Rich Dark Chocolate Brownies (Gluten Free, Vegan, Refined Sugar Free)

Did everyone enjoy the long Memorial Day weekend?  Alex and I kept it pretty low key, relaxing at home, but we also had the chance to finally act like it was summer.  Although it was kind of chilly, we made the best of it by taking a nice walk to get ice cream on Saturday, and we had a picnic with Alex’s mom and step-dad on Memorial Day.  We even got to see one of my best guy friends from home (Pittsburgh) for lunch as he and his girlfriend made their way to Toronto for the weekend.  Surreal, since I consider Buffalo an entirely different world, but it was a nice surprise!

I’ve been wanting to make some really chocolatey brownies since I’ve been finished with school, and I finally got my chance this weekend.  I brought these along to the picnic, knowing that Alex’s mom would enjoy trying them, since they’re gluten free and free of any processed sugar.  They’re sweetened with dates and a bit of liquid stevia, so I was both really excited and a little bit nervous as to how they would taste.  Thankfully, these were just what I was looking for.  Super rich and chocolatey, not overly sweet, with a texture like fudgy cake.

These brownies are really easy to make – you just throw everything into the food processor for the batter.  No melting chocolate, which I was a little bit leery about at first, since you use unsweetened chocolate.  As long as you make sure it’s pulsed finely enough, you’ll have no problems; otherwise, you’ll have some chunks that are very much not sweet, which may not be your cup of tea.
I cut these brownies a lot smaller than I usually would (getting 16 from an 8×8″ pan instead of 8-12), but with how rich they are, it was perfect for me.  If you’re not a coconut oil fan, feel free to use butter or a more refined coconut oil without the coconut taste – just keep in mind it’ll no longer be vegan if you use butter!  I actually didn’t really intend to make this vegan; I ran out of eggs, so I had to use the flax egg substitute.  It still turned out really well, so I’m sharing both options in this recipe!
These would be great with a peanut butter cream cheese or coconut pecan frosting.  I have some coconut pecan frosting stashed away in the freezer, so I may just have to pull some of that out for a few of these.  YUM.
Did you make anything for Memorial Day?  Do you celebrate with a picnic?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!
Rich Dark Chocolate Brownies (Gluten Free, Vegan, Refined Sugar Free)

yields 16 small brownies - one 8x8-inch pan

Rich Dark Chocolate Brownies (Gluten Free, Vegan, Refined Sugar Free)

  • 3 Tbsp ground flax seed*
  • 1/2 cup water*
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
  • 1/2 cup dates, pitted
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 tsp liquid stevia
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Line an 8x8-inch baking pan with parchment paper, and preheat the oven to 350ºF.

In a small bowl, whisk together the ground flax and water for a flax egg. Allow to sit for about 5 minutes, until it thickens.

In another small bowl, stir together the almond flour and salt.

Place the chocolate in the bowl of a food processor, and pulse until in fine crumbs. Add the dates, and pulse until there are no longer large chunks. Add the almond flour mixture and flax egg (or eggs) and pulse until well mixed. Add the coconut oil, liquid stevia, and vanilla, and pulse until smooth.

Scoop the batter into the parchment lined baking pan, and smooth with a spatula.

Bake at 350ºF for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out just with just a bit of chocolate (not gooey so that it's totally coated, but not just crumbs). Allow to cool in the pan for about an hour before lifting the parchment out and cutting into squares.

Store in an airtight container.

*You can replace the flax and water with 3 eggs.

adapted from Elana's Pantry