No Bake Cherry Chocolate Brownie Bites
*This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of our links, we receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting Our Sweetly Spiced Life!
Well, after another holiday season of far too much sugar and nonexistent workout habits (alas, I had such lofty goals!), I’m ready to start this new year off with simpler, healthier eating in mind. To that end, I know that my sweet tooth tends to get cranky if ignored too long, and I find that my willpower alone puts up a rather pathetic fight. Instead, I know I absolutely must keep healthier (but still rich and swoon-worthy) treats on hand to satisfy those dessert cravings, which—let’s be honest—happen year-round, not just at the holidays.
Sure, there’s an argument to be made for “everything in moderation,” and while I realistically know that a few sweet or salty treats here and there won’t cause much harm, I know myself… I’m currently less of an “everything in moderation” and more of an “everything in extremes” kind of woman. (Yeah, I know… I’m working on the whole balance thing-it’s on the resolution list too, but the goal is progress, not perfection… right?)
Still, as I work towards a healthier overall lifestyle, I need some go-to recipes for amazing, often chocolatey, magic that won’t leave me in a sugar-coma. Over the past few years, I’ve tried to slow down and pay attention to my food (instead of shoveling it thoughtlessly down my gullet during a 15 minute break between lessons or mindlessly munching in front of the television) and to how that food makes me feel, which has proved rather eye-opening for me.
When I started paying attention to my food choices and how my body felt as a result, I noticed that foods laden with lots of refined sugar, dairy, and processed-wheat left me feeling jittery, bloated, and kind of ill, followed by tired and overall, well, icky. Most of us know we should work to cut down or eliminate our consumption of processed foods and refined sugars in order to improve our health, but that theoretical knowledge didn’t motivate me the way registering the differences in my body’s reaction to processed/sugary vs. real foods did.
Now I strive to limit the amount of processed foods and traditional sugary confections I consume, and I work towards fueling my body mostly with real, whole foods without sacrificing my overwhelming adoration of all things sweet and scrumptious. While I’ll certainly still enjoy the occasional traditional sugary confection (pretty much everything my grandmother makes is well worth the indulgence), I want to slow down, savor them, and not eat until I’m miserable, the way I’ve devoured such delights in years past.
With the occasional special exceptions, I really do wish to move towards a diet in which most of my chocolate and sugar cravings find satisfaction in healthier sweets, allowing me to enjoy them more regularly without feeling terrible afterward. The search for such desserts actually came about for me as a result of many conversations with my lifelong bestie, whose incredible font of nutrition and foodie knowledge never ceases to amaze. In fact, she introduced me to My New Roots, one of the most influential blogs for me in my quest for healthier living, created and run by the brilliantly talented health food blogger and holistic nutritionist Sarah B.
Sarah B.’s Raw Brownie, the first raw dessert I ever ate, has become my standard healthy dessert and is the clear inspiration for these No Bake Chocolate Cherry Brownie Bites (I pretty much traded almonds for lots of Dried Cherries, added some cinnamon to make the cherry flavor pop, and decided to ball them up instead of making bars). For those unfamiliar with such recipes, the idea of a nut and date-base may seem unusual, but trust me, these brownie bites will blow your mind.
These rich, uber chocolatey delights burst with cherry flavor and will most assuredly sate your sweet cravings without leaving you an antsy, exhausted mess an hour later! While most standard confections provide little if any nutritional value, you can rest easy knowing these treats contain whole foods and minimal to no added oils or sugars (depending on your dried cherries; go for ones without any added sugar/oil if you can find them). Instead of empty calories, these brownie bites provide a serious dose of nutrition, including omega 3s, antioxidants, magnesium, calcium, zinc, iron, copper, sulfur, potassium, vitamins C and A, and the list goes on!
In contrast, for me at least, to most cookies, cakes, and bars, these brownie bites are dense and filling. I find I need only one or two to satisfy my sweet tooth, and I feel energized (not jittery or on a sugar high inevitably doomed to crashing) after eating them. For me, they’re a fantastic energy bite as an mid-morning or afternoon snack, or a great treat with an evening cup of tea, and I hope you enjoy them as well!
When making these brownie bites, I do recommend a Food Processor as opposed to a high speed blender, like a Vitamix or Blendtec, as the dough scrapes out much more easily and may not turn the walnuts to butter so quickly! On that note, watch closely when processing the walnuts, as you can turn them from walnut flour to walnut butter with over-processing. Also, make sure to add dry ingredients before you begin adding Dates—one at a time!—to ensure even mixing of the cacao, and if you need another recipe to use up or experiment with that excellent Cacao Powder, check out our Mayan Mocha Smoothie, a healthy breakfast (or snack, or dessert!) with a boost of caffeine to get you through your day!
Lastly, as these No Bake Cherry Chocolate Brownie Bites have so few ingredients, I recommend seeking out high quality nuts and fruits, organic if possible/desired, and if you wish to keep them raw, make sure to purchase raw walnuts then soak and dehydrate them prior to making the brownie bites. Otherwise, toasting the Walnuts in the oven first (350 degrees for about 8-12 minutes, checking and tossing occasionally to keep from burning) lends a warmth and toasted quality to the bites without making them taste overtly nutty. As for your cherries, if you can find ones with no/minimal added sugars or oils (or if you dehydrate your own, which would likely be necessary for truly raw brownie bites), go for those! If not, no worries—grab what you can find—the brownie bites will still turn out delicious and healthier than a typical baked brownie!
Be ready when the craving strikes!
- 1 C walnuts (toasted or raw)
- 14-16 medjool dates, pitted (softer is better!)
- 1 C dried cherries, chopped/cut in half
- 1/2 C cacao powder
- 1 Tbsp. cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp. sea salt
- *extra cinnamon and cacao for dusting
- Toast walnuts, if desired, in oven at 350 degrees for 11-13 minutes, until fragrant.
- Pulse walnuts in food processor until they become a fine flour.
- Add cacao, cinnamon, and salt; pulse to combine.
- With the processor running, add dates one at a time. If the dough seems dry, continue processing or add another couple dates.
- However, DO NOT over process, as the walnuts will release their oils and turn into a nut butter, leaving you with greasy brownie bites!
- Remove brownie dough from food processor, and add cherries by hand (we basically kneaded them into the dough-we recommend gloves for this and for balling!).
- Ball into bite size brownie balls. Makes about 25 1" brownie bites.
- Dust with extra cinnamon and cacao
- Store in the fridge until ready to serve!
Do you have a favorite healthy dessert or a favorite traditional dessert you’d like to make healthier? Let us know in the comments! If you’re not already signed up, submit your email over on the right to subscribe to Our Sweetly Spiced Life and receive recipes and household DIYs in your inbox!