Oh my, I am so giddy with brownie joy. Also the music helps, I'm listening to The Weakerthans' Reconstruction Site. I love it when smart people write good songs. But the brownies, we were talking about the brownies.
I have made a lot of bad vegan brownies in my time. It's a problem of egg replacer. When adapting cookie recipes, I like to use flax meal. For custards, I prefer pureed tofu. If you think about it, a brownie lies somewhere between a custard and a cookie. Maybe that's why a good brownie is so delicious and so elusive.
But then Martha Stewart's Cookies came home from the library with me last week, and amidst the lovely layout, nice simple photographs (one per cookie), and well-written recipes, were directions for a basic brownie that called for just two eggs.
Sure there are exceptions, but as a general rule, I don't mess with baking recipes that call for more than two eggs. So after a bit of wavering on the replacer issue, I got out the flax meal. As you may know, for the purposes of baking one large egg has a volume of 1/4 cup. So a flax egg is 1 tablespoon flax meal plus 3 tablespoons water equaling 1/4 cup. When you let this mixture sit for about 5 to 10 minutes it gets a goopy texture very similar to a raw egg. It's pretty magical. You'll see some recipes that call for warm water, and this just speeds up the goopdifying process.
The flax meal worked great. I got crackly tops and a fudgy brownie. Really you, why keep the eggs? You can buy already ground flax in a bag at Trader Joe's. I use it so often that I just keep it in a jar on the counter (other nuts and seeds I keep in the fridge, and you should too). You mix it with water - you've got that right? If there is absolutely no compromise in flavor, well then it seems like a simple decision. You're probably trying to figure out how to get more of this omega-3 rich seed in your diet anyway, I say have a brownie.
Adapted from Martha Stewart's Cookies
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 6 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons flax meal
- 6 tablespoons water
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2. Put flax meal and water into the bowl of your electric mixer. Let sit.
3. Put butter, chocolate, and cocoa powder into the top of a double boiler. Stir until butter and chocolate have melted. (Or, if you need brownies even more quickly, melt those ingredients in the microwave. It will take about 2 minutes, stirring half way. It's imperative that you have one of those microwave turn tables in there if you're going to try to melt chocolate this way.)
4. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.
5. Once the flax mixture has been sitting for a good ten minutes or so, beat it on high with the whisk attachment until thoroughly goopy, about 30 seconds. Add sugar and vanilla to the flax and continue to beat with the whisk for about 4 minutes, until thoroughly combined. Add chocolate mixture, and mix again. Turn off the mixer, add dry ingredients, and quickly mash together, just until the flour is incorporated into the chocolate. I'm certain you've heard this before, but you don't want to overmix the flour or you'll wind up with one tough cookie. Just firmly mash the flour into the chocolate mixture with as few strokes as possible until combined.
6. Pour batter into prepared pan spreading evenly with your spatula. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean or with a couple crumbs (avoid center or edges for testing), 30 - 35 minutes. Let cool partially in pan, about 15 minutes. Remove to cooling rack to cool completely before slicing.
Happy weekend. May you be just as sick with too much chocolate as I am. Or perhaps, may you be blessed with greater moderation.