Attempting to make vegan brownies, has almost ended my baking career. I have- no joke- made 16 different batches, and something has been wrong each time. Either they’re too crumbly, too dense, too cakey, not chocolatey enough- you name it, it’s happened. The brownie is such a quintessential dessert, my standards are high and I want it to have the perfect taste and texture.

I was taking a hiatus from recipe testing for awhile, because I simply couldn’t keep spending my paycheck on brownie ingredients, and my morale just couldn’t take another failure. But then I heard someone mention “mesquite caramel” and of course I thought of my MRM Mesquite Superfood. As a consequence, my mind fluttered back to my mission of perfecting the vegan brownie, because in my opinion, nothing goes better with caramel than an uber-chocolatey brownie. And since I was already infusing the caramel with some extra nutrition, I thought, “Why not do the same with the brownies?” Thus, Veggie Elite once more found its way into my ingredient list, and the most decadent, Salted Caramel Brownies were born.

Despite being instilled with some extra health benefits, these are still a dessert, so yes, they still have fat and sugar in them. But, I used healthy fat sources like coconut oil, almond butter, and flax seed, which contain the highest level of omega-3 fatty acids than any other plant source, and are high in potassium, an integral electrolyte for active people. And by using coconut sugar in place of a refined sugar, I chose a low glycemic option to avoid extra spikes in your blood sugar. So while these should still be treated as a traditional dessert, you can rest easy knowing you’re still getting some nutrition with your indulgence 😉

One thing to note is these are very rich (chocolate lovers, rejoice!), so be sure to add the extra sprinkle of sea salt on top, as salt blunts any bitter flavors on your tongue, instead making your food taste sweeter. Here is what you need:

Plain brownies served on a ceramic leaf plate, handmade by Marsha Karagheusian.
Plain brownies served on a ceramic leaf plate, handmade by Marsha Karagheusian.

 

Ingredients for the Brownies:
3 flax eggs (3 T ground flax + 9T water)
1 cup coconut sugar (or brown)
2/3 cup pure maple syrup (no fake crap!)
2/3 cup melted coconut oil
1/2 cup all natural almond butter (ingredients should just read: almonds, salt)
2 tsps pure vanilla extract
1 ½ cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup MRM Chocolate Mocha Veggie Elite protein powder*
1T espresso powder
½ tsp sea salt
½- 1 cup vegan chocolate chips (I use Enjoy Life brand)

Ingredients for the Caramel:
~2/3 cup (7-8) pitted Medjool dates
½ cup hot water
2T cashew butter
2T pure maple syrup
½ tsp sea salt
1T MRM Mesquite Superfood Powder*
Course sea salt for topping (I used Maldon)

Salted caramel sauce made with dates and mesquite superfood powder.

Method:

1) At least 20 minutes in advance, but up to a few hours, soak the dates in hot water until very soft.

2) When ready to cook, preheat oven to 325F. Whisk together the flax and water, set aside 5 minutes. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the almond butter, sugar, maple syrup, coconut oil, and vanilla. Add in the cocoa and espresso powders with the salt. Add the flax eggs. Stir in the protein powder, and the flour ¼ cup at a time. Fold in chocolate chips. Pour the batter into a greased 13×9 pan, then bake 20-25 minutes. Let cool 1 hour.

3) For the Caramel: Once the dates have been softened, place in a food processor or blender with the water, cashew butter, salt and mesquite powder. Process until very smooth.

Assembly: Once the brownies have cooled, drizzle or spread the caramel topping all over. Generously sprinkle with course sea salt, and enjoy! Note: Unlike most of my recipes, I find these taste better the longer they sit, so feel free to make up to 24 hours in advance.

*You can receive 40% off both of these products when you use the code ELLEN at checkout.