop the walnuts (set a handful of these walnuts aside for later).
Then, line a cake pan or tray with parchment paper and set it aside. I do two sheets and line the tray in a cross shape for maximum coverage.
Using parchment paper makes it easy to lift and remove the brownies from the tray once they’re ready.
Step 2: Make the dough
Blend your chopped walnuts and almond meal in a food processor until they’re finely ground.
Add cocoa powder, espresso powder, and sea salt. Pulsing in the blender until well combined.
Add the dates one at a time to the food processor, making sure each one is well incorporated before adding the next.
You should have a dough-like consistency by the end. If the mixture isn’t sticky enough, keep adding dates until it will hold its shape.
Step 3: Mix in the chopped walnuts
Remove the dough from the food processor and stir in the rest of the chopped walnuts you set aside earlier.
Step 4: Shape and press the brownie mixture
Transfer the brownie mixture to the parchment paper-lined tray.
Spread the mixture out into one even layer and press down on it firmly to make sure they hold together when you cut into them.
Step 5: Chill and set the brownies
Refrigerate the brownies for about 30 minutes. This will set them and makes cutting much easier.
Once chilled, slice your no-bake espresso walnut brownies and enjoy!
To make slicing easier, run the knife under hot water and dry it off before sitting in. The warm metal will glide through the brownie mixture much easier than a cold knife.
How to successfully blend dates
Dates can be VERY tricky to blend. They’re sticky, gloopy, and basically every food processor’s worst nightmare.
You’ll need one with decent power to make this recipe. And even then you’ll need to follow these tips to get super smooth brownies:
Use soft dates. If your dates are hard, soak them in boiling water for 5-10 minutes before you start working with them.
Roughly chop your dates into small pieces before blending, and start with a pulsing action rather than a continuous blend.
The pulsing will ‘chop’ the dates into even smaller pieces.
Then when you’re blending, blend in intervals. This gives the food processor a break which means it’s less likely to overheat.
If the mixture is really sticky, adding a teaspoon or so of water can loosen it.
And be patient! You’ll get there eventually.
Variations and substitutions
- Nut alternatives: Swap out walnuts or almonds for other nuts like pecans or cashews, adjusting the processing time accordingly to achieve the desired texture. For a savory twist, salt your nuts before adding them to the batter.
- Nut-free version: Replace almond meal with sunflower seed meal or pumpkin seed meal, and use seeds like sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds instead of walnuts for a nut-free alternative.
- Caffeine-free: Omit the espresso powder for a caffeine-free version, try adding a dash of vanilla extract or even coconut extract or similar to replace the loss of flavor.
- Different flavors: Add a handful of dried cherries, cranberries, raisins, or figs (or one of these fig substitutes) for a fruity twist. Or go for a pinch of cayenne pepper or cinnamon for a spicy kick.
- Make truffles: Roll the mixture into bite-sized balls to create delicious and healthy truffles instead of brownies. Just remember to chill them before serving.
Fridge: place the brownies in an airtight container and store them in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Separate layers with parchment paper to stop them sticking together.
Freezer: If you’d like to store the brownies for a longer than 2 weeks, you can freeze them. Wrap each brownie individually in plastic wrap or place a sheet of parchment paper between each slice. Then transfer the wrapped brownies to an airtight container or a freezer-safe zip-top bag. You can keep them in the freezer for up to 2 months.
To enjoy your frozen brownies, remove the desired number of brownies from the freezer and let them thaw in the fridge for a few hours or at room temperature for about 30 minutes to soften them (or if you’re in a rush, these techniques to soften cookies will work).
And if you want to try the brownies warm, try these tried and tested brownie reheating tricks.
No-Bake Espresso Walnut Brownies
- 1.5 cups walnuts divided
- 1 cup almond meal or roughly chopped almonds
- 2 – 2 1/2 cups about 24-28 Medjool dates, pitted
- 3/4 cup cocoa powder not Dutch-processed
- 1-2 tsp espresso powder
- pinch sea salt
- Place 1 cup walnuts and almond meal (or chopped almonds) in food processor and process until finely ground.
- Add the cocoa powder, espresso powder and sea salt. Pulse to combine.
- Add the dates to the food processor one at a time, letting each date combine into the mixture before adding the next.
- Process until a dough consistency is achieved, adding more dates if the mixture does not hold together when squeezed in your hand.
- Chop the remaining 1/2 cup walnuts and add them to the brownie mixture and toss to combine.
- Transfer the brownie mixture to large piece of parchment paper lined cake pan and shape and press firmly and tightly into a 6 to 7-inch square, or thereabouts, that is roughly 1/2-inch thick.
- Chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes before cutting. Store brownies in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, or freeze for up to 2 months.