Thursday, August 20, 2015

Chewy Vegan Velvet Brownies

There are three "main" camps when it comes to brownies - the chewy, the fudgy, and the cakey. Actually, if I wanted to be mean, I could say there were only two - the chewy/fudgy hybrid and "wrong". To me, any brownie with a cakey texture is just a single layered, possibly frosted, undecorated snacking cake that's acceptable to eat before dinner. But that's just me, and I won't judge (too much).

Chewy Vegan Velvet Brownies

Needless to say, this post is about the chewy, moreish variety of my favourite bar cookies. Now, most of the "good" or "best ever" brownie recipes out there rely on the copious use of butter and/or eggs in addition to melted chocolate (see this article for "official" ingredient tests), and I have nothing against those at all - these and these look scarily close to the decadent squares I used to scarf down in my youth - but these days so many of the people I bake for are vegan or trying to eat a "little better" even when indulging, and since I'm supplying the calories I figure I should probably make them a little less empty, don't you think?

I had been playing with the idea of gluten development and the "chewiness" factor in baked goods since having delicious success with Alton Brown's "The Chewy" chocolate chip cookie recipe, and while I love the flavour of whole-grain Kamut® flour in chocolate baked goods it lacks the structural protein that bread or all purpose flour contains. My solution? Try adding a spoonful of straight gluten to a vegan, melted chocolate brownie recipe and see what happens! The low-fat bars (adapted from Eggless Cooking and Amy's Healthy Baking) got extra flavour, sweetness and moisture from heirloom beets I had roasted and frozen from last year's crop and turned out spectacularly - just the right amount of chew without being tough, moist and full of slightly nutty, rich dark chocolate.

Chewy Vegan Velvet BrowniesOf course, I had to gild the lily after all that - why not give one of the queens of my personal brownie kingdom a crown? The topping I chose took the form of a contrasting light and silky tofu mousse which set up beautifully and added just a touch of "oomph" to the finished bars. While the combination of ingredients is highly unconventional, it is definitely one I will make again!

Chewy Vegan Velvet Brownies
Makes 1 9" pan, 16 servings
½ cup (3 oz) chopped bittersweet chocolate (or callets, which I used), melted and cooled slightly
1 lb fresh beets, roasted and pureed (or one 16oz can, drained and puréed)
¼ cup dark brown sugar, packed
6 packets Truvia
1 tbsp raw sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
½ tbsp egg replacer powder (homemade or Ener-G)
1 tbsp vanilla extract
¾ cup Kamut® flour
½ tbsp vital wheat gluten (this makes them chewy!)
¾ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
¼ cup miniature chocolate chips (optional, included in NI)

Mousse:
1 ½ cups chopped semisweet chocolate
2 tbsp raw agave
¼ tsp salt
9 oz firm silken tofu
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tbsp icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350° and lightly coat a 9” square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix the chocolate, beet purée, sugar, Truvia, cocoa, oil, egg replacer and vanilla until well blended.
  3. Add the oat flour, gluten, baking powder, and salt and stir just until incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  4. Bake for 35 minutes, or until a tester comes out with moist crumbs.
  5. Cool completely before frosting.
Mousse:
  1. Combine the chocolate chips, coconut oil, agave and salt in a microwave safe bowl and microwave until melted and smooth, stirring every 45 seconds. Set aside.
  2. Combine the tofu, cocoa, icing sugar and vanilla in a food processor and puree.
  3. Add the chocolate mixture and puree in.
  4. Scrape into a bowl and chill at least 1 hour before spreading onto cooled brownies
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 209.4
Total Fat: 10.4 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 32.2 mg
Total Carbs: 30.4 g
Dietary Fiber: 3.3 g
Protein: 4.4 g