No-Bake Hazelnut Ganache Brownies {gluten-free, vegan, refined sugar-free}

Dates, nuts, and cocoa powder form a fudgy base crowned with creamy coconut maple ganache for chewy bars of chocolatey bliss.  

No-Bake Hazelnut Ganache Brownies {gluten-free, vegan, refined sugar-free}

Here’s a quick, easy, and endlessly satisfying recipe for über-healthy brownies that taste like Nutella. I concocted these a couple of years ago during a little mini-cleanse that I did to try to rid myself of some mysterious neck pain. Hoping the cleanse might kick inflammation to the curb, I swore off dairy, processed grains, refined sugar, caffeine and alcohol for a week. But rather than feel deprived, I indulged in many new-to-me foods – this dip, a lentil and quinoa salad that we lived off of, lots of fun smoothies, and these little chocolate love bombs.

No-Bake Hazelnut Ganache Brownies {gluten-free, vegan, refined sugar-free}No-Bake Hazelnut Ganache Brownies {gluten-free, vegan, refined sugar-free}No-Bake Hazelnut Ganache Brownies {gluten-free, vegan, refined sugar-free}No-Bake Hazelnut Ganache Brownies {gluten-free, vegan, refined sugar-free}

Aside from the newfound ability to move my neck, these brownies were the best thing to come out of that week. The base is lightly adapted from Minimalist Baker (and when folded into this vegan ice cream, they are sublime). I based the ganache topping on the swirl in these cheesecakes, with a little almond milk whisked in to keep it extra creamy. I brought them to a rehearsal for a friend’s band, where the drummer took one bite and declared, “This is the best… FOOD… I’ve ever eaten.”

No-Bake Hazelnut Ganache Brownies {gluten-free, vegan, refined sugar-free}No-Bake Hazelnut Ganache Brownies {gluten-free, vegan, refined sugar-free}

The brownies stayed in the back of my mind for a while, and after indulging in a similar hazelnut-based treat at Seed+Salt with my niece a couple of weeks ago, I knew I had to share the recipe.

No-Bake Hazelnut Ganache Brownies {gluten-free, vegan, refined sugar-free}

This coming Sunday may not be good for much, but if Valentine’s day serves any purpose, it’s an excuse to make, eat, and share chocolate. Lots of chocolate.

No-Bake Hazelnut Ganache Brownies {gluten-free, vegan, refined sugar-free}

These come together in a snap, and they’ll fit into most everyone’s diet, be it gluten-, dairy-, grain- sugar-free, or all of the above. One thing it’s not free of is flavor. These are every bit as rich and decadent as the most fudgy traditional brownies, with added depth of flavor from toasted hazelnuts, dates, maple syrup and coconut oil. A thick layer of ganache melts into creamy bliss in your mouth, and crunchy cacao nibs and flaky salt form a chunky topping that will have you coming back for more.

No-Bake Hazelnut Ganache Brownies {gluten-free, vegan, refined sugar-free}

**And! If you need a quick chocolate fix, my friends over at A Purified Life are offering you lovely readers a deal on their delicious superfood chocolate. Get 20% off any order from now until midnight PST February 14th with the code ALANNA (that’s me!).**

No-Bake Hazelnut Ganache Brownies {gluten-free, vegan, refined sugar-free}

Wishing everyone a very chocolatey weekend.

No-Bake Hazelnut Ganache Brownies {gluten-free, vegan, refined sugar-free}

No-Bake Hazelnut Ganache Brownies {gluten-free, vegan, refined sugar-free}
Yields: 8-10 brownies
 
These decadent bar cookies come together in no time; do be sure to allow an hour or so for the ganache to set. If your dates aren't fresh and moist, give them a quick soak in enough hot water to cover the little guys, then drain well and proceed with the recipe. Brownie base adapted from Minimalist Baker. I love the taste of toasted hazelnuts here, but feel free to skip the toasting process for all-raw brownies.
Ingredients
Brownies:
  • ¾ cup (110 g) whole raw hazelnuts, plus 2 tablespoons (20 g) for topping
  • ½ cup (50 g) raw sliced or whole almonds
  • ½ cup (35 g) natural cocoa powder or raw cacao powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 cup (230 g) pitted, slightly packed dates (I use medjool)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Ganache:
  • 2 tablespoons (30 g) almond or hazelnut milk
  • ¼ cup (55 g) extra-virgin coconut oil
  • ¼ cup (70 g) maple syrup
  • ¼ cup (20 g) natural cocoa powder or raw cacao powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Topping:
  • chopped hazelnuts (from above)
  • handful cacao nibs
  • a few pinches of flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)
Instructions
  1. To make the brownies, preheat the oven to 350ºF. Spread the hazelnuts on a small, rimmed baking sheet and toast until golden and fragrant, 10-12 minutes. Let cool completely, then rub off as much of the loose skins as want to come off.
  2. Place ¾ cup of the hazelnuts in the bowl of a food processor, reserving the rest for garnish, and add the almonds, cocoa powder and salt. Process until finely ground, stopping the processor when the mixture just begins to clump, taking care not to overprocess to a paste. Scrape the nut mixture into a medium bowl and set aside.
  3. Add the dates and vanilla to the now-empty food processor and blend to a paste, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally. Scrape up the date paste, add the nut mixture, and process until a clumpy dough-like substance forms. Scrape this mixture into a 8x4 or 9x5-inch loaf pan lined with a sling of parchment paper and pack it into an even layer. Chill until needed.
  4. To make the ganache, combine the almond milk, coconut oil, maple syrup, cocoa powder and vanilla in a medium, heat-proof bowl. Set the bowl over a pot of gently simmering water, and whisk until melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly to thicken, whisking occasionally, 5-10 minutes. Pour the ganache over the brownies. Chill in the refrigerator until a bit firmer, 30 minutes. Chop the remaining 2 tablespoons of hazelnuts into large pieces. When the ganache has firmed a bit, sprinkle the hazelnuts, cacao nibs, and flaky salt evenly over the top. Chill until completely firm, 1 hour.
  5. Use the parchment handles to lift the brownie out of the pan, and use a chef's knife to cut into 8 or 10 bars.
  6. The brownies keep well, refrigerated airtight, for up to 1 week.

No-Bake Hazelnut Ganache Brownies {gluten-free, vegan, refined sugar-free}

25 thoughts on “No-Bake Hazelnut Ganache Brownies {gluten-free, vegan, refined sugar-free}”

  1. I’ve tried a few healthy brownie in my life, but none of them looked like, or in any way compare to this. I make a lot of really decadent stuff at home, but I usually give them to family and friends. I like to make something like this for myself when I really want a treat I don’t have to feel bad about. These are definitely on my to-make list!

  2. Alannaaaaaaaaaaa! Haha, where was this recipe when I was developing a hazelnut chocolate cake all week?! (Post goes live this weekend, and is gluten-free as an accidental Valentine’s present for you!) These brownies look absolutely stunning. I’ve been swimming in a sea of nonstop chocolate for the past week and I still feel the need to make these this instant. Will report back, mouth full of brownie excellence!
    xoxo

  3. I sometimes wonder why I still eat sugar with things like dates, raw cacao, nuts and coconut milk, among others, on the ready. But I guess there’s a place for it all and balance is key – or sugar only few and far between. I’ve recently reduced dairy and the pain in my arm is all but gone! My doc and mom said, it’s inflammation! I wonder what would happen if I added dairy back… hummm. I can see why the drummer would declare this is the best food ever! I get it! Thank you for this my dear!

  4. Dear Alanna, I am so making these!!! I might even make them tomorrow as a little treat for myself for a Valentines Day. They look so delicious and have all the ingredients I love, beautiful photography as always! <3

  5. Okay, so you need to understand that there is nothing I love more than hazelnuts. Well, except for ganache and here you are putting the two together in the best looking dessert ever! I definitely want to try these since I have never had a no-bake brownie. They look amazing!

    Rachel
    http://rachelinflight.com

  6. I just cannot deal with how amazing these look right now. It’s lunchtime on Wednesday and my hungry little brain is screaming at me to reach into the computer screen for a bite! I think I know what’s on the baking list this weekend. Seriously delicious Alanna.

  7. GREAT post!! These look wonderful! I made raw/vegan/paleo chocolate truffles a similar way and loved them. Even my “non healthy eating” family lives them! Such a great idea.

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