Nutty brownies with mocha ganache

Nutty brownies with mocha ganache

This post was created in partnership with OXO.

The morning of Thanksgiving I stumbled upon an article on domino titled Eat This Before You Eat Your Thanksgiving Feast. Did you read it? Did the advice the article was dishing out make you as angry as it made me? Listen, I’m all about eating mindfully and making better food choices but a woman (and registered dietician) featured in the article suggested we eat before the big meal so we’re not as tempted to make poor food choices, wear form-fitting clothing so that we’re physically unable to comfortably overeat (she claims “nothing feels worse than when you eat so much you have to unbutton a button or loosen your belt” but she obviously has no idea what she’s talking about because unbuttoning your pants after a big holiday meal is one of the greatest feelings EVER), and carry a clutch so we have one less hand available for reaching, grabbing, etc. Not surprisingly, I read that article with my mouth wide open thinking how sad it is that someone gave this woman a platform to spew her nonsense.

I’m pretty sure I’m preaching to the choir here but it goes without saying: the holidays are for indulging. For coming together and enjoying good food with people you love. For eating an extra brownie or slice of pie. For getting so full that you have to change out of your high-waisted skirt and into something less restrictive just to make some room for that extra brownie or slice of pie (been there). If you gain a little weight, so what? I can think of far worse things than gaining a few pounds because you lived the holiday season to its fullest. As someone who’s gained 20+ pounds in the past 18 months, I can tell you with absolute certainty that it feels a lot better to lead the life of a person who eats whatever the hell they want (in moderation, of course) than to lead the life of a person who restricts and holds back (like I did for 15+ years).

So now that I got that outta my system let’s talk about these brownies. They are freakin’ delicious and going into the development for them my goal was to make a better version of those Little Debbie fudge brownies (you know, the one’s with the nuts scattered on top) I ate throughout the years of my youth. My plan was to add more nuts because DUH and then to also add some strong coffee to the ganache because coffee + chocolate = pretty much the best thing ever. So I made the brownies and – I kid you not – when Thom took his first bite he yelled upstairs, “Hey! Do you remember those brownies with the shitty little nuts on top? These are like a way better version of those!” And I lost it because THOM THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT I WAS GOING FOR HOW DID YOU KNOW?

If you loved those Little Debbie fudge brownies, you’re going to love these. And even if you didn’t, you’re probably going to love these because they’re rich (so rich that I had to cut the brownies considerably smaller than normal) and flavorful and perfectly fudgy.

Now, how about an unofficial gift guide? Since it’s that time of year, I figured I’d round up some of my favorite OXO gadgets and kitchen tools – ones I actually use in my kitchen (even long before they became a sponsor of OLC). We’re not doing the personal gift thing this year (I finally convinced Thom to spend XMAS handing out gift cards and cookies to the houseless) (!!!) but I totally get that a lot of people prefer to celebrate the holidays by giving things to the folks they love. And that’s totally cool. <3

This 11 pound food scale, these POP containers, and these POP container scoops (that I keep in my POP containers). If you’ve got a baker in your life, you should probably get them all of those things and maybe even fill the containers with their favorite flours and sugars and stuff. Because simple + necessary gifts are always the best gifts.

It is no exaggeration when I say getting the adjustable temperature pour-over kettle was a game changer for me. It used to take right around 10 minutes to boil water in my stovetop kettle and now it takes less than two. I also love the pour-over dripper, conical burr grinder, and the coffee POP container (but if you get the container you’ve gotta fill it with some good beans, man).

This prep cutting board (we keep two in our kitchen), this 2-cup angled measuring cup (which I saw on Action’s show and was like I NEED THAT), this stainless steel soap dispenser (we keep our dish washing liquid in it), and this covered silicone ice cube tray (used here).

PS – I’m giving away a few pour-over drippers over on the ‘gram!
PPS – If you live in Denver and also want to hand out things to the houseless on XMAS, hit me up.

BEANSOXO <3Strong brewin'CHOCOLOVENutty brownies with mocha ganacheNutty brownies with mocha ganacheNutty brownies with mocha ganache

Notes: To make your own cake flour, replace two tablespoons of unbleached flour with two tablespoons of potato starch, corn starch, arrowroot powder, etc. for every cup of flour. To make these gluten free, simply substitute any 1:1 gluten free baking flour mix. I’ve noticed that the chocolate used has a pretty big impact on the quality of the brownies so if you can get your hands on Chocolove’s 70% strong dark chocolate bar, do it. If you want to make the brownies in a 9″ pan, knock yourself out. Just keep an eye on them as you’ll only have to bake them for 26-32 minutes (depending on how you take your brownies). If you’re down with consuming caffeine any time of day, go ahead and replace the decaf with the caffeinated stuff (but I swear you can’t tell this recipe uses decaf).

This post is sponsored by OXO, maker of some of the smartest gadgets and kitchen tools available on the market. All opinions are my own (and I think OXO rules).


Nutty brownies
1 cup (130g) unbleached cake flour
1/2 cup (40g) cacao powder
1/4 teaspoon (1g) baking soda
1 teaspoon (5g) fine sea salt
1 bar (90g) good quality dark chocolate, roughly chopped (see notes above)
1/4 cup (52g) refined coconut oil
1 cup (205g) light brown sugar
2 teaspoons (8g) pure vanilla extract

1/4 cup (55g) unsweetened almondmilk
1 (40g) flax egg
1/2 cup (60g) mixed nuts, roughly chopped

Mocha ganache
1 bar (90g) good quality dark chocolate, finely chopped
2 tablespoons (28g) unsweetened almondmilk
1/4 cup (50g) extra strong brewed decaf coffee
Pinch of fine sea salt

You’ll also need
Mixed nuts, roughly chopped
Sea salt flakes

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line an 8″ square baking pan with parchment paper and grease the bottom (not the sides otherwise the batter will creep up ’em); set aside. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, cacao powder, baking soda, and salt; whisk to combine then set aside. In a double-boiler set over medium heat, melt the chocolate and coconut oil. Once melted, stir in the sugar then cook for an additional minute. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract and almondmilk. Create a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the chocolate mixture and flax egg; stir with a spatula just until combined then fold in the mixed nuts. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and level with the back of a spoon. Bake at 350˚F for 30-38 minutes (30-32 minutes for evenly underbaked brownies; 33-35 minutes for baked edges and a slightly underbaked center; 36-38 minutes for brownies that are evenly baked through). Allow brownies to cool in the pan for 15 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

While the brownies are cooling, prepare the ganache. Add the chocolate to a small bowl; set aside. Prepare your strong coffee by using the pour-over method from this post (if you don’t want to go the pour-over dripper route, you could use a French press, instead). When brewing strong coffee for use in recipes, I like to use 24 grams of coffee for every half cup of water (you only need 1/4 cup of coffee for this recipe but some of it will be absorbed by the ground coffee). Add the coffee and almondmilk to a small saucepan set over medium heat; bring to a boil. Once boiling, pour over chocolate and set aside for 5-10 minutes. Once it looks like the chocolate is melted, add the pinch of salt and give it a good whisk.

To finish the brownies, pour the ganache over top and level with the back of a spoon. Add nuts followed by the sea salt flakes, then transfer the brownies to the refrigerator until the ganache is set. I find it’s a lot easier to get a clean slice when the brownies are chilled through (~4 hours in the fridge), but feel free to slice them at room temperature if you couldn’t care less about the appearance. Brownies will keep for 4-5 days if stored in an airtight container at room temperature (or for 8-10 if stored in the refrigerator).

Yield: 16 2″ brownies


My favorite pour-over


  • Reply Tiana 30 November 2017 at 3:28 PM

    I really really appreciate you sharing your thoughts on holiday indulgence. I care about nourishing my body with wholesome food, but I also think it is soooo important to step back from worrying about being as healthy as possible in order to enjoy some of life’s great pleasures, like pie. I only eat a Thanksgiving meal once a year so hell yeah I’m going to have three servings of stuffing! If I have a stomach ache later, so be it. I do find that in the healthy-food blogging sphere, the emphasis on being mindful of what we eat (which I absolutely believe is an important practice, in general) sometimes crosses the line of encouraging guilt when we stray from healthy choices. Making some “unhealthy” choices is, in my view, part of living a healthy, fulfilling life!

    And, while I think most whole-food food bloggers make an admirable effort to avoid discussing ‘health’ in terms of body size, I nevertheless feel that the space has not truly escaped the ideal of thinness. I find myself sometimes wondering how much of the rejection of ingredients like grains and sugar is *really* about treating our bodies well and how much of it is actually catering to people’s fear of gaining weight/desire to lose it? As someone who has battled with the desire to be thinner (as I believe most women have, at some point), the reminders that I need to hear during the holidays are *not* to be careful and restrictive of what I eat, but that it’s okay to indulge without regret or guilt, that gaining a few pounds as a result of enjoying seasonal treats is not the end of the world, that allowing the desire to be thin or ‘healthy’ to make the holidays stressful or unenjoyable is silly. So anyway, that’s a long winded way of saying thank you for your thoughts, I agree wholeheartedly.

  • Reply Vidya 30 November 2017 at 3:38 PM

    Yummmmm definitely making asap – just a question, I notice this has a flax egg when your basic coconut oil brownie recipe doesn’t. Is there any reason for that? Does the flax make any difference?

    • Reply Ashlae 17 December 2017 at 6:42 AM

      Hi Vidya –

      Nope! I just use flax when I feel like it. ;) The final result is different, but that’s because the recipe itself is different.

  • Reply Alyssa Cho 30 November 2017 at 3:51 PM

    Thank you for this, Ashlae! It makes me SQUIRM when I see dietitians doing this — and I’m speaking as a dietitian. It beyond bothers me that this is coming from someone in my field, and I hope people know that not all dietitians think this way! So thanks for the mini rant and calling out the nonsense :)

  • Reply Ashley 30 November 2017 at 3:54 PM

    Dear God, that article! Anyone who suggests eating low-fat cheese automatically has zero credibility. And I am all about making a sophisticated version of those epic Little Debbie brownies. And extra ganache to pour over everything!

  • Reply Alyssa Cho 30 November 2017 at 4:00 PM

    Ha, agreed. And these brownies sound SUPER lovely, of course!

  • Reply Lyndsay // Coco Cake Land 30 November 2017 at 4:50 PM

    “Shitty little nuts” just made me laugh out loud… oh Ashlae, you know it – ugh those damn high waisted skirts get SO. DAMN. TIGHT!!! Choose joy, choose to live, choose non-shitty little fat-jammed nut brownies!! These look amazing and that silver shiny OXO scale is calling my name!! Xo

  • Reply Rebecca 30 November 2017 at 5:33 PM

    That article is enraging. Unfortunately, there are people who will believe it and feel bad about themselves for eating a whole slice of pie on Thanksgiving. I remember reading an article in some teen magazine when I was a teenager that advised its readers to limit themselves to two tablespoon of hummus at parties because the “healthy calories can really add up.” So awful.

  • Reply Abby @ Heart of a Baker 1 December 2017 at 7:40 AM

    Oh loooooord with that article (insert major eyeroll). I can’t even with those kind of articles. BUT damn these brownies look goooood! I take it as a high compliment when I get the ‘these are just like xyz’. xoxo

  • Reply dixya @food, pleasure, and health 1 December 2017 at 8:30 AM

    being a dietitian myself, this article (or anything that is diet-nonsense related) pisses me off too..its a freaking holiday and why would you want to torture yourself with a tight clothes and a clutch for gods sake.

    this is happening once i leave work today!!!

  • Reply Alexa 1 December 2017 at 8:59 AM

    Oh ladycakes you never disappoint. I’ve made each of your brownie recipes and these are the best yet.

  • Reply Rossi @ A Baking Girl 1 December 2017 at 9:27 AM

    a million times yes to your words on holiday indulgences. it makes me so freaking sad to hear all of this discourse guilting people for eating good food with the people they love. and the three bite rule during thanksgiving that the article suggests?! pretty sure it’s physically impossible to only eat three bites of my aunt’s stupendous food

  • Reply Amanda Maguire 1 December 2017 at 10:36 AM

    Your post is taking me waaay back to the days when my mom bought Little Debbie snacks, except she always got those AWFUL zebra cakes because that’s what my brother liked. As soon as a get some downtime, I’m making your brownies…maybe with full caff coffee in the ganache because I like to live on the wild side. ;)

    • Reply Ashlae 17 December 2017 at 6:43 AM

      HAAA! I hated zebra cakes as a kid but would kill to eat one now.

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  • Reply DessertForTwo 1 December 2017 at 3:31 PM

    These brownies look SO good! I’m so with you on the holiday season <3

  • Reply Chelsea @ Chelsea's Healthy Kitchen 2 December 2017 at 6:15 AM

    It’s advice like that that gives us RDs a bad reputation. Glad to see that there are already a few of us fellow RDs commenting here disagreeing with her.

    Her “three bite rule” had my eyes rolling into the back of my head. It’s so sad she’s making people think they don’t deserve to enjoy an entire slice of pie/portion of stuffing/etc.

  • Reply Abby | Lace & Lilacs 3 December 2017 at 7:15 AM

    That chocolate. These brownies. OMG. Indulge allll the waaay.

  • Reply Megan 3 December 2017 at 1:17 PM

    AMEN! I would love to hear more about your journey of healthy weight gain. I’ve been trying to gain some weight myself, and it’s hard to do without feeling so darn full!

    • Reply Ashlae 17 December 2017 at 6:44 AM

      Hi Megan –

      I’ll be sharing it sometime next year! <3 Hot tip: heavy weight lifting did the trick for me.

  • Reply Margaret 3 December 2017 at 1:35 PM

    Really appreciate your comments about holiday indulgence. Honestly, as someone who spent many years eating restrictively, I’ve tried to stop qualifying my eating choices at all. Which is to say, even adding the little “in moderation” caveat when I would say “I eat what I want” began to feel like conceding something to diet culture. I eat what I want, period.

    • Reply Ashlae 17 December 2017 at 6:45 AM

      Hi Margaret –

      Yeah, I normally eat what I want. Except when what I want is an entire (eight serving) bag of potato chips and it’s like yeah.. no. All about that moderation, man.

  • Reply Freya 5 December 2017 at 12:54 PM

    You’re absolutely right – the holidays should be a time when you can loosen the reigns and relax the diet a little! If you can’t indulge in delicious food over the holidays then when can you? And these brownies look like such a good way to do just that :)

  • Reply Hillary 8 December 2017 at 3:08 PM

    Amen. As someone who is finally doing the hard work to fully recover from a 16 year battle with anorexia and exercise addiction, thank you. There are so many supposedly healthy living blogs that promote food shaming and restriction. It’s gotten to the point where I am actively disengaging from spaces that advocate this nonsense. I, too, have put on weight and most of it is not muscle! I’ve stopped exercising and am eating more. It’s difficult, especially around the holidays (yay, unnecessary comments from the in-laws), but sometimes being healthy is counterintuitive to what society says. I encourage you to share your story when you are ready. I am a professional baker and it’s so comforting to hear about others in the food industry who are combatting the awful ideals and expectations from the diet mentality.

    • Reply Ashlae 17 December 2017 at 6:46 AM

      FUCK YEAH, HILLARY! <3 So damn proud of you. I'll be sharing my story in the not-too-distant future. HUGS!

  • Reply Aiden 9 December 2017 at 12:47 PM

    Ashlae these look d e l i c i o u s omg.

    I am hesitant to ask, but any chance that these might be freezer friendly? Or would the defrost wreak havoc on the texture?

    <3 thank you for another mouthwatering post

    • Reply Ashlae 17 December 2017 at 6:47 AM

      Hi Aiden –

      I’m not sure, but it wouldn’t hurt to try!

  • Reply Annaliese 10 December 2017 at 4:02 PM

    Amen to living it up over the holidays and boo hiss to that article; I also read it, mouth open, half thinking it was a joke. Sadly, not. But happily, the brownies look amazing and I too (I thought I was ALONE!) loved the shit out of those little-debbie brownie…things…and always ALWAYS wanted more nuts. Making these VERY SOON. THANK YOU!!!! :)

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  • Reply Chelsea | Baked Greens 19 December 2017 at 6:30 PM

    I finally decided on my contributions to this year’s stockings: I am making a pan of these, cutting them into 4 giant brownie slabs, wrapping, and stuffing them into our stockings (a piece each for me + my 3 sisters). Thanks for another killer recipe!

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