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I tasted my first brownies when I moved to Leipzig more than 15 years ago. And they were the best brownies ever. They were rich and fudgy and full of walnuts. They even had a chocolate topping! They are still available at the place I used to get them, but of course they are not vegan. So every time I visit Leipzig, I dream about those brownies!
I tried several times to recreate them. But honestly, what do I know about brownies? In Germany they are not really a big thing. Most people think it’s just chocolate cake baked in a square pan. I have had a lot of homemade brownies and most of them weren’t very good. Including my own. I could probably have started a business and sell my own bricks. Because that’s how they usually came out. I tried again and again and this time I really got it right.
Of course, if you look closely my recipe is not so special. It calls for way more chocolate than flour and sugar and when traditional brownies would call for eggs, this one is made with soy yoghurt. Nothing extraordinary. To me it is special though. In my mind these brownies taste exactly like the ones I used to eat in Leipzig. To me they are the best brownies in the world and they remind me of my favourite city and the fantastic time I spent there. And also, because several of my co-workers asked for the recipe, I had to finally post it!
- The recipe calls for sunflower seeds. You can use ground almonds or hazelnuts instead.
- If you have some Kahlúa on hand, it makes a great substitute for the rum. I made both versions and cannot decide with I like best. (I haven’t made these without alcohol, so don’t ask me for substitutes :) I think 2 tablespoons of soy milk should be fine though.)
- Instead of the vanilla bean, you can use vanilla extract. I recommend using one whole tablespoon and reducing the alcohol to 1 tablespoon.
- These keep very well refrigerated! Just wrap the individual squares tightly using plastic wrap.
Rich Hazelnut Brownies
(makes one 8 x 8 inch or 20 x 20 cm square pan)
120 g (1/2 cup) soy yoghurt
6 tablespoons rapeseed (canola) oil
2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons rum
Seeds from one vanilla bean
120 g (1 cup) all-purpose flour
100 g (1/2 cup) sugar
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
170 g (6 oz) dark chocolate, melted
125 g (1 cup) hazelnuts
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Line a 8 x 8 inch (20 x 20 cm) square pan with parchment paper.
In a food processor, combine yoghurt, oil, sunflower seeds, rum, and vanilla bean. Purée until smooth. Transfer to a bowl. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add to the liquid mixture and stir briefly. Pour the melted chocolate into the mixture and stir everything until well combined. Fold in the hazelnuts. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and use a spatula to distribute the batter evenly. Bake for 15 minutes. Use a toothpick and check for doneness. If they appear too gooey in the centre, bake for another 3 minutes. Let cool completely before slicing into squares.