Vegan Brownies

I know we recently made a brownie post for our refined sugar free Black Bean Brownies, but I like to have options when it comes to dessert. You really can’t taste the black beans in black bean brownies, but I can see why it might be an intimidating hurdle for a picky eater. This recipe is bean free, but just as tasty. These brownies get a nice crispy exterior that makes them perfect for decorating, or serving plain. I decorated mine using my recipe for The Best Vegan Buttercream. You can flavor your buttercream by adding in things like caramel, or chocolate. If it starts to get to thin compensate by adding a bit more powdered sugar.

It took me two tries to get this recipe perfect. The first time I tried to cut corners by using a mixer. I incorporated too much air, and that caused the butter to separate when baking. Mixing them with a spoon is an absolute must. I ended up throwing the first batch I made in the trash, because they were completely inedible. They were a thin, crunchy sheet coated in oil that ended up tasting like burnt popcorn. It really stresses me out to throw food away. If I think there’s any chance I can save something and make it palatable, even if it’s not quite what I wanted, I absolutely will. That should tell you how bad this first brownie experiment went. I learned from my mistakes, and did some in depth brownie research. I adjusted my ingredient ratios, mixing technique, and cooking temperature. The second batch turned out wonderful.

This recipe was based on a recipe my mom would make for our family. It wasn’t an old family recipe, just a recipe she found on a product label, but in my mind they were the be all end all of brownies. I used the recipe as a guide for the vegan version I created, and I think I got the recipe pretty close if not maybe a little bit better. A lot of my time spent engineering the perfect recipe is spent researching, and shopping for the highest quality ingredients I can find at a reasonable price. I try to use only fair trade ingredients which can often increase the cost, but I’ve found that usually means increased quality and flavor as well.

A good flavored non-dairy butter is a must for this recipe. I used Earth Balance. Oil is not a good butter substitution, because it lacks in the flavor and texture required. The most important ingredient in a good brownie is the cocoa, of course. Starting with a rich flavorful cocoa that’s fair trade is a good way to go. Brownies taste sweeter when you know that you’re not paying to keep others enslaved to make them. I used SACO Conscious Kitchen Certified Organic Cocoa in this recipe. It’s a bit pricey, but it’s worth it for the rich taste and fair trade label. As always, Wholesome brand Organic Cane Sugar is my go to certified vegan white sugar, and tastes great in this recipe.


Vegan Brownies

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: easy
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If you can’t find Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer you can substitute it with the same quantity of flax egg.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups vegan white sugar
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup fair trade baking cocoa
  • 4 tbsp Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup melted vegan butter
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp ground sea salt

Directions

  1. Melt butter in a microwave safe bowl, or measuring cup. Keep a close eye on it as it melts to make sure it doesn’t burn.
  2. Add melted butter and sugar into a large mixing bowl. Stir to combine.
  3. Add in vanilla extract and salt. Stir to combine.
  4. In a separate bowl combine Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer, and water. Set aside for one minute to firm up.
  5. Slowly mix in the egg replacer. Mix until everything is blended, and there are no clumps.
  6. Sift in the cocoa powder a little at a time while continually mixing.
  7. Sift in the flour and baking powder a little at a time. Stir until the batter flows well and there are no clumps, but be careful not to over mix. Over mixing will make for tough brownies.
  8. Grease a 9″ x 13″ baking pan that’s at least 2″ deep. I lined my baking sheet with parchment, so I could easily remove the brownies in a full sheet to cut them evenly and decorate. If you’d like to decorate your brownies I recommend doing this. Make sure the parchment has enough overhang on the sides to easily lift the brownies out of the pan, and always remember to lightly grease your parchment for a recipe like this, so you can conveniently peal it off the brownies without tearing them.
  9. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees. Cook the brownies for 30-35 minutes. Check to see if they’re done with a toothpick. If it comes out clean your brownies are ready.
  10. Let your brownies cool, and cut them to serve. If you’d like to decorate the brownies let them cool, and then remove them from the pan. Measure, and cut them to desired size. Whip up some butter cream, and decorate them as you desire.

Vegan Black Bean Brownies

Refined Sugar Free

I’ve had a sweet tooth my entire life. My palate has certainly advanced past some of the overly sweet things I used to love as a kid, and now I prefer things with rich dark chocolate and a small amount of sugar. I’ve always been a fan of sweet over savory. If I could get adequate nutrition for dessert I’m not sure I’d have it for every meal, but I’d certainly have it a lot. Unfortunately the world doesn’t work that way, and sweets should be an occasional treat and not a meal replacement. I’ve been trying to lose some weight recently, and reach a healthier BMI. This has involved limiting my dessert intake to once or twice a week, and trying to make smarter choices about what sweets I do consume.

While I’ve been trying to be healthier I do still consume refined sugar, and I forget that for some people that’s a big no-no. Disclaimer: I’m not trying to say that these are healthy. They’re just a bit healthier than eating a lot of refined cane sugar, because the coconut brown sugar is lower on the glycemic index. A lot of the dessert recipes I post on the blog can be made without refined sugar, and with coconut brown sugar or other natural sweeteners. If you want to use a liquid sweetener like maple syrup, or agave you may need to experiment a little bit and adjust the amount of moisture you add with other ingredients as well as cook time. I have no beef with bleached white sugar as long as it’s vegan, but I realize why some people do and wanted to provide a decadent sweet option for those who are more health conscious. This brownie recipe is decadent, deliciously sweet, fudgy, and by default refined sugar free. You really won’t miss the bleached white sugar, I promise.


Vegan Brownies

  • Servings: 10-12
  • Difficulty: easy
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Caramel Sauce Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup Wholesome coconut brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegan butter
  • 1/4 cup full fat coconut milk
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

Brownie Ingredients

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cup Wholesome coconut brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 16 oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 1/4 cup full fat coconut milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

  1. In a large mixing bowl combine all dry brownie ingredients. Sift each ingredient as you add it to the bowl to prevent clumping.
  2. In a food processor combine drained and rinsed black beans with coconut milk and vanilla extract, and puree until smooth. You may still see some flecks of skin. This is fine. You won’t notice it in the consistency of the brownies.
  3. Grease an 8″x8″, or similar volume baking dish. You can line it with parchment if you wish. I usually don’t, because I make my brownies in a glass Pyrex dish, and they come out very easily as long as the pan is greased.
  4. If you want to add an add in like chocolate chips, lightly coat them in flour to prevent them from sinking to the bottom, and gently fold them into your batter. This step is optional, and the brownies are very rich and flavorful with or without.
  5. If you’d like to make caramel sauce to marble into your brownies like we did do so at this time. Melt vegan butter down in a small sauce pan on low heat, and then stir in the coconut brown sugar.
  6. Once coconut brown sugar has melted combine the full fat coconut milk. Simmer until mixture starts to bubble all the way throughout, and turn a slightly darker color. If you dip a spoon in the mixture it should still be fairly runny, but will ultimately coat the spoon. Remove from heat immediately after it reaches this consistency.
  7. Allow your caramel to set for a few minutes.
  8. Spoon some of the caramel sauce on top of the brownies in ribbons. Using a toothpick make whatever design you like. Save some of the caramel to pretty them up more after baking.
  9. Preheat your oven to 350 and cook brownies for 25-35 minutes. Check with a tooth pick to see if they’re done.
  10. Allow brownies to cool before cutting and serving. If you’d like to you can add some more caramel to the top. The caramel may bake down a bit and leave some gaps in the top of your brownies, so it’s a good idea to conserve some caramel to touch these up.
  11. Top with sea salt, sprinkles, nuts, and more if you’d like. Enjoy.

Vegan Cookie Dough Cake

Yesterday was my birthday, yay! Since we couldn’t go out and celebrate due to the fact that there’s a global pandemic going on I decided to bake myself a cake. I also took the time to make some cake pops with the cake cuttings and leftover buttercream, and chocolate ganache. This was my first try making cake pops, so I’ll be perfecting my cake pop abilities before sharing that recipe with you.

I’ll go into details about how to decorate your cake like I did after the recipe, but you don’t have to have all of the decorating supplies that I used for this cake to make a good cake. If you don’t have piping tips, palette knives, icing scrapers, or a lazy susan that’s okay! The key is mastering a good sponge cake. The decorating comes secondary to that. If you have the perfect sponge I’m sure your friends and family will still be delighted and impressed even if you smear your buttercream on with a knife.

When making this recipe you can just make the basic sponge, and ice it with buttercream if you don’t want to make the cookie dough. I filled the layers, and topped it with cookie dough, because it’s my favorite and it is my birthday cake. When I was a kid I would frequently steal raw chocolate chip cookie dough from the kitchen when my mom would bake. I often find myself still finding reasons to “sample” my own dough as I bake as an adult. Only now there’s much less of a risk of food born illness since I’m not eating raw eggs, and dairy.

If you’d like to go all out and decorate it as I did you can use our recipe for vegan cookie dough. I halved the recipe, and left out the baking soda to make this. There seemed to be no need to waste baking soda, since I wasn’t going to cook the dough.

This sponge recipe is another one from my maternal grandmother Billie. She used it in most of the wedding cakes she would make. It took me several months to figure out how to make this tried and true recipe vegan, and learn how to adjust it for the sizes of cakes I wanted to make. In this post I’ve adjusted the measurements to fit three 6″ diameter by 2″ height layers. If you have any questions about how to adjust it for different sized cakes feel free to get in touch, and I’ll try to help you out as best as I can.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cake

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: advanced
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Sponge Cake Ingredients

  • 2.5 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups vegan white sugar
  • 1 cup sparkling water
  • 1/2 cup vegan butter (one stick)
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips (optional)
  • 2 tbsp bobs red mill egg replacer
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp salt

Decoration Ingredients

  • 3 cups buttercream frosting
  • 1 cup vegan cookie dough
  • 6oz full fat coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 cups vegan chocolate chips or baking chocolate

Making the Sponge Cake


1. In a large mixing bowl sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
2. Melt the vegan butter in a mixing bowl, and coat dry ingredients with it. Gently chop together being careful not to overwork the flour. Coating the flour with oil helps prevent it from becoming overworked when you mix in the wet ingredients. This will allow for a fluffier cake.
3. In a small bowl combine Bob’s Red Mill egg replacer with water as directed on the package. Let sit for a minute.
4. Mix egg replacer into the dry mixture, making sure it is thoroughly incorporated.
5. In a separate bowl mix together the sparkling water and vanilla.
6. Add the wet ingredients into the flour mixture, gently stirring until there are no clumps. Try not to beat the mixture, as it will kill the carbonation, and overwork the flour.
7. Coat the vegan chocolate chips in a light dusting of flour. This will prevent them from sinking to the bottom of your pan when baking.
8. Fold the flour coated chocolate chips into your cake batter.
9. Thoroughly grease your cake pans, and if you have parchment paper add a lightly greased parchment round to the bottom of each pan. You can cut the parchment to size, or order precut parchment rounds. I strongly recommend this, as it makes the cake come out very cleanly every time.
10. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Once your oven reaches temperature cook your sponges for 15 minutes. Check them at fifteen minutes to make sure they are not becoming over done. They should still be soft in the middle at this point. Check them after another ten, and then another five minutes. They should take about 30 minutes to cook at this temperature, but it may depend on your oven. All it takes is about two extra minutes for your vegan cake to become over done, dry, and chewy.
11. After 30 minutes check each sponge again with a toothpick. If the toothpick comes out clean they are done. Remove them, and place them on a cooling rack.
12. Once they are completely cool you can level the top, and if you wish trim off the crispier cake from the sides and bottom. You can do this using a large cake knife, a cake leveler, or even a piece of unflavored dental floss. When trimming the sides I recommend using a smaller cake pan, or cake board as a template. Just place it on top of your sponge and cut around the outside. This will prevent over trimming, or uneven trimming. If that sounds like too much of a hassle for you, feel free to leave the “skin on”. Trim the top though, or the layers will slide off or just sit very uneven.
13. If you’re not interested in making a fancy cake that takes a lot of time to decorate you can add on your buttercream, or other icing at this time. I recommend making our homemade Best Vegan Buttercream.

Decorating the Cake

  1. Make the buttercream.
  2. Set the appropriate sized cake board on the lazy susan. In this case the appropriate size cake board is 8″ for a 6″ cake. Using a board that’s a few inches larger in diameter allows you room to decorate, and makes it easier to transport the cake.
  3. Apply a small amount of icing dead center on the cake board. Smear it a bit with the palette knife to cover more area. Place the bottom most layer of the sponge cake. Use a large round piping tip. Start in the middle of your layer, and spiral all the way out to the very edge of the layer. Use your palette knife to make sure the icing is level and even.
  4. Add some crumbles of the cookie dough, and apply a thin layer of icing over top so the next layer of sponge cake will stay in place.
  5. Stack the next layer. Repeat the icing and cookie dough application.
  6. Stack the top most layer.
  7. Using the palette knife apply a crumb coating to the outside of the cake. This should just be a thin layer of icing all over to lock in any crumbs. You should still be able to see parts of the sponge cake through the icing.
  8. Allow your cake to rest in the refrigerator for about an hour. This will “set” the crumb coat.
  9. Add another layer of butter cream after the crumb coat has set. I used a wide, flat, ribbon piping tip to pip the icing all the way up the sides of the cake. Make sure there is some over hang over the top of the cake. This will allow you to make nice sharp edges. Spiral the icing on the top of the cake with the ribbon tip.
  10. Using a bench scraper, or an icing scraper, hold it at an angle against your icing. Apply a slight amount of continuous pressure while you turn the lazy susan. Remove any excess icing from the bench scraper as you go. This should create a nice flat, perfectly smooth layer of icing on the outside.
  11. Using some wax paper, and a fondant smoother gently smooth the top of the cake. Start by placing the wax paper over the edges, and gently tamp them down around the outside of the cake, then move inward. Smooth until the top is flat and even.
  12. Return the cake to the fridge to chill for an additional hour. While it is chilling you can make the ganache.
  13. In a small sauce pan heat up 6 oz of coconut milk. Cook until the milk starts to simmer
  14. Add chocolate chips or baking chocolate to a heat resistant bowl. I used a pyrex for this. Pour the coconut milk over the chocolate. Allow it to sit for five minutes.
  15. Whisk coconut milk and chocolate until it is smooth and shiny with no clumps.
  16. Refrigerate the ganache for 15 minutes, or until it is a little cooler than room temperature. You want it to be warm enough to run, but cool enough that it starts to set up quickly.
  17. Remove your cake from the fridge. Using a spoon apply small ganache drips from the top sides of the cake. Add slightly more ganache for larger drips, and less for smaller drips. Create a variety of lengths. Spoon some ganache over the top of the cake, and gently spread with a spoon being careful not to smear the buttercream into the ganache.
  18. Return to the fridge to set.
  19. Using the remaining butter cream find whatever star shaped piping tips you like, and pipe accents on the bottom and top of your cake.
  20. Add a variety of sizes of cookie dough crumbles to finish it off, and voila you have a cake that will impress anyone at the party.

Chia Pudding

I’ve lived with chronic migraine for the past fourteen years of my life. Since I’ve been at home a lot more due to recent events I’ve been taking this time to focus on treating my migraines with a more natural approach. I hate having to take medication with scary side-effects that only treat each episode, instead of actually treating the condition itself and preventing attacks from happening. This journey has involved trying to find out some of my migraine triggers, and to cut them out of my life. I’ve already determined that caffeine is probably responsible for at least half of my migraines. During quarantine I cut out caffeine with the exception of a piece of chocolate or a baked good with cocoa in it every now and then. This paired with avoiding most types of alcohol, and doing yoga and other moderate exercise religiously, has led to me having maybe 4-6 migraine days a month as opposed to 6-12.

While focusing on food triggers I realized a number of my migraines start when I wait too long in between meals. Fluctuations in blood sugar can be a trigger for migraine. I’ve started eating four or five smaller meals throughout the day to try to prevent this. This has meant coming up with a number of low glycemic index snacks that are easy to prepare ahead of time. If I have to stop what I’m doing to make every snack the moment I need to eat it there’s a good chance I’m going to skip it.

This brings me to our versatile snack recipe for today…chia pudding! Chia seeds have been all the rage since 1977 when the Chia Pet came into existence. Now they’re raved about as a “super food”. Personally, I hesitate to label anything as a “super food”. I feel that nomenclature leads to over-consumption of one food. Nothing is a cure all. There can indeed be too much of a good thing. That being said, chia seeds are pretty great. They’re incredibly low on the glycemic index, rich in nutrients, and their ability to hold ten times their weight in liquid makes them very filling.


Plain or Vanilla Chia Pudding

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Difficulty: easy
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If you’re looking for a truly low glycemic index snack you can leave out the maple syrup.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup oat milk or other non-dairy milk
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract (optional, or you can use a flavored non-dairy milk)
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds

Directions

  1. Combine oat milk, maple syrup, and vanilla extract into a bowl.
  2. Whisk together wet ingredients until they are thoroughly integrated.
  3. Stir in chia seeds, and let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes.
  4. Stir mixture thoroughly, cover, and place in refrigerator for 3 hours.
  5. Once the chia seeds have absorbed the liquid serve them in a jar, ramekin, or other serving dish.

To make a more decadent snack layer your pudding with fresh fruit, jam, or other add-ins. Top with non-dairy whipped cream. Just keep in mind that this adds a lot of additional sugar to the dish.

In addition to our basic plain, or vanilla pudding recipe we’ve developed a chocolate pudding and a nut butter pudding. We’ll be working on some fruit based puddings, and hope to post them to the blog when they’re more refined. If you’re trying to incorporate more healthy snacks throughout the day it’s important to have variety, so we’ve included all three recipes here. While chia pudding is a great snack I don’t recommend having it every day, as over-consumption can cause some minor gastrointestinal distress.


Chocolate Chia Pudding

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Difficulty: easy
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If you’re looking for a truly low glycemic index snack you can leave out the maple syrup.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup oat milk or other non-dairy milk
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup (optional)
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds

Directions

  1. Combine oat milk, and maple syrup into a bowl.
  2. Sift cocoa powder into the bowl to avoid clumps.
  3. Whisk together wet ingredients until they are thoroughly integrated.
  4. Stir in chia seeds, and let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes.
  5. Stir mixture thoroughly, cover, and place in refrigerator for 3 hours.
  6. Once the chia seeds have absorbed the liquid serve them in a jar, ramekin, or other serving dish.

To make a more decadent snack layer your pudding with your favorite nut butter, or fruit. Top with non-dairy whipped cream. Just keep in mind that this adds a lot of additional sugar to the dish.

When having this chia pudding as a snack I normally serve it plain, but if I’m having it as a healthy-ish dessert I’ll serve it with some decadent add-ins. Some great add ins are chocolate chips, nut-butter, fresh fruit, non-dairy whipped cream, granola and homemade jam. You can also layer different flavors of pudding together. If you make a great new flavor combination that we haven’t mentioned here let us know in the comments!


Nut Butter Chia Pudding

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Difficulty: easy
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If you’re looking for a truly low glycemic index snack you can leave out the maple syrup.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup oat milk or other non-dairy milk
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup (optional)
  • 1 tbsp creamy almond butter, or other nut butter
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds

Directions

  1. Combine oat milk, maple syrup, and nut butter into a bowl.
  2. Whisk together wet ingredients until they are thoroughly integrated.
  3. Stir in chia seeds, and let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes.
  4. Stir mixture thoroughly, cover, and place in refrigerator for 3 hours.
  5. Once the chia seeds have absorbed the liquid serve them in a jar, ramekin, or other serving dish.

To make a more decadent snack mix in some chocolate chips, bananas, or other add-ins. Top with non-dairy whipped cream. Just keep in mind that this adds a lot of additional sugar to the dish.

When making chia pudding the wait time for absorption is important. Wait at least an hour before consuming if you cannot wait at least three. This is a great snack to prepare the evening before you intend to eat it. We do not recommend consuming dry or under-saturated chia seeds. If chia seeds have not already absorbed liquid they can swell in your throat and form a lump, so consume them cautiously and make sure they’ve already reached their greatest size.

Healthy-ish Chocolate Shake

undefinedI used to drink smoothies a lot. It’s a great way to make sure you’re getting enough servings of fruits and veggies in your diet. I had an Oster Blend-N-Go which was perfect for making smoothies for one, but isn’t the best for making multiple servings. A few months ago we purchased a semi-decent Hamilton Beach blender, and our smoothie making has increased a lot since then.

undefinedIn a moment of ingenuity I invented this chocolate banana “milkshake” in an effort to use up a sample of Orgain plant based protein powder. It has since became a regular breakfast staple in our house.

This shake recipe is so decadent you won’t even realize that it’s actually kind of good for you. It makes a great breakfast, or dessert.


Healthy-ish Chocolate Shake

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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The coconut whipped cream is optional, but highly recommended.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of oat or other nondairy milk
  • 2 frozen bananas
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries (optional)
  • 2 tbsp creamy almond or other nut butter
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp orgain or other plant based protein powder (optional)

Directions

  1. Cut ripe bananas and strawberries into small chunks and freeze.
  2. Place frozen fruits in the blender
  3. Add in two tablespoons of almond butter, cocoa powder, and protein powder (if desired).
  4. Pour oat milk over top of the other ingredients.
  5. Blend on high until smooth. Add more milk while blending if necessary.
  6. Pour into glasses, and top with non dairy whipped cream, and/or fresh fruit.