It’s official. I’ve been back from the other side of the planet for two months. These last two months have been very trying, some days more than others for reasons that I’m not prepared to get into on the Internets. Some days are filled with sitting and watching movies and Real Housewives of Melbourne, others go by so quickly I can’t even remember what day it is. All in all, it’s been a whirlwind.
But then there’s brownies. Getting amazing news helps, too.
These brownies are the perfect balance of crispy on the outside but rich and dense on the inside, sometimes a hard feat for vegan brownies. The hazelnut flour (along with all the cocoa and chocolate) gives them a dark “nutella”-like flavour and you really can’t go wrong with that! The fat in these brownies is a combo of vegan margarine and almond butter but for even more “nutella” flavour, use hazelnut butter or, better yet, vegan “nutella”.
These brownies were inspired by this recipe.
Makes 9 large or 12 small brownies
1 tbsp ground flax
3 tbsp water
1 cup ground hazelnuts*
3/4 cup light buckwheat flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1 tsp instant coffee/espresso powder (optional)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup Earth Balance buttery spread (or other vegan margarine)
1/4 cup (very heaping) smooth almond butter
150 grams unsweetened/bittersweet/a mix of both chocolate (about 5 ounces)
1/4 cup non-dairy milk
1 cup cane sugar*
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup walnuts
all the chocolate chunks you desire!
NOTE: Once the hazelnuts have been roasted and the skin removed, these babies come together pretty fast but the prep for the nuts does take a little bit of time. To save some time, take care of the hazelnuts a day before you actually make the brownies! Better yet, buy pre-ground hazelnuts!
1.) Mix the flax with the water and leave for a few minutes to gel up.
2.) In a large bowl, stir together the flours, cocoa, optional espresso powder, baking soda and salt.
3.) In a separate bowl, add the Earth Balance, unsweetened chocolate, non-dairy milk and almond butter. Microwave in 30 second increments until all the chocolate is melted, stirring between each round.
4.) Once the chocolate is completely melted, stir well and add the sugar, vanilla and flax mixture. Mix until completely smooth.
5.) Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well. The batter will be very thick–don’t worry!
6.) Fold in the walnuts and chocolate chunks/chips.
7.) Scoop batter into a 9×9 inch baking pan and smooth out using wet hands.
8.) Bake at 350 F for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with just a few crumbs.
9.) WAIT!! I know it’s hard to not dig right into those suckers, especially after you seriously debated not baking the batter because it was THAT good but you need to let them sit. Without the gluten, they will fall apart so let them cool completely (about 2 hours) before diving in. Alternatively, you can pick at the edges of the brownies to “test” them and justify it by saying that you’re creating some weird brownie vent that will help air get in to cool them faster. Not that I’ve ever done that (shifty eyes).
10.) Nom away!
Notes: 1.) I happened across ground hazelnuts on sale at Bulk Barn a few days ago so I used that. But you can easily make your own hazelnut flour by throwing 1 cup of whole/sliced hazelnuts into your blender or food processor until it resembles flour. Just be careful to stop blending before it turns into hazelnut butter! However, to get a better flavour, I recommend you toast the nuts, remove the skin (which is almost as bad as peeling squash) and then blend them up. I’ve included instructions at the very end of this post 2.) I usually use coconut sugar to sweeten baked goods but I’ve tried it in brownies and it just doesn’t work because it absorbs so much moisture. I like the organic golden cane sugar at Bulk Barn.
So, before you ask, these brownies are as good as you think they are. You can even make the case that they’re healthy if anyone gives you trouble! Hazelnuts + almonds + walnuts = healthy fats! Chocolate = antioxidants (although this joke will only be understood by a select few, I hear Matt doing a particular math rant in my head as I write that)! Only 1/4 cup of margarine in the whole thing? HELL YES. I will warn you that you might not want to bake these at all and just eat the batter. You might not even want to share the batter. That’s cool. I won’t tell.
Your best brownie bud, Internets,
How to make toasted hazelnut flour
1.) Roast the hazelnuts: Pre-heat your oven to 300 F. When it’s pre-heated, throw your hazelnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and roast them for 10-15 minutes or until you can smell those babies and their lovely skin is dark brown.
2.) Remove the skin: Take those hot little nuts and put them in a container where they have some room to move around. Take that container and shake the crap out of it for about 30 seconds. When you open it again, most of the skins will have come off of the nuts but some will be stubborn. Try to get as much skin off as you can but don’t worry if you can’t get it all. Put all the hazelnuts into a clean container and throw it in the freezer while you do some other stuff (like watch Millionaire Matchmaker!). Freezing them helps to prevent them from turning into hazelnut butter when you blend it later–not that that’s all together bad, just not what we’re going for here!
3.) Throw those lovely hazelnuts into a blender or food processor and pulse until you have a fine-ish flour. It won’t get as fine as grain flour but get as close as you can without making hazelnut butter.