These sweet potato brownies have the perfect texture (and a big boost of vitamin C!) thanks to the addition of this superfood. And it’s perfectly healthy-ish: more of the good stuff, less of the bad stuff, but still plenty rich with lots of chopped dark chocolate swirled throughout the batter.
Sweet Potatoes: Make Extra!
I’ve been on a sweet potato kick lately (tacos, muffins, etc.), finding lots of ways to use this superfood outside of the usual dinner side dish. I’ve said it once but I’ll say it again: if you roast sweet potatoes for dinner, make extra! So many good ways to put them to use.
Sweet potatoes are a nutrient powerhouse: potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B6… the list goes on. Another benefit: using sweet potatoes in this recipe increases the natural sugars and allows me to add just a little maple syrup rather than the usual cup of sugar. And they keep the brownies from drying out despite a little less added fat than your usual brownie recipe.
So the next time you bake sweet potatoes for dinner, throw an extra potato into the oven. Refrigerate it once it’s cooled and use it within the next few days to make these brownies (or tacos or muffins).
About Cacao Powder
This recipe calls for cacao powder, so here’s a little primer on this ingredient. There is a difference between cacao and cocoa powder, although most of this difference is in terms of nutrition rather than taste. Cacao is made by cold-pressing unroasted cacao beans, and this process preserves a lot of its nutritional value, whereas cocoa is made from cacao that has been roasted at high temperatures, which causes it to lose some of its nutritional value (see more information on this here). But in terms of flavor, I’ve had similar results using both cacao powder and cocoa powder, so if you can’t find cacao, go ahead and use unsweetened cocoa powder instead (just make sure it really is unsweetened; it’s easy to grab the wrong one).
About Real Maple Syrup
Next up, the maple syrup: make sure to buy real maple syrup, rather than maple-flavored syrup, which is made with refined sugar and/or high-fructose corn syrup. And in terms of choosing grade A (including light amber, medium amber, or dark amber) or grade B (the darkest choice), just use your palate to guide you. Do you like an intense maple flavor? Then try grade B. Or a more subtle maple flavor? Then opt for grade A, light amber, if it’s an option. For this recipe, I like a lighter option so the cacao flavor dominates.
The brownie batter for this recipe is much thicker than your usual brownie batter. So you’ll have to put a little extra effort into smoothing it out once it’s in the pan. Both other than that, the recipe is pretty easy and fairly straightforward.
The brownies are sweet, but not too sweet. To up the chocolatey flavor, I recommend adding more chocolate chips. Always a good thing!
And you can add nuts — I love walnuts in brownies — or skip them. I made several variations as I was recipe testing, and always included walnuts for me and my husband, and skipped the walnuts on batches for the kids. They don’t know what they’re missing!
Brownie Shapes and Sizes
I experimented with making these a few different ways and they each had their advantages.
- I made the brownies in a traditional brownie pan and cut them into squares or rectangles. Worked great!
- I made another batch in this same pan and cut them into heart shapes using cookie cutters. Also worked well, but left a lot of scraps behind (no worries, that’s what husbands are for).
- And finally, I made them in a mini muffin pan — the kind that makes 24 mini muffins at once (for example, this pan). This is my favorite way because they cook quickly and each little muffin/brownie has a nice chewy crust (but be careful because they cook quicker this way! Start checking your oven at 15 minutes).
There are a lot of great sweet potato brownie recipes on the Internet… here’s one my friend Alli shared with just sweet potato, nut butter, cocoa powder, and maple syrup; and here’s another one from Food 52 that is a little more decadent than my recipe. I tried to meet somewhere in the middle in this recipe, making a treat that’s not quite as intense as a traditional brownie, but still counts as a legit dessert. Let me know if you try any of these and what you think!
Sweet Potato Brownies
These sweet potato brownies have the perfect texture (and a big boost of vitamin C!) thanks to the addition of this superfood.
- 1 1/2 cups sweet potatoes roasted and mashed
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil melted
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup cacao powder unsweetened
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup dark chocolate chopped
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts optional
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 8x8 inch baking pan.
Mash sweet potatoes VERY well, or puree in a food processor. In a mixing bowl, combine mashed sweet potatoes, maple syrup, eggs, coconut oil, and vanilla.
Add flour, cacao powder, baking powder, and salt. Stir to combine.
Fold in chocolate and walnuts.
Scoop brownie batter into baking pan. Spread to fill the pan and smooth the top.
Bake for 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center of brownies comes out clean. Let cool for 15 minutes.
Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired. Enjoy!
Unsweetened cocoa powder is a fine substitute for cacao. White flour or spelt flour will work in place of whole wheat flour. For a more intensely chocolate flavor, add more chopped chocolate. And chocolate chips work just as well as chopped chocolate.