Sunday, September 27, 2015

Vegan brownies

vegan brownies

Hey. You. Over there. Yes, you. I’m gonna need you to close all those tabs with cute kitten memes and baby otter cams, because this post is important.

You see, brownies are a very serious matter. Especially when it comes to vegan brownies. A truly American dessert, brownies were invented in the late 19th century in a Chicago hotel, to become a staple of home bakers everywhere. And for good reason. In accordance with the country’s taste for chocolaty and extremely rich desserts, brownies have only grown fudgier and more chocolaty over time, to the point where you might as well be eating a stick of butter with a bit of granulated sugar and melted chocolate folded in.

Which brings me to the dilemma faced by the vegan baker. When virtually all brownie recipes call for copious amounts of eggs and butter, how are we to create a version completely free of animal products without sacrificing texture and flavor?

There are plenty of other vegan brownie recipes out there on the internet, judging by the 1.5 million results a simple Google search yields, all promising fudgy, chocolaty Nirvana through the inclusion of ingredients like vegetable oil, vegan butter, flaxseed, and even black beans. And nothing against black bean brownies—I’ve tried them, and they’re pretty good...but honestly, you need a good ol’ fatty-fat brownie recipe in your repertoire as well. Save the black bean brownies for when you want an excuse to eat brownies for breakfast.

Even the brownies that don’t use black beans have some issues as well. One common complaint I’ve heard is greasiness. Turns out, substituting vegetable oil for butter can result in some pretty soggy, overly-gooey brownies. Well...shit.

So what’s a vegan baker to do? Take a page out of Oh She Glowscookbook!

Trust me.

It might seem strange that the best vegan brownie recipe I’ve ever tried has come out of a cookbook that purports to be healthy and whole foods-based. But it works, so I ain’t complaining.

The secret is...I don’t know, man. It’s a combination of thorough recipe testing on Angela’s part and, like, the use of almond flour to absorb all that coconut oil and turn it into rich fudginess instead of greasy sadness. Plus the melted chocolate. Melted chocolate always helps.

(To be honest, I have no idea if that interpretation has any basis in reality, actually. Maybe it’s magic. Maybe it’s Maybelline.) 

OR THAT! source

Either way, these brownies are pretty rad. Almost as rad as a stegosaurus on a skateboard with sunglasses.

Almost, but not quite. source

One step that you will not want to skip is the last step before baking—smoothing out the top of the batter with a sheet of parchment paper. That is completely necessary. It ensures that you get a nice smooth, shiny top with a thin, crackly crust and dense, fudgy brownies underneath. I have made these enough times to know that that is a fact.

Just look at it.

The only modification I have made to the original recipe is to add espresso powder. That’s all. Well, that, and using “special dark” cocoa powder instead of natural (which is sort of a blend of alkalized cocoa powder and natural), which gave it a particularly dark color that may or may not be desirable, depending on your tastes. So basically, you can use whatever kind of cocoa powder you want, so long as it’s high quality and so long as you don’t mind slight differences between batches.

...Do I sense an excuse to "experiment"?

Honestly, I’m running out of ways to sell these to you. I mean, look at those pictures. I didn’t have to do anything to them. Usually brown, square desserts are not very photogenic, but damn if these didn’t get photographed pretty easily. (And I’ll have you know that they were consumed even more easily than that.)

Here’s the recipe.


Vegan brownies

Adapted from The Oh She Glows Cookbook by Angela Liddon


14 grams • ground flaxseed • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon

45 grams • water • 3 tablespoons

120 grams • almond flour • 1 cup

102 grams • all-purpose flour • 3/4 cup

40 grams • cocoa powder • 1/2 cup

2 grams • kosher salt • 1/2 teaspoon

1 gram • baking soda • 1/4 teaspoon

160 grams • nondairy chocolate chips • 1 cup

85 grams • coconut oil • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons

200 grams • granulated sugar • 1 cup

62 grams • nondairy milk • 1/4 cup

4 grams • vanilla extract • 1 teaspoon

2 grams • espresso powder • 1 teaspoon


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch square cake pan and line with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, whisk together flaxseed and water; set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together almond flour, all-purpose flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda.

Melt 80 grams • 1/2 cup chocolate chips and coconut oil in a medium saucepan over low heat. When 2/3 of the chocolate has melted, remove from heat and stir until smooth. Add in flaxseed mixture, sugar, milk, and vanilla and stir to combine.

Pour chocolate mixture into the dry ingredients. Stir just until combined and no streaks of flour remain. Fold in remaining 80 grams • 1/2 cup chocolate chips.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Place another piece of parchment on top and smooth the surface with your hands. Remove parchment. Bake brownies for 28 to 34 minutes. Let cool in pan for 1 1/2 hours. Yes, that is an order—you don’t want to cut the brownies too early and have them crumble on you. Once fully cooled, slice into bars and devour.



If you’re a chocolate lover, you may appreciate these recipes as well.

Rich and thick spicy hot chocolate. For the upcoming cooler weather.

Double chocolate zucchini bread. To use up that last bit of zucchini.

Chocolate caramel “better than sex” cake. Is this really better than sex? Only one way to find out!