October 21 2017

Primal/Paleo Brownies

By Worker Bee

Brownies 1Serious chocolate lovers, this one’s for your. Dark chocolate + cacao powder deliver an intense dark chocolate flavor that puts these brownies over the top. Sweetened with dates and made with just a half cup of almond flour, these aren’t chewy, overly sweet brownies. Rather, they have pure bittersweet chocolate flavor and smooth truffle-like richness, thanks to butter and eggs.

Choosing chocolate that has at least 70% cacao (but ideally, closer to the 85% range) for this recipe means you’ll enjoy brownies that are rich with antioxidants. Combining the melted dark chocolate with cacao powder boosts the antioxidant level even higher. So, relish every bite of these divine morsels. Primal brownies are so chocolately and so rich, even the most fanatical chocolate lover will be satisfied by a small square.

Servings: 16 brownies

Time in the Kitchen: 25 minutes, plus 20 minutes to bake



  • ½ cup unsalted butter (120 g)
  • 6 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped (170 g)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (5 ml)
  • 10 pitted dates (86 g)
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup finely ground almond flour (45 g)
  • 2 tablespoons cacao powder (12 g)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt, plus sea salt to sprinkle on top (1.2 ml)



Preheat oven to 350º F/177º C.

Line the bottom of an 8×8 square baking pan with parchment paper.

Grease the parchment paper with butter.

In a small saucepan over very low heat, begin to melt the butter. When the butter is halfway melted, add the chocolate, stirring until melted and smooth. Turn off the heat right when the chocolate is melted, so it doesn’t burn. Stir in vanilla. Set aside to cool.

Cover dates with hot water and let soak 3 to 5 minutes. Drain water from dates. Blend the dates a food processor to chop up into small pieces. Stop and scrape down the sides once or twice.

In a small bowl, whisk together almond flour, cacao powder and salt so there are no lumps. Add to the food processor and blend with the dates for about one minute. During this time, a smooth paste will form, and then the paste will into a ball of smooth dough.

Use a spatula to push the ball of dough down flat, and spread it evenly around the bottom of the food processor bowl.

Add butter and chocolate mixture. Blend until very smooth.

Add eggs, pulsing to combine.

Use a spatula to scrape the batter into the prepared 8×8 pan. Sprinkle a little bit of sea salt on top.

Bake 20 minutes.

Cool completely before removing from pan.

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26 thoughts on “Primal/Paleo Brownies”

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  1. I don’t like dark chocolate well enough to make these, but I can see all the chocoholics out there going nuts over them. Speaking of which, I don’t see why you couldn’t add some chopped walnuts or macadamias if desired.

  2. Ymm…….these are on my list for this afternoon…..cold and windy here…..the scent and taste should perk me up nicely…..thanks, Mark!

  3. I want to try this recipe today. It sounds great. But I don’t have almond butter. Have you tried using peanut butter instead?

    1. I didn’t see almond butter on the list of ingredients, just almond flour. You can sub any other nut flour – I hear cashew flour is great.

  4. Anyone know how to sub the dates out? I’m thinking raw honey instead of dates

  5. Why the UNSALTED butter, when so much salt is added in the end anyway?

    1. I assume 1/4 teaspoon is a lot less salt than what would be in 1/2 a cup of salted butter. Besides, a person who cooks should have no reason to buy salted butter to begin with. I still can’t understand why salted butter is on the market.

      1. Because it is delicious! And actually, it enhances many sweet things, and particularly chocolate. The reason they use unsalted butter in recipes, however, is so that you can be more precise in the amount of salt. Baking is chemistry…

  6. Is this unsweetened chocolate? The recipe doesn’t specify, does say the brownies are sweetened by dates. Can you please clarify?

    1. No, the recipe says dark chocolate (which, as I understand it, is anything above 35%). In the article he recommends at least 70%, and ideally around 85%. Unsweetened chocolate, while technically a form of dark chocolate if I’m not mistaken, would be pretty intense, though, if you want to try it, as it’s 99% – but this is not generally what is meant when a recipe calls for dark chocolate.

  7. Dates are extremely high in carbs/sugars. Won’t this raise the blood sugar like crazy?

    1. Dates ARE high in sugar. But they are also high in fiber, and have a nice set of nutrients, too. The fiber slows down their absorption into your blood, as does the fat in the recipe, and the nuts, etc., so it does not produce the sort of blood sugar spike that you would get with conventional sugar.

  8. As we learn here at MDA, cook eggs at high temperature and/or for a long time is harmful for the fats from the yolk. So, what about recipes that contains eggs like this one or some paleo/primal bread???

    1. One, you don’t have to cook the brownies all the way (which you probably shouldn’t, anyway, otherwise you’ll get the texture of cake), and two, paleo/primal desserts, sweets and breads are always meant to be a treat, only eaten once in a while!

  9. OK, guys, I just made and tried these, with the variation that I creamed the butter and dates first, added the melted chocolate to that fluffy base, then added the eggs and vanilla, and the flour etc. last. I was hoping for a slightly fluffier product than the picture shows… They came out delicious, but with a texture that leaves a lot to be desired. They are powdery and crumbly in your mouth, unlike real brownies. I think that when I am ready to have brownies for a treat, I will just make the real thing, and go totally off the ranch! I get that sort of craving very rarely – maybe once a year – so why not.