Vegan caramel brownies – Lazy Cat Kitchen

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by Sil Pancho

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01.16.2022


vegan caramel brownies stacked

Hello hello, today I’m swimming against the current and bringing you an unusually (for January) indulgent recipe as I realise that especially those of you who are new to veganism may still, deep-down, have this belief that vegan food is diet food.

It all depends on your motivation, of course, it can be but it doesn’t have to be and the choice is totally yours! I personally subscribe to eating healthy most of the time, but I also love chocolate and cakes so I am occasionally pulled in the totally opposite direction and as long as that’s not too often, that works for me.

Today’s recipe is a tray of super indulgent salted caramel brownies, oozing sexy amber-coloured caramel and studded with pecans for some crunch. They are delicious and just as easy to make as their non-vegan equivalents – let me talk you through the process below.

*SUGAR: while you can make these brownies with a different type of sugar, caster (superfine) renders best results so I don’t recommend any swaps here. Proper caramel is made with white sugar and using (caster) superfine sugar ensures that the process of making caramel is more straightforward as the sugar is more likely to melt evenly. If you want an alternative to this caramel, you could make a maple syrup based caramel-like sauce, like this one or that one.

*COCONUT CREAM: ideally you want solid coconut cream separated from a tin of (stabiliser-free) full fat coconut milk, but it will also work with a canned coconut cream or full fat coconut milk – the caramel will be just as delicious but a little thinner.

*DARK CHOCOLATE: I recommend using dark chocolate (I used 70% cacao one) to achieve nice contrast with the caramel and for the dessert not to end up sickly sweet.

*AQUAFABA: chickpea cooking (not soaking!!!) water is used here in place of eggs, it can come from homecooked chickpeas or canned chickpeas. Unless your stomach cannot tolerate legumes, it’s nothing to be afraid of. It’s a fun to work ingredient that renders amazing results in vegan baking and it does not require much skill in this recipe. As opposed to making a chocolate mousse or a meringue, you do not need to achieve stiff peaks for this recipe so please don’t intimidated.

vegan caramel brownies caramel sauce

Start off with making caramel, which is actually not that hard at all. Follow the instructions in my method and if you want visual reference, I used Serious Eats’ wet caramel making method shown here. Despite pretty poor rating the caramel recipe has on their website, I have actually found it fool proof. If you are not a caramel making pro, having the right kind of pot is quite key – you want a heavy bottomed (so that sugar caramelises evenly) and tall stainless steel pot and a thermometer comes in handy too. Once you caramel is ready, cool it right down before you start on the brownies.

vegan caramel brownies melting chocolate

Melt broken up chocolate and chopped vegan butter (or coconut oil) in a bowl suspended over a water bath. Make sure the bowl does not touch the water underneath and using low flame, bring the water to a gentle simmer, then switch off the heat and allow the contents of the bowl to melt gently into each other in the residual heat. Gently and slowly mix them together to obtain a smooth ganache.

vegan caramel brownies aquafaba sugar whipped

Whip aquafaba in a spotlessly clean bowl until you achieve really dense foam, there is no need to achieve stiff peaks for this recipe. Once done, start adding sugar slowly, whipping well after each addition. Once you’ve added all the sugar you should end up with a super white and shiny thick liquid full of microbubbles.

vegan caramel brownies mixing chocolate

Slowly, pour in warm chocolate while gently mixing it into the aquafaba – you want the chocolate to be warm or else the batter will quickly become too thick and dry.

vegan caramel brownies adding flour

Place a sieve over the bowl and sift in dry ingredients in 2-3 batches, gently folding them in after each batch. By the end you should end up with thick but not stiff batch.

vegan caramel brownies adding pecans

Finally, gently fold in chopped nuts (if using) and transfer the batter to the prepared tin. Using a spatula, spread the batter so that it reaches into the corners of the tin as well.

vegan caramel brownies mixing chocolate

Using a small spoon, burrow into the batter and spoon small amount of caramel into the holes, close the holes roughly with the surrounding brownie batter. Etch the surface using a chopstick and drizzle some more caramel on top. Bake, cool down and enjoy!

vegan caramel brownies cutting

vegan caramel brownies drizzled

vegan caramel brownies close

CARAMEL

  • 125 g / ½ cup + 2 tbsp caster (superfine) sugar
  • ¼ tsp fine sea salt
  • 120 ml / ½ cup coconut cream*

BROWNIES

  • 150 g / 5¼ oz vegan 70% cocoa dark chocolate
  • 100 g / ½ cup vegan block (I like Naturli) or odourless coconut oil
  • 120 ml / ½ cup aquafaba, home cooked or from a can
  • 150 g / ¾ cup caster sugar
  • 160 g / 1¼ cups plain flour**
  • 50 g / ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp baking soda (GF certified if needed)
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 100 g / 1 cup pecans/walnuts, chopped roughly (optional)

METHOD

CARAMEL (makes approximately 180 ml / ¾ cup)

  1. Pour 60 ml / ¼ cup of water into a small but tall stainless steel pot with a thick base – don’t be tempted to use a shallow pot as caramel will rise so you need a tall pot to contain it. My pot is 15 cm / 5.9″ in diameter and 10 cm / 3.9″ tall.
  2. Add in salt and sugar. Place the pot on medium-low heat. Using a wooden spoon or heat-resistant spatula, gently stir the sugar and water until the mixture starts to simmer.
  3. Once the mixture starts to simmer, leave it alone but watch it closely. Measure the cream out, warm it up in a separate pot if it’s cold to minimise splattering.
  4. Do not stir, but if the sugar isn’t melting evenly, it’s okay to give the pot a very gentle and slow swivel. The sugar will go from pale yellow, to golden syrup yellow. Once it’s yellow, be on a standby and watch the pot closely – have your coconut cream, a stirring spoon and a thermometer (ideally) ready.
  5. Once the caramel reaches red amber colour, allow it to go dark amber (not too much as it will be bitter) and pour in coconut milk while stirring gently. The pot with bubble over, but don’t panic, decrease the heat to low or even take off the heat for a few seconds if need be and keep on stirring gently and slowly.
  6. Continue simmering the mixture whilst stirring the whole time until it reaches 107° C / 224 ° F (it takes me about 3-4 minutes but this can vary so a thermometer is the surest guide). Switch off the heat and allow it to cool. If you want to speed cooling up, place the pot with caramel in another pot with cold water.

BROWNIES

  1. Place broken up chocolate and chopped vegan butter (or coconut oil) in a metal or glass bowl suspended over a water bath. Make sure the bowl with chocolate does not touch the water underneath and use low heat. Once the water under the bowl starts to simmer, switch off the heat and allow the contents of the bowl to melt gently into each other in the residual heat. Gently and slowly mix them together to obtain a smooth ganache.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180° C / 355° F. Line a 20 cm x 20 cm  / 8 inch x 8 inch baking tin with baking parchment. Make the baking parchment stick out of the tin so that you’re able to remove the brownies from the tin a little easier unless your tin has a removable bottom, in which case simply line the bottom and grease the sides of the tin.
  3. Whip aquafaba with an electric whisk until you get a dense foam, full of little bubbles (there is no need to achieve stiff peaks for this recipe).
  4. Gradually add sugar to the aquafaba, whisking well after each addition.
  5. Slowly pour very warm (otherwise the batter will become too stiff to add all of the flour) chocolate and vegan butter (coconut oil) mixture into the aquafaba mixture and gently fold the two in until uniform.
  6. Place a sieve over the bowl and sift through all of the dry ingredients in batches, mixing well until no dry pockets remain. The batter should be fairly thick. Finally fold in chopped nuts (if using).
  7. Transfer the batter into the prepared baking tin and spread it into the sides and corners with a spatula.
  8. Make little holes all over the batter with a spoon, drizzle a little caramel into them patching the up with the surrounding batter afterwards. Using a chopstick, etch the surface of the brownies and drizzle some more caramel on top (you should end up with some caramel left over).
  9. Bake on the middle shelf for about 22-23 minutes.
  10. Allow the brownies to cool down completely (!) before cutting with a sharp knife. Drizzle over the pieces with more caramel if you wish.

NOTES

GF VERSION: use 120 g / 1 cup all purpose GF flour mix and scant ¼ cup tapioca starch for GF version.

*COCONUT CREAM: ideally you want solid coconut cream separated from a tin of (stabiliser-free) full fat coconut milk, but it will also work with a canned coconut cream or full fat coconut milk – the caramel will be just as delicious but a little thinner.

This recipe is based on my previous brownie recipes, this one and that one.



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