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!
PS: If you make my vegan hazelnut brownies, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram as @lazycatkitchen and use the #lazycatkitchen hashtag. I love seeing your takes on my recipes!
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.
*I’m assuming that a tbsp holds 15 ml here. Mine only holds 10 ml, for example, so it’s worth checking yours as accuracy is crucial when it comes to baking, especially of the vegan kind.
This recipe is an adaptation of a genius recipe from Vegan Baking blog.