In a year of challenges and division, there are two points we can agree on— we’re all against covid and we all love chocolate. These grown-up Vote Blue Brownies are chocolaty and fudgy and the perfect treat for yourself after leaving the polling place.
Blame the upcoming election. My friend Marc and I were talking about how important the vote is — especially this year. We wondered how we could incentivize people to turn out the vote. And Marc said, Reward people for good behavior. Give ‘em a brownie as they leave the polling place. Brilliant! Not quite possible, but brilliant, and enough to bring me into the kitchen.
Brownies may be the one classic American confection. People seem inclined to tart it up with all manner of things — chocolate chunks, cream cheese swirls, dulce de leche. Nice if that’s what you like, but you must have a perfect brownie at the core. We’re not talking cake, we’re not talking fudge, but the alchemical mix of chocolate, butter, sugar, eggs and flour. How to replace butter and eggs with plant-based options and still keep the dreamy dark chocolate and a texture both tender and just a little gooey is something I’ve left for others, like my genius vegan pastry chef friends, Fran Costigan and Carolina Molea. Until now.
My first attempt, made with Miyoko’s vegan butter and aquafaba instead of eggs, got points for chocolate delivery but lost them on texture. They were, my husband said, a little chewy. This was accompanied by an expression somewhere between displeasure and pain.
Back to the kitchen, then. This time, instead of melting bitter chocolate, I used Dutch-process cocoa and a little more Miyoko’s vegan butter. Instead of aquafaba, I used. . . wait for it — seltzer, an impressive egg substitute. This version produced fudgier brownies. They needed to chill overnight before assuming their full brownie-ness and agreed to come out the pan neatly. But my husband loves them.
This recipe is more serious and grown-up than kid-friendly, but so’s my husband. It’s closer to my ideal, but I’m still in the R&D phase. That’s okay. Even our founding fathers recognized perfection isn’t easy. The Preamble to our Constitution talks about striving to “form a more perfect Union.” My vegan brownie recipe, like our country, is a work in progress.
Please vote on November 3. Then have a brownie.
Vote Blue Brownies
- 10 tablespoons vegan butter — Miyoko’s nails it for high performance
- 1 cup evaporated cane sugar whizzed in the food processor or blender until fine
- 3/4 cup Dutch process cocoa
- 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 cup plain seltzer soda water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil an 8X8 inch baking pan.
- In a saucepan, heat vegan butter over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until melted. Pour in the sugar and stir to dissolve. Sift in cocoa, flour and baking powder and stir in gently. Add vanilla and seltzer. Mix together with a light hand just until combined and batter is streak-free.
- Pour batter into baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes. Allow to cool completely before slicing. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight to improve texture and avoid crumbling.