A tray of fudgy in the middle and crispy on the outside brownies? Yes please! How about some Christmas flavours thrown in as we are nearing that time of the year again? Oh yes!!! And what if I told you they are dead easy to make and vegan to boot? OMG! Enter a tray of beautifully indulgent yet super simple to make Christmas brownies! You are welcome!
Christmas is just round the corner and with that baking (and sampling ‘the fruit’ of our labour) becomes a pursuit so many of us indulge in at this time. Baking is a science, which means you need to be much more disciplined to get a result you are after, which is where many people stumble.
While with cooking, you could go twist and tweak the recipe at will and most of the time you’ll end up with something delicious at the end, baking just isn’t the same – it’s far more unpredictable and a bit regimented.
I love baking – as the sheer number of sweet recipes on this blog shows – and if it wasn’t for my sweet tooth, this would probably be a baking blog by now… but I get that it is intimidating when you first start. In fact, I can still remember my first, near inedible, bakes when I first started baking – brownies were one of them.
This is why I came up with this easy Christmas brownies recipe. As long as you follow my instructions and weigh all of your ingredients, they will come out beautifully, I promise. These fudgy vegan Christmas brownies can be your contribution to the Christmas table that everyone – vegan or not – will love. I mean who doesn’t like chocolate, booze, chunks of ginger and crunch of gingerbreads on their Christmas table, right? I bet you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone who says ‘no’ to these.
MORE ABOUT THE INGREDIENTS
GROUND FLAX: I used ground flax seeds in place of eggs in this recipe. I have not tested with chia seeds, but they should work just as well in theory. Alternatively, you can also make them with aquafaba (chickpea brine) instead of flax and plant milk – see further information in the NOTES section, under the recipe.
PLANT MILK: I used soy milk to activate flax seeds and to add moisture to the batter. I like using soy milk in baking as it’s high in protein, but I any plant milk will work just as well.
ALCOHOL: Since it’s Christmas, a generous glug of booze is a welcome addition to baked goods – and I am not even a drinker! I do like my Christmas brownies with that festive touch. I tried making these brownies with Amaretto (my fav) and sweet Marsala wine and they were both delicious – confirmed by my willing taste testers. Any sweet wine, like Port will work well too. Alternatively, you could make them alcohol-free, by replacing the alcohol with orange-rind infused plant milk, for example – see further information in the NOTES section, under the recipe.
DARK CHOCOLATE: A good tray of brownies relies on good chocolate. I used 70% cacao dark chocolate and that’s what I recommend for an intensely chocolatey flavour.
VEGAN BUTTER: Fat is essential to brownies fudgy interior. I used vegan butter (Violife and Flora), but you could also make these with coconut oil. I recommend the odour-less version unless you want the coconut aroma in the final product.
MUSCOVADO SUGAR: Muscovado sugar is high in moisture and so it helps to crank up brownies’ fudgy interior. If you haven’t got any, don’t worry. I made some tests with caster sugar and the brownies came out really good too.
ALL PURPOSE FLOUR: Plain flour is used in these brownies and that’s important – we don’t want to use self-rising flour as it would make these brownies cakey. If you want to make the brownies gluten-free, use a good GF flour mix, one which contains a high proportion of starches for binding.
CORNSTARCH: A bit of cornstarch helps with fudginess, but if you cannot have it, use another tablespoon of plain flour instead.
COCOA POWDER: natural (not Dutch processed) cocoa powder gives the brownie layer even more chocolate richness than what you would get if you were to use melted chocolate alone.
SALT: A bit of salt is great in desserts and especially in chocolate desserts as it makes the chocolate taste better. I only used a small amount as my vegan butter contains salt already, but if yours doesn’t, feel free to double the amount.
BAKING SODA: A very small amount of baking soda helps these brownies cook, but it’s not enough to make them cakey.
SPICES: As these are vegan Christmas brownies, I added some spice to the cake batter. You can adjust this to your liking of course. Chocolate flavour certainly is very dominant so these only offer a bit of a background flavour.
STEM GINGER: Stem ginger – ginger that has been preserved by boiling in a sugar syrup – is a staple of UK baking aisles and I love using it in my baked goods, especially around Christmas. If you cannot find it where you live, crystalised ginger is also fine! Or try cranberries for a different flavour but for equally nice surprise hiding within every bite.
GINGERBREADS: These brownies are great for using up less than perfect gingerbreads. I used my easy vegan gingerbread recipe, rolled them thin and baked until crispy. I cooled them, then folded some crushed ones into the batter and used whole ones for decoration. They offer a delicious and an unexpected crunch.
Combine FLAX and plant milk in a large mixing bowl and let them sit together for 20 minutes. Next, add in all of the sugar. Place chocolate and vegan butter in a bowl suspended over a pot and start melting it on low heat.
Whisk flax and sugar mixture with an electric mixer for about 2 minutes, you want it become aerated and a little fluffy. Stir in alcohol.
Add melted chocolate and vegan butter to the bowl with flax, plant milk and sugars. Mix gently to incorporate.
Place a sieve over the bowl and sift in all of the dry ingredients (flour, cornstarch, salt, baking soda, cocoa and spices) in two-three batches, folding gently to combine. Fold only until there are no dry pockets left. Finally, add crushed gingerbreads and chopped stem ginger, fold in to incorporate evenly.
Transfer the batter to a baking tin and decorate the top with baked gingerbread cookies. Bake for 22 minutes in a pre-heated oven. Cool down completely, then refrigerate for a few hours to firm up and for the interior to become fudgy.
- 8 g / 4 tsp ground flax
- 60 ml / ¼ cup plant milk
- 150 g / ¾ cup caster (superfine) sugar
- 100 g / ½ dark muscovado sugar
- 60 ml / ¼ cup Amaretto, Marsala wine, Port*
- 150 g / 5¼ oz vegan 70% cocoa dark chocolate, broken up roughly
- 100 g / 3.5 oz (scant ½ cup) vegan butter
- 125 g / 1 cup plain flour* (or a GF flour mix)
- 8 g / 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 40 g / scant ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- ½ tsp salt
- SPICES: 1 tsp cinnamon & ginger, ¾ tsp cardamom, ¼ nutmeg, pinch of cloves
- ½ tsp baking soda (GF certified if needed)
- 65 g / 4 balls of stem ginger (or candied ginger), chopped
- 16 gingerbreads,homemade or shop-bought
- 50 g / ½ cup icing/confectioner’s sugar
- 10 ml / 2 tsp water, lemon juice or plant milk
- Preheat the oven to 180° C / 355° F. Line a square 20 cm / 8 inch tin with baking paper.
- Place ground flax in a large mixing bowl with 60 ml / ¼ cup of plant milk and set aside for 20 minutes.
- Melt broken up chocolate and vegan butter in a bowl suspended over a pot of barely simmering water. Allow them to melt slowly, switch the heat off when most of the chocolate has melted. Stir gently to combine at the end.
- Add both sugars to the activated flax and whisk with an electric whisk for 2 minutes – until the mixture becomes bubbly and thick – see photo above.
- Add alcohol and using a spatula, gently fold warm (not cooled) chocolate mixture into the flax-sugar mixture.
- Place a sieve over the bowl and sift in dry ingredients in three batches whilst gently folding with a spatula. Keep on folding until there is no dry pockets left but no more than that.
- Break half of the ginger breads with your hands and add them, together with chopped ginger, to the batter. Fold in gently.
- Transfer the batter into the baking tin, spread to the edges with a spatula and top with the remaining gingerbreads.
- Bake for 22 minutes – the brownies should have a bit of a wobble when being taken out of the oven.
- Cool completely and then place in the fridge for a few hours for the brownies to firm up and become fudgy.
- Optionally, decorate gingerbread with a simple sugar icing (see below).
- Combine icing sugar and liquid in a small bowl, transfer to a piping bag with a tiny nozzle.
*ALCOHOL: if you want to make these without alcohol, substitute with plant milk (add it in step 2!) – for a nice festive touch, I would infuse plant milk with orange peel/zest, for example.