bars |pastries|brownies

Best Vegan Brownies |

Hello, blog readers! I am back to blogging. ha, ha! Yeah, I know. But I found the best brownie recipe ever! I spent almost a week thinking about if I should put it on the blog or not. Because this site has been abandoned again, this time for over six months. I had my 10 year vegan anniversary on the way and the blog had it’s tenth birthday, too. Once more I wasn’t sure if I should continue this page or simply just take it offline (because I still pay for it!). In the past I have often been frustrated by how superficial and anonymous blogging has become. When I started I knew most of the vegan bloggers out there and commenting on each others blogs was natural and most of the fun. But now blogging seems to be mostly about perfect illusions of shiny lifestyles. Furthermore I am  often annoyed by my own inability to get and keep in touch with people. I cannot keep track of what my favourite fellow bloggers and Instagrammers are up to. I don’t find the time to email them or leave honest comments. Of course caused by the fact that I work full-time, have a family, and honestly don’t really find much time anymore to manage a bilingual blog. But it still sucks.

Since I can be the most impulsive person you have ever met, what the heck. Here’s a new recipe.  These are honestly the best vegan brownies ever!  I took them to work and my coworkers were all blown away.  And I swear you too want to try these!  I discovered the nonvegan version in the German translation of a book by America’s Text Kitchen. It contained some interesting observations on the crispy top on brownies and some indirect tips on egg replacers. If you want crispy, crackling brownies, you need sugar. And if you need a kick-ass egg replacer use mayonnaise! The sugar thing I have been telling you for years, right? But the mayonnaise thing I didn’t know. I have been vegan for 10 years and never once have I managed to properly veganise a nonvegan brownie recipe. Who would have thought that mayonnaise is the secret?


5 from 2 votes
Best Vegan Brownies |
Best Vegan Brownies
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 15 mins

These brownies are exactly what you have been searching for! They come with a rich chocolate aroma and have the perfect texture: chewy and moist on the inside and crispy on top.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American, dairy-free, egg-free, vegan, vegetarian
Servings: 16 servings
Author: Constanze of Seitan is my Motor
  • 30 g Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons instant coffee powder
  • 150 ml boiling water
  • 60 g bittersweet chocolate , finely chopped
  • 160 ml vegetable oil
  • 50 g melted vegan butter
  • 120 g vegan mayonnaise
  • 40 g aquafaba
  • ½ teaspoon ground vanilla powder
  • 250 g granulated sugar
  • 250 g powdered sugar
  • 250 g flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 150 g bittersweet chocolate , chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C and line a 20 x 20 cm square pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a bowl combine cocoa powder, coffee powder, and boiling water.

  3. Whisk until smooth.
  4. Stir in 60 g of chocolate until melted.
  5. Add oil, melted butter, mayonnaise, aquafaba, and vanilla and whisk until smooth.
  6. Add sugar and with a handheld mixer, beat until the sugar is dissolved.
  7. Add flour and baking soda and beat again until most of the flour is incorporated. A couple of lumps are okay.
  8. Fold in chocolate and pour batter into the pan.
  9. Bake for 60 minutes.
  10. Let cool for two hours and remove the parchment paper.
  11. Store in the fridge over night and then bring back to room temperature (2 hours) before you cut and serve them.

  12. Store in an airtight container.
Recipe Notes

The aquafaba can be poured right from the can. No need to whip it up.

Enjoy the recipe and have a great Sunday!


Since this blog is about food, I rarely get to talk about other things I like. But today’s Vegan MoFo promt is the perfect occasion to change that. I like books and films a lot and I like it even more when films are about books and writers. The Grand Budapest Hotel is a film about writers. Sort of. It’s also a  film about the author Stefan Zweig, whose works have inspired Anderson’s movie. (Also sort of. If you haven’t seen this movie, go watch it, it’s hard to describe. I promise it’s going to be fun!) In addition the director credits several old films, like Grand Hotel. Grand Hotel by the way is based on the fabulous Novel Menschen im Hotel (Grand Hotel) by Vicky Baum. There are other novels that could act as the model for this movie, like Hotel Savoy by Joseph Roth

I have read Zweig’s The World of Yesterday but not the other works Anderson mentions. When I first saw Grand Budapest Hotel I was absolutely amazed by the fictional world Anderson had created. In the movie everything was torn apart and put back together in a way I have never seen before. The setting is a hotel in the fictional Central European country Zubrowka. The town around this hotel has similarities to Eastern European spa towns. Most of the the material was shot in Görlitz though, a small and beautifully renovated town right at the Polish border. It’s not far from Dresden where I live and it has become a popular US-movie location. Dresden also plays a little part in the Grand Budapest Hotel, I recognised a couple of streets and museum halls. In one of the most fascinating scenes in the movie a couple of characters chase each other through such a hall. Then they leave though a door and we find them back in Görlitz or somewhere else, but definitely not behind the museum in Dresden. Admittedly, this movie is not a documentary. And Anderson makes no secret of the fact that “the places [he] had envisioned just didn’t really exist anywhere“. He says he’s interested in the invention, he’s not trying to be realistic. He definitely has accomplished that. I recognised many buildings but couldn’t follow the characters’ paths because they were invented. I recognised the time period Anderson was covering but his interpretation was completely different both from the fictional and non-fictional works I have read about this period before. As I said, he put everything together again in a completely new way, even the tiniest details. The German location names used are funny and absurd and the spelling of many things is only superficially German (or French). I don’t know that much about Wes Anderson but his socialisation outside of Europe seems visible in all these details. (Or maybe he did it on purpose.)

For example, there’s a bakery in this movie called Mendl’s. In German this would be Mendl or Mendls Bäckerei. No apostrophe, I would say. At least not back at that time. Then again I might be wrong. I am siding with Konrad Duden here, who published Germany’s most influential dictionary. Thomas Mann on the other hand used apostrophes with genitive cases. So we’re probably lucky he wrote great novels instead of designing and printiong bakery signs. Anyway, Mendl’s supplies everyone with a pastry called courtesan au chocolate, which is again a mix of English and French words. Those courtesans au chocolate are a colourful and elaborate version of the French pastry Religieuse. For the movie this version was invented in a bakery in Görlitz and the recipe is online. The funny thing is that they used a dairy shop in Dresden, Pfunds Molkerei,  as setting for the pastry shop. I’ve only been there once in my pre-vegan days, not to buy cheese, just because it’s an outstanding location and a tourist magnet. I only lasted ten seconds though because it was smelly as hell in there. So I cannot really imagine it turned into a bakery, even if it’s only for a few scenes. Those poor actors. Beautiful pastries smelling like aged cheese. Whatever, let’s finally get to today’s topic: “Make something inspired by a book or film.” I did not only veganise the original recipe, I changed the whole thing. Because  my recipe is how I has imagined the courtesans before learning about the recipe. It’s my version of the story!

Note: For the food colouring I tried to go with natural dyes, but I think artificial ones would have been better. My colours came with a taste and I didn’t like both the matcha and the blueberry plus soda versions that much. So if you have access to artificial vegan food dyes, I recommend to use them.

P.S.  We’re on the last day of our vacation and I am writing this recipe on the road. The recipe plugin isn’t working that great on our tablet. Sorry if the ingredient list looks a bit confusing. I’ll fix that as soon as we’re home.

Grand Budapest Hotel & Courtesan au Chocolat


For the doughnuts
240 g (2 cups) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
120 ml (1/2 cup) soy milk
50 g (1/4 cup) sugar
2 tablespoons oil
1 pinch salt
1.5 to 2 litres of oil, suitable for frying
For the ganache
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
60 ml (1/4 cup) soy milk
160 g chopped dark chocolate
For the glaze
150 g (1 1/2 cups) powdered sugar, divided
vegan red food colouring (I used 1 teaspoon. Adjust according to your package directions.)
1-3 teaspoons water
1 teaspoon matcha powder
2-3 teaspoons lime juice
2-3 teaspoons blueberry juice (from cooked blueberries)
1 pinch baking soda
For the icing
55 g (1/2 cup) refined coconut oil or shortening, softened
50 g (1/2 cup) powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


To make the doughnuts, combine flour and yeast in a bowl.

Add milk, sugar, oil, and salt to a small pan and heat until luke warm.

Add to the flour mixture and knead for about 7-10 minutes, or until your dough is firm and doesn't stick.

Cover the dough and let it rest until doubled in size, about 60-90 minutes.

Roll the dough into 4 equally sized pieces and use differently sized cookie cutters to cut each piece into 3 differently sized disks. Note: This is what I did. It's easier just to roll each piece of dough into 3 differently sized balls.

Use leftovers to make 4 additional small balls, about the size of a grape.

Let the disks or balls rest (covered) until doubled in size.

Heat the oil in a pot. If you choose a smaller pot, you'll need less oil. Just make sure that the doughnuts will be able to float and not stick to either the bottom of the pot or to each other. Use a candy thermometer. The oil should be around 160°C to 175°C, and definitly not hotter than 180°C.

Fry the doughnuts for 1 or 2 minutes, or until crispy and browned.

Transfer to some pieces of kitchen paper towels to drain off excess oil.

To prepare the ganache, mix sugar and cornstarch and set aside.

Place soy milk and chopped chocolate in a small pot.

Heat carefully until the chocolate has melted. Make sure the chocolate doesn't burn and stir.

Remove from heat and add sugar mixture. Whisk until silky.

To fill the doughnuts, use a pastry bag with a long and small pastry tip. Use the tip to poke a hole into the big and medium sized doughnuts and then pipe some of the ganache into them. This takes a little experience but after a couple of doughnuts you should get the hang of it.

To make the red glaze combine 50 g (1/2 cup) of powdered sugar with red food colouring and 1-3 teaspoons of water, depending on the amount of food colouring you used. The glaze should be silky and not too runny.

Dip the small doughnuts into the glaze and let them dry on a cookie rack.

To make the green glaze, combine 50 g (1/2 cup) of powdered sugar with matcha powder and lemon juice.

Dip the medium sized doughnuts into the glaze and let dry.

To make the purple glaze, combine 50 g (1/2 cup) of powdered sugar with baking soda and blueberry juice.

Dip the large doughnuts into the glaze and let dry. The glaze will change its colour after a while and turn purple/blue purple.

Dip the grape sized dough balls into leftover ganache and let dry.

To make the frosting, place coconut oil and powdered sugar in a small food processor. Whip until smooth, add vanilla and whip again.

To assemble, piple some frosting onto the large doughnuts and top with a medium sized one.

Top the medium sized doughnuts with frosting and add a small one.

Place the grape sized dough ball on top.

Now try to eat this!




sloppy Courtesan-au-Chocolat


One day my daughter was sick and stayed home. In the afternoon we made a little walk around the neighbourhood, which is a city neighbourhood with lots of grocery stores, shops, and bars. It was spring and still cold and rainy. We walked past a bakery with had put a sign out. It pictured a couple of doughnuts, all in different bright colours. When F. saw the sign she begged me to buy a batch. The bakery was one of those chains with self service and products made with much more than flour, yeast, salt, and water. Germany has come a long way with its bakeries, but it’s not a good one. Discounter stores with self service are popping up everywhere and their products are so cheap that they can’t be made in a bakery where employees are paid decent wages. Instead of quality you get a jamboree bag of enhancers and preservatives. These baked goods don’t keep fresh very long and taste pretty bland, but they can be produced quickly and without skilled employees, I guess.

I didn’t want to spill all that over my kid, so I pulled out my second argument and mumbled something about “crushed bugs” in the glaze and asked her if she wanted to make her own doughnuts instead. After that I immediately thought, “Damn, why did I say that? Doughnuts take time and patience.” Even if I sometimes have these character traits, my doughter definitely doesn’t know what they mean. Ah, well. Sometimes I am my own little discounter store. I like shortcuts, too. So I decided we should pull out the doughnut pan and make some baking powder leavened baked treats instead of yeast leavened deep-fried ones.

doughnuts  with berry glaze

I used a simple muffin recipe as a base and for the frosting I cooked some raspberries, strained the juice and mixed it with powdered sugar. These quick fix donuts are not comparable to their fried counterparts, but my daughter still thought they were perfect. Since all kids love bright colours, these would be great for any kind of children’s (birthday) party and we will probably make them again. And even if you’re not a kid, you deserve bright colours and a little sugar, too.

Note: The colour of the glaze can vary a bit. For some reason mine came out very bright red the first time I made these. The next time the glaze had more dark pink shades. So if you want red instead of dark pink, use frozen (or fresh) red currants or strawberries instead. The light pink version that you can also see in the pictures was made by thinning the glaze with some lemon juice.

Doughnuts with Berry Glaze

12 doughnuts


For the doughnuts
280 g (2 1/3 cups) all-purpose flour
150 g (3/4 cup) sugar
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
240 ml (1 cup) soy milk
120 g (1/2 cup) vanilla flavoured soy yoghurt
6 tablespoons oil
For the glaze
130 g (1 cup) fresh or frozen raspberries
120 g (1 unsifted cup) powdered sugar
sprinkles (optional)


Grease a 12-hole doughnut pan and preheat oven to 180°C (350°F).

To make the doughnuts, combine all dry ingredients in a bowl and mix well.

Add liquid ingredients and stir until most lumps are gone.

Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Let cool for 5 minutes, remove from the pan and let completely before applying the glaze.

For the glaze, place berries in a small pot and cover with a lid.

Cook for about 5 minutes or until the raspberries have broken down.

Drain the berries and reserve the juice.

Place the powdered sugar in a small bowl.

Add 2-3 tablespoons of berry juice. Start with 2 tablespoons and stir to see if you've reached the desired consistency (silky and pourable, but not too thin) and add more liquid if necessary.

Brush the doughnuts with the glaze, coat with sprinkles and let dry completely.

doughnuts  with berry glaze

doughnuts  with berry glaze

Sometimes I look at old recipes on this blog. And the I cringe. Or a serious laughing fit makes me fall off my chair. But I probably shouldn’t be too hard on myself. After all I didn’t know much about baking in general when I started this blog. Plus, there weren’t too many vegan baking books to get help from. So I veganised ingredient lists and worked by trial and error. I wasn’t afraid of recipes that called for a ton of dairy products and I didn’t set those aside which called for three or four eggs. It was fun and creative. Baking from scratch felt like being Molly Bloom. It was mostly about what came to my mind and what came to my mind next. A stream of ingredients, a weird meandering of methods. I probably could have made recipes simpler. But that’s the good thing about blogging as a hobby. You can do whatever you want. If you want, you can make a fool of yourself. It’s just a recipe blog. I mostly want to have fun and learn a thing or two. So far, I learned a lot. And I do bake differently now. I want things to be precise and I want recipes to work (and not only for me). That’s why I sometimes rewrite old recipes, update pictures and and put the posts back on the blog.
Once I found a recipe for chocolate hazelnut squares in a grocery store leaflet. I don’t remember the original ingredient list, but judging from my adaptions it must have contained a ton of dairy and eggs. I probably tried to replace every single one of these ingredients. I also mixed together my own weird version of an egg replacer by combining tapioca starch, margarine, soy creamer, and baking powder. Was that supposed to be an egg? What was I thinking? Whatever, I remember that the bars were indestructible and came out excellent. And that weird recipe stuck in my head and I’ve always wanted to revise it. Now I finally did, crossing off some ingredients and specifying the instructions. The finished bars taste almost exactly as I remember them: a delicate and rich shortbread base combined with a moist and soft hazelnut topping. And this time I got there much faster.
How have your cooking and baking techniques changed over the years? What did you learn and how has your confidence improved? Did your approach towards baking or cooking change? Did you find new methods and realise that certain steps or ingredients you relied on are unnecessary?

walnut chocolate squares |

Note: I know that there’s been going on a lot of discussion about which fats to use in baking. I started using refined coconut oil instead of margarine quite a while ago. That is mostly because I have very easy access to refined coconut oil and it’s cheaper than margarine. If you buy organic, it’s also more sustainable than palm oil. But I do also think that this is completely up to you, your dietary choices and other circumstances. So you can use margarine instead of coconut oil, if you want. For the curst, increase the amount to 200 g (3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) and adjust the plant milk. You’ll probably need less if any at all to get the crust hold together.

Chocolate Shortbread and Hazelnut Squares


For the crust
300 g (2 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
100 g (1 cup) sifted, powdered sugar
60 g (1/2 cup) sifted cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
165 g (3/4 cup) refined coconut oil, softened
1-2 tablespoons soy milk
For the topping
200 g haselnut meal (or ground walnuts)
180 g brown sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
80 g (1/3 cup) soy yoghurt
80 ml (1/3 cup) vegetable oil
60 ml (1/4 cup) soy milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Grease a 20 x 20 cm (8 x 8 inch) brownie pan or line with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F).

To make the crust, combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder. Knead in the softened coconut oil with your hands and add soy milk if the dough seems to crunbly.

Press into the prepared pan and refrigerate while making the filling.

To make the filling, place all dry ingredients in a bowl and mix well.

Add liquid ingredients and stir until everything is combined.

Pour on top of the filling and spread out evenly.

Bake for 45-50 minutes. If the filling gets too dark, cover with a sheet of aluminium foil.

Let cool completely and cut into 16 squares or whatever size you like.

Chocolate Shortbread and Hazelnut Squares |