Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit).
Drain the dates and place in a food processor or blender with the almond milk and coconut oil.
Blend until completely smooth, mixing it around a couple of times if necessary.
Transfer into a large mixing bowl along with the ground almonds, cocoa powder, salt and baking powder.
Mix well, adding a tiny splash more milk if it’s looking too dry.
Transfer the mixture into a square or rectangular baking tin lined with greased baking paper – I used a 23cm/9inch square baking tin.
Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. They should be slightly cracked at the top and slightly firm inside but still quite gooey – be careful not to overcook!
Leave to cool completely before applying the peppermint cream.
For the peppermint cream:
Drain the soaked cashews and place in a food processor or blender with the maple syrup, almond milk and peppermint extract.
Whizz until completely smooth.
Taste and adjust amount of peppermint extract/maple syrup if necessary.
If you wish to add colour, add the spirulina powder a tiny amount at a time until you achieve your desired colour - be very careful not to add too much, otherwise the flavour and colour will be very strong.
Use a knife to spread the peppermint cream over the top of the brownies.
For the chocolate ganache:
Break up the chocolate into small pieces and place in a bowl with the almond milk.
Place the bowl over a pan of boiling water and stir regularly until melted – make sure not to overheat it as the chocolate will ‘split’ if you heat it too much.
If the chocolate does split, you can easily fix this by adding boiling hot water to it 1 teaspoon at a time and stirring well until the mixture goes back to normal.
Carefully pour the chocolate ganache on top of the peppermint cream layer.
Use a spatula, knife or spoon to evenly spread the chocolate across the surface.
Place in the fridge for at least a few hours or overnight for all the layers to firm up before cutting into squares.
Keeps covered in the fridge for up to a few days.
*Tips for baking with peppermint extract:
Peppermint extract can vary in strength and flavour depending on the brand you use - so it's best to add it a bit at a time and taste as you go to ensure you don't add too much.
Some brands can be very potent, and you don't want your Peppermint Brownies to taste like toothpaste!
Most brands are naturally vegan and gluten-free, but it's always best to check the ingredients first to make sure.
**Tips for using spirulina powder as a food colouring:
Spirulina powder gives the peppermint cream a lovely light green colour, but it needs to be used with caution!
It's best to add it a tiny bit at a time until you achieve your desired colour.
Be careful not to add too much, otherwise the flavour and colour will be very strong.
You can use beetroot powder instead or spirulina powder if you wish, to create a light pink colour reminiscent of peppermint candy canes. ***For a refined sugar free version, use a refined sugar free chocolate.