Healthy Courgette and Hazelnuts Brownies

These indulgent and delicious Vegan Brownies have the perfect fudgy balance between chewiness and gooiness, with a rich chocolate flavour that leaves you craving for more. You’ll have a hard time believing these brownies are sugar free, oil-butter free and made with a Courgette. I promise that you will not even think about the Courgette or miss the sugar, oil or butter.


Wet ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp of ground Flaxseeds

  • 3Tbsp of filtered Water

  • 100 gr of Hazelnuts

  • 80 gr of dark Chocolate (min 70%)

  • 160 gr of pitted dates (8-12 Dates)

  • 200 gr of grated Courgette

  • 50 ml of espresso coffee shot (or decaf)

  • 30 gr of dark Chocolate Chips (to be folded in)

Dry ingredients:

  • 90 gr of Wholemeal Flour, Spelt or Gluten free

  • 50 gr of ground Almond

  • 30 gr Cocoa powder

  • 1 tsp of Baking powder

  • 1/2 tsp of Baking Soda

Topping ingredients:

  • 1 handful of Hazelnuts

  • 1 handful of dark Chocolate Chips

About this recipe

Courgettes are truly in season now so if you grow them you are about to be swarmed and may feel a bit overwhelmed. I make it my mission to use Courgettes as much as possible. In my research I’ve come across a few vegan recipes of Courgette brownies but they all use sugar and oil or butter. After a few too many attempts I think I’ve reached the right balance now and come up with a recipe that doesn’t use oil, butter or sugar. Instead oil or butter I’m using a Hazelnut butter. I did my own Hazelnut butter here but if you don’t have a blender or are short with time then use store bought Almond butter or other Nut butter, I would avoid Peanut butter due to its strong flavour but it also works. The Flax egg helps to bind the ingredients together while the Dates add sweetness and create a gooey, chewy texture. The Courgettes bring moisture and their texture helps to keep the ingredients together too but I promise you will not even remember they are there. It’s a great way to include more veggies in your kids belly disguised as a naughty dessert. The coffee accentuates the natural flavour of Chocolate and also adds extra moisture. You can use decaffeinated instead and get the same taste. The most important ingredient in this Brownie is the Chocolate so you need to get the best dark Chocolate you can get or afford. Life is too short for bad Chocolate. These are the ultimate decadent Brownies and you will never think they are healthy!


Step 1 – Start by mixing the ground Flaxseeds with 3 Tbsp of filtered Water in a little bowl and put aside for 15 mins. Roast the Hazelnuts in a pre-heated oven at 170C for 12-14 mins or until lightly golden. If your nuts are already roasted you still need to lightly roast them for 6 mins to help release their natural oils.
Step 2 – While the Hazelnuts are roasting, grate the Courgette and melt the dark Chocolate in a bain-marie (heatproof glass bowl in a saucepan with simmering water) or microwave. Take the roasted Hazelnuts out of the oven and let them cool down for 5 mins.
Step 3 – Add the still warm but not hot, roasted Hazelnuts to a food processor and blend to a butter. Add the pitted Dates and process again to break down the dates until you have a kind of crumbly texture.

Step 4 – To the melted Chocolate add the Flaxseed mixture, Hazelnut butter with the Dates, and Coffee shot. Mix and fold with a spatula until well combined.

Step 5 – Fold in the grated Courgette and put aside. Meanwhile pre-heat the oven at 175C.
Step 6 – In a separate bowl mix together all the dry ingredients, Wholemeal Flour, ground Almond, Cocoa powder, baking powder and baking soda.
Step 7 – Sift the dry mix ingredients into the wet Chocolate mix with a fine meshed strainer by holding the handle with one hand and tapping gently with the other. You may need to use a spoon to help the last bits. Discard the big bits left in the strainer.
Step 8 – Mix the strained flour well but be careful not to overmix. Fold in the Chocolate Chips keeping some for topping. Line a 8×8 cm baking tray with parchment paper making sure there is some overhang on the sides. This will make it easy to lift the brownies out of the tray. Pour in the mixture.
Step 9 – Top with some Hazelnuts and remaining Chocolate Chips. Bake at 175C for 30-35 mins or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with some moist crumbs. Using the parchment paper as handles, carefully lift the brownies out of the pan and onto a wire rack. Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing.

About the Ingredients

Ground Flaxseeds: I grind my Flaxseeds (also called Linseeds) at home but you can also use Flaxseed meal or Milled Flaxseeds. When mixing ground Flaxseeds with water and letting it rest for 10-15 min it will transform into an almost eggy consistency. You can use in any recipe to replace eggs because it helps to bind all the other ingredients together. I normally use a ratio of 1:2.5 so 1 Tbsp of ground Flaxseeds to 2.5 Tbsp of water but here I’m using 1:3 as I want it a bit more moist.

Hazelnuts: You can use Almonds, Walnuts or any other nut you like. I adore Hazelnuts and they’re my favourite combination with chocolate. If you are in a rush you can also substitute with Almond butter or any other nut butter you have at home. Choose a fatty nut as this is our only source of fat in this recipe.

Dark Chocolate: Choose a good quality dairy free dark Chocolate min 70%, I’m using a 75% dark Chocolate. This is the most important ingredient and can make or break your Brownie. Dark chocolate typically contains some sugar but the amounts are usually small and the darker the chocolate the less sugar it will contain. Dark chocolate is loaded with polyphenols, flavanols and catechins, among others. According to research, the polyphenols in dark chocolate may help lower some forms of LDL cholesterol when combined with other foods like almonds and cocoa.

Dates: I’m using Medjoul Dates, mine are quite big so 8 are enough. Dates come in many sizes and that is the reason I gave the amount in gr. If you have a sweet tooth or your chocolate is very bitter you can increase the amount a little bit. If your Dates are hard, soak them in boiling water for 20 mins before blending. Dates are a fantastic and healthier substitute for sugar. Have a look at the research – are dates good for you

Grated Courgette: Courgettes are super healthy. They add moisture and extra structure. They also help make our brownies gooey and rich because we aren’t using butter or oil.

Expresso coffee shot: I love the combination of Coffee and Chocolate and think they are made to be together. If you are doing this brownie for little people or for a dinner party then use decaffeinated. If you are using Instant coffee make it strong and keep it short 50-60ml too. I think an espresso works really well.

Dark Chocolate chips: I’m using dairy free 70% dark Chocolate Chips and as with the other Dark Cholate for this recipe, choose a good quality one because life is too short for bad Chocolate.

Wholemeal Flour: You can substitute with other flours such as White, Spelt or gluten free and you will get different textures and results but shouldn’t vary too much. I’m using wholemeal Flour as it contains significant amounts of fibre as well as several vitamins and minerals, including selenium, manganese, phosphorus, copper, and folate.

Ground Almonds: They are high in healthy monounsaturated fats, fibre, protein, and various important nutrients plus they also add moisture and healthy fats to our Brownies. I’m using pre-ground Almonds but if you grind them at home bring them to a fine flour but be careful not to let them form into a butter.

Cocoa powder: I’m using organic Cocoa powder and I prefer Dutch process powder. If you have the latter omit the Baking Soda. You’ve probably seen natural cocoa powder, Dutch-process cocoa powder and cacao powder and like me, wondered what the difference was among these three ingredients. Natural cocoa powder is extracted from beans that have been roasted at high temperatures to remove much of the bitterness. Dutch-process cocoa powder is made much the same but the beans are treated with alkali, which neutralizes their natural astringency, giving them and the resulting powder a darker colour. For this reason, many recipes that specify natural cocoa powder also include baking soda, which has alkaline qualities that balance the cocoa’s acidity.