Whoever thinks being vegan is dull and tasteless needs to try these brownies. They may be the most decadent – but almost healthy – brownies I have ever tasted! I already had a great gluten-free brownie recipe (thanks Kim & Megan!) but wanted to make vegan ones for a wedding that was having a cake table of contributions from guests.
I researched a fair few recipes but finally settled on Minimalist Baker. I’ve long been a fan of Dana Schultz’s work, as well as her seductive food photography. Who else can make hummus on toast look so sexy? What drew me to this recipe, apart from the food porn photos, was the simplicity. With only four ingredients for the brownies – more if you also do the granache – I thought that these were something I can quickly whip up after work, especially as the recipe stated they would only take 21 minutes. However it wasn’t quite that quick and simple! There’s a lovely blog called Roxyveganomics which compares the stated time to the actual time (Roxy minutes). With that logic these brownies took me at least 60 ‘Sareta minutes’ – plus obligatory photo time! But they were totally worth it.
The main reason that they took longer was the process of adding the dates, bit by bit. If you’ve ever cooked with dates you’ll know that they are exceptionally sticky and I was having some trouble getting them to bind, but it really is about perseverance with dates and eventually they’ll do what you want.
The other three key ingredients are walnuts, almonds and cocoa powder. When I processed these together I had what looked like a big bowl of soil, which wasn’t too appetising, but once the dates finally blended through I had a sticky, rich and intense mixture that could fool even the hardiest of dairy-munchers.
By the time I’d toiled away on the main brownie mix, I contemplated not doing the granache but Dana’s photos made it look too irresistible so I ploughed on. This part was pretty easy as it’s just almond milk, cocoa powder, dark chocolate, vegan butter/coconut oil and sugar. I may have overdid it a bit on the sugar but they tasted sublime. I could only get dairy-free mint chocolate which actually worked out really well.
They set in the fridge in just over an hour and I cut them into bite-sized chunks for the wedding (c.40) and then some mini nibble-sized pieces for folk at work. The next day when I was giving them out a few people were put off when I said vegan but once they tasted them they were bowled over. At the wedding, they were one of only two vegan cakes – from a table of at least 20 – and they subsequently went down pretty well and the plate was clear in no time!
I tend not to bake as I don’t have that sweet a tooth, but these are so moreish I could keep eating them (also dangerous). It’s definitely opened my eyes to using dates which are something I previously would have stated I don’t like so I may now bring them into my kitchen more often.
I really recommend making these – do let me know if you have a go and how you get on!