Ultimate Vegan Brownies
Ultimate is not something that I throw around lightly, especially for vegan brownies. I've had my share of vegan and regular brownies and been baffled by how lacking vegan versions are. Growing up on my Grandmother's brownies, I learned that a good brownie should be dense, fudgy and soft; not light, cakey and dry. Why is it so hard to emulate a traditional brownie recipe that simply consists of a few simple ingredients? Hint: it's due to the egg, which emulsifies, binds, slightly leavens then bakes up as part of the actual base of the brownie itself. To emulate this takes an expedition deep into the innards of brownie science, oh and for me, about seven years of failing until figuring this out.
Vegan brownies need extra special attention paid to flavor and textureI started by emulating two eggs with water and golden flax meal. I then added some baking soda to the flour to emulate egg's subtle leavening tendencies. Cocoa powder along with semi-sweet chocolate and espresso powder allows the complex chocolate flavors to truly shine. I tested these brownies with canola oil but later settled on Vegan Butter or margarine because it allowed the flavor to mingle and slightly evolve along the flavor profile, rather than diminishing in a downward spiral which was the case with canola oil. This is why chocolate baked goods with canola oil rarely match up to chocolate baked goods with Vegan Butter or margarine. In order to make dense, soft vegan baked goods like brownies and cookies that are similar to their egg-laden counterparts, the dough must be extremely thick because the egg is not going to be there to act as a structure builder as flour does. Thus, you have to add extra flour so it can take over for the egg. The result of this vegan brownie R&D is a dense, fudgy, soft brownie with a complex chocolate flavor.
Update: I originally developed this recipe to call for 35 minutes of baking on the lowest oven rack position in your oven. Many commenters came forward with their results and it started to become clear that a shorter baking time on the middle oven rack position could actually improve the flavor and texture of the brownies. After some additional testing, I've confirmed that baking on the middle rack for 25 minutes actually yeilds softer, chewier, fudgy, more flavorful brownies with fruitier chocolate notes! It looks like the longer baking time I originally called for was cooking off some of these more volatile chocolate flavors. I'm thrilled that your helpful input was able to help me make this recipe even better!
Find more Chocolate recipes on Veganbaking.net
Ultimate Vegan Brownie Recipe3 Tablespoons water
2 Tablespoons golden flax meal
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon baking soda
7 Tablespoons cocoa powder
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped into ¼ inch pieces
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
¾ teaspoon salt
¼ cup boiling water
1 ½ cups sugar
6 Tablespoons (80 grams) Regular Vegan Butter or non-hydrogenated stick margarine, melted (not tub margarine)
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
½ cup walnuts, chopped (optional)
1) Prepare the flax meal, your oven and your baking dishIn a small mixing bowl whisk together the water and flax meal. Let it sit for about 10 minutes so the mixture gets goopy. Ensure your oven rack is in the middle rack position. Preheat your oven to 350F (177C). Line an 8 x 8 inch baking dish with parchment paper allowing excess parchment paper on opposite sides so you can pull the brownies out of the baking dish later.
2) Whisk together the four and baking sodaIn a medium mixing bowl whisk together the all-purpose flour and baking soda. Set aside.
3) Mix the vegan brownie doughIn another medium mixing bowl add the cocoa powder, semi-sweet chocolate, espresso powder and salt. Add the boiling water and using a spoon, mix in the ingredients into a paste, making sure that all of the chocolate pieces are melted. Add the sugar, Vegan Butter, vanilla extract, flax meal mixture from Step 1 into the chocolate mixture and mix with an electric mixer until smooth. Stir in the walnuts if you're using them. Using a spoon, mix in the flour until well combined. The mixture will become extremely thick and you may need to use your hands to mix. Refrain from mixing this dough with an electric mixer at this point; this will overwork the dough and activate too much gluten, negatively affecting the texture of the brownies.
4) Transfer the brownie batter to a baking dish and bake to perfectionTransfer the batter to the baking dish. You may need to use your fingers or a spatula to press the thick dough into place. Bake for 25 minutes on your oven's middle rack. Transfer the baking dish to a wire cooling rack and allow it to cool for about an hour.
5) Allow the vegan brownies to cool completelyTransfer the brownies to a cooling rack by lifting them out of the baking dish by taking hold of the exposed parchment paper on each side. Allow them to cool completely before slicing into squares.
This recipe makes one 8 x 8 inch baking dish of Ultimate Vegan Brownies.
A big thanks goes out to (never home)maker for the above picture.
Get a price on the Organic, Fair Trade Certified Cocoa Powder I Recommend at Amazon.
Brownies Any Omnivore Would Love
I have made this recipe several times in the past year, and it has consistently been enjoyed by both vegan and omnivore friends (even the time when I forgot to add the vanilla and then poured it on top of the dough in the pan, hoping for the best).
The most recent time I made them, I decided to add the chocolate, cocoa powder, and salt to the saucepan containing the freshly-boiled water, and after that was thoroughly mixed together I added the butter, sugar, and vanilla to the mixture in the saucepan. I found that this method was FAR easier than adding the boiling water to the ingredients in a bowl. The chocolate melted much more quickly, and I didn't have to melt the butter beforehand as the warm chocolate mixture was warm enough to melt it, and if not you can always heat it up a little to facilitate melting. I have also never added instant espresso powder because I don't want to buy a whole pack for just this one recipe, and my brownies have still tasted absolutely scrumptious. This is my go-to brownie recipe! :)
I'm not vegan, but my roommate has a seriously allergic reaction to dairy. I accidentally "poisoned" him with some buttermilk biscuits that I made the night before. I wanted to say "I'm sorry" through making him something delicious, something spectacular and non-dairy, something that would have him saying, "moo?" No, no moo, but yes, yes delicious. These brownies were amazingly good! I followed the recipe to the T, with the exceptions of using coconut oil instead of vegan butter, and baking for only 20 minutes instead of 25 (darn electric ovens are weird). The author wasn't kidding when he said that these brownies needed to cool completely. My roommate and I tried them after an hour cooling, but the texture was definitely best after letting them cool over night (about 12 hours). I'm going to attempt to add chocolate and white-chocolate chips to my next batch, in addition to the walnuts I added last time. Thank you so much for this recipe - I don't think that I'll ever make non-vegan brownies again!
Is baking soda bicarbonate of soda, or is baking soda the name give to baking powder in America? Or does i not matter? All these similar names are so confusing!
Ultimate is right!
I've tried so many brownie recipes before that it was with a jaded and cynical eye that I regarded the "Ultimate" in the name of these brownies. But I swear by the old gods and the new that ultimate is what they are! Look no further! The quest is over! They're perfect!
Where have these been all my life?
You know in Vegucated when Marisa Miller Wolfson is shoving her face with amazing vegan food? That was me yesterday with these brownies! I knew I was done for after practically licking the bowl clean. Great recipe, the only one I'll use from here on out.
BEST brownies EVER!!
Being vegan for a third of my life, I have never found such a perfect brownie recipe as this. Every vegan brownie recipe I've tried has been too "cakey" or too dry, but this recipe is the absolute BEST. Ooey and gooey in the middle, with a nice crust on top with just the right amount of crispness, I've never found such a perfect vegan brownie recipe before now. I didn't have any espresso powder, but they still came out amazingly perfect. The best part is, it's made with so few and such simple ingredients that you can pretty much make these whenever the chocolate cravings hit!
Okay this is AMAZING. I had tried a few other vegan brownie recipes and only ended up with weird goop or fluffy tasteless muffin brownies. The flax mixture and semisweet chocolate pieces are a GAMECHANGER. I didn't even use a mixer and only had raw sugar on hand (something that usually ruins my recipes) and it STILL came out like gooey Mrs Fields brownies. Best ever! Thank you!
Gorgeous tasting brownies! Mine passed the toothpick test after only 17 mins in my fan assisted oven, even though I had my oven thermometer in there for safety. Good thing I checked on that fantastic brownie smell wafting the kitchen!!
Vegan butter isn't really a thing in the UK, so I subbed 4tbsp tub marg, and 2tbsp veg shortening. But this was a guesstimate
My go-to vegan brownie recipe
I'm not actually vegan, I just have several allergies that restrict my use of common non-vegan baking ingredients. I make these brownies for my significant other and myself. He tries to stay healthy and doesn't snack often, but he always makes exceptions for these! I have made them numerous times over the past few years. I usually cut the sugar down to one cup or less, but today I am trying to add a bit more. We enjoy the texture of these brownies-they are very dense and chewy. Not cakey at all (which I love. If I want cake I would make cake). Thanks for the recipe!
Never need to try another vegan brownie recipe aga
Wow why haven't I left a comment on this one yet..? Well here it is!
I've tried many vegan brownie recipes over the past decade with pretty good success. After trying and falling in love with this one last fall I need not to ever experiment with another brownie recipe again.
This is fail-proof, always comes out very fudgy with that lovely thin crusty top. The brownies keep moist for many many days. I would recommend this recipe for anyone who wants a traditional decadently fudgy (not cakey) brownie which doesn't skimp on the sugar, chocolate and fat! And it doesn't have any crazy or overly expensive ingredients (especially if you leave out the nuts). Five stars!
Tried many vegan brownies that are all way more "cake-y" than brownie. This...takes the cake. ;) The crispy top...oh the wonderful crispiness, delish.
I used a lot less sugar (a little more than half) and didn't have chips. Next time, I will use more sugar for a sweeter taste. (And get the chips)
For those people who are talking about the flour and sugar content...this is not a green smoothie people. This is a brownie. To be enjoyed when you need a real brownie. For healthy recipes, choose another, but for the real thing, this hits the spot.
Not great for health, but really good for the soul. ;)
Too much sugar & flour !!
I've made plenty of vegan recipes, & none so unhealthy as this. I still wanted to try the 'ultimate' vegan brownie though, so I followed this recipe to the t. Crunchy top & very fudgy in a sticky sickly way ... ended up taking a long afternoon nap & waking with a hurting belly. Way too much sugar & flour in this recipe. I've tried 2 of your website's vegan recipes, both sounded so promising .. I think your website over promises & under delivers. I'm done with your recipes. Other better vegan websites like lovingitraw abound.
Just how a brownie should be
Could there be a typo in the flax part of the recipe? I made mine with 6 Tb of water instead of the called-for 3. For the reviews that say the brownies are a bit dry, I don't think 3 Tb of water would make a huge difference, but maybe that's part of it? I don't know if it interests the owner of this website, but, on the science side of things, I know as a reader i would definitely be interested in seeing the original recipe the vegan version was based on and the breakdown of how and why the vegan substitutions were made. Learning how to veganize traditional recipes can help vegans to not have to rely on the often awful versions that are out there.
brownie - 1st attempt
I tried this but had to cut a few corners. I used 4 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder (Trader Joe's), as opposed to 7. Ran out! So I used extra chocolate chips (Trader Joes, the ones that look like little Kisses). Instead of espresso powder, I used boiling fresh coffee/water. :) The brownies turned out fine. Tasted pretty good, but I wasn't blown away, and I'm thinking it has something to do with the texture. I was surprised at how thick and heavy the dough was. It felt like clay as I was pressing it into the baking pan. I think perfect brownies should have a little bit of fragility and not hold together like a Snickers bar. OK. Next. I don't know how you line a square pan so that the wax paper doesn't get creased into the mix at the corners, thereby making it hard to peel off after it's cooled. Generally the wax paper wasn't that easy to pull off after the brownies completely cooled. My last point -- I'm new to baking, so it is somewhat surprising to me to see quite a few baking recipes that call for so much sugar. A cup-and-a-half for an 8x8 dessert? Yikes! Anyway, thanks. I'm still learning.
Patience has virtues
Hugs to you for making my dream of the perfect vegan brownie a reality. I didn't want to even get my hopes up as I stirred the thick batter, however, the results were just as you said, moist, fudge-like and delicious. It reminds me of those silly box brownie mixes that my mom used that came with the fudge packet, only I actually can pronounce these ingredients. Thank so much and I'm doing to whip up another batch now. :)
This recipe yields very tasty brownie. I used some peppermint chocolate as well as dark chocolate pieces so it gives off a nice minty flavor, which goes really well with the hint of expresso flavor. I also reduced sugar to slightly less than 1 cup and the sweetness is perfect. The mixture was too dry so I add about 3 more tablespoon of water. I used coconut oil instead of vegan butter, about 7 tablespoon and the consistency is perfect. Next time instead of adding 3 more tablespoon of water at the end, I would try mixing 6 tablespoon of water with 2 tablespoon of flax seed meal instead. Thank you for the recipe, I'm glad I find it.
The BEST brownies. Period.
I don't ever leave reviews, but I really wanted to leave one for these brownies. These are, hands down, the best brownies I've ever made! I made these over the weekend for a huge family party and literally everyone was raving about how fantastic they were! I used Bob mills pre groud golden flax meal and it worked perfectly (no funky tastes) and I also added some vegan dark chocolate cocoa nibs to the recipe and it just made the brownies that much better! BEST RECIPE and super easy! You are a true genius!!!!
These brownies were my first attempt at home made vegan baking, and DAYUM! They are so delicious, even though I left the chocolate pieces out. They're very easy to make and come out great.
Best of the Best
These brownies are the best that I have ever tasted and I'm not even vegan! I left out the espresso powder because I didn't have any and they were still delicious. This recipe is my go-to recipe for brownies from now on.
These were just delicious!!
Just don't take them out of the baking pan until cooled, when I tried they started to break apart.
I set mine outside in 40 degree weather and they cooled fine.
mouth-watering, easy, just perfect !! (i was told to reduce the sugar quantity next time, so I'll try it with only 1 cup of sugar). Thanks for sharing !
when will i learn that as someone from northern-europe i should add much, MUCH less sugar than the american recipes require... just one bite made me feel sick, but i'm still excited to make them again using 1/2 cup of sugar instead of 1 1/2 and i'm sure that this is going to be my favorite vegan brownie recipe.
"perfect" is exactely what these brownies are!
Delicious - can shortening be used?
Thank you for this recipe - we love the taste and texture of these brownies. I think the walnuts compliment them very well. I also appreciate that they can be frozen – there are only 2 of us in our household and we like to enjoy them slowly.
I was wondering whether it might be possible to substitute the vegan butter/stick margarine with vegetable shortening? I can't be sure if the stick margarine I use is free from hydrogenated fats and am not quite prepared to take the plunge making vegan butter. However, I do have access to a hydrogenated oil-free shortening called Trex, made from solid vegetable fat. The instructions for substituting butter with Trex are to use 20% less, so perhaps I could use 16g water in addition to 64g Trex to make up for the lack of water?
I have found the one!
I have tried many a vegan brownie recipe. All with their outlandish claims that their brownie is just like a non-vegan brownie and it's HEALTHY! Well, all of those versions with their black beans and zucchini tasted like CHALK. When I found this recipe, a part of my rejoiced. You really seem to know a lot about the science behind baking, so I decided to give brownies one last shot. Unfortunately, I was unable to find an organic vegan semi-sweet baking bar. Although you say that semi-sweet chips won't work, I took a chance and used Equal Exchange's semi-sweet chips (I called the company and they confirmed their chips are vegan and not processed in a facility with any dairy). THESE WERE FABULOUS. In fact, I am about to make them again. I used earth balance baking sticks my first time. I would like to make my own vegan butter but lecithin is not easy to come by so. Some day....
I made these for the first time today. They taste fantastic! and are SUPER moist!! I changed up the recipe a little bit: I boiled coffee-flavored stout instead of water (to pour over the chocolate). I didn't have any stick margarine, just Earth Balance in the tub, so I took and chance and used that but also added a tablespoon of coconut oil just in case there wasn't enough fat. I didn't have espresso powder so I used instant coffee (it's all I had) and everything turned out great! :) :) :)