These Grain-Free Chocolate Hazelnut Brownies happen to be grain-free and dairy-free, but the first time I made them, I was just trying to use up some hazelnut pulp, left over from making hazelnut milk. Though I’m a vegetarian, I have no problems with regular dairy, so I had no real reason for making the hazelnut milk. I just wanted to give it a try. I’m not anti-grain, either, but I am pro chocolate and hazelnuts. Which is really all you need to care about for this recipe. These are a super chocolate-y treat that you would never guess aren’t quite a conventional baked good.
The first time I made these, I made a full-size batch. Steven declared them the fluffiest brownies he had ever had (in a good way). And then the two of us had to eat them all. We barely survived the ordeal of consuming brownie after delicious brownie.
When I went to make a second batch for this post (oh, the sacrifices I make for this blog), I decided to try to halve the recipe. At first I was stumped about what pan to bake them in. I did all sorts of pan size calculations and searches for a little pan of the right size, until I realized that the answer was very simple. A 9″x5″ loaf pan is close enough to half the size of a 9″x9″ pan that it works perfectly for the halved recipe. I’m sure I’m far from the first person to realize this, but I feel like it opens up all sorts of possibilities for halving dessert recipes.
It seems like most dessert recipes were developed for families, which makes sense, but I usually don’t end up making 99.9% of the dessert recipes I pin, because I don’t need truck-loads of sweets sitting around, calling my name. If I could make half of the recipe, though, I think I’d be a lot more likely to give it a try. So I’m sharing my halved version of these hazelnut brownies, and if you want more, you can just double it. I will say that when I made the doubled version, it took a lot longer to bake. Like, 35 minutes. But I could have left more liquid in the nut pulp that time. So be prepared for some variation in the cooking time based on the nut pulp prep.
Speaking of nut pulp, if you’ve never made hazelnut milk, it’s super easy. Here are the steps:
1. Soak 1 cup of hazelnuts overnight in water, at room temperature. (I used roasted hazelnuts, but some people use raw.)
2. Dump out the soak water, then put the hazelnuts in a blender with 2 cups of water. Blend until the nuts are the consistency of coarse sand.
(Definitely put the lid on before you blend!)
3. Pour the nuts into a mesh nut milk bag, or layered fine cheesecloth, in a bowl.
4. Squeeze the nut pulp until you’ve gotten as much liquid out as you can.
Other than drink it plain, there are plenty of things you can do with hazelnut milk. It makes delicious overnight oats, and I’m looking forward to making chili chai hot chocolate or an adaptation of this chocolate and hazelnut vegan ice cream.
Grain-Free Chocolate Hazelnut Brownies
Makes 8 (2-inch square) brownies
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cups (110 grams) turbinado unrefined cane sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup (55 grams) extra-virgin coconut oil
1/4 cup plus 3 Tbsps packed (88 grams) moist hazelnut pulp
1/2 cup (50 grams) cocoa powder (I used natural, but Dutch-processed should work, too)
1 Tbsp finely chopped hazelnuts
1 Tbsp cacao nibs, optional
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350ºF (175ºC). Line the bottom and sides of a 9″ by 5″ loaf pan with parchment paper.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip the eggs, sugar, and salt on medium-high speed until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Stir in the vanilla extract.
While the eggs and sugar are being whipped, place the coconut oil and hazelnut pulp in a small saucepan and stir to combine. Heat on low, stirring frequently, until the coconut oil is melted and the nut pulp mixture is warm to the touch.
Turn the mixer to low, and add the nut pulp and coconut oil mixture, stirring just to combine. Sift the cocoa powder over the egg mixture and mix on low until just combined; the batter will deflate a lot.
Spread the batter in the lined pan, sprinkle with the chopped hazelnuts and cacao nibs, and bake until the brownies are matte on top, slightly puffed, and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 18-22 minutes.
Let cool completely, then lift the brownie out of the pan and cut into 8 squares. The brownies keep well, airtight at room temperature, for up to three days.
If you’re doubling the recipe, bake in an 8″ or 9″ square pan. You may need to bake significantly longer, up to 35 minutes, so use a tester to make sure they’re done.