Whole Food Vegan Samoa Brownies

I'm very happily celebrating Girl Scout Cookie season with these brownies. Inspired by Samoas (or Caramel Delites, depending on who you ask), these brownies are unbelievably decadent yet also incredibly nourishing for the body. Actually, I'm pretty sure they're magic.

I really can't describe in words the immense love I feel for these brownies. They're simply phenomenal. A rich, fudgy brownie gets topped with a delightfully sticky caramel coconut layer and then finished off with a drizzle of dark chocolate and a sprinkle of sea salt. If there's a more fun, nostalgic dessert out there, I haven't found it.

These bars are inspired by Samoas, which are the ring-shaped Girl Scout cookies with the chocolate bottom and coconut caramel top. I love how Samoas are a bit sticky, a bit chewy, and have lots of different flavors. Plus I just adore coconut, so they're definitely my favorite Girl Scout cookies.

My version stays completely faithful to the flavors in Samoas; there's no need to mess with a good thing! The coconut caramel layer on the top is also remarkably like the texture of Samoas; sort of chewy and gooey. The coconut layer sits on top of the most delightful, fudgy brownie, which in my opinion is a major upgrade from the cookies.

These brownies are a celebration of Samoas in all their glory. Dave and I are smitten with these and have been absolutely cherishing every bite of them.

Despite their decadence, these brownies are essentially just fruit and nuts. They're entirely fruit-sweetened except for the chocolate drizzle, and entirely flourless. The only fat comes from nuts. The concept for these brownies is based on my Whole Food Vegan Snickers Brownies, which you all went crazy for this past fall. There are actually a couple different secret tricks that make this all work.

The brownies themselves are just dates, peanut butter, nut milk, flax seed meal, coco powder, and leaveners. Miraculous, right?? The dates give them sweetness and the most delightful fudgy texture, while the peanut butter provides richness. In all seriousness, these are some of the most incredible brownies I've ever had.

The coconut layer is a date-based "caramel" (yes, dates again, they're amazing!) and toasted coconut. So, like the brownie layer, it's all just fruit and nuts.

These brownies require a few different steps, but nothing challenging. You'll make the brownie batter in the food processor and bake it. Meanwhile, you'll make the date caramel, toast some coconut, and mix up the second layer. Let the brownies cool partially, add the coconut layer, drizzle with chocolate, and chill. They're well-worth the extra effort.

Given the ingredients in these bars, we've actually been bringing them for lunch! They're filling and protein-rich thanks to the peanut butter and coconut, and nutritionally they're actually way better for you than most packaged protein bars. And, nothing against Samoas, but this homemade version is so much more nourishing than the boxed version.

I'm so thrilled with this recipe, I really can't wait for you to try it! These brownies are such perfect proof that indulgent food can also be good for the body. They're made with only whole-food ingredients and are fruit-sweetened, yet they taste like the most decadent over-the-top treat.

Happy baking! I'll definitely be making these again and again all throughout Girl Scout cookie season and beyond.

Please share your creation so I can see how you've interpreted the concept! Tag "The Rogue Brussel Sprout" on Facebook or hashtag #theroguebrusselsprout on Instagram.  

Love the idea of using dates in baking? Me too! They work great in cookies as well as bars; check out my favorite Reinvented Monster Cookies.

Thoughts About Ingredients
(These are all just suggestions, since rogue is more fun than recipe)

For the Brownies
  • 2 c dates, pitted. Double check that they're pitted!
  • 1 c peanut butter
  • 1 c milk of choice. I like baking with soy milk because of its richness, but anything will work. I prefer unsweetened and unflavored.
  • 0.25 c cocoa powder 
  • 2 tbsp flax seed meal
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar. I know this sounds weird, but it helps to activate the baking soda, giving the bars some loft despite their dense ingredients. You can't taste it.
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 0.5 tsp baking powder 
  • 0.25 tsp salt
For the Coconut Caramel Layer
  • 1 c dates. Again, make sure each and every one is pitted!
  • 0.5 c water
  • 0.25 tsp vanilla extract
  • Generous pinch of salt
  • 1.5 c unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
For the Drizzle
  • 0.25 c dark chocolate chips
  • Tiny dash of coconut oil
  • Few pinches of flaky sea salt. I love fleur de sel!
Thoughts About Method
(These are all just suggestions, be creative and make it yours)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 and thoroughly oil an 8x8 baking dish. Note that this is a sticky dough, so oiling is critical! Conversely, you can line the bottom of the baking dish with parchment paper, which is my preference.
  2. Measure all of the brownie ingredients into a food processor. Process until you have a thick, sticky dough that's homogeneous throughout.
  3. Spread the dough into the prepared baking dish with a spatula; it may need some persuasion. Try to create a layer of even thickness that goes all the way into the corners.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for about 25-35 minutes until just barely cooked through in the center. Remove them from the oven and cool for at least 30 minutes before trying to add the next layer. If the brownie layer has puffed up at all during baking, gently press the top down while they're still warm; the next layer will go on much more easily if you have a flat surface. If you want to make the brownies in advance, just keep them tightly covered in the fridge, right in the baking pan, until you're ready for the next steps.
  5. To make the next layer, combine the dates, water, vanilla, and salt in a small saucepan and simmer for about ten minutes until the dates are very soft and falling apart. Then blend it into a thick, rich "caramel" using an immersion blender (which can be a bit tricky since there's not that much volume in the pot and it can splatter) or a standard blender.
  6. Lay the coconut out on a large sheet tray and toast it under the broiler until golden, keeping a very close eye on it. This happens very quickly and will only take a few minutes.
  7. Add the toasted coconut and coconut oil to the still-warm date caramel and stir to create a homogeneous, sticky mixture. The coconut oil will help the layer harden when it cools, so don't omit it!
  8. Spoon the coconut caramel over the brownies and gently spread into an even layer, all the way to the edges of the baking dish.
  9. Finally, make the chocolate drizzle. In a saucepan over very low heat, combine the chocolate chips and just enough coconut oil to get a shiny, thin consistency that can easily be drizzled. Drizzle it across the top of your bars.
  10. Sprinkle the top with a few pinches of flaky sea salt.
  11. Cool the bars completely, then cover the baking dish and put the whole thing in the fridge. Keep them there for at least a few hours. These brownies are very hard to cut if they're not chilled, so you'll definitely want to chill them if you want any hope of getting neat squares.


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