Dark Chocolate Whole-Wheat Brownies (and other Valentine’s Day Ideas!)

25 Reviews / 4.2 Average
In the midst of the standard candy this Valentine’s Day, I hope you’ll consider trying out some of these holiday-themed alternatives as well (as I’ve said before…cookie cutters aren’t just for cookies!). And these Dark Chocolate Whole-Wheat Brownies would be a great recipe to try. They have a more "cake-like" texture and dark chocolate flavor that are so delicious.
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Valentine's Day Snacks from 100 Days of Real Food

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Is it just me or has anyone else noticed how so many holidays seem to be centered around junk food? From Halloween candy to Christmas cookies to Valentine’s Day treats to Easter baskets it feels like my daughters collect enough candy from the holidays alone to feed an entire army (and we actually did help feed the army by shipping our Halloween candy to them one year!).

And since holidays, which seem to pop up every other month, are intertwined with birthday parties, school rewards, and other special occasions (King Cake for Mardi Gras anyone?) I often feel like I don’t even get the chance to “treat” my kids to something special because everyone else does it for me. But that’s because we aim to let treats truly be a “treat” at our house, which means not getting one every single day (or even every other day), and it sometimes feels like the rest of the world isn’t quite on board with that idea.

This post is not about that though…it’s actually about how “treats” can be fun and exciting without also being full of sugar or artificial colors (or from a factory)! These Avocado Brownies are another fun healthier treat. Or, make these Gluten-Free Brownies if you are gluten-free.

I know people get caught up in wanting to give kids something special—and some people even think I am “depriving” my children when I don’t want them to have highly processed junk food—but how special is it really if it’s also not good for their health? Sure a piece of candy here or there probably won’t hurt anything and my kids certainly eat junk food like that on occasion, but the point is I can offer something that’s better for them and just as exciting! I think it’s up to us to decide what foods are deemed as “special.”

If I put a little extra thought into how a certain food is presented, and I tell my girls it’s extra special then guess what? They agree and get pretty excited about it. They are young (4 and 7) so I’m not sure how long this will last, but you should have seen how they were clamoring over the pictured heart shaped fruit (on the kabob sticks with ribbons) while I was busy taking a million pictures of them. They were thrilled when I finally said they could gobble them up.

Was it a little more work than ripping open a Pop Tart? Sure, but not much and I personally think the extra effort was worth it to feel good about what I was feeding them. :)

So in the midst of the standard candy this Valentine’s Day, I hope you’ll consider trying out some of these holiday-themed alternatives as well (as I’ve said before…cookie cutters aren’t just for cookies!).

Holiday Themed Alternatives

  • Heart or X & O shaped cheese or fruit (apple, kiwi, & honey-dew melon pictured above) either by itself or with other pieces on kabob sticks.
  • Homemade whole-wheat brownies (pictured & recipe below) that are heart-shaped or have heart shapes on them using unsweetened coconut, homemade whipped cream, unsweetened cocoa powder, or crushed nuts…you could even stick a small heart-shaped strawberry on top. Or, make healthier Paleo Brownies.
  • Heart-shaped homemade whole-grain pop tarts.
  • Whole-grain breads (like banana, zucchini, or pumpkin) baked in heart-shaped muffin tins.
  • Whole-grain muffins baked in either full-sized or mini Valentine’s-themed paper muffin holders (can be found at Michael’s Craft Store or Target).
  • Heart or X & O shaped breakfast pancakes (pictured) either plain or with flavored cream cheese – try mixing in fresh pureed strawberries or an all-fruit raspberry jelly to make it pink – in the middle to make it a sandwich.
  • Fruit or cheese squares stuck with Valentines-themed toothpicks (can be found at Michael’s or Target).
  • Heart shaped PB&J sandwiches for lunch (save the bread scraps in the freezer to make croutons or stuffing another day).
  • A Valentine’s themed lunch with a heart-shaped sandwich, heart-shaped fruit, and even heart-shaped cheese on a salad!
Valentine's Lunch from 100 Days of Real Food

Please share your “real food” Valentine’s Day ideas in the comments below! And now here’s the recipe for those brownies…

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  1. I hate saying this, bu I tried making these the other day and they were awful:( everything else I have tried from here is beyond amazing! But I couldn’t even finish one piece. I ended up throwing the whole pan away. I used the 100% dark Hershey’s powder like the recipe calls for and everything. I am not the biggest fan of dark chocolate but I don’t think that was the problem..these ended up coming out like a cake? Very fluffy and not like brownies. I feel so awful saying that because I love everything else you make. Any ideas what I might have done wrong? I seriously need a chocolate fix and the snickers I pass every week at the gas station are starting to sound better! Lol

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Jessica. Please don’t apologize for sharing your feedback – we actually really do appreciate it. I have to say, these are more cake like than chewy like you may be used to. Some have reported too that they are a little dry – not sure if you had that issue. You may want to try adding one more egg perhaps. You may also want to try the powerballs if it’s chocolate you’re after. Here is the recipe…https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2010/06/05/recipe-powerballs-two-versions/. Jill

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Tina. I’m not sure I’d sub the olive oil, but, you could give it a try if you like. The recipe only calls for one egg. Jill

  2. I whipped up a batch of these today, using organic white spelt flour instead of wheat flour. Yummy!! My two girls (ages 5 & 3) loved them and keep asking for more! It’s going to be hard not to eat them all today!

  3. Hi,This recipe is an eye opener for me,we have posted lot of recipes using all purpose flour and refined sugar,they taste like heaven but they have little nutrition value,this recipe shows me how REAL food(unprocessed food)can be tasty too,and i have tried lot of healthy recipes but many of them wont turn out what they are supposed to be,but this one tasted just like real brownies..i have posted the result of ur recipe in my blog plz check it out leave me ur precious comment :)

  4. hi,your website is really an eye opener,it made me realize how much processed food i am giving to my child,which has little nutrition,after trying this brownie i really felt very good about my self that i am giving REAL food to my son..i have posted result of ur recipe in my blog do check out and leave us ur precious comments :)

  5. I made blondies from this recipe because I didn’t have cocoa powder. I didn’t want to add more wheat flour so I ground some oats in my blender and substituted oat flour for the cocoa powder, equal amounts. Instead of coconut oil (didn’t have any on hand) I did half applesauce and half vegan butter since I don’t eat real butter. I also substituted flax and water for eggs, but you don’t have to do that…

  6. My husband I just made these and they were AMAZING! We love them. I will say they were sweeter tasting once they had cooled down. We did add an extra egg and since we are on a budget and did not have coconut oil, I used natural unsweetened applesauce. They turned out GREAT!

  7. I just made my first batch, exactly as the recipe instructs.

    I definitely get a taste of the chocolate, but they seem very grainy to me. Not moist or… “brownie like” at all.

    Any suggestions to fix this?

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Elizabeth. One reader had the same comment and noted they added 2 eggs and replaced the coconut oil with butter which made them a lot less dry. Good luck. Jill

      1. If you substitute butter for the coconut oil, is it straight half cup for half cup or do you use more or less butter? I plan to make these in the next couple of days.

  8. This recipe look AMAZING! I found another chocolate “treat” recipe… ready? Chocolate Coconut Doughnuts!

    Chocolate Coconut Doughnuts

    10 medjool dates, pitted
    1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    6 eggs
    ½ cup coconut flour
    ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
    ¼ teaspoon salt
    ¼ teaspoon baking soda
    1/3 cup cacao powder
    ½ cup coconut oil, melted
    Dark Chocolate, melted (optional)

    Check out this site for the full scoop!

    http://www.multiplydelicious.com/thefood/2012/02/chocolate-coconut-doughnuts/

  9. I made these a few different times because I really liked them, but i didn’t want them to be so dry. What worked the best for me was using two eggs instead of one, and a splash of milk that was probably somewhere between an eighth and a quarter cup.

  10. I made these today, I doubled the recipe, used maple syrup and added flax seeds for a nutty flavor. I agree they are a bit dry but so good!

  11. I made this this morning and quite honestly, do not like the coconut flavor (I had never used coconut oil before)and neither does my middle son. My husband and youngest son both like them a lot, but say they are too dry. Next time I’m going to do as others suggested and try two eggs and butter instead of the coconut oil.

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Justyna. Thanks for leaving a review. Hope you enjoy them next time. Good luck. Jill

  12. We made these last night and they were okay. We made them with honey. I think we’ll try again but with the maple syrup and maybe add an extra egg. They were a bit on the dry side.

  13. Holy Moly yum! Brownies have always been my most favorite thing but I haven’t had them since I cut refined sugar out of my diet. I even made my favorite recipe on Sunday for a gathering and told myself I was going to have a free day but I couldn’t bring myself to eat them(knowing if I had one I would probably eat ten!) So I was so happy when I came across this recipe this morning. I used butter instead of coconut oil but other than that stuck to the recipe. They were awesome! My kids really liked them also (which is a good and bad thing haha!) They are definitely still a once in a while treat but it is nice to have a better alternative. Thank you.

  14. These brownies are awesome! I used King Arthur Whole Wheat flour, honey, butter and added an extra egg. This gave a perfect texture and flavor (for us anyway). A definite “keeper”. Thanks :)

  15. I was craving sweets so bad last night (it was only my 2nd day on the challenge, but I am addicted to sweets) so I put some 100% unsweetened cocoa in a bowl with 100% mapel syrup, a little bit of melted unsalted butter, vanilla extract and used a mixer then added some walnuts and then spread it out on wax paper then put it in the freezer and it tasted just like dark chocolate fudge! My husband tried it and even wanted more of it! I was proud of myself :)

  16. I am brand new to this very old idea of eating “real food.” Found your website listed in “Skinny Chicks Eat Real Food” and decided to check it out. Love the website so far and look forward to reading more, feel like I have so much to learn. It makes so much sense. Why would I eat something that isn’t really food?! I was agreeing with everything and then I thought of chocolate. OH NO! I’m not a chocoholic or anything, but I do enjoy chocolate and chocolate has sugar right!? Then I found this recipe just now and see you used unsweetened cocoa powder (no sugar) and use honey or maple syrup to sweeten it. Does this mean I can still each chocolate!? Oh boy I’m exicted!! Because I’m so new to this whole concept, can you please tell me are maple syrup and/or honey commonly considered to be “real food”? They are both natural, no additives or processing (right?) I’m guessing they are okay. Thanks again for the blog and for this recipe.

  17. made it with maple syrup, butter and 2 eggs and it is SO good! I made the first batch following the recipe as listed above (with honey) and it was a LITTLE dry and just so-so. We made it work as a dessert by taking plain yogurt, sweetening it with honey mixing in blueberries and topped it with brownie crumbles from the “so-so” batch. Thank you so much for sharing the recipe!

  18. I was also wondering if it is OK to use organic dates as a sweetener. I will admit that I do use honey for a lot of stuff and have been since I cut out sugar and artificial sweeteners. I have seen some recipes where people have used dates instead of sugar.

  19. For a whole food diet is it alright to use things such as cacao powder, carob powder, nutritional yeast, maca, lacuma and just other things you would find in a raw food diet?

    1. 100 Days of Real Food

      The newer version is the one that’s posted here…some have also changed it further by adding a second extra egg.

      1. I want to marry these brownies. I used honey. My uncle has a bee farm and so we are stock piled. :) Also, I used butter instead of oil. And I did go ahead with the extra egg. They are a little cake-y for my husband who is addicted to Betty Crocker triple chocolate chunk… *sigh*. However, I am the one who buys the groceries, so gone are the days of box brownies!

        One thing I will note… they are better cooled. Its like the sweetness settles or something.. Not sure of the science behind it but I have found that to be the case with most of the baked things I have made with honey or maple syrup as sweetener.

        Thank you for your blog. It has blessed me tremendously!

  20. Just made these and they were great! I didn’t find them to be dry but smooth and moist. Our daughter put icecream on hers(homemade whipped topping would work also), because they are not super sweet (however very satisfying to me). Another topping that could be great is a mixture of peanut butter and banana or just plain peanut butter smoothed on top (can be heated to make spreading easier). I’m going to crumble some into my oatmeal cup in the morning to add a new flavor to an old favorite…. The possibIlities are endless :-) Love your site!!!

  21. Ive been trying your recipes for a few weeks now and I absolutely love every one of them! These brownies were AMAZING! Why doesnt everyone make brownies like this?

  22. Ok the flavor of these was amazing! I used the dark chocolate but they were a little on the dry side. I like moist fudgy brownies. Do you think adding an egg would make them a little more dense?

    1. 100 Days of Real Food

      If you want them more moist I think adding an extra egg would be the next thing to try…let me know how it turns out!

  23. I love your site but please do NOT recommend Hershey’s chocolate. Are you aware they are on the Corporate Villian list and they are infamous as one of the most IRRESPONSIBLE Corporations. They are currently involved in a child labor lawsuit. Most of the cocoa producers use child labor and they are one of them. Please look for FAIR TRADE cocoa. You can find out more detailed info @ http://www.betterworldshopper.org

  24. I just made these with maple syrup and wanted to let you know I really like them. I know there were some complaints on Facebook but they pass our tests. Thanks!

  25. I made these for the first time this week and they came out very dry. Only 1 out of my 3 kids will eat it. I personally like the chocolate taste and how it’s not super sweet. Any suggestions on how to make it more moist while still keeping it “real”?

    1. I added 2 eggs and butter rather than the coconut oil, it did come out more moist. With those changes, all 3 kids ate it! Thanks for those suggestions!

  26. I completely agree about the crazy amount of holidays that are centered around candy. I find that especially because I’m a young parent (24) that people are shocked at the food choices I make for my daughter (no fruit cups?! you dont keep candy in your house?! almond milk instead of cows milk?! who is this monster??)

    One thing that my husband and I have done to cut down on candy is by filling her easter eggs with trail mix that has been prepared at home (to avoid the salt used on peanuts/walnuts/almonds etc). She gets just as excited to have dried cranberries and mixed nuts as she does to get a gummy worm. I sometimes add a little dark chocolate to the mix for an extra treat <3

  27. I made these last night. Wow, chocolatey! I think they’re really good and I’m a true chocolate addict. The best part to me is that they are strong so I only needed a teeny tiny little square to curb my chocolate craving. Awesome with some milk. :)

  28. Hi- I am making this recipe, and it’s the first time I’ve used coconut oil. My oil is in solid form right now, and I am wondering if you measure the 1/2c in solid form, and then melt it or it is 1/2c once melted…or does it not matter, and I am over thinking this!? :)

    1. 100 Days of Real Food

      Not sure if I am too late…but either way will work! I measured mine solid (as closely as I could) then poured it out to melt.

  29. wanting to make the friut pops-are the kiwi hard to cut- being so soft- Any tips on how to transport them-cooler etc. do not want to mess them up and do not have a lot of time to mess with them. Think it is a great idea.

    1. 100 Days of Real Food

      I may be too late answering this (sorry…lots of emails to get thru!), but the kiwi didn’t give me trouble at all. Just be sure to cut it thick enough. Also, I think putting them in a tupperware then cooler would work…of you could put them on the sticks once you get there.

  30. Hey there. Loved this post! Question though, how did you make the heart shaped fruit kabobs? Perhaps it’s a silly question, but I want to make them for a valentines party on Monday! And do I squeeze lime juice on them to keep from turning brown? I always forget how to do that. Thanks !

    1. 100 Days of Real Food

      I may be too late here (sorry…get lots of emails these days), but I just used a cookie cutter and yes lemon would help apples and such from turning brown.

    1. IMO coconut oil is a great saturated fat and adds a bit of a nice flavor to certain things (sesame encrusted salmon, for example). Some people can taste EVOO in things and don’t always care for it, plus it’s always nice to have multiple fats to use when you cook. In baked goods, sometimes it’t nice to split the butter/coconut oil 1:1 too.

  31. My son is allergic to all nuts/peanuts and coconut. Is there another oil you would suggest using in the brownie recipe? Thank you.