You think the description “deluxe” might be a bit pretentious? Just like “best” and “amazing” and all that? Well, I don’t think so. Because for me, these are a dream come true. My small batch chocolate brownies really taste like chocolate (not like cocoa powder), they are made with a healthy serving of good quality chocolate, and they are easy and quick to make. Sounds pretty deluxe to me. So why don’t you give these a shot?
I have been making vegan brownies for a few years now. And I have always focused on the wrong things. In the past I have been obsessed with the perfect crackly top. I always thought this was the most important thing when it came to brownies. And with the help of quite a bit of research and a lot of sugar I made the shiny crackly top happen with this brownie recipe. Don’t get me wrong, that old brownie recipe is very good! It doesn’t need improvement, but it needs a change. The old recipe is very sweet and kind of heavy. It also has a ton of ingredients and is rather complicated to make. Plus, it has something in it that has become sort of a pet peeve for me: cocoa powder.
Cocoa powder is added to most baked goods that have chocolate in the name. People will always say that it adds an intense chocolate flavour to baked goods. But does it? Do people never eat real chocolate? Cocoa powder is what is left behind when you extract cocoa butter from cocoa liquor. Have you ever smelled such a cocoa butter? One that is not deodorised? It is so good! And there are different versions, they do not all smell and taste the same. Just like good quality chocolate. But most cocoa powder you can buy at the store tastes and smells the same. (Or maybe it’s just me? If you disagree and can recommend a very awesome cocoa powder, please leave a comment.) I guess that is because customers want a reliable product. And unlike chocolate cocoa powder is very reliable. It contains less fat than chocolate and is easy to work with.
If you start baking your bronies with just chocolate and no cocoa powder, they will have a different taste. A very good taste. Which depends on the chocolate you use. If you use your favourite chocolate your brownies will also taste like your favourite chocolate. Which means you can make your own customised favourite brownie recipe. I made these into small batch chocolate brownies because that way you can experiment a bit without always having to bake a whole pan. (Also, a whole pan of these is very, very dangerous!) These brownies have a great texture, too. They are moist but not too fudgey. You can eat them right after they have cooled. Or you could place them in the fridge over night. Eat them after they’ve come back to room temperature. This process is going to make them a little denser, which is something I like in a brownie.
This new recipe for small batch chocolate brownies is a good example of how my baking has evolved over the years. In the beginning I was always concerned with replacing eggs. I had to learn how to bake vegan without thinking about eggs all the time. There are so many factors that influence taste and texture and most of the time eggs aren’t as important as we think. After I understood that I was still concerned with the taste of my baked goods. Would they taste exactly like the non-vegan “original” version? Well, I don’t do that amymore. Because who cares? We vegans have our own recipes and traditions now. Our stuff doesn’t have to taste like something that has a couple of different ingredients. When I finally got that I became much more confident about baking and much more happy with my own recipes. Like with these lovely brownies.
Tips for making small batch chocolate brownies:
- Chocolate: Use a good quality chocolate. I like to use chocolates with a high cocoa content and as few ingrediends as possible (no emulsifiers like lecithin and no flavourings like vanilla). I like to buy organic and fair-trade. My favourite chocolates have a cocoa content ranging from 70% to 85%. But most importantly: use a chocolate that you love.
- Sugar: Yes, this recipe does contain a lot of sugar. I used whole cane sugar (like panela, muscovado, sucanat). This is not because I hate white sugar. I don’t. The whole cane sugar adds a lot of favour and it also traps quite a bit of water, which makes these brownies moist. If you want to use white sugar instead, please keep in mind that the texture will change.
- Baking Soda: This recipe calls for a very small amount of baking soda: 1/16 teaspoon. Please do not omit it. Tt does make the brownies rise even though it’s only a tiny amount. I have a measuring spoon for these small amounts but if you haven’t 1/16 of a teaspoon is also called a pinch. In Germany we measure out a pinch by dipping the edge of a knife into eg. the baking soda. The amount of baking powder that is left on the knife once you pull it out is called a pinch.
- Preparation: For these brownies, you have to melt your chocolate in a water bath (bain-marie). For a bain-marie, it’s best to use two pots, a smaller and a larger one. Place hot, not-boiling water (60°C-70°C) in the larger pot and place the smaller one that is filled with finely chopped chocolate on top. Melt the chocolate by constantly stirring. It is very important that the chocolate does not come into contact with even the tiniest drop of water. It will seize.
- Baking: I baked these in six square muffin tins. You can use round muffin tins instead. Make sure not to overbake your brownies. Bake for the suggested time and then insert a wodden spoon into the middle of a brownie. If it still has bits and crumbs sticking to it the brownies are done. After that you can let them cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing them. Let cool completely.
- Decoration: These brownies are great on their own but if you want, you can spread a simple ganache on top. For that I used equal amounts (by weight) of vegan cream and chocolate. If vegan cream substitute (also called: soy cuisine, oat cuisine, ect.) is not a thing where you live, coconut milk is a great substitute.
Deluxe Small Batch Chocolate Brownies
- 75 ml boiling water (¼ cup + 1 Tbsp)
- 45 g vegetable oil (¼ cup)
- 60 ml plant based milk (¼ cup) (oat, soy,…)
- 150 g whole cane sugar (1 cup unpacked) (muscovado, sucanat, panela)
- 90 g all-purpose flour (½ cup + ¼ cup)
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1/16 tsp baking soda
- 75 g good quality dark chocolate, finely chopped
- 40 g good quality chocolate, roughly chopped
- 100 ml vegan cream substitute
- 100 g good quality chocolate, finely chopped
- Preheat oven to 160°C and grease your baking tins.
- In a bowl, combine boiling water and sugar. Stir until most of the sugar is dissolved.
- Add oil and milk.
- Sift in flour, add salt and baking soda.
- Melt chocolate in a bain-marie (see notes above) and stir it into the batter.
- Add additional 40 g of chopped chocolate if using.
- Stir and pour into prepared baking tins.
- Bake at 160°C for 20 minutes. An inserted wooden spoon should not come out completely clean.
- Let cool for 10 minutes and remove from pan.
- Let cool completely.
To make the optional ganache:
- Heat the vegan cream substitute but make sure it doesn't boil.
- Place the finely chopped chocolate in a bowl and pour hot cream on top.
- Stir until the chocolate has melted completely.
- Pour over the brownies and let set.
If you want to read more about how to substitute chocolate for cocoa powder, here are a couple of posts I found helpful:
Serious Eats – Can I Substitute Unsweetened Chocolate for Cocoa Powder?
The Bake School – How To Substitute For Cocoa Powder With Dark Chocolate
Yum yum yum! I agree that melted chocolate in the recipe makes for a superior brownie! The ones I make where it is just cocoa powder are more like cake. To get a proper brownie, melted chocolate makes all the difference.
I am glad you agree, Susan!