I did it….I finally did it….no, I didn’t win the lottery…..I made some brownies! So, I guess I won the brownie lottery because I finally perfected the brownie recipe.....at least in my eyes. This is a detailed post, but I truly am passionate about sharing my experiences in the kitchen.
It’s kind of a known thing that brownies are really rich because of their traditional butter, refined sugar and white flour, right?
I knew I had to mimic that taste and texture....but without all of those ingredients. Oh, I made them gluten-free and oil-free too....but you'd never know. These brownies are not low calorie or low fat....they are brownies. I like my brownies rich and sweet. In fact, whenever I see a dessert labeled fat-free or sugar-free, that usually screams artificial chemicals! Using bananas or avocados just isn't going to cut it here on flavor, either. I wanted them to both taste and look authentic.
These bad boys are not full of processed junk and they are ingredients I feel good about. Plus, I love that they are oil-free....which you hardly ever see in a brownie recipe. That said, control yourself and don't eat the whole pan at once. They are so rich though, honestly one is very satisfying.
Look at that crackle top.....
I've tasted a few vegan brownies before and they were ok, but never knocked my socks off...typically too mushy and always containing ingredients I didn't love or needed to sub.
I have been baking for years and am very comfortable with it, but when I started baking gluten-free, I learned there are about a billion different flours and they ALL produce different results. It's not as easy as just throwing white flour, sugar and eggs together. It is even more challenging when trying to fit everything within 8 ingredients.
But I have learned a lot through trial and error with gluten-free flours and starches. I have perfected recipes with what I have learned. I have high standards with brownies and I finally got what I was after.
My 7 taste testers can account for their authenticity. I had my friend's family and her children (all not vegan), as well as my hubby and daughter, give their big approval. My friend called them "fudgy, perfect texture, moist, wow, and I can't think of one criticism"! Do you know how happy and relieved I was to hear this?! I had worked to perfect these gluten-free brownies, that once I nailed it, I was thankful that others loved it too. Each of us have our own opinions though, so you be the judge and try them yourself.
Well, I tried many different flours, amounts, liquids, dry sweetener, liquid sweetener, etc. Then I stepped back and thought about what I wanted in my brownies, but have them still taste as rich and decadent as any of the best brownies out there.
Here was my criteria:
- vegan, obviously
- gluten-free….without needing 3 or 4 different flours
- oil-free…without the use of vegan butter
- very thick and substantial
- to bake evenly and not dip in the center, like so many recipes
- the famous crackle top
- 8 ingredients....duh
How I did it?
- Well, my first issue was using almond flour...my normal go-to flour. It was making the brownies too tender, not enough structure and too moist, if you can believe that. I needed them fudgy and substantial....ya know, like a brownie.
- I decided to just use oat flour as the main flour and instead of oils, use rich "butters"...a combo in fact, and that turned out to be AMAZING. I used smooth, creamy coconut butter in place of all the oil and butter you typically see in a brownie recipe. Then I added some smooth almond butter as well. The almond butter is much thicker and heavier and gives the brownies their fudge quality and the coconut butter makes them creamy and full of flavor. It's just a hint of coconut though, not overpowering at all.
- I also got rid of using any leavening agent! Gasp! Going against the rules! But you know what...I'm not a rule follower, I go with what WORKS. For this recipe, once I took out the leavening, they become the perfect, fudgy brownie. Just perfect. They get enough rise from the oats and tapioca, as they rise some when baked.
- Don't overcook them. Brownies can quickly go from fudgy to cake-like with just a minute or two. I took them out while they still had a few crumbs (not liquid) on the toothpick because they are still slightly cooking, upon removal, and they end up being the perfect texture.
I make my own coconut butter for my recipes too. Super easy. You can do this if you have a food processor, or just use store bought.
Regarding substitues: If you don't like coconut, then these brownies may not be for you. However, the coconut is just a hint, not overpowering. I'm afraid subbing the coconut with all nut butter would be too heavy. For goodness sakes, do not sub with coconut oil! That would make them a brick of greasy oil. I do not recommend subbing though, because I tested this recipe many times and the coconut butter is a major ingredient and what worked so well. For a nut-free version, you can try creamy sunbutter in place of the almond butter. I haven't tried it yet though.