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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232 thoughts on “Dark Chocolate Whole-Wheat Brownies (and other Valentine’s Day Ideas!)”

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Recipe Rating

  1. 5 stars
    I can’t believe how great your recipes are!! You have no idea how happy I am to have found your blog! These brownies were PERFECT!!! I went with 2 eggs and didn’t have the “dark” hersheys jut the unsweetened regular kind and they were so gooood!! Next time I’ll try adding nuts! Thanks for all you do!! Can’t wait to get your cookbook in the mail!!

  2. 4 stars
    These were great! I have a huge sweet tooth and LOVE chocolate so these did not disappoint. I only used one egg because I like my brownies more dense than cake like and I used maple syrup. But I must say, I recommend 2 bites to try these. The first bite always makes me think,”Do I like these?” but the more the taste is in my mouth I think,”That’s pretty good.” And the 2nd bite is a winner( and every bite after that!). All my family said the same thing. Strange but true.

  3. I want to make these for Valentines Day for my children. I read the ingredients, but I am a little uncertain about the “1 to 2 eggs”, just to clarify, does it matter if you just use one? Thanks Lisa!

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Gretchen. I’ve only made this recipe with two eggs and find it to be the right consistency. ~Amy

  4. I’ve been trying to make a brownie my kids will eat. Most call for at least 1 cup of sugar. What do you think about Coconut Palm Sugar instead of Maple Syrup?

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Franki. Lisa pretty much sticks with honey or maple syrup in her baking in keeping with “the rules”: https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/real-food-defined-a-k-a-the-rules/. For this recipe, you would need to convert it from a fluid sweetener to one that is not. I, personally, am a fan of coconut palm sugar (outside of the pledge, of course). I bake with it from time to time and use it in my coffee. I think it is likely a good alternative to refined sugar, though, be certain that what you buy is sustainably sourced. ~Amy

  5. 4 stars
    Just made these. I altered the recipe slightly, based on some reviews. I used 1/4 cup coconut oil, half stick unsalted butter, 1 egg, and added 1/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips. They turned out great! Thanks Lisa!

  6. Love this recipe but my daughter has intolerance to coconut milk. What would be a good substitute? She is also anaphylactic to peanuts/tree nuts and seeds. Thank you.

  7. 2 stars
    I made the brownies last night and followed the recipe exactly and my family did not like. I liked the fact the brownie wasn’t sweet but the brownie had no taste and the texture was odd and the brownie was very dry. If anyone has a better “real food” brownie recipe that is moist and fudgy please send me the recipe.

  8. My concern with whole wheat products is the gluten. Wheat isn’t processed anymore like it was back in my mom’s day. It has been genetically modified. Anyone has suggestions on what to substitute the wheat and white flour for?

  9. I made these and loved them. The taste and the texture was so good. My husband did not care for the coconut oil though and did not eat it. I used the one from Trader joes but that has a very strong smell. I got the spectrum brand from Market street which has no smell. But I feel its better than any regular brownie and I love that it has no butter or sugar. (Well! I did add 1 tbsp of sugar with the honey;) Thank you for this.

  10. Just made these. I halved the batch and subbed coconut sugar instead of maple or honey. The batter was a little stiff, so I added a couple tablespoons of full fat organic yogurt to loosen it up. They came out really good. However, I am a fan of a fudgier brownie over a cakier one. I think next time I might try one reader’s idea of subbing some applesauce for part of the oil, and also I will make a full batch and still only use one egg. I will definitely make these again though. Good flavor and I guarantee my three year old will approve. So much better than the “boxed” brownies with canned icing that he came home with from his grandparents house last week. Way tooooo sweet.

    1. 4 stars
      I did add a little extra coconut sugar bc I am thinking that for the same volume, honey is sweeter than other sugars. I am loving my coconut sugar by the way! I use it in everything and it is such an easy switch. Expensive though. A little more motivation to eat it in moderation. ;)

  11. I would just like to point out that Hershey’s “Special Dark” cocoa powder is processed with alkali -aka ‘dutch processing’ which does cut down on some of the acidity but also takes away some of the cocoa’s nutrients. Cocoa on it’s own is light in color so when you buy the dark version you should know that you’re buying a more processed version of it. Dark chocolate doesn’t always mean it’s better for you!

  12. 4 stars
    Just made these and the flavor is incredible! They do fall apart really bad, though. I used one egg might try 2 next time. I also might add a banana like one of the previous posts suggested. Yummy! Thank you!

  13. I have found a local producer of sunflower oil. Will that work in place of the coconut oil? If I try it before you get a chance to respond, I will post the results…thanks!

  14. 4 stars
    A big hit with the 10 year old. Used one egg the first time and two the second and, although still dry the second time, they were better with 2 eggs. Love the chocolate coconut flavor from using coconut oil.

  15. I just made these and they came out really, really dry. Is it because I used whole wheat flour, not the white whole wheat listed in the recipe? I also can’t remember if I used one egg or two – why doesn’t the recipe specify? They were nice and chocolate though.

  16. I was wondering if you could substitute agave for the maple syrup/honey. And if so, would you use the same amount?

  17. 5 stars
    I just made these and really enjoyed them. I love that they are not too sweet., they have a really nice texture. These are going to be my go-to brownie from now on. My 4-year old loved them. Thanks for all of the great recipes!

  18. 5 stars
    I made these brownies last night but made a few changes. Instead of using an egg I used an overripe banana that I had in the freezer (thawed out of course). I chose to use honey instead of the maple syrup and added in chopped walnuts. I love the dark chocolate banana taste they have! I put the leftovers in a container and put them in the fridge and when I tried them today they had a nice fudgey texture.. they’re even better than they were last night :)

  19. Zucchini Brownies

    1 cup almond butter
    1.5 cups grated zucchini
    1/3 cup raw honey
    1 egg
    1 tsp vanilla
    1 tsp baking soda
    1 tsp cinnamon
    1/2 tsp nutmeg
    1/3 cup dry cocoa
    1 cup or less dark chocolate, or gluten free chips

    Preheat to 350. combine all ingredients, pour into greased 9×9 baking pan, bake 35-45 min. until toothpick comes out clean.

  20. 1 star
    I made the brownies last night using only 1 egg, and I was not so much of a fan. I used organic raw cacao powder but everything else was according to the recipe. They were very dry. I love the ingredients used but wondering what else could be added to not make them so dry. I ate mine plain but my husband had to eat his with some ice cream.

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Katie. Several readers have modified by adding an egg or switching out the coconut oil for butter. Goodluck. ~Amy

  21. 3 stars
    These came out very dry the first couple of times. This time I added 1/4 cup applesauce and used 1/3 cup coconut oil instead of 1/2 cup. They came out better.

  22. I’ll definitely try this recipe but not with Hershey’s cocoa. I’m disappointed you used it. Hershey’s chocolates are full of ingredients you wouldn’t feed your children (HFCS, artificial flavors, carageenan, soy lecithin, GMOs, etc.) (http://gmoinside.org/valentines-day-villains-guide/). Even though their cocoa may not have those ingredients, how do you support a company that uses them? There are much better cocoas available from much better companies.

    1. If we vote with our dollars, shouldn’t we purchase a good product from a company and thus encouraging them to make more of the same type of products. Businesses see which products sell. If they say, “oh we have a real food product and no one buys it,” we let them justify the junk in their other products. Just a thought.

      1. In some cases, yes, I agree, especially with smaller companies. But I honestly don’t think Hershey really cares about what people think. If they did, they wouldn’t have spent $500,000+ fighting against GMO labeling in CA. Until customers stop buying the bad products from Hershey, I don’t think buying the good is going to make much difference. I also think there are much better cocoas than Hershey’s and I’d rather spend my money with companies that sell better products all around.

  23. Is there a substitute for coconut oil? Wondering if I could use something I already have in my pantry rather than taking a trip to the store. Thank you!

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Marla. Some readers have substituted butter for the coconut oil at a 1 to 1 ratio and had good results. Goodluck! -Amy

  24. I tried my very first experiment with coconut flour making brownies, it was very good!The combination of chocolate and coconut was awesome, I assume the coconut oil in these has the same effect, I will be trying this recipe next!

  25. I made whole wheat chocolate red velvet cupcakes for a valentines playgroup using beets and made my own cream cheese beet icing (adapted from weelicious), also bought a heart shaped pancake pan from target. My kids (2 and 3) love my beet pancakes – and yes, they know there is beets in them because the help puree and pick them out at the store. I will be making them pink heart shaped pancake sandwiches for school this week.

  26. 5 stars
    I was a big baker before changing the way I ate. And I was so pleased at how this recipe came out. Satisfying yet not sickening like tradition sugary sweets. I also came up with a quick ‘icing’ for a more decadent brownie. Natural peanut butter, cocoa, maple syrup, vanilla and a splash of milk and delish!

  27. I just made brownies yesterday by slightly altering another recipe. I used 2 eggs, applesauce, coconut oil, a bit of maple syrup and some sugar (gasp! – no more than 1/2 cup. I didn’t think they were too great, and I even used half white, half wheat. I was excited to see this recipe, but bummed to see the comments that it was caky and dry too. I am going to try butter maybe. I shouldn’t have to have a glass of water to get a brownie down. We ended up pairing it with ice cream. Let me know if you have any modifications.

    1. 5 stars
      I would say you modified the recipe. I just made this today following her recipe exactly and it was delicious! Perhaps try the original recipe first , you might like it.

      1. I modified a different recipe to make it more real food, not hers. I was excited to see hers, but in the comments, I am seeing many of the same feelings I had toward the other recipe I made, which was with two eggs and more moist than hers.

  28. I get the majority of my recipes from this site and my family and I LOVE them all, BUT these brownies were not good. My 2 year old ate one and asked for more, but I took one bite and couldn’t eat anymore. I was hesitant to make the brownies after reading the mixed reviews so I did what many recommended and used two eggs. I also used butter, because I was out of coconut oil. They were very bitter and dry. I was so disappointed because I love sweets and was craving chocolate! Everything else I’ve ever made was excellent! Thank you for all you do! :)

  29. The brownies I made today and followed your recipe exactly. Would taking the brownies out of the oven earlier than 16 minutes help with the texture in hopes of a more gooey center? My mother in law does this with a sheet cake recipe which gave me the idea.

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Kara. I’m not sure that would help. These brownies are definitely more flaky than gooey so I don’t think that adjusting the baking time would help, but, you could certainly try it. Jill

  30. I made these brownies as posted tonight and they need some tweaking but were a good base. A little ice cream on top made them a hit for dessert tonight and I felt good about not using a mix. Will try again. I know it’s a sacrifice but we’ll keep trying until we get it just right. ;)

  31. 4 stars
    Should have read the comments on using 2 eggs before making them…but a little fresh raw whipped cream takes care of the dryness ..pretty much…..great quick recipe…used honey…might try maple syrup next time

  32. Have these in the oven right now….gotta say I’m s bit concerned…I locked the spoon and they weren’t sweet at all…..I wasn’t expecting super sweet but at least some! Hopefully they will sweeten as they cook….I had raw honey instead of store bought..does that matter?

  33. 5 stars
    I tried these the other day. They were awesome. Just wondering though: by “dark” cocoa, do you mean dutch processed cocoa (because it is darker brown in color), or just a darker kind of plain cocoa?

  34. I have made almost every recipe on your site and everything is always amazing. These brownies just were not good though! I was hesitant to make them after so many comments but I wanted to trust you and go for it exactly as written. I’ve been eating real food for over a year now so I wasn’t even expecting a super sweet processed treat but these really had no flavor at all and look of them was dry and unappetizing. I would love for you to re-visit these brownies and come up with one of your stellar recipes.

  35. I’m sorry to say it but I think these are horrible! I like everything else I’ve made so far but these were absolutely terrible! I would love to find a better version…

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Jill. I would guess anywhere from 5-7 days. Mine don’t always seem to make it much past the week anyways and they are usually fine. Jill