Soak the dates in about 1 cup of ‘just boiled’ hot water for 10 minutes or until the dates soften (make sure the water covers the tops of the dates). Then remove and chop the dates roughly before transferring them to the food processor (This helps to make the blending process faster for a smoother texture. However if the dates are already quite soft, you can skip the chopping step). Alternatively, use raisins in this recipe (see Recipe Notes).
If using canned beans, rinse and drain them well, then put them into a food processor (this works better than a blender). Otherwise, measure out 2 cups of cooked beans to use in this recipe.
In the last 15 minutes, remove the aluminum foil. If using shredded coconut, sprinkle them on now (optional), then let the dish bake uncovered for the remaining bake time. The brownie smells should start wafting through the kitchen soon!
Remove the dish from the oven, perform the knife test (run the tip of a knife into the brownie all the way to the bottom and then pull it out to see if the brownie mix is baked through. If so, the blade should be mostly clear with minimal batter on it.
Do not attempt to cut the brownies yet. Once removed from the oven, let the brownie in the dish cool down uncovered on the countertop for 5 minutes. Then transfer the dish to the refrigerator to let cool further for at least 10 minutes before attempting to cut them. This will speed up the process of the brownies firming up as they cool. (Don’t worry, the brownies will still be warm when removed from the refrigerator even after the cooling time.)
Cut into brownie squares, then serve!
Notes: These brownies will harden as they cool. By covering the dish with aluminum foil during the first part of the baking, you will prevent large cracks from forming on the brownie surface.
Instead of using dates, you can substitute the half cup of dates with ¾ cup [dry weight] of raisins. Soak the raisins first in hot water for 5 minutes, then drain the liquid and place the soaked plump raisins in the food processor bowl to blend with the black beans.
For a gluten-free version, use certified gluten-free oats in this recipe.