Holiday Indulgences: Best Low Carb Cocoa Brownies, with a Twist

This is my submission to the Nourishing Holiday Food Carnival, hosted by Kimi Harris over at the Nourishing Gourmet blog. Check out the other recipes and her fabulous blog!


I’m in a bit of a rush lately with the end of the term approaching quickly (and then Christmas, yay!), so I’ll make this post brief. My dairy-free pumpkin pie didn’t turn out as attractive as I’d hoped, so here’s a considerably easier treat for those of you who don’t like fighting with crumbly crusts and temperamental custards. Cranberry brownies sound a bit unusual, but I promise that you will like this tart twist on the ultimate chocolate indulgence. And if you don’t care for the cranberries, these are darn good regular brownies. They may have just usurped the ooey gooey kind as the best low carb sugar-free brownies. The best part about these almond oat flour brownies is that they are ridiculously easy to prepare!


A few notes about the recipe…

1. The brownies are shaped like muffin tins because I don’t have real pans in my school apartment. Feel free to use an 8 by 8 inch pan. You might have to adjust the baking time a bit, though.

2. The oat flour is not certified gluten-free (I’m not celiac, just intolerant), but you can certainly make your own oat flour with certified gluten-free oats.

3. The type of cocoa you use affects the flavor–use Dutch-processed for that old school Little Debbie Snack cake cocoa flavor. Natural cocoa will give you a more complex chocolate flavor depending on what brand you use.

4. You can use dried UNSWEETENED cranberries (check the Whole Foods in your area if you have one!), fresh, or frozen berries. If using frozen berries, be sure to defrost them and squeeze out all of the excess moisture with paper towels.

5. Toast hazelnuts for 10 minutes or until fragrant (but not brown) in the oven as you are preparing the batter. If you can’t find hazelnuts, walnuts work just as well.


Cranberry Hazelnut Holiday Brownies


One recipe of Simple Cocoa Brownies
1/2 cup frozen cranberries, chopped into halves
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts or walnuts, toasted

If you are using frozen cranberries, thaw chopped halves in 10 second intervals in the microwave until heated through and no longer icy. Squeeze as much moisture out as you can with paper towels. Mix into batter.

Simple Cocoa Brownies

Yields 10-12 brownies

1/2 cup organic unsalted butter (1 stick)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 cup erythritol or 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons xylitol
1/4 teaspoon good-tasting pure stevia extract (NuNaturals)
2 large organic eggs
1/4 cup organic heavy cream
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup almond flour
1/4 cup oat flour (or gluten-free flour blend)
1/4-1/2 cup chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Melt butter and cocoa together and stir until smooth. Whisk in eggs and erythritol. Pour cream in, whisking for a minute or two to dissolve all of the erythritol. Add in remaining ingredients, reserving nuts to stir in last. Pour batter into silicone muffins cups or an 8 by 8 inch pan lined with parchment or greased aluminum foil. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool COMPLETELY before cutting and serving. These brownies are at their BEST after letting them sit overnight. They’re yummy and fudgy straight from the refrigerator.

~3g net carbs per brownie (made with erythritol)


11 Comments on Holiday Indulgences: Best Low Carb Cocoa Brownies, with a Twist

  1. Gwuinifer
    November 17, 2008 at 5:34 pm (14 years ago)

    Looks wonderful, Lauren! I can’t wait to try them! I love holiday cooking, don’t you?

  2. Sophie
    November 18, 2008 at 1:12 am (14 years ago)

    I love the idea of tart cranberries with chocolate, you’re right — it works! So delicious. I still want to see that pie! I’ve been craving a pumpkin pie forever :). Enjoy the rest of your term!

  3. Jenny
    November 18, 2008 at 11:23 pm (14 years ago)

    It looks tremendous! What a good combo for the brownies.

  4. Elizabeth
    November 19, 2008 at 2:32 am (14 years ago)

    I made a plain version of these tonight, no nuts or fruit (I like my brownies unadulterated). They’re really good! And DH loved them, which is great because it has been hell trying to find low carb treats/snacks that he actually likes the taste of. I’ve tried making low carb brownies before, but they always used splenda, and it seems like splenda and chocolate don’t play well together. These are so much better. They’re like…actual brownies! I did change two things about the recipe. I didn’t have oat flour so I used whole wheat flour (I checked the carbs and there’s not terribly much difference, and I figured a tad bit of wheat wouldn’t kill us). And I have a different brand of stevia than you use so I had to just keep adding and tasting til it tasted sweet enough. What is the sweetening power of 1/4 tsp nunaturals anyway? I checked their website but it didn’t say.

    Anyway, all this to say another awesome baking recipe. 🙂 I don’t know how you come up with this stuff!

  5. Amanda
    March 4, 2009 at 4:36 am (14 years ago)

    These are absolutely wonderful. The tartness of the cranberries really does work, as Sophie said. Well done!

  6. Chef Rachel
    May 24, 2009 at 12:48 am (14 years ago)

    These look and sound fantastic. I just discovered your blog and I see so many recipes that sound like fun to try. Keep up the great work and play in the kitchen

  7. Anonymous
    May 7, 2010 at 7:11 am (13 years ago)

    wow! i am gluten sensitive and try to avoid sugars and found this recipe, amazing! i even scaled down the butter to just 2tbsp, replacing the other 6tbsp with 0% greek yogurt, and replaced the heavy cream with unsweetened almond milk. i also mixed in a tiny bit of xanthan gum with the flours, added about 1/4 tsp of blackstrap molasses for flavor depth, and of course used gluten free oats. i didn't add the optional mix-ins and ended up with 8 good size brownies at under 100 calories each! thanks!

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    May 21, 2010 at 8:43 pm (13 years ago)

    These are absolutely wonderful. The tartness of the cranberries really does work, as Sophie said. Well done!

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  11. Dee
    July 26, 2011 at 3:41 am (12 years ago)

    I've just tried this recipe substituting coconut oil & extra virgin olive oil mix in place of butter, coconut milk for heavy cream, and adding slivered almonds. It tastes just like a dense german chocolate cake!