Since I haven’t had to go grocery shopping yet, I decided to share those brownies I loved so much.
These were adapted from a recipe I found on Allrecipes. I chose the recipe because it was simple and I had almost everything on hand, but then I modified it because it sounded too plain and boring. Plus, I read the comments and many of them said the brownies were too oily or too crumbly, two totally different red flags. I felt like I was going to use the recipe as a jumping off point and glide off to my own ends. My mom has done this for years and it’s been super annoying to me that she couldn’t/wouldn’t commit to a recipe. Now I’m doing the same thing. Shout out to Mom who makes it work every time she cooks for the family. The non-committal technique totally worked for me in my moment of need. So, here’s my spin off peanut butter laced drug brownies. No, there were no drugs involved. Their effect with coffee and an orange was pretty damn magical though. I’d recommend the pairing.
What follows is my process for changing the recipe the way I did, but you can scroll down to the pure gold recipe and just tldr this section. If you just want a simple recipe, use the original one in the link above.
Creative Process: Plain recipe needs more everything
First red flag: Comments section complained the brownies were too oily. The recipe calls for a whole cup of oil, which does seem excessive. I didn’t want greasy brownies. Some people suggested substituting apple sauce for half or all of the oil. Great idea! I honestly didn’t know. This was my first attempt at baking something vegan. I’ve got plenty of experience baking, but the rules are different for vegan goodies. I didn’t have applesauce, but I did have bananas. Those are sweet and can be smashed and they go with chocolate and peanut butter right? Done. Half cup oil, half cup smashed banana. In this case it was walnut oil, a bottle that my boyfriend gave to me because he didn’t use it. Life advice: Accept food items even if you’re not sure how you’ll use them. Creativity will find a way.
Next red flag: Comments section noted that these brownies would turn out too crumbly. For obvious reasons the recipe did not contain eggs. Eggs, gluten, and butter are typically what hold brownies together in a moist, fudgy crumb. I had the fat figured out, next I needed a good alternative binder to hold it all together. I’ve read about ground flax being a good thickener and binder. There are recipes for ‘flax eggs’ all over the interwebs. Spoiler alert: it’s water and ground flax mixed together and left alone for 5 minutes to thicken. I have plenty of flax, but I didn’t want to water down my brownies, so I mixed it with the smashed bananas. I was going full Frankenstein on this recipe.
Another red flag: I noticed the recipe called for an entire cup of water, which to me sounds like a recipe for blandness. I am not a fan of gentle, bland foods. I have a habit of saying, “It needs more…everything.” Thankfully, I also have some hardy gut bacteria that can handle almost everything I throw at them. That’s a different topic though, I’ll wax poetic about my spicy obsession in another post. Essentially, I wasn’t about to put water in these babies. I had a partial can of leftover coconut cream in the fridge (didn’t use it all in the curry I’d made the previous week) and some almond milk. Anything was better and richer than water.
Lastly: I was trying to be so extra with these brownies. Could I possibly add some nutritional value? Two cups of white flour? How about 1 cup white flour and 1 cup of almond flour? Almond flour is better than white flour, right? Reality check: I didn’t actually have almond flour on hand (I think gold dust is cheaper than almond flour). I had some plain whole almonds in my cabinet that I didn’t feel like eating anymore. They’re a bitch for your gut to digest if you eat too many at once. So I tossed them into the mini blender and ground them into a meal. Boom. Almond flour. Technically almond meal, but close enough!
The final touches: Now to fully butcher this recipe in my own special way. 2 cups white sugar? Brown. Always brown sugar. 1 tsp vanilla? Don’t be skimpy. Why measure at all? I splashed in at least double that. And peanut putter! I dumped half a jar of the stuff on the brownies and swirled like Van effing Gogh was watching over me.
Vegan Chocolate Drug Brownies
1 cup white flour
1 cup almond meal
2 cups brown sugar
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup non dairy milk (I used almond but feel free to use what you’ve got)
½ cup coconut cream
½ cup mild flavored oil (such as walnut or canola)
½ cup smashed banana
3 tablespoons ground flax
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
I+ cup peanut butter (depending on your preference)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Smash the banana and mix in the flax. Set aside to thicken while you prepare everything else.
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, almond meal, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.
- In a medium bowl stir together the wet ingredients: sugar, milk, cream, oil, vanilla, and banana flax mixture.
- Pour the wet mix into the dry mix and stir well. Because almond flour has no gluten, you’ll want to make sure you stir well so that the normal flour can develop enough gluten to hold everything together. Don’t go crazy, just mix until there aren’t any powdery streaks remaining.
- Pour into a 9 by 13 pan and swirl the peanut butter in. This works better with ‘natural’ oily peanut butters because they’re more liquid. If you have peanut butter that isn’t runny, you could just plop down spoonfuls of the stuff and forget about swirling.
- Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 – 30 minutes, or until the top is no longer shiny. Let cool for as long as you can resist them—at least 10 minutes. Meanwhile, lick the bowl because there’s no raw egg in it so you’re in the clear.
- Cut and serve yourself some chocolatey joy.
Alternatives to the alternatives:
The banana flavor is pretty prevalent the day you bake these bad boys but it mellows after a day or so. If you’re a bananer hater or don’t want that flavor harshing your chocolate vibes, try applesauce by all means! If you have an apple and a blender on hand, you have applesauce.
Want stronger chocolate vibes? You can substitute some or all of the milk for brewed coffee, depending on your flavor preferences. Coffee is a great chocolate enhancer. So is Kahlua. I don’t have Kahlua laying around, but if you do, splash that goodness in and let your eyes sparkle when people ask why your brownies are so dank.
Don’t have almonds? Don’t sweat, use what you’ve got. Other nuts or flours could work. This recipe is not sacred. Frankenstein it as you wish and see where it takes you. If they’re dank af share share share with your friends, family, coworkers, and those neighbors you’ve been avoiding eye contact with. If they’re a total failure or you burn them or your roommate’s cat takes a dig at them, share share share the story of epic failure with your best friend, your mom, and your boss when he robotically asks how your weekend was for the tenth week in a row. Happy experimenting, good luck!