Caveman Cuisine: Mayan Chocolate Brownies with Sunbutter Swirl

So maybe the Mayan calendar and the whole world ending in 2012 thing was a dud, but it doesn't take away from the fact that these people were the OC (original chocoholics).

How OC were they you ask? Check out this passage from the site

"The Mayan’s sacred book, Popul Vuh, contains their story of the creation, and instead of an apple tree, there’s a cacao tree. In this myth, immortal ball-playing twins are beheaded by the gods of death. One has his head hung on a cacao tree. The magical head manages to mate with a woman who becomes the mother of twin gods. These two defeat the gods of death and then end up in the sky as the sun and the moon."

That's some serious business right there (what with all the mating and the beheading) and I would hate to be the guy who laid a finger on Mayans chocolate bar.

I kid of course as Mayands didn't consume their chocolate in such a "refined" form. Rather they mixed it with all sorts of stuff making it into a bitter spiced drink or mixed with corn to form a gruel.

Neither such options sounded terribly appealing to me, so I decided to cherry pick my way through a recipe that I like to think captures the spirit of the Mayan chocolate obsession without all the bloodshed and violence.


4 medjool dates (halved and with pits removed)
1/2 cup filtered water
4 squares Baker's chocolate
1 stick Kerrygold butter (if you're avoiding dairy and equivalent quantity of coconut oil will do)
3 eggs (get some nice pastured ones)
1 1/2 cups almond meal (you'll have plenty if you tried making Almond Milk!)
Pinch cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and sea salt
~2-3 tbsp Sunbutter (if you don't like sunflower seed butter any other nut butter will do)
9x9 baking dish lined with greased foil
Pyrex measuring cup or small sauce pan
Large mixing bowl & spoon


Heat water in your sauce pan or Pyrex measuring cup till almost boiling.  Add dates and stir.  The dates will gradually break down and combine with the water forming a thick syrup.

Turn the burner heat down to medium and add butter to the date syrup and stir until the butter is completely melted and the ingredients have combined.  Pour the butter-date mixture into your mixing bowl and add chocolate to the sauce pan.  Once the chocolate has melted it too can be poured into the mixing bowl.

Next, whisk your eggs and, you guessed it, add them to the mixing bowl.

Once all the wet ingredients have combined, you can add the almond meal and spices.

Pour the batter into the baking dish (lined with greased foil for easy removal and cleanup!).  Drizzle an "S" shape of sunbutter over the brownie batter.  Drag a knife through the batter (alternating directions) to creat the "swirl".  Place in an oven preheated to 350 degrees and bake for 20 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Once the brownies have cooled somewhat, remove the entire batch in one shot (using a spatula may help support the center if it is still too hot to handle) and cut to desired size.  Eat one or three with a nice cold glass of almond milk.  Be happy.

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About Unknown

Tony is the host of the Paleo Magazine Radio podcast, author of "Paleo Grilling: A Modern Caveman's Guide to Cooking with Fire", and Cofounder of Powerful PT, an innovative information resource for Fitness Professionals. He has appeared on numerous local and national television and radio broadcasts and regularly hosts healthy cooking workshops and informational lectures. He is also a full-time Personal Trainer and Wellness Consultant who lives in Jacksonville Florida with his wife Jamie.
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  1. Looks delicious! With my brownies, the trick has been to get the right degree of moisture. And I use 8 ounces of almond butter, freshly ground at Whole Foods. Costs less than 8.00, so that's not too bad.

  2. When you say 1 stick of that 1 entire block of it, as it is sold? Or what a normal stick of butter would be (8 tbsp)?

  3. @Anon, I used just one stick of butter (so half of one of those Kerrygold blocks like the one pictured.)

  4. Pure love to you for creating this masterpiece, sir.

  5. Probably a silly question - are the dates really enough to make it sweet? With unsweetened chocolate, I would expect them to be bitter.

  6. @Hatch, the dates add just enough sweetness to balance out the chocolate. The brownies weren't bitter at all, but they are definitely not "sweet." More rich and almost cheesecake like. To me, that's a good thing!

  7. I just made almond milk for the first time this morning. I'm looking forward to trying these brownies.

  8. I made them, I ate them, I loved them.

  9. I just bought an 11# block of unsweetened Calebut chocolate for $47. That price beats buying little boxes of unsweetened block chocolate such as Baker's or store brand. My family is addicted to chocolate bars - usually sweetened with sugar, though organic (they get a bar a week to divide over 7 days) which is usually a $4 investment (for 3 oz of chocolate). I'm trying to find ways to replace their daily squares with something not sweetened with sugar, with chocolate recipes that I make myself. Yours is the first paleo brownie recipe I've found online which used block chocolate. While we are not following a paleo approach, we have been trying to use the GAPS approach which favors cocoa instead of chocolate. I'm not sure what makes cocoa more healthful in GAPS recipes so I'm going to at least experiment with some recipes until this 11# is gone. I look forward to giving this recipe a try! Thanks!