I have been very fortunate in that so far, neither of my girls have any food allergies (nor do hubby or I!). My young niece, on the other hand, has not been so lucky, and cannot eat nuts or eggs. Because she is often placed in the unfair position of not being able to share foods being enjoyed by others, we try to make family get-togethers as seamless as possible so that at the very least, any unsafe foods are easy to avoid and not something she'd really want to eat anyway.
While nut allergies are certainly scary, we have found that with some careful ingredient checks, they are fairly easy to avoid when cooking at home. Eggs, on the other hand, are in everything, especially dessert! The good news is with the rise of both egg allergies and veganism, it's getting easier and easier to find ideas for egg free recipes. I've had success so far with cookies and cupcakes (recipes to come!), but one of the most elusive desserts has been brownies, since eggs are really integral to the texture. I love rich chocolate desserts, though, and after a few holidays with some version of chocolate mousse/pudding made without eggs, I was really antsy for a true brownie that we could all share.
So off to the internet I went, and found a recipe on a vegan website promising the "ultimate" brownie, which got some strong reviews. I gave it a try mostly as written (only eliminating the walnuts and subbing real buter for the vegan "butter") and found the texture to be great, but the flavor severely lacking. They looked like brownies, but barely tasted like chocolate! So even though baking chemistry is not my specialty and I am especially inexperienced with vegan-style baking, I decided to take a chance on some modifications. Miraculously, the second batch was delicious! I still think I prefer my one bowl brownies, which are incredibly rich and smooth, but these are certainly a great alternative if you have any need for an egg-free version - they are dense, with a fudgy texture and rich chocolate flavor. Plus, they even have a great crust on top.
And as an added bonus, since I made this recipe 4 times in 1 week, I came up with some ways to streamline the process from the original, which was pretty fussy, so now they're not even complicated to make. Enjoy, and let me know what you think!
adapted from Vegan Baking
7 tablespoons water (this is 1 tablespoon short of 1/2 cup)
2 tablespoons golden flax meal
2 ounces good quality dark chocolate (I used 70%), chopped into ½ inch pieces
6 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (or more chopped chocolate pieces)
1 1/2 (rounded) cups all purpose or white whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix together water and flax meal, and let it sit (and gel) while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Line an 8x8 baking pan with parchment paper, leaving some overhang on 2 sides so that you can easily remove the brownies when they're done (or just grease your baking pan!). Preheat the oven to 350.
Melt the butter and chocolate together over a double boiler* or in the microwave, stirring occasionally, until just melted. Remove from heat and mix in sugar until thoroughly combined. Then add cocoa powder, salt, vanilla, and water/flax mixture and mix well (I used a silicone spatula, but you could use an electric mixer at this point if you prefer). Check to make sure your mixture isn't warmer than room temperature, and then gently stir in chocolate chips (if your mixture is too warm and your chocolate chips melt, no biggie, you'll just have extra fudgy brownies without chocolate chips!).
Next, add the flour and baking soda to the chocolate mixture. Use a spatula or a spoon (or even your hands if needed) to incorporate all of the flour. The batter will be VERY thick, more like a dough.
Dump batter into your prepared pan, using a spatula or your hands to spread it out evenly. Bake for 28 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack, leaving the brownies in the pan for at least an hour, and then remove brownies to the rack to cool the rest of the way.
Makes 16-20 smallish brownies
To double recipe, use a 9x13 pan and bake for an extra 3-4 minutes.
*Not sure what a double boiler is? Find a heat-proof bowl, either metal or tempered glass, that fits securely on top of one of your pots. Put 1-2 inches of water in the pot, heat until barely simmering, and then place your bowl on top with the butter and chocolate. The indirect heat of the steam on the bottom of the bowl will melt them gently without burning the chocolate. If you use a big enough bowl, you can continue with the rest of the recipe right in the same bowl!