I wish I had some photos for you of some of my previous gluten-free vegan brownie attempts. I have tried to make vegan brownie recipes using gluten-free baking mix in place of flour. I have tried using vegan substitutes for eggs and butter in gluten-free brownie recipes.
You may recall this choice paragraph from a few months ago:
Last weekend Duck and I tried to make Rebecca Reilly GF mint-chocolate brownies using egg replacer instead of eggs. When the timer went off and I pulled the brownie pan out of the oven, it was full of a bubbling, boiling, oil-slicked mass of goo that hardened as it cooled to something completely inedible. (I was trying to describe the texture to my mom: “They were hard, but not like crisp hard…” “Hard like resin?,” she suggested. “Yes, exactly!”)
I’ve heard from other bakers both on the internet and in my offline life that gluten-free vegan brownies are the ultimate challenge, the impossible holy grail. Cupcakes, cake, muffins, pies, savory breads – all a snap compared to the agony of the brownie. But the thing is, I don’t like cupcakes, cake, muffins, pies, or savory breads. I don’t really like sweets, but when I do crave something, I pretty much only want brownies. And I want to be able to have my brownies free of wheat, free of gluten, free of animal suffering. Is that so much to ask?
It’s not if you’re Cybele Pascal, author of The Allergen-Free Baker’s Handbook and all-around baking goddess! (Does anyone else look at the author’s name and immediately visualize Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield making allergen-free treats in their suburban kitchen? No? Okay, then.) Ms. Pascal is a damn fine baker, and she really knows her stuff. This cookbook is bursting with actually delicious baked goods free from wheat, gluten, soy, eggs, dairy, tree nuts, peanuts and sesame. If I were unable to eat all those things I would not even know how to begin, but then good old Cybele would come and save the day!
So back to these brownies. They have a secret ingredient that I’m sure makes a huge difference but can’t be carrying the day entirely. This is just a really well thought out recipe. The brownies are fudgy, seriously fudgy, with a gorgeous glossy top and crisp edges, and absolutely no grittiness or rice-flour taste if you eat them in the first four days or so. The second time I made a batch I divided them into pretty small portions but some folks still found them too rich to eat a whole one at one sitting. And that is not a bad thing, as far as I’m concerned. When a tiny corner of brownie satisfies your brownie urge for a week, that’s a winner in my book.
I hate to disappoint you after all this build-up, but there is no way I’m posting this recipe. This is the Holy Grail, the recipe that Cybele Pascal will pass down in a hope chest to her children, the golden ticket. If you want to make incredible gluten-free vegan fudge brownies you’ll have to buy the book (or at least get it from the library, like I did). I did feature another recipe from the book a few months ago, for Socca de Nice, incredible savory chickpea crepes, but this one seems way too precious to let spill onto the careless breezes of the internet.
So vegans, check out this book and bring a pan of these to your next ubiquitous Vegan Bake Sale so us no-wheat vegans can finally buy something, too. And gluten-free-ers, make a batch of these for your next potluck, and help all us sad-eyed vegans come out of the corner where we’ve been nibbling on crudites and trying not to stress our friends out with questions about how the wine was manufactured. These brownies will bring the world together, they really will!