Truth be told, I am not a brownie fan.
I find most brownies too chocolate-y and/or too flour-y. Excess of chocolate gives me a headache. Well, here is one brownie recipe that even I can get behind. It is a vegan recipe (if you use vegan chocolate), wheat-free (I used spelt flour), rich in little doses, an afternoon indulgence… and if you really wish, you can fool yourself into thinking it is a healthy dessert because it uses extra-virgin olive oil.
The recipe came to me via The Traveler’s Lunchbox. I made my own little tweaks, messed up a little, scrambled frantically, heroically salvaged the brownies… bravo, me! So, here is my take on Melissa’s recipe.
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate (56% cacao is what I used), chopped
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup spelt flour
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Equivalent of 2 large eggs (I used Ener-G egg replacer)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
2/3 cup hazelnuts (toasted, chopped)
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a 8 inch baking pan with an oiled piece of parchment paper letting it hang on all four sides.
Melt the chocolate. Here’s how I do it. Place the chopped chocolate in a steel/glass mixing bowl. Place the bowl in a larger pot containing warm water. Keep the pot on the stove, turn on the heat. It does not take more than a couple of minutes for the chocolate to melt. Turn off the heat.
Add the olive oil to the melted chocolate, let the mixture cool. (I missed this step and had to scramble later, adding the olive oil to the brownie batter just before it went into the oven.)
Mix the flour and salt in a small mixing bowl.
Beat the “eggs” with sugar, then add peppermint extract and melted chocolate-oil mixture. Add the flour+salt, then the toasted hazelnuts. Stir until everything is combined.
Bake until the top crust appears dry and a toothpick inserted into the center emerges moist. It took me roughly 26-28 minutes.
Cool completely, cut into little squares.
Rich and decadent, this is a brownie best eaten in little bites. The original recipe calls for dark chocolate (70% cacao) but I used a far milder one. I am sure that a darker variety will also yield a luscious brownie. Melissa’s recipe uses four ounces of chocolate. However, I got a three-ounce bar of chocolate from Whole Foods, so that is the quantity I used. To me, three ounces is plenty of chocolate for this recipe.
Melissa’s recipe uses vanilla extract but I have a bottle of peppermint extract in the pantry that is constantly calling out to me. So that’s the flavor I went with. Besides, I am hugely partial to the chocolate-mint combination.
My misstep of adding the olive oil to the batter at the end may have resulted in the brownies leaching oil after they were baked. So I had to line a container with paper towels to absorb the excess oil from the baked brownies. I wonder if that would have been avoided had I mixed the olive oil with the melted chocolate, as per the original recipe.
I think I baked the brownies a minute or two extra. They turned out good but I think they would have been softer had I taken them out sooner. This batch was a little chewy.
Olive oil adds a clean flavor, a lightness in texture. It is quite unlike the buttery richness most brownies have. Feels a lot lighter on the stomach too.
I would take an olive oil brownie over a regular one any day.