>Super secret ingredient brownies!

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I love brownies. Growing up, they were my mother’s go-to dessert, and I remember helping her prepare more of those Duncan Hines boxed mixes than I could count. In college, I continued my mother’s tradition of always having a box of brownie mix on hand for a quick and easy dessert. So easy — dump in the mix, add some eggs and oil, mix, and presto! In 30 minutes, you have brownies.

Not to scare you, but have you ever read the ingredient list or the nutritional content of those mixes? Whoa! It’s good that they are so yummy, because man! The calories! The sugar!

It’s true, making a batch of brownies that are reasonably healthy and delicious is quite a challenge. I found that using dark chocolate, wheat flour, and just enough butter to give it that salty-sweet flavor made for a tasty and somewhat guiltless brownie (I know, those words should never be strung together…but I just did). The secret ingredient? Dates. Yes, dates. Their texture and brown sugary flavor was the perfect replacement to reduce both the butter and sugar content. The result? A cake-y, somewhat chewy brownie that will satisfy my brownie craving!

Yield is 9 large or 18 small brownies.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 cup date butter (store bought or homemade)
1 tsp instant espresso
1 tsp warm water
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup chocolate chips (optional)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Using the double broiler method, melt the butter and chocolate together, making sure to stir to keep from scorching.

While that’s going, whisk together the eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Add the melted chocolate/butter, and combine. Mix in the date butter and cocoa powder.

In a small bowl, combine the water and espresso powder until well mixed, then add the mixture to the other ingredients.

Add the flour, and mix in, taking care not to overmix. Spray and flour a 9 x 9 pan, and pour in the mix. Sprinkle the chocolate chips and nuts, if desired. Bake for 30 minutes, cool completely before cutting. Refrigerate to store.

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