Bittersweet Brownies + Salted Peanut Butter Frosting à la Not Without Salt {vegan}

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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 used to have three go-to brownie recipes. The first was Alice Medrich’s cocoa brownies (genius and 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 and 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 and 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.

Then I played around and created this. These brownies are really really good. The frosting is also really really good. You could also just leave the frosting out and 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 {vegan}

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.
Servings 16

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp finely ground chia or flax seed
  • 4 tbsp almond milk/water
  • 100 ml / 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp. almond milk
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar

dry ingredients

  • 150 g / 1 cup + 2 Tbsp all‐purpose flour (or white spelt flour)
  • 30 g / 1/4 cup chickpea (besan) flour
  • 20 g / 2 tbsp. arrowroot starch
  • 50 g / 1/2 cup dutch process cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp espresso powder (optional)

wet ingredients

  • 250 g chopped dark chocolate 70 – 85% cocoa content
  • 125 g / 1/2 cup vegan butter
  • 250 g / 1 1/4 cup raw granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste

frosting

  • 200 g / 3/4 cups + 2 tbsp. vegan butter soft
  • 250 g / 2 cups icing sugar
  • 200 g / 3/4 cup 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

Instructions

brownies

  • 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 chia/flax & almond milk/water & set aside to thicken to make a chia/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 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 chia egg & finally the buttermilk. Whisk together until well combined.
  • Pour the wet mixture over the dry mixture & stir until combined. Scoop the batter into the prepared pan & spread with your hands or the back of a spoon until smooth and even.
  • Bake for about 25-35 minutes (in the last 10 minutes I give the pan a shake every few minutes to make sure that crackly crust happens!) until crackly on top & a skewer inserted into the middle comes out a bit gooey with batter attached. 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.

frosting

  • 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.

Join the Conversation

  1. Sandra says:

    Can soy milk be used instead of almond milk?

    1. Yes soy milk will definitely work! Any plant-based milk will work wonderfully 🙂

  2. Could you use something else in place of the chickpea flour?

    1. Unfortunately chickpea flour is pretty important for binding everything together (it works like an egg replacer), I tried the recipe with different flours a few times but it never worked out as well for me. If you’d still like to try a different flour my first choice would probably be almond meal – measure it by weight (30g) or use about 1/3 cup of almond meal. If you give it a try without it let me know how it goes!

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