I'm going to brutally honest here - you cannot half-ass a brownie. No amount of black beans, soaked dates, or stevia is ever going to live up to the gloriousness of a tooth-achingly sweet fudge brownie, so oily it leaves smears of brown streaked across your face. I discovered this the hard way, through good old fashioned trial and error and a lot of crumbly, bean-flavoured, black-brown goop. Thankfully, my tumultuous brownie history now comes to a delicious conclusion - I'm very happy and very proud to say that I've finally found the one! A vegan, gluten-free, refined sugar-free, wholesome brownie of the stuff-your-face-it's-so-damn-good variety!
I have made a few raw brownies in my time as a sweet treat aficionado, however this time I wanted to emulate the eggy-ness of a true, baked, and obscenely fudgy brownie. Alas, instead of cracking egg after egg, I used ground flaxseed. It sounds like a peculiar substitute, but similar to chia seeds, it takes on a gelatinous texture when soaked in water. I will not lie - this recipe was indeed yet another attempt to relieve myself of a perpetual and never-ending mountain of nut pulp leftover from making hazelnut and almond milk twice a week. I understand that this is a pretty unusual ingredient to have lying around the house, so feel free to use ground almonds instead if you feel so inclined.
As with any rich, chocolatey baked good, it is undeniably best consumed warm, gooey, and straight from the scalding hot pan. If you value your skin and don't want to burn yourself, may I suggest slicing off a wedge, grabbing a mug of hot black tea, and huddling down with a good book. Cutlery is absolutely optional - I like to think that the more mess you make devouring the brownie, the better it tastes (perhaps I just want an excuse to be a mucky pup).
This recipe will serve twelve people politely, or eight generously. I like to fold my parchment paper to make a small wall two-thirds of the way along the brownie tin, therefore resulting in a thicker layer of batter. However, it's entirely up to you - just make sure you adjust your cooking time accordingly.
CHOCOLATE BROWNIE BATTER
1/4 cup of ground flaxseed
3/4 cup of cool water
1 1/4 cup of coconut sugar
1 cup of raw cacao powder
1 cup of nut pulp
1/2 cup of coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste
1/4 teaspoon of sea salt
1/4 cup of natural peanut butter
12 squares of 85% cacao dark chocolate
- Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsisus bake, and line your square brownie tin with a strip of parchment paper. I like to oil the tray first so that the paper sticks, with a bit of overhang on either end for leverage when you want to lift the cooked brownie out.
- In a measuring jug, add the ground flaxseed and the water, making 1 cup of gelatinous mixture. Leave this to get gooey for approximately ten minutes, then stir, and tip into a large bowl.
- Into a medium-sized saucepan add the coconut sugar, cacao powder, nut pulp, and coconut oil. Stir over a gentle heat until just warm, then add the vanilla bean paste and sea salt, and scrape into the large bowl with the flaxseed mixture.
- Stir well to combine (no need to fear overmixing - the beauty of a flourless batter), then spoon into your lined brownie pan. Spread out with the back of a warm metal spoon to make an even layer.
- Measure out your peanut butter, then spoon blobs of it in various places on top of the brownie. Take a toothpick or knife and swirl the peanut butter through the brownie batter.
- The next step is to embed big chunks of chocolate into the marbled batter - I like to leave my squares whole for puddles of chocolate goodness at the end, but you can also chop it or use a similar amount of dark chocolate chips. Cacao nibs are also a good option if you'd like to minimise sugar (although I strongly advise you go all out on this one).
- Place your brownie in the oven and bake for 16-24 minutes - I know that this is a large time frame, but it truly depends on your preference. I love a half-baked batter, but if you want a crispier outside, then lean towards the upper end of the scale. You'll know it's done when you touch it and there is a sugary crust, and the middle isn't too soft.
- Let the brownie cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes, then using the parchment paper, lift out and onto a chopping board. Cut into squares, drizzle with additional peanut butter, and enjoy!