Sweetened mostly with dates, these vegan zucchini brownies are low in sugar and fat, but the decadent chocolate-peanut frosting makes them taste rich and fudgy.
Even when your blog is called “FatFree Vegan Kitchen,” some occasions just demand to be celebrated with chocolate and peanut butter. My family has been through some challenging times recently, so when we see an opportunity to celebrate, we seize it. Today is my beloved husband’s birthday, and he requested Barbequed Ribz for dinner tonight and let me decide what to make for dessert. I’ve had a craving for chocolate lately, so I chose to make up a batch of chewy, chocolately brownies with a little green zucchini twist.
But before I get to the recipe, I have some news about this little guy, and another reason to celebrate:
Loki is home! Unless you follow me on Facebook, you probably didn’t know he was missing because for four days I was too busy looking for him to worry about cooking or posting to my blog.
About two weeks ago, I woke up and noticed immediately that Loki didn’t run to greet me like he always does. We searched the house from top to bottom (I even looked in the dryer and the refrigerator) and he wasn’t here. The only explanation we could come up with was that he must have gotten out the night before, and no one had noticed.
We began calling him and searching the yard. When we couldn’t find him, we went around to our neighbors and asked them to look in their yards. When he still didn’t turn up, I really became panicked. I spent most of that first day outside, walking the streets calling him. I called Animal Control, emailed animal shelters (including the one that had rescued him), and contacted his vet.
That night and the three that followed, I could barely sleep for getting up and checking the back porch to see if he’d come home. I put up signs around the neighborhood, which promptly got rained down, looked in every tree, put his food and litter box in the carport, and eventually lost my voice from calling him. On his fourth day missing, Saturday, my daughter E and I laminated posters, posted them on the nearby streets, and put fliers in people’s mailboxes offering a reward. We were distraught and beginning to lose hope of seeing Loki again.
On Sunday morning, I was awakened by E running into my room shouting, “Loki is back! He was on the back porch when I got up!” I jumped from bed and went to check him out. He was a little hungry and a little jumpy, but as soon as I sat down, he was back in his place on my lap. Except for some sticky substance on his rabies tag, he was clean and unharmed. My best guess is that either he was trapped in someone’s shed or garage or someone, perhaps some kids, had taken him in, despite his ID tag. Whatever happened, we’re so relieved to have him back, and he seems happy to be home and less inclined to run out the door. (For more of Loki, check out these posts.)
Vegan Zucchini Brownies with a Healthy Twist
So we have a lot to celebrate. And these brownies are a way to do it without overdoing it. I used dates to sweeten them, so the basic brownie is very low in sugar and virtually fat free. But you can dress them up–a lot–by adding walnuts and a simple chocolate-peanut butter frosting that I learned from my friend Nava Atlas’s book Vegan Express.
And if you’re worried about tasting the zucchini, don’t. It adds moisture and, possibly, a dash of green, but the flavor is undetectable. Just ask my daughter E, who begged me not to add zucchini to the entire batch of brownies and then had to concede that she couldn’t taste it. And that she loved them.
Date-Sweetened Vegan Zucchini Brownies with Chocolate-Peanut Butter Frosting
- 1/2 cup pitted and chopped medjool dates
- 3/4 cup hot water
- 1/3 cup applesauce
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup white whole wheat or whole wheat pastry flour
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup vegan sugar, xylitol, stevia baking blend, or sweetener of choice (see note)
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup finely shredded zucchini (about 1/2 medium zucchini shredded in food processor)
- 1/4 cup walnut pieces optional
- 1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips
- 3 tablespoons almond milk or other non-dairy milk
- 1 tablespoon natural peanut butter or other nut butter
- Place the dates in a small bowl and pour the hot water over them. Allow to soak until the dates are soft, about 1/2 hour.
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare an 8×8-inch baking dish by lining it with parchment paper or oiling lightly.
- Put the dates and the soaking water in the blender with the applesauce and vanilla. Blend at high speed until completely smooth. Set aside.
- Combine the flour, cocoa, sugar or substitute, baking soda, and salt. Stir in the zucchini and walnuts, if using. Add the blended date mixture and stir until all the flour is moistened. The batter will be thick. Spoon it into the prepared pan and smooth over the top.
- Bake for about 25 minutes, or until brownies are no longer liquid in the middle and edges are firm but not drying out. Allow to cool.
- You can eat them plain or add the Chocolate-Peanut Butter Frosting:
- Combine the chocolate chips, non-dairy milk, and nut butter in a small microwaveable bowl or the top of a double boiler. If microwaving, cook on high for 30 seconds, stir, and repeat microwaving and stirring for 10-second intervals, until frosting is smooth. In double boiler, cook and stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Frost brownies immediately. Allow to stand about 20 minutes to firm up before cutting into 16 servings. Enjoy!
Nutritional info is approximate.
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Renard MoreauAugust 20, 2014 at 4:25 pm
[ Smiles ] Scrumptious!
You’ve proven that vegan pastries are delicious and exciting.
Nicely done, Susan.
Jordan CoeymanSeptember 15, 2014 at 12:20 pm
Wow. These brownies look absolutely mouth-watering! Thanks sharing this recipe, Susan. I can’t wait to make these delicious looking desserts.
TheSexyVeggie.comOctober 1, 2014 at 7:03 am
This looks so delicious! I think I’m going to make it for my b-day cake on Sunday (is it sad that I’m making my own cake?). I’m so glad you found your cat. I lost one of mine a week and a half ago and it was very traumatic. So sudden and unexpected and I’m still missing her every day. 🙁 I think these brownies (or cake as I’m going to make it) will help. 😉
I love reading all of your wonder recipes and blog entries. Thanks!
PatchuliaOctober 4, 2014 at 5:48 pm
Susan, thanks for this great recipe! The cake was so delicious…:).
Cameron GrayOctober 7, 2014 at 2:49 pm
I just stumbled upon your website and it has been a godsend! I just wanted to let you know. Im now slowly working my way through all of your posts. I have been a vegetarian for 11 years now and due to gallbladder issues have had to switch to a low fat diet. This lead me to give up the last of my animal products, turning me entirely vegan for the past few months. I have also been cutting out soy, refined sugars, and almost all of my white flours. Your blog is EXACTLY what I have been yearning for, especially as I am a professional baker and you have an extensive. I just wanted to say thank you for showing the world vegan and fat free can also be delicious.
IdaOctober 8, 2014 at 2:22 am
Wooow after I saw this mouthwatering Picture I immediately had to try this. I just can say it’s gorgeous!! Thank you very much for this wonderful recipe.
Best wishes Ida
SandraOctober 19, 2014 at 1:48 pm
I just found your blog and started to have a look around: these brownies immediately took my attention and I can’t wait to try them!
Also cat-lover: so glad you found your beautiful Loki!
MTNovember 27, 2014 at 8:14 am
Yesterday was not my day for baking… I tried the brownies for dessert but for me they did not firm up. After 25 min baking they were still pretty much liquid inside. The note said that the batter should be thick but for me it was not (I actually poured the batter into the form rather than scoop it). I checked to see if maybe I did not put enough flour but no, I had it right. Any ideas what went wrong? The end result does not look like your picture. Mine did not come out cake like but rather kind of fudge at the bottom.
By the way, the frosting came out just fine.
ValerieJanuary 24, 2015 at 7:08 am
I don’t have medjool dates but I have deflect noor do you think they would be just as good?
Susan VoisinJanuary 24, 2015 at 9:11 am
I think they’ll be fine. Really, any type of dates will do.
LynneFebruary 6, 2015 at 10:02 am
I’ve made these twice now. I think I might have used a bit more zucchini the second time because they took 35 minutes to bake. The first batch took 30 minutes. Frankly, I’d wait a lot longer because these are wonderful! I live alone and ration one per day. (Okay, a few days I had two.) Some I keep on the counter, others in the refrigerator. Even after two weeks, these are still “wonderful”! Susan, thank you for another awesome recipe!!
Vegan JunctionFebruary 12, 2015 at 4:02 pm
Welcome home Loki!! And, ooh, I like the use of zucchini!
BlannieApril 24, 2015 at 5:56 pm
I just made these and they came out looking just like your pictures. That never happens to me, LOL! And they’re good! I used 1/2 cup of coconut sugar and added the walnuts and frosting. Go big or go home is my motto. Thanks for the great recipe!
VickyJuly 28, 2015 at 10:14 am
So happy you found your kitty!!!
SarahJuly 28, 2015 at 11:04 am
Could you use almond flour instead of whole wheat flour? Thank you!
Ruth DonnellyJuly 29, 2015 at 9:09 am
So glad Loki is safely home!!! And I love date-sweetened anything, so yum!
Mary SJuly 11, 2016 at 12:17 am
I want to learn more about sweetening recipes w/ dates. Last Christmas I was planning on making a recipe that called for dates; for economy’s sake I got a product called Baking Dates which looks like a dense, ready-to-use puree (never did make that recipe). Have you or any of your followers ever used this? How would you suggest that I sub it for soaked dried dates? I’m ALMOST brave enough to go the trial-and-error route but if anyone has any experience w/ this I would really appreciate some input.
Loki is SO beautiful; we’ve had a couple of our 4 normally 100% indoor critters go missing overnight but the one came back on his own and the other let us persuade her that it was in her best interest to come back into the house. Hopefully he learned his lesson.
MarieAugust 7, 2016 at 3:33 am
Just made this recipe tonight and am so thrilled with how it came out! Amazingly moist, and the peanut butter / chocolate frosting was just the cherry on top. My first date-sweetened recipe was a huge success 🙂 Thanks for the post!
LindaSeptember 20, 2016 at 9:32 am
I don’t usually leave comments but this recipe is exceptional. I’ve made it twice already and can’t wait to make it again. The brownies are fudge like and you would never know there was zucchini in the recipe. Apparently the zucchini allows these brownies to be very moist. I’ve baked low fat before and the moisture just isn’t there, no matter what I’ve used to make up for the lack of oil. These brownies have ingredients that are healthy and the taste is truly delicious.
JessicaFebruary 13, 2017 at 11:07 am
I made these for my boyfriends birthday last night. WOW. They are the most fudgey-gooey, delicious vegan brownies I’ve ever made. I DEFINITELY prefer them to my usual brownie recipes that are full of Earth balance and oil. And wait, there’s zucchini in them? You would never know.
Thank you for a great recipe, such a hit.
Wendy CopeJuly 3, 2017 at 5:12 pm
These are the best! Make them every couple of weeks.
AlyssaJuly 21, 2017 at 10:30 am
While I’d say these fall more under the category of cake than brownie, there were nonetheless delicious! I made them without the frosting, but kept the walnuts and they were fantastic. I would definitely make these again as a healthy treat.
Katie McVayJuly 25, 2017 at 11:02 am
Just made these and they are delicious! I accidentally used cucumber instead of zucchini and it worked fine (brought hone what I thought were zucchini from our community garden, it became obvious that I was wrong when I started shredding one, lol). I didn’t add any sugar but used quite a heaping half cup if dates and added chocolate chips to the batter. No frosting. Sweetness is perfect for me. For the flour I used 1/4 cup white, 1/4 cup whole wheat, 1/4 cup almond, and 1/4 oat. I will be making these again! Thanks!
Susan VoisinJuly 25, 2017 at 11:15 am
Thank you for your feedback. I’m especially excited to hear that cucumber works!
LaurenSeptember 12, 2017 at 5:08 pm
I couldn’t believe how incredibly thick and fudgy these came out. I’m slightly amazed:)
Thank you for the mind blowing recipe!
EllaSeptember 15, 2018 at 6:37 pm
This looks amazing! I have to try it. Question… can I use GF floour or Oat flour instead.of regular? Will.it work?
DavolJuly 13, 2019 at 11:37 am
Susan, another fantastic recipe! Thank you.
I used 1/4 c date sugar for the sweetener. With the frosting on top, these are the perfect amount of sweetness. No one would ever guess that zucchini is an ingredient 🙂
Carol McCollumAugust 9, 2019 at 7:05 pm
So glad Loki returned safely!! Recipe looks scrumptious. You listed XYLITOL as an option for sweetener. XYLITOL… even a tiny bit can be fatal to dogs or cats. I’m not saying that anyone is going to feed these brownies to their pets, but whenever I see XYLITOL listed, I want to share the warning. Read about a friend dropping in for a visit, & she put her purse on the floor next to the sofa. The two friends went to kitchen for coffee & to chat. Dog got chewing gum that was sweetened w/XYLITOL out of the purse… and chewed it. Dog died. XYLITOL is used in candies, gum, sweets, toothpaste, etc.
Susan VoisinAugust 9, 2019 at 7:42 pm
Thanks for letting me know!
MaggieJune 27, 2020 at 5:29 pm
My CSA bag is overflowing with more zucchini than I know what to do with. It gave me an excuse to try out this recipe. These brownies are AWESOME!!! I added a handful of vegan chocolate chips and craisins, with the walnuts, for an extra treat. This recipe is definitely a keeper!