2 cups packed dates (Make sure your dates are soft and pitted. If they are a bit firm and dry, soak them in water for about 15-20 mins. Reserve ¼ cup of soaking water for this recipe.)
¼ cup hot water (If you soaked your dates, use the soaking water. If not, just measure out fresh hot water)
½ cup almond butter
¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup dark chocolate chips
½ cup chopped nuts or seeds (walnuts, almonds, pecans, pumpkin or sunflower seeds are all great options)
½ cup rolled oats
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8x8 square baking pan or standard loaf pan with parchment paper. Let some of the paper hang over the edges for easy release.
Add only pitted dates to food processor and blend until they break down and form a ball.
Then add hot water and blend until the ingredients create a paste-like texture.
Next, add almond butter, applesauce, cocoa powder, vanilla and cinnamon. Process until a thick batter forms. If you are using chocolate chips, nuts and/or oats, add them last and pulse a few times to incorporate. You still want to keep them chunky.
Scoop batter into prepared pan and with the back of your spoon/spatula press the batter into the pan. You can also lay a piece of parchment paper over the top and with the palm of your hand gently press the batter into the pan.
Bake in oven for 15-17 mins. Remove from oven and let brownies cool in pan for 10 mins. Use the edges of the parchment paper to lift brownies out of pan. Place on a cooling rack for at least 30 mins. The longer it rests, the more the brownies will firm up.
Slice into squares and enjoy! Store leftovers covered at room temperature for up to 3 days. They will also keep in the fridge for up to 1 week. Double the recipe and put a baked batch in the freezer for up to 1 month. Be sure to let your brownies cool completely before storing in the freezer.