German Chocolate Inspired Brownies (100% whole grain, dairy-free)

You’d never know that these super gooey German chocolate inspired brownies have been made healthier!

German Chocolate Inspired Brownies - you'd never know that these super gooey brownies are made healthier! Also happen to be dairy-free |

These are hands down the best brownies I’ve ever made. Healthy or not. It could have something to do with the fact that I used way more sugar than usual but I’ll just try to ignore that.

You can absolutely make these as plain brownies and they’re really amazing that way. And much quicker to make! But I wanted to make these brownies pretty. So I went to Facebook and asked you guys what to do with them and tried to combine as many suggestions as possible. That’s where the caramel + coconut + pecan / walnuts combination came from.

I fully intended on making these as real German chocolate brownies and not just inspired but then I read what German chocolate filling is made of. It didn’t really appeal so much to me so I just made a simple chocolate ganache and spread this over the brownies. And then I added toasted coconut and pecans and drizzled on some caramel.

100% Whole grain German Chocolate inspired brownies made healthier! They also happen to be dairy-free and super gooey! |

I baked the brownies and then put on the toppings but next time, I think I’ll just add some chocolate chips, caramel bits, nuts and shredded coconut right into the batter. Much easier and quicker! And that way, you can leave out the cream. Which means saved calories and that of course means you can eat more brownies. :)

If you do make these and you want to reduce the sugar, please note that they won’t be as gooey and they’ll be more cakey. These brownies really aren’t greasy, even if pictures kind of make them look that way.

I kept my brownies refrigerated but they’re fine at room temperature as well. They just seem better cold!

German Chocolate Inspired Brownies made healthier. They also happen to be dairy-free and amazingly gooey! |

100% Whole Grain German Chocolate Inspired Brownies

Rated 5.0 by 2 readers
German Chocolate Inspired Brownies (100% whole grain, dairy-free)
  • Prep Time:
  • Cook Time:
  • Ready in:
  • Yield: 24 servings



  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup grapeseed oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 1/3 cups (175 grams) whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Topping:

  • 2/3 cups shredded coconut
  • 2/3 cups pecans or walnuts
  • 2 1/2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons caramel bits (check out this recipe for dairy-free caramel)
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream (coconut milk for dairy-free)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place a sheet of parchment paper over an 8x8 inch pan and press it around the edges. This makes it easier to remove the brownies once baked. Or you can spray the pan with non-stick baking spray.
  2. In a large bowl with a wooden spoon, mix together the sugar and grapeseed oil. Let it sit for 5 minutes to help dissolve the sugar.
  3. Add in the eggs and vanilla, all at once, and stir until thoroughly combined.
  4. Add in the whole wheat flour, cocoa powder and salt all at once and stir *just* until combined. If you overstir, the texture might be affected.
  5. Bake for 17 minutes. If you stick a toothpick in the middle, it will come out wet and this is okay! They continue to cook after you remove them from the oven. Do not bake until the toothpick comes out clean!
  6. Let the brownies cool in the pan.
  7. Topping:

  8. Toast the coconut and pecans for 5 - 10 minutes at 350 degrees F or until they smell toasted. Check after 5 minutes to stir the coconut, if needed.
  9. Place chopped chocolate in a small mixing bowl and heat 1/4 cup heavy cream in a small pot over medium heat, just until it starts to simmer. Pour this over the chopped chocolate. Stir until smooth and set this aside.
  10. In the small pot you just used, over medium heat, add the caramel bits and another tablespoon of heavy cream. Stir together and continue stirring until combined.
  11. To assemble brownies: Spread on the chocolate layer. It will be very thin. Then add the toasted coconut and pecans and finally the caramel. You can either use a spoon to drizzle it over the brownies or pipe it.

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78 comments on “German Chocolate Inspired Brownies (100% whole grain, dairy-free)” — Add one!

  • HB says
    March 30, 2014 @ 4:40 pm

    I would love to make these but want to raise the sugar question!!
    If I were to reduce the sugar, by how much would you suggest? I don’t really want them super gooey but not so it is cake.

    • Erin replies to HB
      March 30, 2014 @ 4:43 pm

      I’d reduce it by 1/3 cup. Any more than that sounds risky! I hope it works out for you. Let me know how they come out! :)

  • Haley @ Cupcakes and Sunshine says
    July 30, 2013 @ 5:48 pm

    Oh wow! These look SO yummy! I love German Chocolate!

  • Lori Delgado says
    July 29, 2013 @ 5:54 am

    Hi Erin, I just made these brownies today & they look SO YUMMY! I removed them w/ parchment paper from pan & the bottom still looks pretty undercooked. Is that how it is supposed to be? I have not cut or tried them yet. Figured they needed to cool completely. I notice in your pics they do appear really gooey. I just hope they are done! Took them out after 17 min like you said. Hope they are cooked!!!!

    • Erin replies to Lori Delgado
      July 29, 2013 @ 1:51 pm

      Hi Lori! I’m so sorry I’m just now responding. For some reason I can’t understand, both your comments ended up in the spam folder! So sorry about that. I hope you that used the same amount of dark chocolate and that the brownies came out well. :) They brownies will still appear underdone when you take them out of the oven so don’t worry! They are meant to be really, really gooey and not cake-like at all. I’ve made this recipe several times with different ovens and 17 seems to be the magical time (though I’m often hesitant to leave them in there longer!)

      • Erin replies to Erin
        July 29, 2013 @ 1:55 pm

        I just found a third comment from you in the spam! I have no idea what’s going on here but I’ll look into it. I just wanted to say sorry and that I hope you had a great birthday! :D

  • Lori Delgado says
    July 28, 2013 @ 10:11 pm

    Hi Erin, I am going to make these today. I am replacing the 2 1/2 oz semi sweet choc with dark choc chips. How much would you recommend I use? Thanks! Lori

  • Lori Delgado says
    July 27, 2013 @ 11:39 pm

    Hi Erin, these look AMAZING. I love German chocolate cake & am going to make theses tomorrow for my birthday dessert. Question, I am replacing the semi sweet chocolate with dark chocolate chips so how much would you recommend I use? Thanks! Lori

  • Diana says
    July 24, 2013 @ 7:06 pm

    Hi there,

    I’m really excited to try this. Do you think that coconut sugar would work? Thank you very much for your insight.

    • Erin replies to Diana
      July 24, 2013 @ 9:38 pm

      Coconut sugar would be awesome! I hope you’ll enjoy the brownies. :)

  • Jen L | Tartine and Apron Strings says
    May 20, 2013 @ 6:21 am

    I grew up eating German chocolate brownies. I’ve always wondered why they were called “German” when they have coconut? Coconuts are the farthest from my mind when I hear “German” – hehe. Any chance you know the history of the name, LOL?!?

  • Lisa {AuthenticSuburbanGourmet} says
    May 16, 2013 @ 3:57 am

    These look moist, chewy and delicious! Your cover photo makes me want to stick my hand into the computer screen and grab one of these right now.

  • Erin @ Dinners, Dishes and Desserts says
    May 15, 2013 @ 8:33 pm

    These so should have won! I love brownies, and these look so rich and fugdy!

  • Valerie says
    May 14, 2013 @ 8:57 pm

    I don’t care how many calories these contain – I’d want the entire batch! Who knew something “healthy-ish,” like grapeseed oil, could produce such decadence! :D

    • Erin replies to Valerie
      May 26, 2013 @ 8:11 pm

      Agreed! I wish I had some more. I made so many test batches and ate them all up instead of freezing. Darn. :(

  • Patty says
    May 14, 2013 @ 6:03 pm

    Hi Erin! Lucky me, I just picked up a bottle of grape seed oil-which I love to use in just about everything…but never in brownies! But, why not? Your brownies look so decadent and fudgy-I would love to give them a try ;-)

    • Erin replies to Patty
      May 26, 2013 @ 8:08 pm

      I’m having trouble with WP’s comment system. Sorry I overlooked your comments! I hope you do try and enjoy these brownies. So fudgy… I wish I had some now!

  • Jean says
    May 14, 2013 @ 4:34 pm

    These brownies look amazing!

    • Erin replies to Jean
      May 26, 2013 @ 8:11 pm

      Thanks, Jean! :)

  • Marta @ What should I eat for breakfast today
    May 6, 2013 @ 7:39 pm

    It is pretty indeed Erin. And delicious and healthy (I’ll ignore this sugar situation as well). I’ll make it for Mr T., so he’ll love me even more :)

  • Jen says
    May 5, 2013 @ 9:14 pm

    Omg they Look to die for. I am saying that after I had lunch and icecream. I would still try and eat my way through one piece of your brownies lol.

    • Erin replies to Jen
      May 5, 2013 @ 10:38 pm

      JEN! Hi. :) I definitely need to go check our your blog and see what I’ve been missing. It’s been way too long. I’m happy you stopped by and good luck with only eating one brownie. :D

  • Becca from Cookie Jar Treats says
    May 2, 2013 @ 9:34 pm

    I have been so swamped these past few weeks from studying and I’m just now getting around to reading all the blogs I follow! These brownies look amazing, and not greasy at all. They look really fudgy and delicious.

    • Erin replies to Becca from Cookie Jar Treats
      May 2, 2013 @ 10:35 pm

      Becca, you know how many months I’m behind with your blog? It’s a lot. So no worries there. ;) And it’s not just yours I’m behind with. But most.

      Anyway, happy you like the brownies and good luck with finals! (just assuming they’re coming up in the next few days)

  • Rachel @ Bakerita says
    May 2, 2013 @ 3:40 am

    Holy moly, these sound incredible!! And the pictures, amazing! Totally need to make these soon. Pinned!

    • Erin replies to Rachel @ Bakerita
      May 2, 2013 @ 8:02 pm

      Thanks for pinning, Rachel! I hope you do get a chance to make them. And if you do, let me know how they turn out. :)

  • Rosie @ Blueberry Kitchen says
    May 2, 2013 @ 12:20 am

    Your brownies look SO good,, I love how fudgy they look! Love the idea of using grapeseed oil in them too.

    • Erin replies to Rosie @ Blueberry Kitchen
      May 2, 2013 @ 12:23 am

      Thanks, Rosie! I was really surprised with how the grapeseed oil brownies came out. I love finding healthier alternatives to butter. Especially when they result in fudginess. ;)

  • Anna @ Crunchy Creamy Sweet
    May 1, 2013 @ 11:16 pm

    Pass the pan! These look fabulous!!! Pinned :)

  • Miss @ Miss in the Kitchen says
    May 1, 2013 @ 11:01 pm

    These brownies are mouthwatering! The new look is fabulous too! Nice job!

  • Erin | The Law Student's Wife says
    May 1, 2013 @ 10:59 pm

    Choc-o-licious!! Oh my, these look divine. I love grapeseed oil for stirfrys but have yet to use it in my baking. You have me inspired!

    • Erin replies to Erin | The Law Student’s Wife
      May 1, 2013 @ 11:43 pm

      It’s really great, Erin! Nice and mild. And I promise to get to your email soon. I think you can see what I’ve been up to lately. ;) Sorry about the delay!

  • A Pearl In The Making says
    May 1, 2013 @ 7:06 pm

    What brand of caramel bits did you use? All I can find are ones filled with nasty ingredients.

    • Erin replies to A Pearl In The Making
      May 1, 2013 @ 11:21 pm

      I used Kraft and I’m sure the ingredients aren’t so nice. You could also make homemade caramel! I’m afraid all brands probably have nasty ingredients. Sorry. :(

  • Chris Scheuer says
    May 1, 2013 @ 6:45 pm

    Wow, these look unbelievable, I can't believe there's no butter ……… and whole grain? Very cool!

    • Erin replies to Chris Scheuer
      May 1, 2013 @ 11:46 pm

      Thanks, Chris! Grapeseed oil is pretty neat, huh? You have to try it out some time! I didn’t miss the butter at all in these. :)

  • amy @ fearless homemaker says
    May 1, 2013 @ 6:40 pm

    Oh holy moly, these look SO divine. WANT WANT WANT NOOOOOOOW. Apologies for my demanding bossy comment, but I really want one! =) And yay for comments being back – I was so sad when I couldn't comment a few days ago!

    • Erin replies to amy @ fearless homemaker
      May 1, 2013 @ 11:50 pm

      Sorry about that Amy. We were in the process of switching over to WP and putting up the new design! But it’s here now. YAY! And love your enthusiastic comment. Thank you! :)

  • Jessica @ A Kitchen Addiction says
    May 1, 2013 @ 6:14 pm

    Oh wow, these look super rich and fudgy! Just the way I like them!

    • Erin replies to Jessica @ A Kitchen Addiction
      May 1, 2013 @ 11:55 pm

      Same here, Jessica! I just don’t get the concept of cakey brownies. Cakey brownies = a smaller version of cake. Right?!

  • Carla Walker says
    May 1, 2013 @ 6:11 pm

    I love how gooey they look! Definitely worth the sugar for that! I hope you win the contest too!!! :)

    • Erin replies to Carla Walker
      May 1, 2013 @ 11:51 pm

      Thanks, Carla! I hope so, too. :D The prize is an all expenses paid trip to BlogHer. Isn’t that like the best prize ever?!

  • Jennie @themessybakerblog says
    May 1, 2013 @ 4:42 pm

    Erin, these look amazing. So fudgy. So chocolately. So yummy!

  • Kelly @ Hidden Fruits and Veggies says
    May 1, 2013 @ 2:05 pm

    These look yummy! I've never made a brownie that didn't call for butter, so I'm excited to see this recipe. I very very rarely have butter on hand. (and always have cravings for brownies!)

    • Erin replies to Kelly @ Hidden Fruits and Veggies
      May 2, 2013 @ 12:00 am

      I also don’t use butter all that often. I’m definitely an oil or coconut oil type of gal. :) I stopped using butter in brownies a few years ago and seriously… I don’t miss it at all!

  • london bakes says
    May 1, 2013 @ 1:07 pm

    I love brownies that use oil instead of butter and these look totally perfect, so wonderful and rich and gooey!

    • Erin replies to london bakes
      May 2, 2013 @ 12:04 am

      Thanks! And yeah… I mean, you can’t even taste the butter in brownies made with butter. So why not use oil? :)

  • Hannah says
    May 1, 2013 @ 10:33 am

    wowzers… these. look. incredible.

    • Erin replies to Hannah
      May 2, 2013 @ 12:05 am

      Thanks, Hannah! Happy to see that they seem to have had some kind of effect on you. :D

  • Trish - Mom On Timeout says
    May 1, 2013 @ 6:48 am

    These look amazing! I'm always trying half wheat flour half white flour but I've been too scared to "go all the way" :) You just proved me wrong! Pinned!

    • Erin replies to Trish – Mom On Timeout
      May 2, 2013 @ 12:07 am

      Thanks for pinning! And for the nice comment, too. :) I hope you do get a chance to go all the way with these brownies. You seriously can’t taste the whole grain flour! Unless you have some ridiculously badly milled flour or something…

  • Laura (Tutti Dolci) says
    May 1, 2013 @ 6:37 am

    These look so fudgy and decadent, my kind of chocolate heaven!

    • Erin replies to Laura (Tutti Dolci)
      May 2, 2013 @ 12:10 am

      Thanks, Laura! Decadent was what I was going for here so I’m happy that’s how it came across. ;)

  • Kristi @ My San Francisco Kitchen says
    May 1, 2013 @ 4:37 am

    Oooh these look so fudgy and delicious!

  • EatGood4Life says
    May 1, 2013 @ 3:25 am

    Wow these look super good. Are these the ones you posted on FB not long ago and wanted to make them more fancy? because they sure look fancy to me. That coconut, walnut, caramel topping looks sinful :-) I have never used grapeseed oil before. I really like the look of these brownies and I am sure they are also super moist for the looks of it!

    • Erin replies to EatGood4Life
      May 2, 2013 @ 12:12 am

      They’re the same ones! And you have to try to find some grapeseed oil. It’s good stuff. :) And yup… they were indeed super moist! More like goo. ;)

  • ashley - baker by nature says
    May 1, 2013 @ 3:00 am

    Oh my word, Erin, these are dangerously tempting me right now!!! I need them…!

  • Patricia says
    May 1, 2013 @ 1:19 am

    I love your recipes! Do you think butter-flavor grapeseed oil would taste okay?

    • Erin replies to Patricia
      May 2, 2013 @ 12:15 am

      Thanks, Patricia! I imagine it would be but I’ve never tried it. I was lucky to even get my hands on plain grapeseed oil. :) But as long as it’s not ridiculously artifically flavored… I don’t see how it would turn out badly!

  • Ames says
    May 1, 2013 @ 12:44 am

    Awesome! I am going to try these.

    • Erin replies to Ames
      May 2, 2013 @ 12:15 am

      Yay! I hope you like them, Ames! Let me know how they turn out. :)

  • eatgreatbegreat says
    April 30, 2013 @ 11:24 pm

    Wow…these sound amazing! I love the idea of using whole wheat flour! Awesome recipe!

    • Erin replies to eatgreatbegreat
      May 2, 2013 @ 12:16 am

      Thank you! I love my whole wheat, but you really can’t taste it here. A great place to start with whole wheat baking if you haven’t tried yet. :)

  • Tracey Wilhelmsen says
    April 30, 2013 @ 11:11 pm

    Oh wow, these look so super fudgy Erin! I cannot resist brownies, they are my kryptonite for sure :)

    • Erin replies to Tracey Wilhelmsen
      May 2, 2013 @ 12:18 am

      Haha. Yeah… same here. These were just dangerous with that caramel. And toasted coconut. Definitely not good to have so many test batches sitting around (although the test batches were plain, it was still bad news!)


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