For chocolate lovers and healthy eating lovers alike, these chocolate brownies are what I would call a healthy dessert, as long as you enjoy them in moderation.
A healthy dessert is one made with wholesome ingredients that contain nutrition and health benefits.
Eating a dessert like this will make you feel very satisfied (due to the sweet taste), but still balanced (due to the real nutrition). It’s the best kind of dessert.
Let’s take a look at the ingredients.
Oat flour: I made my own by running oat flakes through a food processor. This gives a coarse texture that adds to the satisfaction of this fudge brownie. Oats are high in soluble fiber, which is soothing for the digestive tract.
Organic brown sugar: It’s molasses that gives brown sugar its color. Molasses is high in minerals and iron, with bitter, sweet and sour tastes, and a warming quality that gives brown sugar a booth of oomph versus regular white sugar.
I have called for organic brown sugar, because when it comes to sugar I recommend buying the best and avoiding commercial white sugar.
Spelt or whole wheat flour: Spelt is an ancient grain that is lower in gluten than wheat and a little higher in protein, and a little easier to digest. If you haven’t tried cooking with spelt flour, this could be a chance to try. You can substitute spelt for wheat flour in many recipes.
Pumpkin Puree: I don’t buy canned pumpkin puree very often, but I was very happy with the flavor, texture, and smell of the organic pumpkin puree I purchased in a can.
You can use up the extra from the can in a soup, stock, or broth. The great thing about pumpkin is that it isn’t too sweet, and again has a bit of bitter flavor to it, so it lends itself well to savory, as well as sweet items.
You could also substitute with a homemade puree, and even use butternut or buttercup squash. Simply steam the squash, then puree in a food processor until extra smooth.
Maple Syrup: One of my favorite sweeteners, I just love the fact that maple syrup comes from trees. Imagine, the juice and life force of a tree captured in a bottle. It’s rich in minerals captured from the sun and the soil. It has a rich, sweet, and slightly bitter flavor that feels balancing overall.
You can substitute with pancake syrup but it won’t be as good. Do not use honey. Never cook with honey as it becomes toxic to the body when heated.
Vanilla: Vanilla is one of the most popular (and expensive) aromatic spices in the world. Since you only use a small amount at a time, I believe it’s worth getting a good one.
My mom gifted me an extract from Mexico recently that was truly heavenly. It’s gone now and I will be dreaming about it for years to come. The Madagascar vanilla extracts are widely available, and these are your next best choice.
Choose your chocolate
Chocolate is an aphrodisiac that stimulates brain activity and elevates the mood. It’s medicine when enjoyed in moderation, but not good if you overdo it. (But you already know that!)
Vegan chocolate chips
The chocolate chips remain whole in this recipe, so that when you eat the brownie cold you get that pure chocolate to chew on. Chocolate is bitter, warming, and stimulating. Get the best quality chips you can find. If vegan is important to you, choose a vegan option. If it isn’t then you will have more choices. You will enjoy the chips thoroughly in your brownie.
Cacao or cocoa powder?
Cacao is pure chocolate made from raw fermented beans without any sugar, dairy, or fat added. It is quite bitter, but also warming, which is rare in the food world. Typically bitter things are cooling.
Pure cacao is antioxidant-rich, and good source of iron, fiber, and magnesium. It is considered a healthier choice, yet baking may destroy the antioxidants, so better to use it in smoothies and unbaked treats.
Cocoa or Dutch cocoa can also be substituted in this recipe. Cocoa is made from roasted fermented beans that are processed at a much higher temperature than raw cacao. The result is a little less nutrition and a milder taste.
Dutch cocoa is processed with an alkalizing agent that lowers the acidity of the chocolate and causes the flavor to become even milder.
This difference in acidity becomes an issue in baking projects where chemical reactions involving baking soda (alkaline) and baking powder (acidic) are required for rising and texture.
If you are making substitutions, remember that Dutch cocoa is alkaline, while regular cocoa is more acidic.
In this recipe, since there is nothing to rise, it really doesn’t matter which chocolate powder you use.
In general, cocoa is recommended for most baking projects. If you prefer the least processed option, then go for the all-natural cacao.
Make sure that you buy a high quality cocoa for the best flavor.
Three amazing ways to enjoy your brownie
Since this is such a wholesome food, the texture is a little different than other brownies you might be used to.
I loved it, but my husband felt it was a little dry. (One batch was drier than the other.)
If you do find it dry, you can have the brownie with:
- Ice cream (minty?)
- Whipped cream
- Almond milk
I loved having the brownie with some creamy liquid.
Overall, this brownie isn’t overly sweet, so adding more sweets just completed the whole thing, and I greatly enjoyed it!
Easy to make
Making these brownies couldn’t be easier. You mix together the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet in another bowl. Combine the two together and the batter is ready to transfer to the baking tray.
I suggest fitting a parchment paper into the baking tray first to prevent sticking. You may have noticed in my photos that despite greasing the tray, they still stuck.
What we did is to scoop the stuck bits from the tray up with a spatula, and we enjoyed that too - especially with ice cream.
If you don’t eat them all first within about 10 days in the refrigerator, then freezing is your best option.
Cut them into pieces and store in an airtight plastic container for an anytime ready treat any day of the week.
Vegan Chocolate Fudge Brownies (with Pumpkin)
Helpful Kitchen Tools:
- ¾ cup oat flour
- 1 ½ cups brown sugar, organic
- ½ cup chocolate chips, vegan semisweet
- ½ cup whole spelt flour, sub with whole wheat flour
- 1 ¼ cups cacao powder
- 1 pinch salt
- ½ cup pumpkin puree, canned or homemade
- ½ cup maple syrup
- ½ cup sunflower oil, or any other light vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons plant-based milk, or regular milk
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
- Combine the wet ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix with a spoon. Use parchment paper or grease an 8x10-inch baking tray. Spread brownie mixture evenly in the tray, and bake for 30-35 minutes. If you use a larger tray, check the brownies earlier. You will know the brownies are ready when the middle has lost its sheen and is no longer runny, and the edges are slightly browned. Enjoy!