I would like to make a chocolate brownie which has no added sweetener. It would be great if it were gluten-free as well, but that is less important.

I tried a recipe from Dinah Alison's "Totally Flour-Free Baking" which had as ingredients:

140g butter, 215g sugar, 2 eggs, 75g ground almonds, 4 tablespoons of cocoa powder, 200g chocolate, 85 g walnuts, 1/2 tspn of vanilla essence and 50g choc chips.

I adapted this by losing the sugar, replacing the choc chips with more walnuts and using pure "cacao" from this site:


The result was quite nice to eat, but much, much too crumbly. The brownies just had no cohesion.

I tried a second attempt by adding cocoa butter - figuring that I hadn't got enough fat in - but that didn't help much, and the cocoa butter made it less chocolatey.

What am I doing wrong? I suspect that maybe her recipe doesn't have enough egg, but is there anything else I should adjust?

Note that its really important there's no sweetener. "Sugar-free" recipes on the net all seem to have something else - bananas/dates/sucrulose/apple mash. The recipe above is as sweet as I ever want it to be.

Edit: the flour-free nature of the recipe is a plus but not vital. If I can get a plausible sugar-free brownie working then I can worry about the flour later.

  • This is a dupe, will have to look for it when not on mobile. Short: you can't. The sugar in brownies is there for texture, not sweetness. – rumtscho Jul 29 '12 at 12:01
  • I did some searching and couldn't find a similar question - but if you can point me at it that would be great. When you say "texture" do you mean (in this context) "structural integrity"? I realise there's lots of debates about the texture of brownies, but at the moment I'd just be pleased to have one that didn't fall apart. – Francis Davey Jul 29 '12 at 13:07
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    cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/24458/…. Probably not similar enough to close your question, but a brownie differs from a cake, muffin, quickbread etc. by its texture - it is soft and moist and on the verge of gooey. It is the combination of fat and sugar which makes it this way, with the right amounts of starch, lecithine and gluten. You could use a sugar other than sucrose, but if you try to go with no sugar at all, it won't be a brownie any more. – rumtscho Jul 29 '12 at 15:31
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    On another note, cohesion is achieved by protein, fat actually hinders it. It is no wonder that a flourless recipe crumbles, especially with no additives. Modifying good flourless recipes is really hard, because they are on the verge of not working; if the recipe is bad in itself (and yours looks suspicious), it won't work even as it is. Try using more egg white (not whipping), some xanthan and underbake. The result will not be very brownie-like (will be dry), but it will hold together better. – rumtscho Jul 29 '12 at 15:43
  • Right the cookbook is pretty good for flourless recipes. I've had some remarkably good things out of it, but I haven't tried a brownie with sugar so I don't know if it works. It does involve whipping the egg white as it happens. I'll work your tips into further experiments. – Francis Davey Jul 29 '12 at 17:07

I would use stewed apple as per assorted recipes on the net - if you stew cooking apples with no added sugar then they won't make it any sweeter.

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  • Thanks. I'll have a look for a recipe. Do you know why that works? I.e. what is the apple doing to make the brownie bind together? Is it the water content, the pectin, the acidity or something else? – Francis Davey Jul 29 '12 at 8:18
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    I don't know, but I actually realised that I answered somewhat hastily - all the recipes I have seen with apple sauce in them have it as a substitute for fat, not sugar. However, people who are trying to cut down on fat are also often keen on cutting down on sugar as well. So take a recipe (for example: cooks.com/rec/view/0,1662,136191-246199,00.html ) that uses applesauce and an artificial sweetener, and leave out the artificial sweetener? – Vicky Jul 29 '12 at 14:13
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    That's OK. I think anyway that it may help. The problem with the link you give is that a lot of "artificial sweeteners" such as Splenda and Equal are actually sugar (dextrose) sweetened with something else (aspartame, sucralose or whatever) so you need less of it to create the same level of sweetness but they are still basically sugar. A cup of Equal is not much different from a cup of sugar and presumably has the same physical affordances. – Francis Davey Jul 29 '12 at 15:07

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