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.
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.
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.
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.
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!].
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.
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…
But the most important thing…
Is that I finally achieved success!!! And a major, shaking, sugar-coma, for like 3 days straight.
100% worth it.
Whether you are gluten-free or vegan or none of the above these brownies are about to rock your freaking world.
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.
- 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.
Happy chocolate-infused weekend.