Small-Bite Sundays: July 9, 2017

Small-Bite Sundays

One thing I particularly enjoy about putting together these weekly posts is that they give me the chance to stop and reflect on what I’m reading, rather than finishing an article and moving on.

I say “reading” purposefully — I’ve noticed that I really don’t watch many videos and clips online. I prefer reading partially because I’m a pretty fast reader, whereas sometimes videos aren’t paced to my liking. It seems like more of an investment to stop and watch a video. When I’m reading, I can scan ahead and decide whether a story or article seems worth my time; it’s much harder to do that with a video. So if my posts tend to include videos only sparingly, that’s why!

Small bites: to read

When I think of media outlets that excel at investigative reporting, USA Today isn’t exactly top of mind. But maybe I’ve been doing them an injustice, because this piece on labor abuses in the trucking industry was really eye-opening. It’s a sadly familiar story: Large corporations exploit their employees — in this case, mostly immigrants — by taking advantage of the language barrier and their workers’ desperation for a job. In this case, the truckers sign on to purchase a truck through their companies, with installment payments coming out of their weekly paychecks. At the end of the week, one of the men interviewed for this piece took home just 67 cents. And if they get fired or quit, the workers’ stake in the truck — no matter how many tens of thousands of dollars they’ve contributed — is forfeited. On top of that, managers routinely coerce the drivers into working far more hours than the mandated maximum, after which drivers are required by law to rest. If the drivers say no, they’ll likely be fired… and lose that investment in the truck.

What’s extra disturbing is how many mainstream retailers rely on these companies to transport their goods from the port of Los Angeles to warehouses for further distribution. But because these retailers (Target, Walmart, Home Depot, various clothing brands, and even the usually-ethical Costco) don’t directly employ the shipping companies, instead outsourcing that work to logistics companies, they don’t feel responsible for these labor violations. It’s a grim read, but worth it. (There’s a second installment in the series, but I haven’t read that one yet.)

~

From one of the few fashion bloggers I follow (thanks to her focus on ethical and sustainable fashion), this piece about why she doesn’t cover ethical men’s fashion. In a nutshell, it’s because her husband simply can’t find ethical options that fit him. He’s larger than an XL, and ethical men’s fashion companies just don’t stock those sizes. (Plus, ethical men’s fashion is less common than ethical women’s fashion in general.)

I completely understand why Leah takes this tack; she has no personal frame of reference to review men’s fashion because her husband literally can’t try on or evaluate the existing options. I appreciate that she mentions her own thin privilege in being able to fit into nearly every brand she finds, but I think there’s more to be said about women who can’t find ethical fashion that fits. At the end of the day, most ethical women’s clothing retailers are doing the exact same thing that she’s deriding the men’s brands for doing. We need to push companies to do better.

~

For something lighter, this tongue-in-cheek interpretation of Wisconsin governor Scott Walker’s Instagram feed. I lived in Wisconsin for three and a half years and developed a healthy dislike for this union-busting governor, so I found this piece particularly amusing.

Small bites: to watch

Season two of Aziz Ansari’s Master of None! We’re only three episodes in and so far, so good. This show is consistently enjoyable in so many ways. I loooved the episodes set in Italy in particular. Those shots of the Tuscan countryside made me want to book a flight!

Small bites: to eat

These chimichurri chickpeas from Food52. What a creative way to dress up chickpeas! And the salad recipe would be super easy to veganize — just sub your favorite tofu feta or use a cashew cheese spread. Mmm.

~

Vegan burgersALL THE VEGGIE BURGERS! We’ve been digging the Amy’s quarter pounders lately. With 20 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber in each burger, they’re super filling. (They do have 600 milligrams of sodium each, but you probably won’t need or want more than one!) We made these with the Daiya cheddar slices, but they don’t do much for me. I much prefer Chao. We’ve also been on a sparkling water kick. Spindrift’s grapefruit flavor is my personal favorite. No added sugar, no artificial flavors, just fizzy, fruity, deliciousness.

~

I haven’t made them yet, but Mihl’s vegan brownies look absolutely killer. I’m always there for Mihl’s approach to desserts: Unlike many vegan bloggers, she’s not into healthifying treats that should be, well, treats. So she uses plenty of sugar and regular white flour in most of her dessert recipes. I mean, I like black bean brownies just fine, but sometimes I want to some regular ol’ sugar-laden brownies too, y’know?

~~~

And that’s a wrap. Tonight Steven and I are going to see Neil Gaiman at Wolf Trap, a local indoor/outdoor venue. We bought the tickets today, pretty spontaneously, but I’m excited! I saw him once seven years ago (!) at an incredible weekend event at Wisconsin’s House on the Rock, a tourist attraction that defies description. You should visit, if you ever get the chance.

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Vegan Brownies Galore!

VeganMoFo 2016 graphic

Week Three: Rainbow Week

Today’s prompt is “Goth Day – Blues, purples, blacks? Let your dark side shine.” So because it’s the weekend and I had to get up at 5 am to pick up Steven from the airport and I’m sleepy, I’m going to share a simple roundup of brownie recipes. Brownies: dark and delicious. (Plus, many of these are from MoFos past — it’s like a trip down memory lane!)

Fudgy Black Bean Brownies

First up, these black bean brownies I developed a few years back, when I was sharing nutrient-rich recipes for Vegan MoFo 2014. Although I still think putting beans in dessert is a bit of a precious foodie trend, these were surprisingly fudgy and tasty. Plus, you get 7 grams of protein in each square. Win!

Next, how about the brownie recipe showdown from Vegan Mofo 2011? Yeesh, that was five years ago. The world of vegan baking has evolved pretty substantially since then, with the introduction of new commercial egg substitutes, lots of new plant milks, and the discovery of aquafaba (praise be unto you, bean juice!).

In fact, my current favorite brownie recipe takes advantage of black bean aquafaba and is incredibly rich and delicious — you can find it here. I’ve subbed out other neutral oils in place of the coconut oil to no ill effect. This recipe is particularly great if you want a crackly top. Mmm.

Close-up of a blue plate piled high with three thick, fudgy brownies. They have noticeable bits of raspberry, and there are a few raspberries surrounding them on the plate.

Undeniably fudgy.

Or perhaps you want something with a little fruit. How about Isa Chandra’s raspberry truffle brownies? Somewhere between fudgy and cake-y, these brownies are oil-free as written… but I cheated and used an oil/applesauce blend when I blogged about them during Vegan MoFo 2012.

So… what’s your favorite brownie recipe?

 

Fudgy Black Bean Brownies

LVV MoFo 2014 main

The keen-eyed among you might be noticing a trend in this week’s round of protein-rich eats: two of the three recipes I’ve featured so far have featured beans. Kidney beans and mung beans, to be precise. Today we’ll focus on another bean, a true mainstay of the vegan diet: the humble black bean. A staple of many cuisines, they’re the workhorse of the legume world. And I do mean workhorse. Because not only are black beans the star of many savory dishes, but they work in sweet ones as well.

Like brownies.

Fudgy Black Bean Brownies

Black bean brownies took the healthy-eating blogworld by storm a few years ago, but I never really got into them. It wasn’t a purposeful lack of interest; I wasn’t rebelliously bucking a trend and I didn’t have some idealogical opposition to beany brownies. They just weren’t my thing.

Now, though, maybe they will become my thing. Because I really like these brownies. They offer a potent dose of chocolate without a huge sugar rush or that nasty tummy-ache I get from oily desserts. As long as you don’t go into the experience expecting a super rich, sweet, buttery brownie, they’ll probably hit the spot for you too. And, oh yeah—each square will give you 7 grams of protein, 13% of your daily dose of iron, and 9% of your recommended dose of calcium. Thanks, beans!

Fudgy Black Bean Brownies
Makes 9 brownies

  • 2 T coconut oil
  • Heaping 1/4 C chocolate chips
  • 1/4 C + 2 T coconut sugar (brown sugar would likely work as well)
  • 2 T pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 C black beans (if using canned, be sure to rinse well)
  • 1/2 C full-fat coconut milk (another nondairy milk would likely work just fine)
  • 1/2 C unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 C cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 C chocolate chips

Prepare an 8″ x 8″ square baking pan by lining it with parchment paper or oiling it lightly. Preheat the oven to 350˚.

Combine the coconut oil, chocolate chips (the heaping 1/4 cup), coconut sugar, maple syrup, and vanilla extract in a small pot and heat on low until the chocolate and coconut oil have melted. Stir frequently to ensure that nothing burns. Once everything is melted and combined, turn off the stove and remove the pot from the heated burner.

Add the black beans, coconut milk, and the melted chocolate mixture to a blender and blend until the black beans are pureed. It should only take a few minutes.

Pour the wet mixture into a large bowl, then sift in the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Mix until all ingredients are combined, then add the remaining chocolate chips.

Transfer batter to the baking pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool for at least 15 minutes before cutting.

Fudgy Black Bean Brownies

How do you feel about bean-based desserts? What’s your favorite recipe?

Potluck Photo Phail + Brownie Success!

Orange rectangle with the white fist-shaped Vegan MoFo logo and the text

Well. Yesterday I said I’d have potluck pics to share today, but… well. I don’t. It was partially a failure of nerves on my part that prevented me from whipping out the camera and snapping away, but not totally. There were only eight or nine of us there, and our dishes were spread out on a counter and a side table. They just wouldn’t have made for very enticing photos. I suppose I could’ve photographed my plate, but… well. I didn’t.

I did, however, photograph my contribution before S and I left for the potluck.

Close-up of a blue plate piled high with three thick, fudgy brownies. They have noticeable bits of raspberry, and there are a few raspberries surrounding them on the plate.

Undeniably fudgy.

I made the Raspberry Truffle Brownies from the PPK. They were everything I’d hoped they would be, based on Isa’s enticing introduction and the heaps of praise in the comments. They’re incredibly thick and fudgy and oh-so-rich. And – somehow! – they’re at least somewhat healthier than your average brownie recipe. As written, the recipe contains no oil, just applesauce and raspberry fruit spread. I’ll admit that I replaced just a bit of the applesauce with vegetable oil because I often find oil-free baked goods to be a tad dry and crumbly, and I didn’t want my potluck contribution to disappoint. Next time, though, I’ll trust Isa and go oil-free.

The recipe also calls whole-wheat pastry flour. Another admission here – I replaced some of that flour with unbleached all-purpose. I know, I know. But I’m so wary of dry baked goods!

If you make these, please do take them out when they’re slightly undercooked! They’ll harden up if you don’t, and you don’t want them to be remotely dry. I took them out early, but the edges were still a bit crumbly and the slightest bit dry. No matter, because the middle pieces were perfectly moist and fudgy and soft. After cooling overnight and then spending an hour or two in the fridge, they were ready for me to slice ’em up.

So – we had brownies and S’s slaw at the potluck. Clearly that wasn’t all we ate! Other attendees brought lasagna, macaroni salad, Chickpea Cutlets (from Veganomicon), a creamy cashew-butternut squash soup, and veggies and ranch dip. For dessert, there were two cheesecakes, one plain and one with a blueberry topping. Between those cheesecakes and my brownies, we were all stuffed full of delicious food by the time we left.

Very similar picture to the first, except this one is taken from a slightly higher angle.

One more time.

These brownies are definitely going on my Impress People at Potlucks list! One attendee said that this is the kind of food that makes him want to eat until he’s sick. You and me both, pal.

What’s your go-to potluck contribution?

Recipe Showdown: Brownies!

Orange rectangular banner that says "Vegan MoFo" and "Vegan Month of Food 2011."

This is the first-ever Recipe Showdown, where I’ll pit three recipes for one food item against one another! Up this week: brownies!

Welcome to the great brownie showdown of 2011! As I’ve mentioned before, I’m always on the hunt for the elusive perfect brownie recipe, so I decided to perform a scientifically sound and rigorous test process to find a recipe that is undeniably the best… by which I mean, I pigged out on brownies, shoved them down the throats of everyone around me, and arbitrarily decided if they passed muster. I did have some criteria, however. In my opinion, a perfect brownie must:

  • Have a thin, crackly top layer, like a gift wrapped in chocolaty tissue paper.
  • Have a deep, rich, chocolate flavor, not just a hint of chocolate or a weaksauce milk chocolate flavor.
  • Be fudgy. For the love of tofu, they must be fudgy. Cake-like brownies are the worst. If I want cake, I’ll make some damn cake! I want chewy, dense squares that taste like fudge’s crumbier half-sister.

With those criteria in mind, let’s meet our contenders! First up, we have…

Wolffie’s Moist and Chocolatey Brownies from La Dolce Vegan

I’ll admit that I was dubious about these brownies; I’d tried a Sarah Kramer brownie recipe in the past and found it horribly disappointing; my notes in the cookbook say simply “boring!” What I should’ve done was cross out the titular “brownies” and replace it with “blandies”. But I didn’t want to write off Sarah’s brownie skillz based on one boring recipe, so I gave a second recipe (from a different book!) a shot. The entire package of silken tofu in the ingredient list didn’t exactly assuage my fears, but I gave Sarah the benefit of the doubt and forged ahead.

Photo of a rectangular brownie with chocolate chips on top. It's sitting on a small plate; in the background is a glass of almond milk and more chocolate chips sprinkled around the plate.

In the right corner…

PROS:

  • Definitely moist.
  • Appropriately chocolaty. I cheated and used some Dutch-processed cocoa powder; I couldn’t resist!
  • Not exactly cake-like.

CONS:

  • Not exactly fudgy.
  • Strangely textured – not what I’d expect in a brownie.
  • Chocolate chips just sat on top, unmelted and sad.
  • No crackly skin.

OVERALL GRADE: B

Despite their non-fudgy texture,  these were not bad. My roommate is a cake-like brownie fan, and she thought they hit the mark in that regard. She was also surprised to discover that they contained tofu, so they definitely didn’t have any lingering soy flavor. At first, I found their texture (sort of spongy and dense) a bit off-putting, but it slowly grew on me, and by the time I finished the batch, I’d converted to a grudging fan. I’d consider making these again, but not when I’m craving brownies – just when I want something chocolaty and moist!

Up next, we have…

Rich, Fudgy Vegan Brownies from Food.com

An underdog contestant, this recipe comes from a user named Pollen over at Food.com. I found the recipe by Googling “best vegan brownies,” which led me to this recipe, which had a comment saying “these are pretty good, but the other vegan brownie recipe I have posted is way better!” So I followed the link to the Rich, Fudgy Vegan Brownie recipe and knew I had to try it. They had five stars and purportedly tasted “soooooo good” – what could possibly go wrong?!

Photo of what is allegedly a brownie on a plate but is actually quite obviously cake.

Something is amiss…

PROS:

  • Undeniably chocolaty.
  • Quite tasty.
  • Perfect cakelike crumb. Wait…

CONS:

  • Not brownies.
  • Actually cake.
  • Not fudgy.
  • No crackly skin.
  • Not @%#*$!^ brownies; what else can I say?!

OVERALL GRADE: F-

That picture says it all. This recipe makes a damn fine chocolate cake, but a pan of chocolate cake is NOT THE SAME as a pan of brownies. As soon as I finished mixing the ingredients and saw just how liquidy the batter was, I knew with a sinking feeling that no brownies were going to come out of my oven. It’s partially my fault – for possibly the first time in my life, I read only the first review on the Web site, and didn’t read any subsequent reviews. Had I done so, I would’ve seen a multitude of comments alerting me to the fact that this is a cake recipe, not a brownie recipe. But it’s not all my fault; the recipe poster marketed these as fudgy brownies, which is a bold-faced lie. On no planet (except perhaps Delusionarius Cakeloverus) could these possibly qualify as brownies; even the cake-like brownie-lovers among you can’t deny that. So, for the purposes of my recipe showdown, I just had to give the recipe a failing grade. That said, if you’re looking for an awesome cake recipe, I highly recommend this one – it came out tender and moist, with a perfect crumb. S and I devoured it whilst watching Gosford Park and had a perfectly lovely cake-eating experience.

Finally, I tried…

Joanna Vaught’s All-Time Very Best Vegan Brownie Recipe

That’s quite the title, eh? At this point in my recipe showdown, I was weary of disappointing brownies and wary of overhyped brownie recipes. But then I stumbled across Joanna’s recipe and read her description of her ideal brownie: “When I think of what makes my ideal brownie, two qualities are essential: 1) fudgy, not cakey and 2) that crispy-crunchy top layer. ” Sounds familiar, eh? With renewed enthusiasm, I set out to test Joanna’s bold claim.

A photo of three brownies stacked on a plate; they're obviously fudgy and have a crackly top layer!

Could it be?

PROS:

  • Perfectly fudgy right out of the oven
  • Rich chocolate flavor
  • Crackly top layer

CONS:

  • Slightly too-strong coconut flavor
  • Very crumbly after just one day
  • Difficult to remove from pan

OVERALL GRADE: A

Hallelujah! Finally, a brownie that met all my specifications. Joanna’s boastful title, as it turns out, is a well-deserved one. When I pulled these brownies from the oven, I knew that goodness awaited me beneath their crackly surface. Somehow I restrained myself from prematurely cutting into the pan, but when I did, those first bites were heavenly. I couldn’t resist sneaking piece after piece as I slice them up in preparation for their photo session; they were just so rich and satisfying!

They weren’t perfect, however. I’m generally not opposed to using coconut oil in recipes, but I thought that the coconut undertones were fairly noticeable here, and they detracted slightly from the chocolaty goodness. And they became hard and crumbly quite quickly; maybe I should have wrapped them tightly in foil, but I suspect they’re just meant to be devoured immediately (which is not necessarily a bad thing). Finally, they were quite difficult to remove from the pan; brownie bottom bits kept sticking no matter how delicately I tried to maneuver my spatula beneath them. But this is my fault; I blatantly ignored Joanna’s recommendation to cook them on a layer of aluminum foil for easy removal.

Overall, though, these were the clear winners of this recipe showdown, and their few cons were really minor. So cheers to you, Joanna, for creating such a marvelous recipe!

In other brownie news, the recipe that I tried out here is also pretty solid (probably an A-), so I’d recommend that one along with Joanna’s recipe. And they’re pretty, too!

Photo of three thin, fudgy-looking brownies stacked on a small white plate with decorative brown edges.

Brownie nomz.

Do you have a go-to brownie recipe? What’re your criteria for excellent brownies?

And don’t forget – today’s the last day to enter my giveaway! You have until 7:00 PM CST.

Obligatory Brownie-Baking

A little over a year ago, I tried a brownie recipe that yielded deliciously unhealthy brownies that tasted amazing hot out of the pan, fairly disappointing when cooled, but fantastic straight out of the freezer. Apparently September is the month in which I crave brownies, because yesterday the Chocolate Craving Fairy smacked me on the head with her Chocowand and sprinkled Cocoa Fairy Dust on me, and I had no choice but to bake brownies. No choice.

This time around, I selected this highly rated VegWeb recipe to fulfill my chocolate cravings. Of course, I couldn’t leave well enough alone; I used coconut oil instead of canola oil, whole wheat pastry flour instead of all-purpose flour, and I added a dash of cinnamon to the batter. I also slightly (maybe?) overcooked them – usually I undercook my baked goods, and in an effort to not remove my brownies from the oven prematurely, I think I instead left them in there a tad too long. Oy.

Photo of three thin, fudgy-looking brownies stacked on a small white plate with decorative brown edges.

Brownie nomz.

They look okay, though, right? And for the most part, they are. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that these brownies boast the coveted thin, crunchy top layer that, to me, is the hallmark of a true brownie. No sham of a cake square masquerading as a brownie has that crunchy top! And these are definitely more fudgy than cakey, which is probably my number one requirement in a brownie. They also taste deliciously chocolaty, possibly due to another substitution I nearly forgot – Dutch-processed cocoa for half of the cocoa amount called for in this recipe.

But they’re not perfect. This might be my own fault; the substitutions and the brownies’ extended stay at the Oven Express Inn & Suites might’ve rendered them less than delicious. Their edges are far too crunchy, and the coconut oil lends a very faint coconut flavor that seems slightly out of place and really just detracts from the chocolate. (The Chocolate Craving Fairy just pelted me with cocoa beans for that one.) Judging from the comments on the VegWeb recipe, these should have been freaking amazing. So maybe I should give this recipe another shot. In fact, I think I’ll make the search for a perfect brownie part of my Vegan MoFo 2011 plans. Oh yes, folks, MoFo is back this year, and I’ve got a Google Doc overflowing with ideas. October is going to be bangin’ – stay tuned for recipe comparisons, veganized childhood favorites, and a pre-MoFo giveaway!

Are you participating in MoFo this year? Do you have a theme? And do you have an awesome brownie recipe I should try?

Food Fail: Not-So-Decadent Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies

Man, I am so disappointed. All day long I was thinking up something yummy I could bake and then share with you guys as part of my triumphant re-entry into the world of the living/MoFo. I toyed with lots of ideas, most of them involving crushed candy canes, chocolate, and suuugarrrrr, but then I decided to stick with a more autumnal theme and bake up some Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies. Mmhmm. It was gonna be fantastic; I envisioned a pumpkin, tofu, and Tofutti mixture swirled into chewy, dense, chocolaty brownies, creating a decadent, beautiful treat.

Well. As they say, the best laid plans of mice and vegan bakers often go awry. When I set out to create my cheesecake mixture, I discovered that both my pumpkin AND my tofu were sporting attractive moldy fur. Apparently they’d been in the fridge much longer than I’d remembered… I guess that’s what happens when you don’t think about anything but work for a couple of weeks! Being the pumpkin-lover that I am, I did have another can in the pantry, so I just forwent the tofu and used pumpkin, Tofutti, agave, and a spice blend for the cheesecake mixture. Whatever; that was manageable, and then the brownies came together as smoothly as decidedly non-vegan silk. Because I don’t have a go-to brownie recipe yet, I decided to try out the Decadent Brownies from The Garden of Vegan, and after an hour or so in the kitchen and in the oven (the brownies, not me), I pulled this out:

Looks delicious, but...

Not too bad, right? Maybe a little cake-y, but I thought I could live with that. When I cut a square and took a bite, I was hopeful; I was sanguine that the flavor would make up for the sad lack of fudginess. Oh, how wrong was I.

Have you ever heard the saying “beautiful on the outside; boring on the inside?” Yeah, neither have I; I just made it up to describe these sad little squares of boringness. They look pretty, but that’s about all they have going for them! These are, quite literally, the least decadent brownies I’ve ever had the misfortune to taste. They don’t even taste like chocolate, for crying out loud! They’re just puffy squares of flavorless cakiness. Somehow, though, their lack of flavor overpowers the pumpkin cheesecake flavor! How absurd! The pumpkin cheesecake mixture tasted really yummy pre-baking; I know because I sampled it not a few times. But in the brownies it just gets lost in a sad mix of blaaaaah-flavored nothingness, whatever that even means.

...looks can be deceiving.

Gosh, I ‘m so disappointed. I don’t even want to look at these stupid little dudes because they make me sad and angry. SIGH. I mean, okay, maybe it was my fault for using the Trader Joe’s brand of cocoa powder, and maybe I should’ve ignored the fact that the recipe called for olive oil and just used vegetable oil instead, but still. Ugh, I can’t even think about it anymore. Please, tell me something wonderful and cheery and puppies-and-rainbows happy!

Chocolate Overload?!

My last post focused on fresh, local, organic, simple, and healthy produce, the kind of food that makes you feel nothin’ but wonderful after finishing a meal. My body craves whole foods; I feel my absolute best after eating a nutrient-rich meal that’s abundant with veggies, veggies, and more veggies. I know this to be true; my body and I have been pals for 23 years now, and I understand what she likes and what keeps her going strong.

And yet.

And yet, once in a while I crave something that is in no way, shape, or form whole. I crave something rich and decadent and – let’s face it – unabashedly unhealthy. Being the chocolate lover I am, more often than not this craving manifests in a lusty desire for some sweet, rich, dark chocolaty treat. Like, perhaps, brownies, possibly the oddest named dessert when you really think about it. So you say brownies, and I’ll say “fudgy, dense, craving-fulfilling squares of delight.” Or maybe “chunks o’ heaven.” ‘Cause that one’s really elegant, y’know?

Anyway, when my craving for fudgy-squares-of-heaven struck about a month or so ago, I turned to my modern-day, lazy-girl equivalent of a recipe file: a Pages document called “Crap I Want To Make,” my repository for links to recipes that catch my fancy. A quick search revealed a promisingly-titled – and appropriately unhealthy – recipe for “The Best Vegan Brownies Ever.” Oh baby.

Retro brownie?

Now, here’s the thing about these brownies. Although you mightn’t be able to tell from that photo, they *looked* a little strange, sort of flat and sandy. But right out of the pan, they satisfied the exact desire I had set out to fulfill – I wanted to recreate that feeling of intense chocolate satisfaction I used to get as a child when my mom made brownies and I ate a piping hot square right out of the oven and was overwhelmed with waves of chocolate bliss. And, dear reader, I felt that joy once more. Unfortunately, it was followed by the aftermath – a heavy, rather disgusting feeling in my stomach, a vague urge to vomit, and the solemn vow that I’d never, ever, ever do that again! …the same set of feelings, of course, I’d experienced every.single.time. I ate brownies as a child. Chocolate overload for the lose!

When I finally recovered from my chocolate coma the next day and tentatively tried a small bite of another brownie, I have to admit that I was disappointed. Once they’d cooled, the magic seemed to disappear – they were chewy and dense, but oddly unsatisfying. Disappointed, I threw the remainders in a container and popped them in the freezer, shoring up for days of a chocolate dearth. And then I promptly forgot about them.

Until a couple of weeks ago when I rediscovered the brownies in my freezer as I rooted around for a snack. With a little trepidation – given the disappointment with my last encounter – I tried a bite of the still mostly-frozen treat. And – by God! – it was magical again! The frozen brownies are ridiculously delicious, chewy and intense and the absolute perfect summertime treat. I’ve savored one every week or so, and now – sadly – there’s only a solitary square left in my freezer. Ah well – so it goes.

Any favorite brownie recipes out there? I think I’ll go for one of those trendy black bean varieties next, because Lord knows I’ve fulfilled my cHoCoLaTe OvErLoAd!1!!!11! quota for at least another month or two, and I could go for a healthier brownie variety until I (inevitably) crave that painfully pleasurable experience yet again. :)