If you follow me on social media you may have seen me mention I gave up refined sugar for the month of January. Yep- hell has frozen over and I’m trying to curb my sweet tooth just for a month to make up for an extra sweet December. It’s been almost 3 weeks and it’s going pretty well. I was sick for the first week so that was easy, and since then I’ve been getting by on clementine oranges and large amounts of homemade pasta, (which is a future blog post don’t you worry.)
All was well and good until earlier this week when I really really wanted something. I wanted a cookie or just a bite of cake or something. Part of the craving may have come from having a particularly exhausting day, but truly I just love desserts and missed them. So- I starting thinking about baking with dates, something both my mom and mother-in-law both had mentioned in the past. I wouldn’t have normally considered omitting sugar from something like a brownie, but desperate times were upon me so that is exactly what I did.
I did some research, tried a couple different recipes and ended up with this: a super fudgy, gooey, chocolate-y brownie that is pretty damn good if I do say so myself. Without the sugar you don’t get certain texture things I normally look for in a brownie- crispy edges and a crust on top, but I could deal with that. They aren’t overly sweet of course, but sweet enough to taste rich and decadent. Date paste is the only sweetener in the actual brownie, but I did use a little raw honey in the glaze just for fun. You could do the same with brown rice syrup, agave, or maple syrup. A little sprinkle of sea salt on top and I was a happy camper. PLUS- Hugo loves these and I didn’t feel the least bit guilty letting him indulge.
Am I a sugar-free convert? Not quite, but I am happy to be rid of the afternoon slumps, and most important to know I can give it up. I’ll be back with something sweet and sinful in February don’t you worry!
- 1½ cups pitted dates
- 1 cup hot water
- ¾ cup unsalted butter* softened (1½ sticks)
- 2 cold eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¾ cup cocoa powder
- ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
- Sea salt for sprinkling
- 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 3 tablespoons honey or other natural syrup-type sweetener
- 1 tablespoon melted butter or coconut oil
- ¼ tsp pure vanilla extract
- Grease or line an 8x8 baking pan. Preheat oven to 350F.
- In a food processor or blender, puree the dates and hot water until smooth. Measure out a cup of the paste (mine yielded exactly a cup,) and transfer to a large bowl with the butter.
- Cream the butter and date paste until smooth.
- Add the eggs, one at a time and vanilla extract, mixing until fluffy and smooth.
- Add the cocoa and flour, and mix on low until well combined.
- Spread batter into prepared pan, smoothing with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle a little sea salt on top.
- Bake for 18-23 minutes, or until edges are set. Allow pan to cool while you prepare the glaze.
- Whisk together the butter, honey and cocoa powder. Add vanilla and whisk until smooth. If the glaze seems a little runny- add a dash more of cocoa powder. If it seems too thick- you can add a splash of milk. Drizzle over the brownies and sprinkle with more sea salt.
- Brownies will last for up to a week in a sealed container in the fridge.
*Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen's Cocoa Brownies