The question every nut milk aficionado finds themselves asking is “what to do with all the pulp?” When we got our nifty new blender (and subsequently became hooked on these kale and nut milk smoothies) a few months ago, I found myself in the same quandary. Tossing cups and cups of pulp from organic almonds into the compost every week feels a little like throwing wads of cash in the toilet. I managed to get the pulp down to more reasonable amounts by using a combination of cashews and almonds in the milk; since cashews are mostly fat, they have less fiber to leave behind. But still, the nut pulp increased.
During a previous nut milk phase, I had tried making a layer cake comprised of nut pulp mixed with coconut oil, pureed dates, and flavorings. The recipe I tried made about ten gallons of cake, which had an overly-damp texture that I did not find endearing. We reluctantly ate it until we never wanted to think about nut milk or raw cakes again.
So I dried out the nut pulp, whizzed it in a coffee grinder, and baked it into cookies loaded with chocolate chips and spelt flour. But the drying/grinding process was tedious, and the recipe didn’t use enough to really put a dent in the growing mountain of pulp.
I needed a solution, and decided that brownies might be a good way to go, since they’re mostly held together with eggs, sugar, and chocolate or cocoa powder. But most of the nut pulp recipes I found were both raw and vegan, and I wasn’t about to repeat the dreadful cake experience.
Luckily, a couple of recipes set me on the right path: these Grain-Free Fudgy Brownies from The Detoxinista, and this Amazing Chocolate Cake from The Veggie Voyager. I took a stab at a recipe using ingredients I had on hand – unrefined sugar, eggs, cocoa powder, nut pulp, coconut oil, and salt. They were some of the best brownies I’ve ever tasted – deeply chocolatey with a top note of coconut, and a melt-in-your-mouth texture reminiscent of flourless chocolate cake. (In fact, bake this in a round cake pan and serve wedges with whipped cream, and you’ll have yourself one fancy-pants dessert.)
I like to whip the eggs and sugar together until light and fluffy, which gives the batter some lift; but I’ve also successfully made these by simply whisking all the ingredients together. The nut pulp goes in damp – no drying or grinding necessary. It will keep refrigerated for up to a week, or you can freeze it for a month or two. Despite my best efforts, the tops refuse to form a pretty
crust on top, but a flutter of cacao nibs disguises this fact, and also adds
a habit-forming crunch.
Despite tasting super rich and decadent, these guys are relatively healthy, being free of grains, gluten, dairy, and refined sugar. Best of all, they use up almost a whole cup of almond pulp.
Of course, the best accompaniment to warm, chocolatey brownies is a tall glass of cool, fresh almond milk, so you may find yourself in a bit of a vicious cycle.
The best thing about these brownies, aside from being free of grains, gluten, dairy, and refined sugar, is that they use up the leftover pulp from making Cashew Almond Milk or Vanilla Maple Almond Milk, or any other nut pulp you may have on hand. The pulp should have been firmly squeezed dry but still be slightly damp, similar in texture to clay.
If you lack a stand mixer or are in a hurry, you can simply whisk together all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Do take the time to warm the almond pulp and bring the eggs to room temperature (you can place them in a bowl of hot tap water for 5 minutes) as this will prevent the batter from seizing once you add the coconut oil. I baked these in a 9-inch square pan; an 8-inch pan will yield thicker brownies. Alternately, bake the batter in a round cake pan and serve wedges on plates topped with whipped cream.
All ounce measurements are by weight.
Makes 16 (2-inch square) brownies
For the brownies:
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups (7 ounces / 200 grams) unrefined sugar (such as Alter Eco’s Muscobado sugar, or coconut palm sugar)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup (4 ounces / 110 grams) extra-virgin coconut oil
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed (6 ounces / 170 grams) moist almond or other nut pulp
1 cup (3.25 ounces / 90 grams) cocoa powder (preferably dutch-processed, though natural or raw will work, too)
2-3 tablespoons cacao nibs
Make the brownies:
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350ºF (175ºC). Line the bottom and sides of an 8 or 9″ square baking pan with parchment paper.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip the eggs, sugar, and salt on medium-high speed until very light and fluffy, 5 minutes. Stir in the vanilla extract.
Meanwhile, gently melt the coconut oil in a small saucepan set over a medium-low flame. Add the nut pulp and stir to combine. Continue to heat, stirring frequently, until the nut pulp mixture is warm to the touch, about 5 minutes. (This prevents the batter from seizing up when all the ingredients are added.)
Turn the mixer to low, and add the nut pulp mixture, stirring just to combine. Sift the cocoa powder over the egg mixture and mix on low until just combined; the batter will deflate a lot.
Spread the batter in the lined pan, sprinkle with the cacao nibs, and bake until the brownies are matte on top, slightly puffed, and a tester inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs clinging, 15-20 minutes. Don’t overbake.
Let cool completely, then lift the brownie out of the pan and cut into 16 squares. The brownies keep well, airtight at room temperature, for up to three days.