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Bring on dessert with better-for-you sweets

3 recipes that add lots of healthy stuff with prunes

Make prunes the healthy star in these recipes

If healthier eating holds a prominent spot on your list of goals, you may feel it’s necessary to eliminate some of your sweetest favorites. However, committing to a nutritionally friendly way of life doesn’t have to leave desserts by the wayside.

Instead, rethinking nighttime treats with better-for-you ingredients like California Prunes as a quick substitution can make healthier eating easy. As a versatile ingredient that can replace added sugar, fats and eggs in all kinds of recipes, prunes can also add nutrients important for bone and gut health.

Plus, the copper in prunes inhibits bone breakdown, while boron plays a role in calcium metabolism and polyphenols can help decrease bone breakdown through their antioxidant power. As a fruit that’s high in vitamin K, which helps improve calcium balance and promotes bone mineralization, prunes are also a “good gut food,” meaning a single serving (roughly 4-6 prunes) can help support a healthy microbiome.

They’re easy to use in recipes that can become favorites in your household such as these Chocolate Energy Balls. Enjoyed as an easy, on-the-go snack, they’re a perfect way to refuel for an adventure, recharge after a workout or to simply savor as a healthy snack.

Chocolate lovers rejoice: This rich, delicious, gluten-free, grain-free Chocolate Covered Prune Fudge Cake is naturally sweetened using prunes instead of added sugar. If brownies are more your style, prunes can also take the place of eggs in these Vegan Brownies for a family-friendly treat that won’t wreck your eating plan.

To find more better-for-you desserts, visit californiaprunes.org.

Chocolate Covered Prune Fudge Cake

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 55 minutes
Yield: 1 cake (8 inches)


  • Coconut oil spray
  • 14 tablespoons butter, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 10 soft, pitted prunes, chopped small
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 cup almond meal


  • 1 cup full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 1/3 cups dark chocolate morsels
  1. To make cake: Preheat oven to 300 F. Lightly spray bottom and sides of 8-inch springform pan with coconut oil spray. Place round piece of parchment paper in bottom of pan and lightly spray with coconut oil spray.

  2. In small saucepan over low heat, place butter and vanilla. Use sieve to sift cocoa into saucepan. Stir with spatula until completely smooth. Remove from heat and set aside.

  3. In bowl of food processor fitted with "S" blade, place prunes and syrup. Top with cooled butter mixture then process until smooth. Transfer to large mixing bowl, scraping all chocolate mixture from food processor with spatula.

  4. In bowl of stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whip eggs and coconut sugar on high speed 7 minutes, or until tripled in volume.

  5. Add one-third of egg mixture to bowl with chocolate mixture. Using spatula, gently fold together until completely combined. Add almond meal and remaining egg mixture to bowl and gently fold to combine.

  6. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 55 minutes, or until set. Once cooked through, transfer cake to cooling rack and cool completely in pan.

  7. To make ganache: In top of double boiler, melt coconut milk and dark chocolate until completely smooth. Pour prepared ganache over cake. Serve immediately for molten fudge effect or allow to completely set.
READ MORE: Pop up a sweet, kid-friendly treat

    Chocolate Energy Balls

    Recipe courtesy of Meg van der Kruik on behalf of California Prunes
    Prep time: 10 minutes
    Cook time: 30 minutes
    Yield: 24 pieces

    Prune Puree:

    • 16 ounces pitted California prunes
    • 1/2 cup hot water

    Energy Balls:

    • 1 cup old-fashioned or gluten-free oats
    • 2/3 cup toasted, unsweetened shredded coconut
    • 1/2 cup creamy natural nut butter (peanut or almond)
    • 1/2 cup pecan meal
    • 1/2 cup prune puree
    • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1. To make prune puree: In blender, combine prunes and water. Pulse to combine then blend until smooth, pourable consistency forms, scraping sides, if necessary.

    2. Store puree in airtight container in fridge up to 4 weeks.

    3. To make energy balls: In mixing bowl, stir oats, coconut, nut butter, pecan meal, prune puree, cocoa powder and vanilla until completely combined.

    4. Cover and chill in refrigerator 30 minutes. Once chilled, use small cookie scoop or measuring spoon to measure equal-sized amounts of mixture then form into balls by applying gentle pressure to dough using palms. Do not roll as balls will break apart.

    5. Store covered in airtight container in refrigerator up to 1 week.

    Vegan Brownies

    Prep time: 10 minutes
    Cook time: 25 minutes
    Servings: 9

    Prune Puree:

    • 16 ounces pitted California prunes
    • 1/2 cup hot water


    • nonstick cooking spray
    • 6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
    • 1/2 cup California extra-virgin olive oil
    • 2 cups light brown sugar
    • 10 ounces California prune puree
    • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 tablespoon baking powder
    • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • flaky sea salt, for garnish
    1. To make prune puree: In blender, combine prunes and water. Pulse to combine then blend until smooth, pourable consistency forms, scraping sides, if necessary.

    2. Store puree in airtight container in fridge up to 4 weeks.

    3. To make brownies: Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 9-by-9-inch baking pan with parchment paper then lightly grease with nonstick cooking spray.

    4. Using double boiler, melt chocolate and olive oil. Whisk in sugar and prune puree; mix until dissolved.

    5. Into large bowl, sift flour, baking powder and cocoa powder. Gently fold in chocolate and prune mixture then add vanilla.

    6. Spread batter in prepared pan, sprinkle with flaky sea salt and bake 20-25 minutes, or until top starts to look dry and brownies are just beginning to pull away from sides of pan.

    7. Cool in pan. Remove then cut brownies into 3-inch squares.
    (Family Features) 

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