The magic of chocolate is real – just ask anyone who has ever had a piece of delicious, rich, dark chocolate goodness. Of course, that makes desserts like brownies so addictive. But: they don’t need to be such a guilty pleasure if you take the time to add couple of things that are good for you, like fruit and veggies, and take away couple of things that are not so good, like added sugar and eggs. And the best thing about this strategy is that, guess what? – nobody will know your secret.
I recently profiled a Veggie Patch Brownie recipe from a recently published cook book, and that inspired me to experiment on my own. My concoction includes lots of vegan chocolate – Enjoy Life is the brand I can find around where I live but any semi-sweet vegan chocolate chips or baking chocolate will work – and some vegan butter which you could likely omit if going for a really healthy version. But, if you are making these brownies for a special occasion like Valentine’s Day, Thanksgiving, St. Patrick’s Day, New Year’s Eve, graduation…, being a bit indulgent seems justified to me. In a need of healthier option? These brownies full of oats and chickpeas may do the trick!
Another thing to note is that you don’t need to use pumpkin purée if not available. You can replace it with sweet potato or butternut squash purée. Even carrots would work here – all you need is a dense purée made of somewhat sweet vegetable and you should be fine. I usually recommend roasting (not boiling) the vegetables, as roasting brings out more sweetness and makes the veggies less mushy.
One final tip? Oh, yes: let the brownies cool completely before frosting and after you frost them it’s best to give them some time for the frosting to firm up a bit before biting in. Happy eating!
Pumpkin Brownies with Chocolate Avocado Frosting
What you’ll need:
FOR THE BROWNIES:
- 4 tablespoons golden flax meal (other flax meal will work as well)
- 1 cup hot water
- 1 stick butter, softened (vegan, or if making vegetarian version regular butter will work)
- 10 oz dark chocolate chips (vegan brand I like is Enjoy Life)
- 1 15 oz (425 g) can pumpkin purée
- 2 cups flour (all-purpose gluten-free if needed)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon clover
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
FOR THE FROSTING
- 1 cup dark chocolate chips, melted
- 1 avocado
- 2 tablespoons butter, softened
(Optional toppings): Sprinkle with crushed freeze-dried strawberries and/or raspberries for a Valentine’s Day version; or chopped shelled pistachios for St. Patrick’s Day; or top with chopped walnuts or shredded coconut for an extra special winter holiday spread.
What you’ll do:
- Preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C).
- Pour 1 cup of boiling water over the flax meal, mix really well and set aside to soak for 5-10 minutes. Flax meal should become gooey and dense, almost like a gel.
- Place the chocolate chips into a microwave safe bowl or a double boiler. If using a double boiler, bring water to boil then add the chocolate chips, and mix until about 75% melted. Take off the double boiler and continue mixing until all chocolate is melted, smooth and combined. You will need to do the same if using microwave oven. Microwave on high in 30 second increments. After each 30 second period, check the chocolate and mix. Stop when about 75% of chips are melted, but continue to mix. Your bowl and the chocolate will have enough residual heat to melt the rest.
- Add softened butter, melted chocolate chips, pumpkin purée, and soaked flax meal into the food processor and combine until smooth.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, baking powder and all the dry spices.
- Add the wet ingredients as well as the lemon juice and mix well.
- Pour the batter into a 9 x 13 in (23 x 33 cm) slightly greased pan. Even the top out then bake for 25 minutes or so. Your brownies are done when the top looks baked and the sides look as they are starting to come loose. Please note that these brownies have lots of chocolate so the toothpick may not come out dry. But, it should still be fairly dry, with perhaps some melted chocolate on it.
- Take the brownies out of the oven and let them cool completely. They should be room temperature before frosting.
- To make the frosting, mix the softened butter with avocado using a hand held mixer, a stick blender or a blender. Add melted chocolate and mix until creamy. Spread the frosting over the brownies, decorate as desired (the wiggles on my photo above were done using a fork), and let the frosting firm up (30-60 minutes should do it!). You can sprinkle any or all of the optional toppings or leave as is.
- Cut into square and serve! These brownies are very rich, without being very sweet and you will likely not need ice cream or whip cream to go with them – but if that’s how you roll, then just roll with it!!!
Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2019