A 4th of July Picnic Menu: Gluten free Vegan Sorghum Brownie Recipe

Gluten-free Flax seed, Beet puree, and Agave sweetened brownies, from left to right.

This 4th of July I had one goal. I hadn’t had a good brownie since I went dairy, soy and egg-free after Baby Yum was born, and I was determined to make a vegan brownie that would pass a glutenoid taste test and satisfy pesky chocolate cravings. It is easy enough to make a good brownie with butter and eggs and lots of melty, milky chocolate, but how about without those things? How could you compensate for their absence? As I researched, I found that the real sticking point was the absence of egg. Luckily, vegan bakers are extraordinarily creative, and have come up with all kinds of substitutes, including flax seed, applesauce, and even beet puree. Another sticking point was the chocolate of course. I wanted these brownies to be safe for me and my highly soy-sensitive friend (who avoids even soy lecithin), so I had to find safe chocolate for us. I found baking chocolate (melt in the microwave and add agave or other sweetener to taste), Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips, and cocoa powder (Penzey’s) to be my salvation. I knew a vegan brownie that would pass the glutenoid taste test would be a challenge. And when it comes to that, I’m not a huge brownie girl, either, so it would be tough to find one I liked myself. I like fudgey brownies, not cake-like or bread-like brownies. To find the perfect recipe, I decided to make three recipes, adapted from those above. I called the first recipe “F” for flax seed, the second “B” for beet puree, and the third “A” for agave. Note that except for the applesauce recipe, the recipes linked above are not gluten-free, but of course my versions were. Anyway. Then I lined up my testers. You all (may) know my friend JM, who has inspired many allergen-sensitive recipes here on the Book of Yum. She is free of gluten, potato, soy, avocado, and dairy. Her partner in crime, M, is an adventurous glutenoid who has patiently tried many gluten-free experiments over the years at gluten-free potlucks and the like. Then there was me, gluten, soy, corn, potato, etc. free. And finally, there was my glutenoid DH who loves chocolate and has also been the guinea pig for many recipe experiments over the years.

First: the flax seed recipe. I am a recent convert to this egg substitute, so I had high hopes for this recipe. However, I’m afraid I was disappointed. It had a heavy, vegan brownie feel and the DH condemned it as “Tasting gluten-free.” Darn it. Unexpectedly, our tester M chose it as his favorite, perhaps because he likes that type of texture in his brownie and felt it was closer to a traditional brownie. JM and I gave it a resolute thumbs down.

Second: the beet puree recipe. I had a sneaking fondness for this recipe because I liked the novel idea of adding beets to chocolate, AND it had coffee, which just makes me happy. JM said it had an “earthy” aftertaste and M said it was his least favorite. The DH shrugged and said “well, it’s chocolate” and ate it. I might make this recipe again, actually, perhaps with some modifications. The lack of sweet chips (its chocolate was provided by agave sweetened baker’s chocolate and cocoa powder) may have made this less popular than it would have been otherwise. -I liked its deep dark chocolate flavor and earthiness, personally, but it isn’t for milk-chocolate lovers.

Third: the agave sweetened brownie recipe. This was the only recipe that started out gluten-free, but I had to radically change the flours to accommodate our various intolerances. JM, I and the DH all chose this recipe as our favorite, making it a clear winner. It was the only recipe that wasn’t lowfat as it actually contained oil, which might have helped its cause. The texture was also nice, having an appealing fluffy lightness not often found in gluten-free, vegan recipes. It might not have screamed brownie, but that made me like it a little more, and it was sweet (without being too sweet) and nice and chocolate-rich thanks to the generous amount of chocolate chips it called for.

And so, our gluten-free vegan brownie taste off ended with success and an empty box of brownies. Even the brownies that we supposedly didn’t like vanished from our picnic basket. After all, they were all chocolate, and were all pretty tasty, judging aside. Here’s our favorite recipe to share with you, and a few more gluten-free recipes I found online that I would love to try when my diet includes things like nuts and eggs again. Have any favorite gluten-free brownie recipes? Share the link in the comments and I’ll add them to my list!

If you can have nuts and eggs, try Elana’s Almond Butter Brownies
No eggs, and prefer the raw foods approach? Try Elana’s Chocolate Espresso Power Bar Recipe
Eggs are Ok and you want dairy-free dark chocolate? Karina’s Rich Dark Chocolate Brownie Recipe may be the ticket!

Just for fun, here is a pictures of Baby Yum taken on her first 4th of July. We had a lovely family picnic with friends and were all set for her to see the fireworks- but literally minutes before the show began she decided to nurse and didn’t so much as peek at the show as she fell fast asleep mid-snack. Better luck next year. I can’t believe my baby is almost one!

Gluten Free Sorghum Vegan Brownie Recipes
Spectrum Palm Oil Shortening or mini cupcake liners

1/2 cup your favorite oil (I bet coconut oil would be really yummy, but I used canola)

3/4 cup plus 4 tablespoons sorghum flour

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons arrowroot starch

2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Penzeys Dutch)

10 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons agave nectar

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

2 tablespoons vanilla

1/2 cup brewed coffee or espresso (I use decaf)

2 cups dairy-free and soy-free chocolate chips (Enjoy Life)

Special equipment: 2 Mini muffin tins or mini donut molds, although they are a bit delicate for the latter.

Preheat oven to 325. Either line mini muffin tins with mini cupcake liners or baste with shortening.

Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl, mix, and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients. Gently fold in dry ingredients. Fold in chocolate chips.

Fill each mini muffin cup (or mini donut mold etc) with 1 tbsp. batter. Put in oven and bake until a toothpick inserted into
the center comes out clean, 12 to 15 minutes. Place muffin tin on a cooling rack and let cool. Don’t put warm muffins on a plate or moisture may make the bottom soggy.

Gently remove mini muffins or mini donuts (the latter is more challenging) and serve. Yummy!

A light and delicate chocolate feast, winner of our vegan brownie taste-off!

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8 Responses to “A 4th of July Picnic Menu: Gluten free Vegan Sorghum Brownie Recipe”

  1. These all look yummy. I wish I had been one of your taste testers! I made some vegan brownies yesterday with prunes and agave nectar, but I didn’t use nearly enough agave nectar and they mostly tasted like fudgy beans.

  2. Baby Yum is SOOOOO cute! I can’t even believe how big and grown-up she looks! Wow!

    I’ve just discovered the best vegan, gluten-free, allergen-free brownie recipe ever. The brownies it makes are incredibly fudgy and delicious and the many batches I’ve made have been gobbled up by everyone, across the board. It’s from a cookbook on allergen-free baking that I think is worth buying for the brownie recipe alone. Here’s a link to my review: http://inmybox.wordpress.com/2010/06/18/hallelujah-vegan-gluten-free-brownies-at-last/ but I didn’t post the recipe out of respect for the author. I want people to check out her book!

  3. those look yummy! and baby yum is such a cutie.

  4. These look great – love the ‘donut’ brownies!! Sorghum is one of my favorite flours – mmmm

  5. Yum – these look great.

  6. I think this website is wonderful and these brownies look yummy too. I do not believe I have an issue with gluten, but stumbled upon this website when searching for soy-free recipies (as there are a few here). However, for all those who do have a problem with gluten, I found an article regarding a clinical study on the effects of a certain enzyme supplement on digestion of gluten that you all may find interesting. It is located at: http://gut.bmj.com/content/57/1/25.abstract

    God Bless,


  7. Valerie (m.) Says:

    Baby Yum is adorable!!!

    You asked for brownie recipes. Here’s mine. I adore it — though I think any brownie recipe tastes good when spiked with chocolate chips and served cold. :)

    This does contain eggs. I’ve tried it with the flax seed substitution for eggs in the past and it’s come out okay.

    Valerie’s Brownies
    1/2 cup brown rice flour (I like Arrowhead Mills)
    1/3 cup potato starch (I’ve been using Bob’s Red Mill)
    1/2 cup baking cocoa powder (I like Trader Joe’s)
    1 cup sugar (don’t substitute Sucanat in this recipe)
    1/3 teaspoon guar gum or xanthan gum
    2 eggs
    1 teaspoon GF vanilla extract
    1/3 cup oil (eg. canola)
    1 cup GF chocolate chips (I use EnjoyLife)

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    Oil an 8×8 inch pan, then put some brown rice flour in and tap it so that it covers all the oiled parts. Tap out the excess flour into a bowl.

    Add the dry ingredients to the same bowl, and stir thoroughly. Add the wet ingredients and stir thoroughly. Put the mixture into the baking pan and smooth it out with a spatula. Bake for 30 minutes.

    Makes 16 brownies.

  8. The brownies are fabulous! I used coconut oil and in place of agave nectar I used coconut crystals. My daughter is type 1 diabetic and the coconut crystals are better for us. I also used my all purpose gluten free flour blend with sorghum and even with all these changes they turned out wonderful! A staple for sweet treat in our house… thanks!

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