Hazelnut Brownies | Gluten-, Egg- & Grain-Free

Serve up these brownies and I'll bet you get some raised eyebrows. "No egg? No grain? Really?" Really.

The inspiration for this recipe comes from three exceptionally talented recipe developers, Elana at Elana's Pantry, Kelly at The Spunky Coconut and Amy at Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free. Last spring, for a family gathering, I baked batches of Elana's Chocolate Chip Brownies, Kelly's Egg-Free Grain-Free Brownies and Amy's Chewy Chocolate Vegan Date Brownies and held a taste test. I invited my family to help proclaim the "best brownie." After countless mmmm's and ahhh's and hands reaching in for seconds and thirds, the votes were tallied. We had an honest-to-goodness three-way tie! And, it was no surprise. Each brownie had its unique, star attributes.

What attracted me to Amy's recipe was the use of dates as a sweetener. What attracted me to Kelly and Elana's recipes was the main ingredient they shared—almond butter. What a concept. Protein with your brownie! So the other day as I stood in the kitchen licking Justin's Chocolate Hazelnut Butter off a spoon, the thought came to me—vegan, date-sweetened, hazelnut brownies? Alas with some borrowing from Amy, Kelly and Elana, I present gluten-free, egg-free and grain-free Hazelnut Brownies.

Thank you Elana, Kelly and Amy for your inspiration!

Hazelnut Brownies

Gluten-Free | Casein-Free | Citrus-Free | Corn-Free | Dairy-Free | Egg-Free | Fish-Free | Nightshade-Free | Peanut-Free | Potato-Free | Rice-Free | Shellfish-Free | Soy-Free | Wheat-Free | Grain-Free | GFCF | Vegetarian | Vegan

Makes: 16 brownies
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35-40 minutes 

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Combine and set aside to soften:

1 cup boiling filtered WATER
1/3-1/2 cup gently packed DATES (about 12 small or 9 large)

Add to food processor and process until very smooth:

Softened DATES and SOAKING WATER (remove pits and any stem debris)
1 tablespoon extra light OLIVE OIL or extra virgin COCONUT OIL
2 teaspoons gluten-free VANILLA EXTRACT
1 teaspoon LEMON JUICE
30 drops vanilla creme or chocolate SWEET LEAF LIQUID STEVIA
1/3 cup EVAPORATED CANE JUICE or COCONUT PALM SUGAR
1/2 cup JUSTIN'S CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT BUTTER (or other chocolate nut butter)
2 tablespoons FLAX MEAL
1/2 scant teaspoon SEA SALT

Add to processor and process for one minute or until super smooth:

1/2 cup HAZELNUT MEAL (such as Bob's Red Mill which states it is gluten-free)
1/3 cup COCONUT FLOUR
1/3 cup COCOA POWDER

Finally, add to processor and process until just incorporated (do not over-mix):

2 teaspoons non-aluminum, corn-free BAKING POWDER (make your own)
1/2 teaspoon BAKING SODA

Gently and immediately spoon batter into a glass 9x9" oiled glass baking dish. With moistened hands, smooth top using a very light touch. Top brownie batter with and gently press in:

1/2 cup mini CHOCOLATE CHIPS (I use Enjoy Life® dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free mini chocolate chips)
2 tablespoons HAZELNUT MEAL

Bake at 350˚F for 40 minutes. Allow to cool completely before cutting.