Vegan hazelnut brownies
Vegan hazelnut brownies
I must say I didn’t quite understand the fuss about baking without eggs until I attempted to bake a vegan version of my all time favourite: chocolate brownies. Now, that’s a challenge! I rose to it and over the past couple of weeks made about 15 different brownie versions.
Some landed straight in the bin (even though I HATE binning food), others have been eaten by us or my neighbour, Suzie, who has kindly volunteered to do taste testing of all sweet stuff I make. Poor girl, she has had to eat some proper Frankenbrownies and did not complain one bit.
Don’t get me wrong, a few versions were pretty tasty, but they certainly weren’t a brownie as I know it. They were a bit like an undercooked cakey cake. My perfect brownie has a crispy outer shell that reveals a soft, gooey and very chocolaty centre and not being able to use eggs was making this a mission impossible.
I must admit I was pretty disheartened and depressed that I will never get to eat a proper brownie ever again. I mean, I gave up meat, dairy and eggs intentionally, but I had no idea that meant having to give up brownies too? Finally, after a few more tries, lots of reading on eggless baking and coming across a great brownie recipe on veganbaking.net, I nailed it.
I could see I did by how quickly Duncan reached for another piece. While previous attempts only managed to elicit an unconvincing ‘yeah, they’re…OK’, this one singled-handedly stormed it – ‘OMG! These are soooo good!’ he said grabbing another piece. These brownies have a crispy exterior, very gooey interior, a satisfying crunch from roasted hazelnuts and a subtle taste of hazelnut liqueur.
If you don’t have any handy, you can simply swap it for a different kind. It will work as long as the alcohol content is roughly the same (20%) and you use matching nuts on top – almonds and Amaretto would be my second choice if I didn’t have a self-imposed ban from making baked goods for the next two weeks at least. Now, excuse me but I need to grab a piece before they are all gone!
TALL BROWNIES (like in our photos)
- 2 and ½ tbsp* flax meal mixed with 4 tbsp / 60 ml water
- 280 g white plain cake (as opposed to bread) flour
- 1/3 tsp baking soda
- 7 and ½ tbsp cacao powder (I used raw)
- 140 g dark chocolate (I used 70% cocoa)
- 1/3 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp /30 ml hot espresso (or ½ tsp instant coffee and 2 tbsp water) + 50 ml boiling water (80 ml liquid)
- 1 and ½ cup brown sugar (I used raw cane)
- 110 ml / 7 and ½ tbsp mild olive oil
- 50 ml hazelnut liqueur (I used Frangelico)
- 50 g roasted hazelnuts, chopped
FLATTER BROWNIES (fewer calories per piece)
- 2 tbsp* flaxseed meal mixed with 3 tbsp / 45 ml water
- 225 g white plain cake (as opposed to bread) flour
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- 6 tbsp cacao powder (I used raw)
- 110 g dark chocolate (I used 70% cocoa)
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2 tbsp /30 ml hot espresso (or ½ tsp instant coffee and 2 tbsp water) + 35 ml boiling water (65 ml liquid)
- 1 and ¼ cup brown sugar (I used raw cane)
- 90 ml / 6 tbsp mild olive oil
- 40 ml hazelnut liqueur (I used Frangelico)
- 50 g roasted hazelnuts, chopped
- Prepare flax eggs by mixing flax meal with water (it uses less water than traditionally prepared flax egg). Put into the fridge to chill while you get on with the other stuff.
- Pre-heat the oven to 180° C / 350° F. Line 20 cm x 20 cm / 8 inch x 8 inch baking tin with baking parchment. Make the baking parchment stick out of the tin so that you’re able to remove the brownies from the tin as soon as they are out of the oven to stop them from cooking any further.
- Weigh your flour, add baking soda and whisk the two together with a hand egg whisk. Set aside.
- Chop your chocolate very finely. Put it into a big mixing bowl, with cacao and salt. Stir well.
- Brew an espresso. In a small pot boil water (50 ml for tall brownies, 35 for flatter ones) + add 2 tbsp of hot espresso. Bring both to boil.
- Pour boiling water & espresso into the chocolate, cacao and salt mixture. Stir with a spoon so that chocolate melts in hot liquid. Don’t add any more water.
- Add in sugar, flax egg (by this time it should turn all sticky) and olive oil. Using a hand mixer, blend the mixture until it’s smooth. Add hazelnut liqueur and blend it into the mixture.
- It’s time to add flour and the baking soda mixture. Add little at a time and stir it into the chocolate mixture with a spoon. Do not be tempted to use an electric mixer as it will overwork the batter. Be careful not to overwork the batter or else gluten will develop in the flour and it will affect the texture of the brownies negatively. Stir just enough until there are no flour pockets anymore, but no more than that.
- Spoon the batter (it will be rather thick) into a baking tray. Smooth it with a spatula and sprinkle chopped hazelnuts on top. Bake on middle shelf for about 23-25 minutes (taller version – I baked mine for 23 minutes) and 19-22 minutes (flatter version) depending how set you like your brownies. The top should be nice and crispy, but the inside gooey.
This recipe is an adaptation of a genius recipe from Vegan Baking blog.
Glad you enjoyed these but sorry they did not quite come out on point. From your description it sounds like they have been overbaked and are now crumbly. Brownies are very fussy and sounds like your oven may be running hotter than mine so maybe decrease the temperature by 5-10°C / 25-50°F and try taking them out after 20 minutes. As for Frangelico, you can add more if you wish, sub some of the water with it so that the total volume of moisture in the dough is the same. Hope this helps! Ania
Is cacao and cocoa the same thing here? I think you call it both in the ingredients and recipe (and I know there is no consensus on the correct use of the name cacao) so just wondered which you used.
Thanks x Rosie
You are absolutely correct, they are not quite the same. I used cacao in these (will amend the instructions) and I totally struggle with these two names being so similar. Thanks for letting me know and hope you'll enjoy the brownies. Ania
These brownies are supposed to be dense when raw so that they get fudgy on the inside and crispy on the outside once baked. When it comes to the uneven level of sweetness, it must be because sugar wasn't incorporated well enough - did you use a hand mixer for that stage? As for the flour pockets, again, sounds like it wasn't mixed in well enough either. Flour needs to be folded in gently using a spatula or a wooden spoon. The recipe says not to use electric mixer at this stage as when flour hits moisture in a thick batter like this one, flour needs to be handled very gently or else gluten will activate and that leads to tough, bread-like cakes. Hope that helps! Ania
Wondering if the brownies would be okay if we doubled the frangelico?
We really love halzenut liquor haha
It should be fine provided that you substitute some other liquid with it or else the batter may be thrown off balance. Good luck! Ania