These are moist, dense, and chewy—just like brownies ought to be—but without the sugar-induced coma of a regular brownie. They are a treat you can feel good about serving often, filled as they are with wholesome dried fruit and omega-3-rich walnuts.
I have the cutest picture of James eating these (without the nuts) in his high chair as a toddler. He is covered with carob all the way up to his ears and is smiling contentedly. Now I feed them to my little two-year-old niece, Summer Irene, who enjoys them as much as her big cousin.
1Place the dates and dried plums into a small saucepan and cover with 1 1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 minute, then remove from heat, cover, and let the dried fruit soak while you assemble the rest of the ingredients.
2Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9 × 9-inch baking pan with nonstick spray and set aside.
3Sift or whisk together the barley flour, brown rice flour, carob powder, baking powder, and salt.
4Place the maple syrup, canola oil, vanilla, and the date, dried plum, and water mixture into a blender. Process until completely smooth. Pour the liquid into the dry ingredients and stir together until well combined. Fold in the walnuts, carob chips, and dried cherries.
5Spread the mixture out in the baking pan. Smooth the top using a spatula. Bake for 30 minutes, until the surface springs back to the touch.