Imagine the very best brownies you’ve ever had. Now, imagine a brownie even better than that and one made with all wholesome ingredients - that’s where The Best Vegan Date-Night Brownies come in! Seriously, these are top-notch, and made with coconut flour, almond butter, dates, and dark chocolate.
This one bag of coconut flour from a close friend sat on my shelf surrounded by my go-to baking ingredients. I neglected it on purpose, as I usually do with this fussy flour. Almost every attempt at a coconut-flour-baked-good in my kitchen has come out looking and tasting like… well, like something you wouldn’t want to eat and something I would never post here. Only a few well-tested recipes (Twix bars, anyone? or maybe some blondies with dark chocolate chunks?) can handle the coconut flour, and you bet I’ve whipped up batch after batch of those two recipes.
Only a couple servings of flour remain in the bag, and as I planned this week’s recipes, I knew I wanted to test something along the lines of the most incredible delicious fudgey chocolatey brownie ever. Something like that. I stared that bag of coconut flour down with utmost determination to not just make it work, but to NAIL a grain-free brownie recipe. Grain-free diets are “in” right now, and I know that’s because of the emerging chatter and new research about low-carb diets (mehh), but I know it’s also because we’re opening our eyes to how wheat is farmed here in the US. To make a really long story short, most of the wheat on the market is not high-quality, which leads us to look for alternatives to the commonly used grain.
And that I can support. I’ll still purchase organic whole-wheat flour to use for recipes because I love a good fluffy muffin, coffee cake, cinnamon roll, and the like, and grain-free flours don’t really work the way I want them to for those recipes. For other things, like cookies and bars, I’m open to experimenting and I’m up for the challenge. Bring it on, coconut flour.
I first tested this recipe with turbinado sugar, a less-refined granulated sugar somewhere between brown and muscovado sugar. It’s moisture content lends it well to cookies and bars, but the grainy texture makes creaming it into the oil or fat component quite difficult. If you like more a crunch in your cookies and bars, turbinado sugar is all yours. I, however, wasn’t a fan. My shelf of baking ingredients has slowly but surely dwindled down to the infamous bag of coconut flour, some whole-wheat, that bag of turbinado sugar from round 1, and a few other random necessities - none of which were sweeteners I could’ve used to test another round, so it was time to get creative.
DATES. Nothing will yield a fudgier, gooier brownie than caramelly Medjool dates. I mean, come on - loooooooook at that texture.
I’m not all jazzed up for these brownies because they’re grain-free and refined-sugar-free and dairy-free and egg-free and yada yada yada. I’m jazzed up because I think I’ve conquered the infamous coconut flour (at least when it comes to baking). GOTCHAAAA. Once or twice, I’ve cried at the first bite of a new recipe like this, and yes, I cried a little bit here.
Makes about 10-12 brownies
1/2 heaping cup natural almond butter
4 oz. high-quality dark chocolate bar, chopped into chunks
1/2 cup pitted Medjool dates, soaked in hot water for 20-30 minutes and then drained
2 tbsp. ground flaxseed meal
3 tbsp. filtered water
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tbsp. coconut flour
1 tsp. of sea salt
1/2 tsp. of baking soda
Oil, for greasing (I used coconut)
Preheat the oven to 350 F and lightly grease a 9x5 baking dish with oil. Set aside.
In a small ramekin, whisk together the flaxseed meal and water, and set aside for 5 minutes to thicken. This is your “flax egg”.
Melt 3 ounces of dark chocolate in the microwave in a small microwave-safe bowl. Pour this into a high-powered blender with the almond butter, soaked and drained dates, and flax egg. Pulse to combine, then blend for a few seconds or until the dates are no longer chunky.
Add the vanilla extract, coconut flour, sea salt, and baking soda. Pulse again to combine.
Transfer the batter to the greased baking dish and top with the remaining dark chocolate chunks and bake at 350F for 20-22 minutes. You may need to perform the toothpick test in a couple spots throughout the brownies to make sure you aren’t hitting a chunk. When the toothpick comes out with just a few crumbs on it, remove the brownies from the oven and cool them completely (at least 1 hour) before cutting and serving.
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.