Cacao-Hazelnut Brownies

These are quite possibly the best healthy cakes I have ever baked – they are melt-in-your-mouth moist and the hazelnut flour reminds me of devouring posh Nutella (gianduia) when I lived in Italy. Adapted from a chocolate olive oil cake recipe by the ultimate domestic goddess Nigella Lawson, I decided to experiment by making a fully paleo version using coconut oil, coconut sugar and ground hazelnuts instead of flour. You could, like Nigella, use ground almonds instead if they are more easily available.

So easy to make, they have become my go-to gluten, dairy and refined sugar-free treat!


⅔ coconut oil (melted)

6 tablespoons raw cacao powder (sifted)

½ cup boiling water

2 tsp vanilla extract  

1 cup of coconut palm sugar

3 medium-sized eggs

1½ cups of finely ground hazelnuts  

½ tsp baking powder  

A pinch of salt


1. Line an 8 x 8 inch brown pan with greaseproof paper and preheat your oven to 170 Celsius.

2. Boil the water and sift the 6 tablespoons of raw cacao into a jug or bowl. Whisk in the ½ cup of hot water and vanilla extract, and then continue to whisk until the mixture is smooth but quite runny. Then leave to one side to cool for about 4 minutes. 

3. In another bowl, whisk together the ground hazelnuts, baking powder and salt.

4. Then, taking the jug/bowl with the chocolate mixture, whisk in the melted coconut oil and eggs, and after about 1 minute of whisking, add the dry ingredients from the other bowl.

5. Whisk the mixture together for about 2 more minutes until it has a texture of thick cream.

6. Pour the batter into the lined tin and place in the oven on a medium shelf for no more than 30 minutes – the top should be cracking a bit but it should still feel very moist and springy to the touch.

7. Let it cool completely in the tin and then lift it out and slice away :)