Vegan Brownies

I think it’s fairly obvious that we do not live a vegan lifestyle at montcarte. We clearly like our eggs and butter, especially when it comes to desserts, so I’ve always been a bit hesitant when it comes to vegan baked goods. I have high doubts that they’ll ever be delicious, so when I was approached by my sweet friend Patra (the recipient of the oh-so-popular vanilla cupcakes with lemon-lime curd filling) to bake something vegan for an information booth about cruelty against animals, I wondered if I could pull it off.

And in the end, I think I was successful! These brownies come together in a flash, and are extremely low in fat, but not lacking in flavour. I’m not going to say that they beat out regular, buttery brownies, but they’re a fantastic alternative for anyone who doesn’t want animal products in their food, or even just someone trying to cut some fat out of their diet. Their texture was a bit off, if you compare them to regular brownies. They had a chewiness to them, but that wasn’t unappealing in the least. They were still sweet, chocolately and fudgey, which is all that really matters. They didn’t get that flakey crust, but that’s okay – they were delicious, and at at least half the fat. I liked the fudginess of them, and they had a healthy vibe to them.

It was interesting that the batch I made with walnuts turned out chewier than the batch without. I chalk that up to the oils in the walnuts. Also interesting was the response to the brownies at the info booth! I work in a school setting, and a lot of the students were not only eager to try some vegan goods, but were enthusiastic and extremely excited. Those who weren’t? Well, once they had a bite, they were convinced that these brownies are not really lacking in any way.

Here’s the recipe I handed out with the brownies, along with a bit of information not commonly known, except by the vegans among us.

Easy Vegan Brownies

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups demerra or turbinado sugar *
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons instant coffee granules
1 cup hot water
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup chopped walnuts (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9×13 inch baking pan with some vegetable oil.

2. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.

3. Stir coffee granules in hot water until dissolved. Add water to the dry mixture. Add vegetable oil, applesauce and vanilla.

4. Mix well, until blended. Add nuts, if you’re using them.

5. Spread evenly into the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the top is no longer shiny. Let cool for at least 20 minutes before cutting into squares.

*Granulated sugar can be a refined sugar derived from sugar cane. If it is, then the purification process involves filtering the sugar through activated carbon, or, charcoal. Many cane refineries use bone char, which is charcoal made from animal bones, to filter their sugar. Some people feel that this can make granulated sugar non-vegan. Demerra or turbinado sugars do not go through this process, making them a great vegan choice!

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