Wednesday, November 2, 2011

WARNING: This post contains T*fu

Dear non-vegans,

I have discovered a recipe for brownies that could actually be THE best brownies I've ever had. You will be very surprised to find that they contain no eggs or dairy products, yet taste so decadent that you will be thinking about them for days...maybe longer and you may even contemplate veganism (well maybe in the baked goods category anyway).
Sally (aka the vegan baker)

I feel I should explain why my blog contains both vegan recipes and meat recipes...I am vegan when it comes to baking as I can't eat eggs or dairy in any significant amount. So vegan baking is the way to go for me. But I eat meat, hence the giant meat fest pic on my main blog page. And the previous post prominently featuring sausages of the pork kind. Capiche?

The recipe for these brownies is from a cookbook I use regularly called The Everyday Vegan. I have tested the baked result on several sets of co-workers and friends/family and every time the verdict has been that these are hands down WINNER brownies (and that's without them knowing about the vegan part. and the tofu part). I find a lot of people are scared of tofu and anything containing it so I try to keep it a secret until they've eaten the brownie. The most recent testing of the brownie was at my current workplace and one of my coworkers, I call her CC now (short for Chocolate Chip), stated the following on devouring her brownie;

" I just died a little bit inside. In a good way."

I was pretty happy with that and afterwards she said they were the best brownies she's ever had. Another co-worker ate 3. I think it's safe to say that the brownies are now mainstream.
There is a misconception out there that vegan food is either bland, not tasty or super healthy. None of these is totally true. Of course some vegan food can be bland and not tasty as can animal based food. That's down to the cook and the preparation. As for vegan food being good for you....well, for the most part it usually is higher in fibre, free of cholesterol and higher in vegetables but certainly in some categories, it can be loaded in fat, salt and sugar. Dairy substitutes such as tofu can be deep fried as in agedashi tofu or laden with sugar like the premade tofu desserts.
This particular recipe is delicious but it does contain sugar and chocolate as is required for all brownies. However, as far as baked goods and desserts go, I think this is on the healthier side with the use of cocoa powder for decadent richness and only 2tbsp of oil in place of what is usually a larger amount of butter. The plain soft tofu adds smoothness without adding a distinct taste and so no one will know the difference, I promise. Be prepared to reveal your secrets though, they will ask you for the recipe!

Vegan Brownies
3/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup unrefined sugar ( I use Sucanet but you could use regular sugar also)
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup soft plain tofu
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp water (not sure how much of a difference the 2 tbsp makes)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup non dairy chocolate chips (read the label, most semi-sweet choc chips don't contain dairy)
2 tbsp ground flax seed
2 tbsp canola oil (do not use olive oil or other strong tasting oil!)
1/4 cup non dairy choc chips
1/4 cup walnut pieces (optional)

Preheat oven to 375F.
In a bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder and baking soda. Stir in salt and sugar and mix well.
In a food processor (or using an electric whisk) combine tofu, water, vanilla and flax meal and puree until very smooth.
In a pot over boiling water (Tip: for a quicker option, melt in microwave in 20 second increments until melted) melt 3/4 cup chocolate chips.
Add melted chocolate to tofu mixture and then stir the chocolatey goodness into the dry mixture.
Add canola oil just as it comes together, mixing until just combined.
Pour batter into a lightly oiled 8"x8" baking pan. Sprinkle on 1/4 cup chocolate chips (whole or crushed) and walnuts. I also add a small sprinkling of sea salt as I love the salty bursts contrasting with the rich dark chocolate-ness.
MOST IMPORTANT STEP: Lick bowl and spoon :-)
Bake for 30-35 minutes depending on desired level of goo-iness.
Remove from oven and let cool in pan.
Chill brownies before cutting for best results.

This recipe makes 12-16 brownies. I find them rich so I usually cut the portions quite small. Plus there are a lot of mouths to feed at work. Another word of advice... serve yourself one before presenting to the masses. Trust me, your tupperware box will be handed back empty.

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