VEGAN CHOCOLATE BROWNIES
For a variety of health-related reasons, I’ve been attempting to go vegan. Truth to tell, it’s been a dismal failure, especially over Thanksgiving – partly because I cannot resist cooking for others, and partly because I love my once-a-year stuffing made with rye bread, fresh herbs, and a handful of sour cherries (available in lovely bottles from your local Trader Joe’s). The leftover stuffing reheated with turkey gravy graced with brown mushrooms, black olives, and Madeira – fabulous! But I digress…
What helps a LOT is when I find a vegan recipe that is easy, unusual, and delicious. In this case, I was looking for something that combines chocolate and sweet potatoes – the latter because apparently they are good for you, and the former because a strong part of my spiritual practice is to have chocolate every day, plus it masks the sweet potatoes. (Of course, the motto of the Church of Chocolate is ‘Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we may diet.’) Online there were numerous iterations of the Four Ingredient Brownie Recipe. I did add a few tweaks to improve the flavor and texture. Having made this recipe half a dozen times now, it’s great to have a not-too-sweet chocolate base for homemade ice cream sundaes, or just on its own (or with a little homemade dark chocolate sauce.)
THE BROWNIES – these can be scaled up or down; I find this quantity makes two dozen flat round cakes when I use muffin tins instead of a cake pan.
One 15 oz tin organic sweet potato puree – currently in sale at my local food co-op
1 cup almond butter
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder; Hershey’s does well enough, but gourmet cocoa powder is better because you will really taste the chocolate
¼ cup organic agave syrup – or too taste. I add just enough to offset the cocoa bitterness
Plus… (optional and to taste)
Generous pinch of sea salt
½ tsp each cinnamon and cardamom
½ tsp baking soda
A slosh or two of coffee liqueur, such as Tia Maria or the equivalent
And, at the end… half a packet of smallish chocolate chips, or about 6 ounces.
Preheat oven to 325°F.
Lightly oil or butter the muffin tins.
Place all ingredients in a mixing bowl and beat together until smooth. Add the chocolate chips at the end and make sure they are incorporated evenly.
Using two spoons, place dollops of the batter in the bottom of the muffin tins. Spread each one out to the sides of its receptacle.
Bake for 20 minutes, more or less. Because these brownies are only ½” deep, it’s easy to overcook them. I like them still to be soft and springy on top.
Pull the muffin tins out of the oven, and turn the oven off (unless you plan to bake something else right away). Set the tins onto racks and let cool for half an hour.
Gently lever the brownies out of the pan. I usually eat two – the ones I couldn’t get out cleanly – and put the rest away in a sealed container, which I then stick in the fridge if they are not immediately required for a potluck or dinner party.
Now comes the fun stuff:
As a dinner-party dessert, serve a warm brownie with a small scoop of homemade ice cream on top, and a little hot chocolate sauce as a garnish.
Place a brownie on a small plate, add a spoonful of homemade chocolate sauce, and warm the whole thing for 15 seconds in the microwave.
These brownies are also excellent with warmed fruit – I love sour cherries, but you could also use fresh raspberries or any other fruit that goes with chocolate (which means pretty much anything apart from grapefruit).
Baked bananas also go very well served on a base of vegan brownies.
Use these brownies as layers in a parfait with fruit and whipped cream.
By the way, this recipe will be in my soon-to-be published Healthy Holidays cookbook!