My name is Ashley McLaughlin and this is my blog, Edible Perspective. To learn more about my journey head on over to my about + FAQ pages. I'm thrilled that you stopped by. Enjoy!

 

 


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Friday
Mar212014

The Best Chewy Vegan and Gluten-Free Brownies

Where or where to begin?

Maybe with my determination to get this recipe right.

Or with a few of my many failed attempts.

And by many, I believe there were 12…ish?  I stopped counting and wish I was joking.  My original idea was to make brownie bites but that never ended up panning out.

brownie fails | edibleperspective.com

There are just too many things I have-to-want-to say.

I learned so much!

For instance:  Below you’ll see sugar that I blended into powder.  One of the very last trials was finally spot on except for a slight grainy texture.  For some reason I was thinking it was from the sugar and not the flours, so with the next trial I ground the sugar into powder. 

TOTALLY worked.  I know it seems like a pain but it takes 10 seconds and is worth it.  You just need pure cane sugar and a blending device and you’re good to go.  I tried grinding and using coconut sugar but wasn’t happy with the result.  Kind of shocking because I am typically a huge fan.

Chewy Vegan + Gluten-free Brownies [the very best!] | edibleperspective.com #glutenfree #vegan

Another thing I learned: The batter will look weird and turn into one big glob [technical term] of dough.

First it will be stiff and flowery and dry.  But about 20 seconds later you’ll have a glistening dough that holds together and is perfectly moist.  It’s not pourable but will kind of roll out of the bowl and into the pan.

Chewy Vegan + Gluten-free Brownies [the very best!] | edibleperspective.com #glutenfree #vegan

Next: A 9x9 pan is the way to go.  Or 4 mini loaf pans.  This creates an ideal thickness, the ultimate chewiness, and a nice crisp edge.

Chewy Vegan + Gluten-free Brownies [the very best!] | edibleperspective.com #glutenfree #vegan

When I set out to make these brownies there were a few stipulations:

  • I don’t do “healthed-up” brownies.  These had to be the real deal but still made with whole-food ingredients.
  • I wanted them to be as simple as possible with the fewest ingredients as possible.  For being vegan + gluten-free I think this was a major success.  They only use 2 flours and if you read the “notes” section you’ll see they can even be made with oat flour only.
  • I needed a brownie that was as close texturally and flavor-wise to my egg + butter filled recipe from a few weeks ago.  Complete success here!  These are not a fudge brownie.  These are not fluffy, healthy brownies.  These are chewy, crispy-edged, rich brownies with a crackled top. 
  • The brownies must, must hold together.  When fully cooled they are a cinch to slice.  I had no problems with holding together and very few crumbs.
  • I wanted an option in case you can’t tolerate oat flour and an option if you can’t tolerate almond meal.  Check + check!!  See the “notes” section.
  • If the recipe ended up needing flax [it does!] I didn’t want the flavor to come through [it doesn’t!].

Chewy Vegan + Gluten-free Brownies [the very best!] | edibleperspective.com #glutenfree #vegan

Here are my tips for success:

  • If you follow the ingredients and the directions you will be rewarded with the what you see below. 

That was easy.

Chewy Vegan + Gluten-free Brownies [the very best!] | edibleperspective.com #glutenfree #vegan

Problems I faced:

  • The correct ratio of oil to flour to chocolate chips. 
  • Figuring out the perfect amount of flours needed.  [Biggest challenge!]
  • Holes in the brownies [see failed attempts] due to not enough flour.
  • Hard, crumbly brownies. Too much flour, not enough flax-egg.

And the list goes on…

Chewy Vegan + Gluten-free Brownies [the very best!] | edibleperspective.com #glutenfree #vegan

But the most important thing…

Is that I finally achieved success!!!  And a major, shaking, sugar-coma, for like 3 days straight. 

Chewy Vegan + Gluten-free Brownies [the very best!] | edibleperspective.com #glutenfree #vegan

100% worth it.

Chewy Vegan + Gluten-free Brownies [the very best!] | edibleperspective.com #glutenfree #vegan

Whether you are gluten-free or vegan or none of the above these brownies are about to rock your freaking world.

Chewy Vegan + Gluten-free Brownies [the very best!] | edibleperspective.com #glutenfree #vegan

Print this!

inspired by my Gluten-Free Brownies

Chewy Gluten-free Vegan Brownies gluten-free, vegan // yields 16 brownies

  • 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons ground flax meal
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons warm water
  • 1 cup pure cane sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons gluten-free oat flour
  • 3/4 cup almond meal
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons unrefined coconut oil, soft not melted
  • 4 1/2 ounces dark chocolate [vegan] chips, about 3/4 cup standard sized chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee grounds, optional
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • flaked sea salt, optional

Preheat your oven to 325* F and lightly grease the bottom and sides of a 9x9 pan with softened coconut oil.  In a small bowl vigorously whisk the ground flax and water for about 30 seconds until it starts to thicken.  Set aside for 10 minutes.

Place sugar in a blender and turn on for 10-20 seconds until powdery in texture.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl stir the oat flour, almond meal, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt together until fully combined.  Set aside.

Melt the coconut oil and chocolate together gently on the stove with a double boiler [or in 30 second increments in the microwave—stirring each time] until fully melted.  Stir to combine.  Stir in the sugar, coffee grounds, and vanilla until fully combined.  Whisk the flax mixture and then stir it into the wet ingredients until fully combined.

Pour the dry ingredients into the wet and stir with a large spoon until a thick but soft dough forms, about 30 seconds.  The mixture will seem dry and stiff at first but keep stirring until you no longer see dry flour.  The batter will come together and should have a very shiny look. [refer to photo 2]

Spoon the dough-batter [it will be in one large heap] into your pan and evenly distribute to the edges with a spatula or your fingers.  The dough should be very soft and easy to press/spread.

Place in the center of your oven and bake for 33-37 minutes [mine were perfect at 35m].  The sides will rise slightly higher than the center and the top surface will be cracked.  [Toothpick test doesn’t really work as the brownies firm as they cool.]  Allow to cool for 30-45 minutes, top with flaked sea salt [if using], and then place in the fridge for another 30 minutes on a cooling rack [or keep at room temp until fully cooled].  Once fully cooled slice + enjoy!  They should slice easily and cleanly.  The edges will crisp and the center will be thick and chewy.  Store cooled brownies in a sealed plastic bag or container for 3-4 days.  Or freeze in a sealed bag and thaw before eating.

notes:

  • Grinding the sugar is important for a smooth, non-gritty texture.  Pure cane sugar gave the best result.
  • The baking soda is important and cannot be subbed for baking powder.
  • If you don’t top with flaked sea salt add 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt to the dry ingredients.
  • If you cannot tolerate GF oat flour: substitute a gluten-free all purpose blend that does not contain baking powder or soda [my favorite is GF-AP is King Arthur’s – I do not recommend Bob’s Red Mill because of the bean-flour aftertaste] at a 1:1 ratio instead of the oat flour
  • If you cannot tolerate almond meal: sub in gluten-free oat flour 1:1 – the sides may rise higher but the resulting brownie will still have the crispy edges with a chewy center
  • The instant coffee grounds enhance the chocolate flavor + give a slight hint of coffee flavor but can definitely be left out [especially if making for kids].  You could also use a smaller amount of instant espresso instead.  Decaf instant grounds can be used.
  • I prefer to grind raw flax seeds at home in my blender until flour-like in texture.  Pre-ground is also fine.  Always keep ground flax refrigerated as it turns rancid quickly at room temp.
  • You can grind almond meal at home from raw, unsalted almonds in a blender or food processor.  Sift out hard pieces then measure. 
  • Gluten-free oat flour can be ground from GF rolled oats or GF steel cut oats until flour-like in texture.  Sift then measure.

Chewy Vegan + Gluten-free Brownies [the very best!] | edibleperspective.com #glutenfree #vegan

Happy chocolate-infused weekend.

Ashley

Reader Comments (60)

These look amazing! Do you think I could use canola instead of coconut oil? Thanks!
March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSophie
Oh wow now that is determination!! I'm glad you persisted, because they do look delicious!!
Pinning this recipe for a weekend treat =)


Teffy // http://www.teffyperk.com X
March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTeffy
Hi Ashley, I was just wondering if you are a vegan/gluten-free/vegetarian or whatever labels you can put on it. I know you make a TON of awesome vegan/GF foods but I'm not sure if you hold to that all the time? I've found that I am gravitating toward making a lot of vegan things even though I'm not at all one.
March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAllie
Yum!! These look awesome!
March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLivi
Wow, wow, wow! These look perfect!
Around Super Bowl time I was looking for gluten free vegan brownies (non-bean based) and was surprised it was hard to find anything reasonable that didn't have 30 ingredients in the list. Thank you so much Ashley!
March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMC
Ashley, you're so, so clever! I've always been intimated by vegan brownies because eggs and, to a less extent butter, seem such an integral part but it's so good to know that it's possible. Thank you for all the effort you've put in to create the perfect vegan brownie. Can't wait to try this!
March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKathryn
Those look ABSOLUTELY INSANE!!!
You are one dedicated lady! I am super impressed! I currently can't eat chocolate (le babe...sigh), but you better believe I am trying these when I quit nursing...in like a year. Until then, I'll drool and dream.
March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKatie
brownie heaven!!!
March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPurelytwins
Oh, wow these look amazing! Thank you for persevering and perfecting a decadent vegan AND gluten-free brownie! Can't wait to try your recipe!
March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda
Thanks so much for being dedicated to finding the perfect gf/vegan brownie without - gasp! - beans! SO happy to have this recipe in my repertoire now. Thanks, Ashley!
March 21, 2014 | Unregistered Commenteralexandra
I am so excited to try these as I am Gluten and Milk Intolerant, unfortunately I am also Flax Seed intolerant. :( Is there something else I could use in replace of flax? Thank you for all your GF baking I really love it!!!!!
March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSarah
These look amazing!! I mean, just wow!!
March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTieghan
bravo! I am so glad it turned out the way just you wanted..
March 21, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterdixya
@Sophie - I'm sure it would work to some extent but I can't say the results will be exactly the same.

@Allie - I haven't eaten meat in 4 years, and I haven't eaten gluten for 3 years now [for digestion/discomfort reasons]. However, for whatever reason my stomach tolerates beer completely fine. I kind of wish it was bread but I'll take it. ;) I have no idea what the future holds so I try to stay away from labels. I currently don't eat meat of any kind, fish, or gluten and eat a largely vegan diet. I just do what feels best for my body.

@Kathryn - You are most welcome! I was totally intimidated, too, but honestly these are just as good [or better!?] than the egg + butter version. SO crazy.

@Katie - That was my goal. ;) Thanks!

@Katie - Oh my goodness! Have you tried carob? I used to love carob!

@Sarah - You *should* be able to use ground chia seeds. Grind chia seeds in a coffee grinder, blender, etc. until powdery. You can probably lessen the amount to 2 tablespoons with the same amount [1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons] of water. I started my testing using chia and it was working perfectly to hold the brownies together but then decided to switch to flax since more people are used to making flax-eggs. Hope it works!
March 21, 2014 | Registered CommenterAshley
These look perfectly chewy and fudgy and sweet and gooey and CHOCOLATEYYY!! I feel your pain about the trial and error :/ but at least you got to the final recipe :D
I super admire your determination to get these brownies exactly where you want them! I know all too well the frustration that comes along with that-- not to mention the expense! These look every bit as perfect as a brownie should look. LOVE the chewy, crispy edges. Favorite bite ever. :)
March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie
You. Are. A. Goddess. I can't even believe we're so lucky that we get to profit off all of your (many many) trials by just following your recipe! I think I'll make these tonight to bring to my sister's frisbee tournament :)
March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterErika
These look perfect. Can't wait to try!
And thank you for reminding us that you are human too with the failed attempt photos. Thank you for doing all of the work to create this perfect recipe!
I feel like I should post a comment because I am ALWAYS checking your blog - I love your recipes! This brownie recipe is one of many that I have on my to-make list :)
Thanks for always sharing!
March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterShyle Brandi
Perfection, friend! (I'd still gladly eat your mess-ups) :)
March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSarah
I seriously salute you! Many miserable vegan brownie fails are one of the reasons I gave up the vegan thing after a try. I admire you for sticking with it, sugar comas and all! Will be trying these out for sure. Happy Friday!
March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterErica {Coffee & Quinoa}
WHOA! You are a genius! You did such an amazing job, these brownies look absolutely perfect, you'd never guess they're vegan and gluten free!!!
Beautiful!!! That's something I've always noticed and appreciated about you since day 1--your determination to get the darn recipe RIGHT!!! :D And omgness...just thinking about re-trying a recipe that many times makes me want to cry.
I also wanted to tell you thanks sooo much for your kind words and encouragement on the email! Your time and support meant a lot as well. ;) I'm just wanting to dip my toes in the whole photo thing, but like you always say...we gotta start somewhere and I'm far from where I would like to be. And btw, are you okay with us pinning your pictures? Or is that something we need permission for too? I'd like to pin all these but would hate to upset you if it's not in your best interest.
March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEllie@Fit for the Soul
Looks like you totally nailed it. These look perfect!
Could powdered sugar be used instead of the ground sugar?
March 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMorgan
@Morgan - Most likely, yes, but I didn't test it with powdered sugar which commonly includes a small amount of corn starch [or some of the natural brands use arrowroot starch]. The starch is typically 1 tablespoon per 1 cup of sugar, so it may change the texture and thicken the batter a bit more.
March 22, 2014 | Registered CommenterAshley
@Ellie - Pin away! No permission needed. :) Thanks! So glad the email was helpful!
March 22, 2014 | Registered CommenterAshley
Always love gluten free options. And yours looks devine! Gotta try this.
Thanks for sharing!
March 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterWANICULLEN
Awesome, thanks! :o
I've been waiting for you to post these since I saw them on Instagram. Who knew they were vegan AND gf? I am so intrigued, they are definitely happening soon!
March 24, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterkelley
Beautiful recipe! I'm curious if anyone has had success reducing the sugar at all, even to 3/4 cup or so. A whole cup sounds like a lot to me, but I don't want to tinker with it if it's really necessary!
March 25, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterjenny
@Kelley - I also have a GF recipe with butter + eggs but using the same 2 flours. They're pretty similar but I think the original have a bit more chewiness and the vegan version has a much nuttier flavor from the coconut oil [just a hint of actual coconut, though]. http://www.edibleperspective.com/home/2014/2/4/gluten-free-brownies-carrot-cake.html
March 25, 2014 | Registered CommenterAshley
@Jenny - I completely understand that 1 cup seems like a ton of sugar. I typically add much lower amounts to my baked goods, even cake, but with the brownies I felt it was necessary. If cut into 16 bars [with their richness 1 brownie was plenty for me] they each include 1 tablespoon of sugar, or 12 grams of sugar. It doesn't seem like such a large amount when you break it down into 1 serving. The chocolate chips will add a bit more but if using dark chocolate chips they are quite low in sugar. I initially tried this recipe with 3/4 cup and felt it needed a bit more sweetness, but I don't think lowering the sugar by 1/4 cup will change the outcome of the brownie [maybe very slightly]. It's more the flours, flax-egg, oil amounts that would make a difference. So if you want to try with 3/4 cup I think you'll be safe in doing so! Hope this helps!! :)
March 25, 2014 | Registered CommenterAshley
These look great - can't wait to try them. Curious why you didn't like the coconut sugar in them - too strong of a taste? I usually use coconut sugar, but it can impart a certain taste.

Thanks!
March 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRunner girl
@Runner Girl - It was actually the texture! For some reason they didn't bake as well. So strange. I didn't notice a big difference with the taste but texture was definitely better with pure cane sugar. :)
March 25, 2014 | Registered CommenterAshley
OMG! I am so sorry, I admittedly laughed when I saw that photo! Only because I've been through the exact same thing.....those are some sad brownies ;) Glad you figured it out! :)
@Katie - I laughed, too...but after the 10th trial I think I cried. ;) [kidding]
March 26, 2014 | Registered CommenterAshley
Did you try using varying baking pans? For the failed attempts, it looked like you were using a muffin/cupcake pan, but with the final gloriously looking product, you went with the square. Could the pan also be pan of the issue? In any case, these brownies look divine.
March 28, 2014 | Unregistered Commentersonia the mexigarian
I was also curious about your experience with coconut sugar, as I have started using coconut sugar as a substitute whenever sugar is called for in a recipe. Did you blend the coconut sugar until powdery when you used it? Thanks!
March 28, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterjun
Hi Ashley--I couldn't figure out how to respond directly to your response, but wanted to thank you so much for replying. I decided to just not to worry about it and go for the full cup! Live a little, right? :)
March 29, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterjenny
These were fantastic. I made just how suggested except I used 60% dark Choco ghiradelli chips instead of vegan chips. Yum! Perfect! Not too sweet.
March 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBzeedik
@Jenny - You are welcome!! And, yes, I agree. ;)

@Bzeedik - Glad you loved them and that they weren't overly sweet! Thanks for letting me know!
March 31, 2014 | Registered CommenterAshley
Ashley - These are amazing. I have made them twice already! They will be a staple in my house.
April 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJen
@Jen - Yessss! Happy to hear it!
April 3, 2014 | Registered CommenterAshley
Thank you so much! These are amazing. My wife has decided that these brownies are her dinner tonight. I can't tell you how long it's been since we've had brownies that looked and tasted like brownies!
Substitution note...I used Earth Balance shortening instead of coconut oil and they came out great!
April 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBruce Elgin
@Bruce - You have no idea how happy this comment made me. :) I also have another gluten-free [not vegan] recipe here that uses eggs and butter [could sub with EB if it's just a dairy issue] - http://www.edibleperspective.com/home/2014/2/4/gluten-free-brownies-carrot-cake.html I love them both but the GF-only with eggs has a slightly better texture.
April 8, 2014 | Registered CommenterAshley
I went against what you said suggested and used coconut sugar--I usually only have that and date sugar in the house. I also only had toasted golden flax seeds to grind. The brownies weren't bad, but the flax came through too much and the texture was kinda crumbly (even only using 3/4 c sugar and grinding it). Can you use egg in this recipe? I'm lactose intolerant and mostly vegan, but I do eat eggs!
April 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJules
@Jules - Hmm, that is strange they were crumbly from those few changes you made. Mine weren't crumbly at all, minus a few small, normal brownie crumbs. When I used coconut sugar it just made the brownies less chewy, but still not crumbly. I couldn't detect any flax flavor at all with raw flax seeds. It's possible when flax seeds are toasted that they lose some of their binding properties. Was the flax/water mixture pretty goopy/slimy? Was there anything else you varied with the recipe? I would not sub in eggs to this recipe but I do have a GF brownie recipe that uses eggs and I'm sure you can sub in coconut oil instead of butter: http://www.edibleperspective.com/home/2014/2/4/gluten-free-brownies-carrot-cake.html
April 24, 2014 | Registered CommenterAshley

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