Peanut Butter Protein Brownies

Last week, I made these Peanut Butter Protein Brownies as a collaboration with Sunwarrior. Ladies and gentlemen, I cannot tell you enough good things about this brownie recipe. It's gluten-free -- but you can't tell. These brownies are chewy, moist, and the perfect combination of peanut butter and chocolate. My husband, a self-proclaimed non-dessert eater, could not stay away from them. (His Kryptonite is peanut butter.) If you've had a bad day, I bet these brownies could cheer you up -- they're that good.

To be honest, in the past, I've been approached by a few companies who wanted a plug on my blog, but I just didn't feel comfortable with their brand or product. Today's is different. I was approached by Sunwarrior, a vegan protein/nutrition company, about collaborating with them. When you check out their website, how could you not stand behind them?

Sunwarrior is a small, growing health food company that's committed to making only the best plant-based foods and supplements while elevating humanity and preserving the planet. No fillers here, just whole food ingredients. Their proteins are free of  animal products, dairy, egg, gluten, soy, added sugar, wheat, or yeast. When I was looking for a protein powder a few years ago, it was difficult to find one that didn't have dairy or soy -- there are only a few out there. And now Sunwarrior has jumped to the top of the list.

In preparation for this recipe, I received a care package from Sunwarrior. It contained a few samples of each of their products. (I will let you know how I like a few of these other ones too!) When I opened the chocolate protein powder, it had a powerful (and quite pleasant) chocolate smell. Which is good, because I don't want any weak chocolate flavors in my life. I'm planning to post a recipe for one of my favorite breakfast smoothies tomorrow on Facebook and Instagram, so tune in for that!

For this recipe, I do have a few tips and tricks. First, your peanut butter has to be natural -- you know, the one with the oily separation. Stir it to combine the butter and the oil, of course, but because this recipe is oil-free, you need those good oils to make these brownies work. For all of you paleo/primal people out there, feel free to use almond butter. For me, it was about personal preference. Also, I highly recommend cashew butter as well.

Next, you don't have to use protein powder if you don't want to. A cup of peanut butter alone has about 65 grams of protein in it! And, if you're worried about the brownies tasting gritty and gross because of the protein powder, I can promise you that they don't. Regardless, you can substitute the protein powder with additional cocoa powder.

Peanut Butter Protein Brownies: Vegan + Gluten-free
1 c. natural peanut butter
1 T. flax seed, ground
3 T. water
1/4 c. almond milk, or other non-dairy milk
2 T. unsweetened cocoa powder
2 T. vegan protein powder, like Sunwarrior
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 c. coconut sugar
1/2 c. dairy-free chocolate chips (try making your own!)
2 tsp. vanilla-infused bourbon, optional (learn more about infusing liquors here)

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line an 8x8 pan with parchment paper. ***TIP*** I put a smidge of coconut oil down on the pan to keep the paper from moving around while I'm scooping the batter in.

In a small cup, combine the water and flax. Stir and allow it to thicken for five minutes.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the peanut butter, milk, cocoa, protein powder, coconut sugar, baking soda, and salt. When it's ready, add in the flax mixture, bourbon (if desired), and chocolate chips. The batter should be really thick and somewhat shiny.  

Scoop the batter into the prepared pan and use your spatula to spread it and flatten it. Place it in the oven for 20-25 minutes.

When it's ready to come out, the top will have formed a crust with a slightly softer layer underneath. Use a toothpick to make sure it's not too gooey under there. When in doubt, 25 minutes should be your maximum baking time with an 8x8 pan. 

An important step (but a difficult one): allow the brownies to cool for about 30 minutes. This will allow the brownies to solidify, but they will remain chewy and perfect.

After, you can lift them out using the parchment and devour them. Seriously -- these brownies will not last long. I had a few pieces when they came out of the oven, my husband had a few pieces, and I ran over to my neighbor's house to bring the last few over to them as a gift; I really hope they enjoyed the brownies as much as we did!