Taking a stroll through the Fiesta Farms Garden Centre the other day and looking at the beautiful displays of so many varieties of pumpkins and squash reminded me that it’s been two years since the publication of The Everyday Squash Cook, and with that came a deep hankering for one of the most requested recipes from it, Butternut Brownies. Truth be told, my husband and I make these brownies quite often, for ourselves and friends and families who don’t really have the time to make them, and recently we have been making batches of vegan brownies as well for our vegan friends.
The upside of vegan brownies is they are made with coconut oil instead of butter, and ground flax instead of eggs. And they are still delicious, moist and chewy and, arguably, even a bit healthier, especially for those with a dairy and egg intolerance. Coconut oil is a solid at temperatures below 24 C, so this acts a good, healthy substitute for butter when consumed in moderation.
Ground flax seed is super healthy and is a fantastic substitute for eggs in baking. One tablespoon ground flax mixed with 3 tablespoons water and left to sit for about 5 minutes will be equivalent to one egg. It doesn’t really provide loft, but it is an amazing binder for baked goods due to its gel-like mucilaginous properties. Buy regular or golden flax seed and grind some up in your coffee grinder, then store the ground flax in the fridge; the flax oils will go rancid when left for prolonged periods at room temperature. By the way, ground flax seed is a great addition to smoothies too.
To add a little loft to your baking add ½ teaspoon baking soda and a teaspoon white vinegar to the recipe; the reaction between the two produces carbon dioxide which will add height in your baking. Here is the recipe for Vegan Butternut Brownies adapted from The Everyday Squash Cook
Vegan Butternut Brownies
Make 16 brownies
2 tablespoons ground flax seed
6 tablespoons water.
1 ½ cups diced butternut squash
6 tablespoons coconut oil
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon white vinegar
¾ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line an 8×8 baking pan with parchment paper allowing a few inches to drape over the side. This will make for easy removal of the brownies after baking. Mix flax seed and water in a large mixing bowl and set aside. Bring a saucepan filled with enough water to cover squash to a rolling boil, then add squash and cook for 6-10 minutes, drain and set aside. In a double boiler over medium heat combine coconut oil, chocolate and cocoa, stirring until smooth, Remove from heat. Add sugar, vanilla and vinegar to ground flax/ water mixture. Pour in chocolate mixture and combine. In a separate bowl mix the flour, salt and baking soda. Add this to the chocolate batter in 3 additions, mixing until well blended. Fold in the squash. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool in pan for 15 minutes, then lift brownies out of pan by grabbing the parchment paper. Let cool on racks completely before cutting into two-inch squares.