How to Fit As Many Calories As Possible Into A Brownie (and have it be dairy-free)

Sometimes you just have to be a little naughty when it comes to food. I love to bake but I’ve found that it usually ends in me eating an entire roll of cookies or an entire pan of brownies. The solution? Make something so rich and sugary that it is physically impossible to eat more than one slice without getting a tummy ache. That is this cookie-brownie-oreo-with-chocolate-ganache recipe. Don’t get me wrong, this thing is delicious. But I would be seriously impressed with anyone able to eat the whole pan.

triple layer brownies

Classes start back up next week, but since I graduated in December I am about to enter a serious lull of things to do. Which is also what decided this baking binge. There’s seriously no better way to convince people to hang out with you than making something so good that people have to try it. Then just force them to stay by turning on a marathon of Parks and Rec. It’s a flawless plan. What are some other ways you make plans to hang out with people that costs minimal money? I always need advice on this subject since I am currently unemployed and out of school.

“Betcha Can’t Eat More Than One” Brownies (adapted from I Just Got Dumped Brownies by Gal on A Mission)

Triple layer brownies

Ingredients
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Layer
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted margarine, softened to room temperature
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • ½ cup white granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 and ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ cup vegan chocolate chips
Oreo Layer
  • 15 Golden Oreos
Brownie Layer
  • 10 tablespoons (1 and ¼ stick) unsalted margarine, melted
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¾ cup cocoa powder, unsweetened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
Chocolate Ganache
  • ½ cup vegan chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon margarine
  • 1 tablespoon coconut cream

Cookie Dough Layer

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line an 8×8 baking dish with aluminum foil. Lightly grease. Set aside.
  2. Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Layer – In a large mixing bowl, cream the margarine, light brown sugar, and white granulated sugar.
  3. Add in the egg and vanilla extract and mix. Slowly add in the all-purpose flour ½ cup at a time and mix thoroughly.
  4. Add in the salt and baking powder. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  5. Spread the cookie dough layer on the baking dish and spread all over. Make sure the layer is even.
  6. Add the Oreos on top of the cookie dough layer.
  7. Brownie Layer – Wash and dry the large mixing bowl, combine the melted margarine, sugar, eggs, and cocoa powder. Mix together.
  8. Add in the vanilla extract, flour, and salt.
  9. Spread the brownie layer on top of the Oreo layer and make sure it is even.
  10. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Insert a toothpick in the middle and if it comes out clean it is done.
  11. Allow the brownies to completely cool.
  12. Prepare the chocolate ganache layer by melted the chocolate chips and shortening in the microwave for 15 seconds at a time until the chocolate chips are melted. Stir in the coconut cream. Spread on top of the cooled brownie bars.
  13. Slice and enjoy!

Seriously. I dare you to eat more than one. Also, highly recommend enjoying this with a big glass of almond milk. Yum.

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Back to the Good Stuff – Hot Chocolate Pancakes

After last week’s somber post I thought it was time to talk about something a little happier. And what is happier than vegan chocolate pancakes. To me there is something really fun about breakfast for dinner, or in this case breakfast for dessert. Maybe that’s because vegan breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. And chocolate is good anytime of day.

vegan hot chocolate pancakes

These vegan pancakes are incredible. Literally one of the best things I’ve ever made, behind the mint chocolate chip cookies (maybe). And I have to credit this deliciousness partly to Paula Dean. The women truly has found the secret to life in butter. She just needs to switch to vegan butter. So don’t for a moment think these pancakes are healthy. They aren’t terrible for you but they are certainly a dessert. But sometimes in life when bad things happen the best cure is chocolate, not matter how bad.

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Ingredients:

Vegan Hot Chocolate Pancakes (adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie)

1/4 cup all purpose flour

1/4 tsp baking powder

1 tbsp vegan hot chocolate mix (I used Starbucks)

1 tbsp brown sugar

1/16 tsp salt

1 and 1/2 tbsp melted vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)

5 and 1/2 tbsp milk of choice (I used Silk soy milk)

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Directions:

1. Heat pan to medium.

2. Mix dry ingredients, then add wet ingredients.

3. Once well combined, spoon onto pan.

4. Cook until top starts to bubble, then flip (about 4-5 minutes, as these are small pancakes)

5. Cook for another minute or two until pancakes are cooked through.

For me this recipe made 3 small pancakes. These are delicious on their own but if you wanna take it to the next level, layer the pancakes with this vegan hot fudge sauce…. Equal parts hot chocolate mix and melted butter, heated over the low heat. Be careful cause this burns quickly!

vegan hot chocolate pancakes, vegan pancakes

Seriously though add the hot fudge… it melts into the pancakes and makes for pure heaven.

vegan hot chocolate pancakes, vegan pancakes

Just a quick running update… I’ve started my six month training plan, which you can find here. I just want to say thank you so much to the support I received from that post, it means the world to me and my city. We are so fortunate that they found the perpetrator so that justice can achieved. #bostonstrong

vegan hot chocolate pancakes, vegan pancakes

Sweet and Refreshing – Junior Mint Oatmeal Cookies

I’ve realized when it comes to cooking, I learn the most by trial and error. Now having made pasta with some kind of faux meat and vegetables about 4 times a week, I’m an expert at timing and it comes out delicious every time. Similarly, vegan brownies from the box are my specialty now that I’ve made them too many times to count. But for something like Junior Mint Oatmeal Cookies, a couple more tries would probably benefit this recipe.

vegan junior mint oatmeal cookies

To be clear, these tasted incredible, evaluated by some frat brothers. But the process and end appearance needs some work. As I probably would’ve realized if I was a chemistry major rather than creative writing, I would have predicted that the centers of the Junior Mints would melt into sticky peppermint liquid that sticks great to a cookie sheet. I think the solution to this would be to make a cookie pie so that the peppermint would just go back into the dough when it melts, without covering my friend’s cookie sheet (and requiring a serious arm workout to remove it later). Also I would suggest adding the Mints on the dough after its already been placed in the pie tin.

But regardless of how they looked this time around, they tasted great. If I can drag myself out of the sunshine that just seemed to appear in Baltimore this week I’ll try the pie version. For now here is my original.

vegan junior mint oatmeal cookies

Ingredients (makes 12):

1/3 cup vegan butter

1/3 cup brown sugar

3 tbsp white sugar

1 tbsp cornstarch

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 and 1/3 cup quick cook oats

1 package of Junior Mints

3 tbsp water

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C)

2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until smooth. Add cornstarch and water.

3. One well mixed, add flour, baking soda, and salt; stir into the creamed mixture until just blended. Mix in the quick oats and Junior Mints. Drop by heaping spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.

3. Bake for 12 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Note: To adjust to my recommendations, do not mix in Junior Mints. Place dough in ungreased pie pan, then put Junior Mints on top.

vegan junior mint oatmeal cookies

Now I’m off to enjoy Spring Fair activities! Maybe a post on surviving fair food next week?

Nothing Better than Spring Snow and Ice Cream

So I’ve already  talked about my addiction to Nutella. And considering how long it has been since I’ve enjoyed my favorite chocolate hazelnut spread, it’s still at the top of my list for favorite cravings. But a close second is definitely ice cream. I have been known to eat entire pints in one sitting, including a certian occasion where I was bet five dollars in scratch tickets that I couldn’t do it. Oh but I did, in under 15 minutes, and walked away with 13 dollars in winnings. So nobody needs to question my addiction to the frozen treat.

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But it’s no secret that it’s not the healthiest of foods, even the vegan versions (if you haven’t yet, try any So Delicious flavor. A pint of their Cookie Dough ice cream became victim to my addiction this Spring Break). This fact, combined with the new Pinterest fad floating around for banana ice cream, was the inspiration to this recipe. Peanut Butter Banana Cap’n Crunch Ice Cream. PBBCCIC for short. Or may Peanut Butter Banana Crunch. Take your pic.

Banana Peanut Butter Crunch

Banana Peanut Butter Crunch

Basically the idea is that when bananas are blended into a cream, combined with some toppings (in this case peanut butter and Cap’n Crunch), then frozen, it becomes a low cal substitute for ice cream. Lo cal ice cream? That’s a dream came true.

But like many Pinterest fads, this one isn’t perfect. This is not an ice cream for people who don’t like bananas, because unlike the rumors, this will taste like bananas. Maybe I should have tried a less ripe fruit but I’m sure it still would have the flavor. Fortunately I love bananas and peanut butter together so this was fine with me. Other than that, this stayed true to Pinterest promises. It thickened up into a delicious “ice cream.”

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Just a few suggestions before hand:]

1. Remember to peel the banana before freezing it. (common sense I know but this is something I lack during midterm period)

2. Add the Cap’n Crunch at the very end and blend just enough to make sure they’re spread evenly with the banana-peanut butter cream. The bigger the chunks of Cap’n Crunch, the better.

3. Get creative! There’s an endless number of toppings that could be added to the banana.

Peanut Butter Banana Crunch “Ice Cream”

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Ingredients:

1 frozen banana (unpeeled!)

1 tbsp peanut butter

1 tsp agave nectar

1/4 cup Cap’n Crunch

Action shot

Action shot

Directions:

1. Blend banana on high until it has been completely creamed (2-3 minutes).

2. Add peanut butter and agave, blend until well combined.

3. Add Cap’n Crunch and blend for as short amount of time as possible, just until the cereal is spread throughout.

4. Put into a freeze safe container and freeze until the “ice cream” is at a desired consistency. Make sure to cover the container so that the banana does not brown (it’s really ugly)

How banana should look when blended

How banana should look when blended

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Prefreezing

Prefreezing

As the title suggests, we just got SNOW in Baltimore. It’s practically March. I am very not OK with this. Maybe the weather is better wherever you are. Crossing my fingers for a change in temperature over the next week so I can enjoy some Peanut Butter Banana Crunch outside.

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Enjoy!

Vegan Gluten Free Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies

There has been far too much healthy stuff being posted recently.Time to delve back into the dessert world. And the best part? These aren’t even that bad for you. And they’re amazing. I’d say one of the better things I’ve made, especially considering most other times I’ve tried to make cookies without flour has turned into a bubbly mess. I think the key is putting the dough in the refrigerator for a little bit, even if it’s not for more than hour. But these did not turn into boiling pools of sugar as I’m accustomed to so you should probably start baking now.The other best part? You probably already have all the ingredients in your kitchen. And they’re gluten free. And processed sugar free. And oil free.

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Also, just to make sure I’m making it clear that these are good, I made them for a sorority bake sale. Most times vegans urge that if you’re baking for others try to keep is as close to non vegan as possible. These aren’t your usual peanut butter chocolate cookies, but that sets them apart. And I wouldn’t put my baked goods out there against girls who are some of the best chefs I know if I didn’t have faith. But you can decide for yourself.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies {Vegan, Gluten-free, Oil-free} {Adapted from Averie Cooks}

Ingredients:

1 cup + 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter (I used Jif)

1 cup light brown sugar, packed

3/4 banana

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

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Directions:

1. Combine peanut butter, sugar, banana and vanilla extract. Mix until well combined and the mixture is no longer granular. You can use a stand mixer but I enjoyed the nice arm workout.

2. Add cocoa powder and baking soda. Mix until a dough has formed. The mixture may be a little crumbly, so feel free to add extra peanut butter to make it stick together more. I added some melted vegan butter but that was also to make it a little more appealing to the non vegans.

3. Refrigerate for around an hour, up to over night. I only did it for about half an hour and it was fine but better safe than sorry.

4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

5. When the cookies are chilled and the oven is preheated, roll dough into small balls and then press flat on baking sheet (make sure sheet is either greased or has aluminum foil on it).

6. Bake for about 10 minutes. The cookies will still look soft in the middle but let them sit for about 15 minutes and they become chewy and delicious.

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Mix before adding cocoa

 

Mix after adding cocoa

Mix after adding cocoa

Makes about 20 small cookies.

And yes it’s ok to eat all of them in one sitting.

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 Some other cookie recipes I’ve made:

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Healthy Banana Brookies

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Healthy Banana Brookies

I know, the word healthy usually denotes a treat that may taste good but has the underlying notes of not being quite as good had it been made with oils, sugar, butter, etc. And yes the word “brookie” usually denotes brownies and cookies, which these are not. Instead they are bread and cookies combined — and for me, anything that includes banana bread is amazing. The funny thing is I actually don’t like bananas much at all but put them in bread, cookies, anything to replace oils and I’m on board. And let me also promise you that these may be healthy, they don’t taste like it. My mother was even willing to give them to neighbors as thank you presents, and seeing as neither my mom nor my neighbors are anything close to being vegan, I’d say that’s a pretty good sign that these are delicious.

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I also want to quickly discuss something that has been brought to my attention recently. That is soy. A lot of people feel hesitant to become vegan because of the emphasis on soy products – soy milk, soy ice cream, tofu, tempeh, etc. There have been multiple studies that show soy actually can be bad for you, whether that be inhibiting protein intake or increasing estrogen levels. Being a bit of daddy’s girl, I usually go to my dad with such questions, as he is a doctor (general physician if you must know). And his answer was pretty obvious – “Everything in moderation.” He didn’t seem to believe that soy had as terrible effects as some studies show, but a vegan shouldn’t rely on soy products for all protein or other nutrients. Lucky for us vegans we have tons of other ways to get protein – beans, nuts, SPINACH! There are so many ways to go vegan and avoid soy products. Let me know if you have any more questions on the topic! But from now on I will denote if a recipe is soy-free, and I’ll try to incorporate more soy free recipes to make sure every kind of plant based diet is accounted for.

This does tie into today’s recipe, as these scrumptious banana brookies are indeed soy free. And guess what? They’re also oil free, sugar free and fat free. Yay! I would enjoy these with a cup of milk, and they’re perfect for dessert, breakfast, or a snack. For my parents I added in semi sweet chocolate chips but that of course makes them unvegan and a little less healthy. You can always do that or add in vegan chocolate to make them a little more dessert like.

Healthy Banana Brookies (adapted from The Minimalist Baker)

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Ingredients:

2 very ripe bananas

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tbsp cornstarch

2 tbsp water

1 tsp vanilla

2 tbsp maple syrup

2 tbsp agave nectar

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

3/4 cup rolled oats

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Directions:

1. In a large bowl, mash the banana then add baking soda, baking powder, salt, cornstarch, vanilla extract, water, agave nectar, maple syrup and stir with a wooden spoon until well combined.

2. Add in the whole wheat pastry flour and rolled oats and stir. It should be wet and sticky, but if it appears runny, add another 1/4 cup or more of oats.

3. If you want to add in chocolate chips do so now, and stir until just combined. Cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes while preheating oven to 375 degrees.

4. Scoop slightly rounded 1 Tbsp measurements of the batter and drop onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a non-stick silicon baking mat. Space about 1 inch apart, then slightly press down with back of spoon.

5. Bake for 10-11 minutes or until they appear set. You aren’t going for brown edges – you want them moist and just cooked. Let cool slightly on cooling rack and serve warm or at room temperature. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

I apologize for the picture quality. I stupidly baked these around 5:00 in the afternoon on a cloudy day so the natural light sucked. Oh well.

I hope everyone is having a good first week of 2013. Get ready for an upcoming post on fitness and my battle with yoga.

Bon Appetit!

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Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Good Eats

Sorry that it has been a while, but I’m sure Christmas and travelling are adequate excuses for being a little lax. However, as a result from Christmas, new surprises for the blog! My parents are amazing and got me a real camera! No more iPhone pictures that have to be overedited and unfocused. I apologize in advance for the increase in pictures for the next few posts, I can’t help myself. Hopefully you’ll enjoy them as much as I do.

Another gift came from my brother, who got me Veganomicon! It’s basically the ultimate gourmet vegan cookbook that makes elevated vegan cooking easy. Get ready for some recipes to pop up from there…

And finally, my last vegan related gift is another package of Allison’s Gourmet. It included salted chocolate peanut brittle, a foursome of truffles and peppermint chocolate bark. This is where today’s recipe comes in. I had been hoping to make some Christmas cookies to bring up to the family farm where we went for the holiday. Unfortunately, the time between me coming home from school and leaving for the farm left little time to do anything except throw my dirty laundry out of my bag and throw clean clothes in for the trip. But as soon as I got home today I knew what I wanted to do. Make chocolate chip cookies, but with the peppermint bark. So I turned to one of my most trusted blogs, Dreena Burton’s Plant Powered Kitchen, that I follow to make cookies and away I went.

DSCN0010Ingredients (adapted from Plant Powered Kitchen’s Recipe):

1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour

1 tsp baking powder

1⁄2 tsp baking soda

1⁄8 Splenda

1⁄4 tsp sea salt

1⁄3 cup pure maple syrup

1 – 1 1⁄2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1⁄4 cup organic neutral flavored oil

1⁄2 Cup Crushed Peppermint Bark

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C).

2. In a bowl, sift in the flour, baking powder, and baking soda.

3. Add the sugar and salt, and stir until well combined.

4. Add in the maple syrup, vanilla, oil and crushed bark.

5. Stir through until just well combined (do not overmix).

6. Place large spoonfuls of the batter on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and flatten a little.

7. Bake for 11 minutes, until just golden.

8. Let cool on the sheet for no more than 1 minute (again, to prevent drying), then transfer to a cooling rack.

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Makes 8-10 large cookies. And I promptly ate 3 of them. And my mother ate 3. These were amazing, the mint really made them fabulous. They were a little drier than I would have liked so I plan to play around with applesauce added to the batter. If you have any other suggestions for making them more moist let me know!

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What are some of your favorite cookie recipes? I’d love to veganize them. And I’d love some feedback on the pictures! Another huge thanks to my parents for getting me the camera and to my friend Jeff for helping them pick it out and for giving me some photo taking tips.

Don’t think I was the only one to receive a vegan themed present. I got my dad the Vegan Slow Cooker Cookbook 😀 get ready for some recipes from that as well.

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I hope everyone had an amazing holiday, I know I did. I’m so grateful for everything I have received this year and for the family that has supported me every step of the way.

Happy eating!

 

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Almost Home!

The final countdown has begun, with only one full day left before I finally return to New England! You would think this means I have been non stop studying for my finals but of course it means I’m procrastinating by baking. Nothing better than taking a study break to make a microwave corn muffin or a mini pear crisp or a whole pumpkin loaf. However, with only my hardest class left to study for I’m sad to say this will most likely be my last until next week. But I managed to stuff a Use It Up Tuesday and two recipes into this post, hopefully that will keep you happy and full until next time.

First for Use it Up Tuesday I decided to make a miniature pear crisp. My parents had sent me Harry and David care package (thanks again Mom and Dad!) and all that was remaining was a single sad pear. What better way to use an over ripe fruit than in dessert. And now that I’ve finally admitted that oats may be my favorite food of the moment, a crisp was the obvious choice. With a little maple syrup the whole thing came together perfectly. And of course I just had to use up some of my left over dark chocolate too so that got loaded up on top. The end result? A perfect individual pear crisp I was able to bake in my toaster oven.

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Ingredients:

1 very ripe pear

1/2 cup oats (I used just regular Quaker Oats)

1 tablespoon maple syrup

1 tablespoon dark chocolate chips (optional) (make sure they’re vegan!)

Directions:

1. Cut up pear into small slices.

2. Place slices in toaster oven safe bowl, plate, etc.

3. Mix oats and maple syrup then press onto pear until it has filled in all the spaces and has a small layer on top.

4. Bake in toaster oven at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes until the oats are toasted and light brown.

Gooey, warm pear and oats

Gooey, warm pear and oats

Use It Up Tuesday turned into Use it Up Wednesday when I decided to use one of my lingering cans of pumpkin. To celebrate the end of finals for my hard working room mate I made pumpkin bread laced with even more left over dark chocolate. I tweaked a recipe a little to make do with the ingredients I had so the texture wasn’t perfect although it tasted great. And by not having any oil it made it a little healthier!

Vegan Pumpkin Bread with Chocolate Chips

Ingredients:

1 2/3 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 can pumpkin

3/4 cup sugar

3 Tablespoons maple syrup

1/2 cup water

1 chia egg (1 Tablespoon ground chia + 3 Tablespoons water)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Prepare 1 regular sized loaf pan (8.5 X 2.5 X 2) by spraying it with cooking spray.

2. Whisk together ground chia seed with water in a small bowl with a fork and let it sit for a few minutes until an gel like consistency forms.

3. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt). Combine the wet ingredients (pumpkin, sugar, maple syrup, water, and chia egg) in a medium-sized mixing bowl and blend well. Add the liquid mixture to the dry and stir well.

4. Pour batter into the loaf pan and place on the center rack of oven. Bake for 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

5. Allow to cool before removing from pan.

Notes: I used chia seed but you could use any egg replacer. Also I used an entire can of pumpkin even though the original recipe asked for a cup. Although it was a bit mushy it was still delicious. It’s up to you how pumpkiny you want it.

All wrapped up for my room mate

All wrapped up for my room mate

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I hope you all have survived finals thus far. I know I’m struggling but the end is in sight!

Until next time!

Baking Inside the Box

I’m sure it has become apparent to all of you that I love chocolate. Whether you got this idea from my vegan Nutella post or just assumed that because I’m a 19 year old college girl, you’re right. Sadly, obtaining delicious chocolatey treats in college is more difficult than it would seem. I’m not a huge fan of dark chocolate, so those aren’t really an option. I can’t afford expensive baking ingredients needed for true, gourmet vegan baking (nor do Baltimore Giant supermarkets carry many vegan tools). So I come to you today urging you that it is not wrong to not go homemade. I promise that no one will complain that you didn’t make the warm, gooey, peanut butter, chocolate brownies from scratch. This is college. If it’s free, people will eat it. If it’s chocolate, people will love it.

Thus I have gone back to reliable Duncan Hines brownie boxes. And it may surprise you, as it did surprise me, that most of them are vegan! Just check the list to be absolutely sure, but the box i used definitely was. Sub out the eggs for a corn starch replacement, add some of your own love (aka peanut butter), and you have a delicious, crave-worthy treat.

I’ve actually ended up using the boxes twice in the past week or so. Once I actually did make brownies and they turned out great. But of course I had to get creative with them. So the second time I made brownie cupcakes with a peanut butter surprise in the center. Basically I poured brownie batter into muffin tins, put about a teaspoon of peanut butter in the middle of each, and the covered it with more batter.

So. SO. Good.

Below is a picture of just the normal brownies – it doesn’t nearly do them justice (but seeing as I took the picture in a frat house kitchen I hope you will all forgive me).

So once more I urge you – don’t be afraid of the box. We aren’t all master bakers, and we don’t all have unlimited amounts of time. And this is just one more way I want to remind everyone that being vegan doesn’t restrict you. Just check the ingredient list!

Enjoy!

 

Brownies from the Box!