I’m obsessed with brownies; rich, chocolatey, fudgy, incredible brownies. I’ve also got a soft spot for peanut butter and in case you hadn’t noticed, I cannot possibly go a day without eating cardamom.
It’s not often I go in to the kitchen completely sure of what I’m going to produce. I’ll have something in the fridge or cupboard I know I want, then I forage about until I find the perfect partners for what I fancy and they could be totally bizarre combinations I’ve never tried before.
If I’ve learned anything from all my years of experimental cooking is that you have to be fearless. FEARLESS. Yeah sure, sometimes things don’t turn out the way you plan but that’s what takeaway pizza is there for. I’ve rescued even the most disastrous of dinners and 98% of the time, the antidote consists of lemon, salt and sugar. They are like magic for repairing even the spiciest of curries.
Baking is different. As sweet as it can be, baking can also be very cruel – especially eggless and vegan baking. I’ve had more disasters than successes and too many slabs of sunken cakes and burst macarons to count on two hands, presuming I had the arms of the goddess Laxmi. Having said this, I’ve made countless batches of eggless and vegan brownies over the years… It’s finally safe to say I think I’ve nailed it.
So when I wandered in to the kitchen on this particular day, I was fully prepared for what was going to happen and even though I was about to step in to that baking danger zone, I was f e a r l e s s.
What was about to happen was something truly beautiful, btw. It was the coming together of super-moist dark chocolate heaven, creamy-salty peanut butter and the deeply-aromatic flavours of cardamom which I cannot imagine life without.
Blended black beans give these brownies an incredible texture and allow them to retain even more moisture, which produce perfect brownies without the need for eggs, or any dairy products. This makes these brownies 100% vegan and egg free. What could be better?
Vegan Peanut Butter and Cardamom Brownies
Makes 18-20 brownies
For the Brownie Batter:
250g plain flour
60g good-quality cocoa powder (not drinking chocolate)
40g black beans, drained, rinsed and blended until smooth
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
150g light brown sugar
100ml groundnut or sunflower oil
320ml soy milk (or regular full-fat milk for a non-vegan brownie)
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
For the Peanut Butter and Cardamom Swirl:
100g crunchy peanut butter (you can use smooth if you prefer)
50g non-dairy spread such as Pure (if you’re not vegan, use unsalted butter – I’ve tried both ways)
50g light brown sugar
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp cornflour (cornstarch)
1. Preheat the oven to 160C/320F.
2. Line a 34 x 20 x 3cm H. (13 1⁄2″ x 8″ x 1″) brownie tin with greaseproof paper and oil. I add an extra long sheet of greaseproof paper lengthways to make handles for easy lifting out later. It really makes it much easier to remove from the pan.
3. To make the peanut butter and cardamom swirl, mix together all the ingredients until smooth. Place in the fridge until later.
4. To make the brownie batter, sift together all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
5. Whisk together all the wet ingredients including the bean paste and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Whisk again.
6. Gradually add the dry brownie batter ingredients in to the wet and whisk briefly until well combined. It’s really important not to over beat the batter.
7. Pour the batter in to your prepared brownie tin and smooth out the top. Next text your peanut butter swirl mixture from the fridge, give it a quick beat and dollop teaspoon-sized nuggets on top of the brownie batter. Use a butter knife or spoon to swirl it through.
8. Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes. It will still be a bit wobbly but this is good. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes before running a knife around the edge of the tray to loosen up any brownie stuck to the edges. Using the clever little handles you made with greaseproof paper earlier, carefully lift the brownie out and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
9. Slice in to squares or rectangles. Enjoy with a cold glass of almond or hazelnut milk.