desserts

marshmallow-y vegan fudge brownies.

Guys, you read that right: they’re vegan, but I’m not; now get your eye-rolls out of the way so I can tell you about these.

Imagine the fluffiest homemade marshmallow in the world: it’s soft, with just a hint of vanilla, with a nice chew to it. Nothing at all like the weird store-bought ones which yes, serve their own purpose in life (and that purpose is cereal treats), but not when you want a really indulgent marshmallow.

Now imagine that marshmallow near a deep, dark hot fudge sauce. Minding its own business, sure, but it’s very aware the fudge sauce is there. Imagine that fudge sauce is silky smooth, again homemade (because there’s zero comparison between store-bought and scratch here), with a pow of dark cocoa flavor that will. not. be. contained.

Now imagine some explosion happened nearby, forcing all that dark chocolate fudge sauce directly into that homemade marshmallow: some catastrophe, that – when the dust settled – produced a perfect meld of the fudge sauce and the marshmallow.

This is that thing. Welcome to marshmallow brownies.

You may be like “Shannon: I like my slightly cakey, dense, normal brownies” and to that I’d say “Word: me too.” But there are times at least around here where we want the intensity of a brownie without all the weight. The chew without the “ugghhh whyyyy” part. That’s when I make these brownies. Yeah, I’m going to be honest with you: they’re like a bizarre science experiment where a bunch of non-brownie things come together to magically form a brownie, but let’s get over that. We live in a brave new world where cashews and nutritional yeast can make fairly effective nacho cheese, so let’s keep our hearts open.

Because they look pretty delicious, right? They really are: and midnight black with major cocoa flavor. You use maple syrup and brown rice syrup instead of white sugar, which I guess is nice too. A few tips to really nail these beauties:

  1. They get better with age. Make them 1 or even 2 days ahead of when you need them. Day 1 will be the most marshmallow of the days; by Day 2, the chocolate deepens and the crumb becomes markedly more brownie-like.
  2. They work best in a glass baking dish – 8 x 8 will yield you these fat, over-the-top servings. These bake very evenly in this size pan, as well.
  3. Watch these like a hawk towards the end: you want a toothpick to come out with a few crumbs: completely dry and you’ve gone too far.
  4. By all means, use regular all-purpose flour if you’d like. I keep GF flour on hand to make these, but it’s not essential to the recipe unless, of course, you’re GF.

The ingredients here aren’t your standard brownie ingredients, however: I’d say they’re pretty common ingredients if you make or have made vegan desserts. You’ll need brown rice syrup and Vegenaise – things I keep in my pantry anyway, but I also keep random things like calendula flowers and dried trumpet mushrooms in my pantry, so I’m no judge of what’s normal. Otherwise, I use almond milk where the original recipe calls for rice or soy milk and it works great – I suspect any nut milk would work. Use spelt flour if you like: the original does, but I have a difficult time locating that, depending on where I’m shopping.

Trust me on these, friends: my entire family swears by them, and they can smell a healthy-ish dessert 5 miles away. I have made these for gifts and teacher treats and no one was the wiser. They weren’t even supposed to be a blog post: I made them during daylight yesterday and actually had my wits about me enough to photograph them so I could share them with you.

Adapted from It’s All Good by Gwyneth Paltrow, but let’s not forget – lest we begin eye-rolling again – that this book is written also by Julia Turshen, a legit chef. Just saying.

Vegan Marshmallow-y Fudge Brownies

Yield | 16 |

It’s not always so easy getting syrups to readily blend with other things. My secret weapon here is the coffee: brew it and throw it right in to get things loosened up, and you won’t have to work as hard to get the wet ingredients combined. 

  • 2 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour (add 1 teaspoon xanthan gum if it isn’t the premixed, “1 to 1” sort
  • 1 cup good-quality cocoa powder
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • fat pinch kosher salt
  • 1 cup maple syrup (I think we all know what actual maple syrup is by now)
  • 1/2 cup Vegenaise
  • 1/2 cup brown rice syrup
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup strong brewed coffee, still hot
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

| Preparation | Heat oven to 350°. Use a bit of grapeseed oil to grease the bottom and sides of an 8 x 8 Pyrex baking dish. 

Add flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt to a large bowl; whisk until evenly combined. Add maple syrup, Vegenaise, brown rice syrup, almond milk and vanilla in another bowl; pour in hot coffee and whisk until mixture is homogenous. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir until just blended, with no dry patches – your batter will be very thick. Pour batter into prepared baking dish and bake in the middle rack of your oven for 40 to 50 minutes, checking at the 40 minute mark for doneness. A toothpick inserted in the middle should come out with crumbs sticking to it, but not liquid batter. Remove from oven and set aside to cool completely on a cooling rack; if you’re me, you wait at least a few hours to cut them, if not an entire day. 

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2 Comments

  • Reply Faygie April 17, 2018 at 9:53 pm

    So here I am, all excited to have a delicious-sounding vegan dessert from you, and then I get to the end and see that it’s from a freaking cookbook that I’ve owned for YEARS. Granted, I haven’t even opened it for quite a few years, and back when I did use it I never made any desserts from it, I guess this recipe just never caught my eye. Well, thanks to you it finally has. And thanks for that, because I absolutely need these in my life. Like now.

  • Reply John / Kitchen Riffs April 18, 2018 at 9:36 am

    Vegan desserts are a challenge. We have a vegan friend who also doesn’t eat sugar (in any form, including honey or maple syrup), so that’s a real challenge. We usually resort to fruit. Too bad she won’t do sugar, because this looks SO GOOD! Had no clue that Vegenaise was a thing — I had to Google it! Makes so much sense that it exists, though. Good stuff — thanks.

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