My perfect brownies! These are a veganised version of a recipe in the cookbook 'Date Night In' by Ashley Rodriguez of Not Without Salt. Fudgy, rich, chocolatey-as-hell and topped with the fluffiest peanut butter frosting and a sprinkling of flaky salt. I could eat the whole pan.
I've been shamelessly binge watching Gilmore Girls until very late into the night for the past week. It's safe to say that the upcoming Gilmore Girls reunion on Netflix has me in a complete Gilmore frenzy. I can't stop drinking coffee. And all i can think about is bad-for-me food. And i just want to read all the classic literature – Proust, Melville, Jane Austen…AH! It happened last time I watched this series, It draws you in with it's charismatic charm & there's no turning back. Help me. I'm Rory & Lorlei obsessed! Hence these brownies. I just needed a brownie fix with all of this netflixing & so, here they are.
I used to have three go-to brownie recipes. The first was Alice Medrich's cocoa brownies (genius & dangerously easy). The second, my brother's favourite, Nigel Slater's 'very good chocolate brownies' that Nigel says are 'as dense & fudgy as Glastonbury festival mud' *heart eyes*. And the third, my personal favourite & one that has well and truly made the rounds on the internet, gracing the feeds of many an instagram account… Ashley Rodriguez's (of Not Without Salt) Bittersweet Brownies with Salted Peanut Butter Frosting from her cookbook 'Date Night In'.
I loved the texture & flavour of these brownies. I loved that they were somewhere in between my other two favourite recipes in their degree of fudginess (just enough, not quite 'Glastonbury mud' level fudgy). And most of all I loved the combination of the bittersweet dark chocolate brownie, the fluffy peanut butter frosting & the little flecks of sea salt that adorned the top. Perfect. My perfect, ultimate brownie. But, alas, no eggs = sad brownies. OR SO I THOUGHT.
I've tested many many vegan brownie recipes this year, most falling short of what i want in a brownie. They need to have the holy trinity of brownie textures – crunchy, chewy & fudgy – AND have a deep dark chocolate flavour. The closest recipe to this ideal that i could find was over here on Oh She Glows.
It still wasn't quite hitting the spot for me though (brownies are definitely a 'personal preference' kind of food); so i tweaked it and tweaked a few more times and added a salted peanut butter frosting just like Ashley's version, until I had a brownie I could happily make myself sick from whilst binge watching Gilmore Girls. Or you know, to eat in sensible amounts after a healthful dinner of beans & kale…
These brownies are really really good. The frosting is also really really good. Just be careful with it, as it does like to melt, even at room temperature. I tend to frost the brownies just before serving to keep the frosting chilled, super fluffy & non-melty. I think I'll try out a cashew based peanut butter frosting next time, to see if it holds up better at room temperature. If the results are good you will probably see something about it here, so stay tuned.
You could also just leave the frosting out & turn these brownies into whatever you'd like. Walnuts? Yes. Raspberry, pistachio & chocolate chunk. Um, yes. Whichever way you choose, enjoy them sensibly or not-so-sensibly in all their crunchy, chewy, fudgy, bittersweet glory!
Bittersweet Brownies + Salted Peanut Butter Frosting à la Not Without Salt
Yield 16 brownie squares
vegan, dairy-free, egg-free
These brownies are essentially a 'veganised' version of Ashley Rodriguez's (Not Without Salt) recipe from her beautiful cookbook Date Night In. Brownie recipe adapted from Oh She Glows.
My perfect brownies! Fudgy, rich, chocolatey-as-hell and topped with the fluffiest peanut butter frosting and a sprinkling of flaky salt.
- 1 1/2 tbsp. ground flax
- 4 tbsp. almond milk/water
- 100 mL / 1/4 c + 2 tbsp. almond milk
- 2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
- 100 g / 3/4 c all-purpose flour
- 50 g / 1/3 c barley or oat flour
- 30 g / 1/4 c chickpea flour
- 20 g / 2 tbsp. arrowroot starch
- 50 g / 1/2 c natural undutched cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 250 g chopped dark chocolate (70 – 85% cocoa content)
- 125 g / 1/2 c vegan butter or refined coconut oil (you can use unrefined but it will have a more pronounced coconut flavour)
- 250 g / 1 1/4 c raw granulated sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
Salted Peanut Butter Frosting
- 200 g / 3/4 c + 2 tbsp. vegan butter, soft
- 250 g / 2 c icing sugar
- 200 g / 3/4 c natural smooth peanut butter
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- pinch fine sea salt
- 1 – 2 tbsp. almond milk
- 1/2 tsp. flaky sea salt to sprinkle over the top
- Preheat oven to 160C/320F. Line a 22 cm/9 inch square pan with baking paper on all sides, leaving some overhang to use as a handle after baking (to lift the brownies out of the tin).
- In a small bowl, whisk together the ground flax & almond milk/water & set aside to thicken to make a flax egg.
- In a separate small bowl, whisk together the almond milk & the apple cider vinegar. Set aside to thicken/activate & turn into 'buttermilk'.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Set aside.
- Place the chocolate & vegan butter/coconut oil in a large heat-proof mixing bowl & place over a saucepan filled with a few cm of simmering water. Allow to melt, stirring often so that the chocolate does not burn. Once melted & combined, remove from the heat (it only needs to just melt, don't leave it any longer or it will burn).
- Add the sugar straight away while the mix is still warm & whisk well to begin dissolving the sugar. Whisk in the vanilla extract followed by the flax egg & finally the buttermilk. Whisk together until well combined.
- Pour the wet mixture over the dry mixture & stir until combined. If you are struggling to mix it with a wooden spoon or spatula, don't be afraid to use your hands! Scoop the batter into the prepared pan & spread with your hands or the back of a spoon until smooth and even.
- Bake for about 35 – 40 minutes until crackly on top & a skewer inserted into the middle comes out with some batter attached but not too much! If it's still super gooey just leave it for a few more minutes & test again. Remove from the oven & set the pan of brownies on a wire rack – leave in the pan until completely cool (go & make the frosting as they bake & cool!). Once cooled, carefully remove the brownies from the pan using the overhanging baking paper.
- In a medium (but relatively shallow – something that will fit in the freezer) mixing bowl, whip the softened vegan butter with a hand beater until fluffy. Slowly sift over the icing sugar, a tbsp or so at a time, beating in between. Add the peanut butter, vanilla extract & sea salt & beat to combine. Drizzle in a tbsp or so of almond milk & whip again.
- Chill the whole bowl in the freezer for about 30 minutes. Take the bowl out of the freezer & beat again until fluffy. If it is still not fluffy enough, chill in the freezer for another 10 minutes & beat again. Repeat this chilling-beating process again if necessary until the frosting is thick & fluffy. Keep covered in the fridge until you are ready to frost.
- Frost the brownies with the peanut butter frosting & sprinkle with the flaky sea salt. Cut into squares & serve immediately. The brownies will keep unfrosted for 3–4 days, once frosted though they need to be eaten quite quickly as the frosting does not keep well at room temperature.