Friday, 23 August 2013

Vegan brownies (and a distinctly un-vegan chocolate icing)

Courgette isn't necessarily the worlds most natural companion to chocolate brownies, yet somehow a fortnight ago - given 2 giant courgettes - I decided that yes it was. Or would be. or something. A long time back (2007!) I made chocolate courgette cake which according to my notes went down very well with the office. However I had no abiding memory of the dish whatsoever which clearly meant that this latest glut of courgettes meant a new recipe was required. 

I often flit around with vegan cookery, and am good at making recipes dairy free (we had a guide who was dairy free for 4 years, and for a few years in the past I seemed to be unable to tolerate dairy products either - I still struggle, but not in the some way) However I truly struggle with vegan baking - it's the missing eggs I think. I was delighted to find a recipe that not only utilised a large quantity of courgettes, but was also vegan. 

This was based around a couple of recipes I found online - and I have to say it still feels most unnatural to bake without eggs, but the brownies were fabulous; dense, gooey, and surprisingly sturdy (which is always a bonus for packed lunches). 

I found these made 16 squares

125ml vegetable oil
300g caster sugar
2 tsps vanilla
250g plain flour
40g cocoa powder 
1.5 tsps bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp salt
250g grated courgette
60g hazelnuts - I didn't chop these up, but you could - or substitute them for another nut, or leave them out altogether

Preheat the oven to 180 and grease and line a brownie pan - mine's about 20cm square

Grate your courgettes - I use the food processor and then wring out the excess water by popping them in the middle of a clean tea towel and wringing them out over the sink. Then set aside

Sift your dry ingredients together until well combined
Beat the oil and sugar together and add the vanilla
Add the dry ingredients to the wet, mix well
Fold through the courgettes and add the hazelnuts

Bake for 30 minutes until the top feels set and the cake has a bit of resistance when you press on it

These kept for just over a week in an airtight tin. Great for packed lunches, or as an afterschool snack, or if you're me with that precious cup of tea that you have on walking in the door from a long day at work. 

Here ends the vegan part of the recipe.  I had planned to use the chocolate icing I use for Nigella's chocolate cake for the brokenhearted - recipe here - but forgot.

Icing/ Frosting

6 tablespoons cocoa powder
60g butter
4 tablespoons milk
200g icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
35g extra light Philadelphia

Melt the butter in a pan with the cocoa powder
While that's cooling down, beat together the milk, icing sugar and vanilla extract
Stir in the cooled down melted butter, beat in
Add the Philadelphia and continue to beat until smooth and glossy

Spread on top of the brownies and if you forgot to make your boyfriend a birthday cake, add sprinkles and candles

The icing would be epic on fairy cakes and M's colleagues happily ate the secret ingredient brownies. Another winner

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