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.
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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, but advice needed for UK bakers
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.
However, I have experienced one problem - my brownies tend to collapse during cooling. The edges around the side of the tin stay high, while all the rest collapses. I thought that this might be because I am in the UK and used what is known as “plain flour” here. In the UK we don’t have all-purpose flour – just plain flour (typically used for cakes and biscuits/cookies) and strong flour (used for bread). From my experience, plain flour generally has a protein content of 9.5-10.5%, while the protein content of strong tends to be 12-13%. I suspect that my plain flour might be a little lower in gluten than all-purpose flour, so I hope to remedy this problem by trying to find flour with a protein content of 11-11.5%. Alternatively, I have considered blending my usual plain flour with some strong flour to achieve that total protein content. What do you think - do you think gluten content is the answer to this problem?
Also, I was wondering whether it might be possible to substitute the vegan butter/stick margarine with vegetable shortening? I am having difficulty sourcing non-hydrogenated stick margarine over here and am not quite prepared to take the plunge making vegan butter. However, we do have a hydrogenated oil-free shortening called Trex. 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! :) :) :)
So freaking good. My sister's cheese and meat loving boyfriend loves them! As does everyone who tries them. They are phenomenal brownies vegan or non-vegan. Just the best brownies ever. And simple to throw together!
Best brownies ever. I added about 1/2 cup of soy milk and some desiccated coconut and they were PERFECT.
Has to be the best recipe I have ever tried. The basic mix works wonders and allows for small changes. Thank you so much :D
Excellent with added raspberries
I've made these 3 times now, and they are truly fantastic. I wrote up my last attempt at making them at http://chocoholicphilosopher.blogspot.com.au/2014/06/rich-chocolate-brownies-with-raspberries.html
I added frozen raspberries and choc chips instead of the walnuts, and they disappeared very quickly, served to mixed company of vegans, vegetarians and omnivores.
Terrific Texture, Slight Off Taste
My family and I are new to being vegan (less than 2 weeks). I made these tonight and I have to say the texture is amazing! My comparison is the Barefoot Contessa's Outrageous Brownies, which are the absolute gold standard in my book. My only issue, other than feeling like 35 minutes of baking was maybe 5 minutes too long, is the slight off taste the brownies have. They taste like... I'm guessing it's flax, a kind of seedy almost rancid taste. It's like the way wood polish or teak oil smells. I bought whole golden flax seeds in bulk this afternoon and ground my 2T right before I used them. I'm wondering if I might get rid of that taste by using the egg replacer EnerG. Will that affect the perfect brownie texture (chewy on the inside, crispy on the edges)?
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Sounds Good, I Want To Try It
I can't wait to try it! Where do you get Vegan Butter from? Would Olive Oil with Himalayan Rock Salt work too? I might call my margerine company, and see if their margarine is Vegan. And I don't know where to get Semi-Sweet Chocolate from (that doesn't maybe contain a trace of milk), so I might just use my Sweet Williams (Vegan) Chocolate Chips, Which don't contain any traces of milk or other ingredient. By the way, in New Zealand's supermarket, I found something called, "EggSub", which is egg-free (hopefully Vegan). If it turns out to be Vegan, should I use it? I think it has tapioca flour in it. Or should I just look at my Organic Store for some Golden Flaxseed?
everyone loves these brownies. they are so chewy and delicious. one comment is that i baked two at once. yes. two! one with walnuts and one without. the one i baked in a glass pan baked perfectly at the temp/time above. the one in the teflon pan burnt slightly. do you know if you can freeze these once you bake them? thanks so much!
Actually the Best
This are actually the best vegan brownies I have ever made. The only things I changed were using brown sugar, baking powder (was out of baking soda,) no walnuts, and using coffee instead of water. The consistency is perfect, and they taste amazing. Oh! I also baked them on the top rack for only 22 minutes, and the texture was ideal. Thanks for the recipe!
Best Brownies Ever!
I made an account here just so I could leave a review on these! They are A-MAZING! So easy to make and I don't think anybody would be able to tell these are vegan without being told.
I've always loved brownies but hated to make them, due to the double boiling to melt the chocolate in almost all recipes (just a pet peeve of mine.) So the fact that this recipe didn't require that is a huge bonus! I baked for about 25 mins as other users suggested and they are perfect!
Thank you so much!
Good, but I do think the baking time is off
I really do think that there's a typo in the recipe, or else the OP's oven runs very cool--I baked mine for 27 minutes and they were a little dry. I think 25 minutes is probably perfect in a regular oven; at any rate, start checking at 22 minutes or so, and these will be perfect. I made these yesterday and they're the best vegan brownies I've ever had, hands down. Used a little more than 1/4C strong hot coffee instead of the boiling water and espresso powder and replaced some margarine with coconut oil because I ran out (this may have affected the texture but I usually have good results with coconut oil). Thanks a lot for the recipe. They'll get made again!
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