450g dried dates, pitted
250g hazelnuts, whole
5 heaped tablespoons of raw cacao powder
4 tablespoons date syrup (or can use maple syrup)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of sea salt
Put the dates in a bowl and pour over boiling water until almost covered and let soak for about 10-15 mins until the dates have softened.
Preheat oven to 180c, fan. Place the whole hazelnuts on a baking tray in a single layer and roast 5-10 minutes until golden, take out and leave to cool, reserve a handful for sprinkling over the top
Once cool, blend the roasted hazelnuts in a food processor and set aside.
Blend the dates and water they soaked in – this can get a bit sticky and you may need to stop blending, stir the dates and blend again. Then add the whizzed up hazelnuts, cacao powder, date (or maple syrup, vanilla extract and pinch of salt and blend again.
Line a baking tray (27 x 20cm) with greaseproof paper and dollop the mixture in, smoothing into a layer (not sure how they get this so neatly on the bake off?!) and refrigerate for 2-3 hours.
Once the brownies are set, cut up into small chunks and serve sprinkled with some of the reserved, chopped hazelnuts.
You can keep the remainder in the fridge.
You could serve with some vanilla yoghurt if fancied.
Don’t be fooled into thinking these brownies are sugar-free because dates are one of the most sugary fruits ever – BUT dates do contain some important vitamin and minerals (including potassium, magnesium, copper, manganese and vitamin B6 with a little iron), antioxidants (such as flavonoids, carotenoids and phenolic acid which are anti-inflammatory) and are good source of fibre. This makes dates a much better ingredient for brownies than sugar. Using date syrup gives them a really rich and dense flavour.
I’ve used whole hazelnuts as there are health-giving polyphenols in the skins but you could also use blanched.
They are guten-free and refined sugar-free, just not actually sugar-free.