Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Perfect Vegan Brownie Part One: Chocolate Pumpkin Brownies with Hazelnut Brown Nectar Ale

Deeply chocolate, moist brownies, with hints of hazelnuts

It's surprising to me that I very rarely make brownies since I quit consuming eggs and dairy. My favorite recipe back in the "old days" was from an out-of-print McCall's Cookbook. The recipe used eggs, probably milk, butter, white flour and sugar. I liked it because it was quick and scratched that chocolate itch. But there's no way I'd make anything like that now. Many of the vegan brownie recipes I've come across either have tofu or black beans, neither of which holds great appeal. When I received Kathy Hester's recipe for Hazelnut Ale Brownies in my in box I just had to make it. It had all the right ingredients: whole wheat pastry flour, pumpkin, cocoa, and the most exciting ingredient of all  – Rogue's Hazelnut Brown Nectar Ale! A win-win situation: 1 cup of beer for the recipe and the rest for me! Did I mention it's a very tasty brown ale?

Try as I might, there's no way I can make a recipe without tweeking it. It just seemed to me it needed some sort of leavening, there was no soda or baking powder. Maybe the beer helped with that but I wasn't going to take a chance so I added soda and baking powder. There was an awful lot of sugar so I used half Sucanat and half organic sugar. The recipe also used olive oil which I switched with canola oil.

I'm not overly fond of nuts in my brownies so I just put nuts in half the batter. I roasted the hazelnuts and then finely ground them in my small blender. They were actually too finely ground, almost like a meal instead of small nut pieces. Maybe next time, I'll just roast the nuts, cool them, and then hand chop. These are moist (not gooey) brownies with a deep chocolate taste. I think they would be lovely with a drizzle of raspberry sauce.

This is a big batch of brownies, filling a 13x9 glass baking dish. Next time I might halve the recipe. I am also looking forward to trying it out with different beers. I have a bottle of Kassik's Chocolate Cherry Stout. I think it would be great in this brownie. Kassik's recommends serving the beer with chocolate desserts.

Here is the recipe with my substitutions and additions:

Chocolate Pumpkin Brownies with Hazelnut Brown Beer

Whisk 2 TB ground flax seed with 1/4 cup warm water in small container and set aside
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup cocoa
½ teaspoon salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup canola oil
3/4 cups Sucanat evaporated sugar cane juice
3/4 cups white organic evaporated sugar cane juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup Rogue Ale Hazelnut Brown Nectar Ale
1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts, minced in food processor

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly spray a 13x9 baking pan with cooking oil.

Mix the sift dry ingredients in a large bowl.

In a smaller bowl mix the pumpkin and oil together, then add the sugar. Mix well and then add the flax mixture, vanilla, and beer.

Add the wet mixture to the dry and gently mix until combined. Spread about half into prepared baking dish. Fold nuts into remaining batter and then spread the rest into baking dish. Bake for about 30 minutes until it starts to crack on top and pull slightly away from sides. Cool, slice and enjoy!

Watch for more brownie recipes. I want to try out some of the healthier recipes incorporating different grains, tofu and even black beans!

One year ago...
I was making Chocolate Stout Cupcakes! They were pretty awesome and wonderful with a bit of stout beer.

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