Spoons are essential for eating these decadent, fudgy brownies. I serve them as a dessert, with dollops of kirsch-infused whipped coconut yogurt, which offers the perfect contrast to the rich chocolatiness of the brownies. Equally, whipped coconut cream, soya cream or dairy-free vanilla ice-cream makes a lovely companion.
The cherry compote also adds a little tartness, bringing the whole dessert together, while adding a few ripe cherries, if they're in season, would add some freshness.
Feel free to omit the kirsch if you'd prefer to make an alcohol-free version, although it does add a grown-up twist, and an authentic Black Forest flavour.
2 tbsp milled flaxseed
250g dark vegan chocolate, roughly chopped
½ cup light or coconut oil, or vegan butter, melted
1 cup coconut or soft brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
100g plain, buckwheat or spelt flour
¼ cup raw cacao powder
1½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp sea salt
¾ cup frozen or fresh pitted cherries
For the cherry compote
1 cup frozen or fresh pitted cherries
¼ cup maple syrup, coconut nectar or agave syrup
2 tbsp kirsch (optional)
For the whipped coconut yoghurt
250g coconut yoghurt
1-2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp kirsch (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/Gas 4, and line a small baking dish, about 8 inches square, with greaseproof paper.
2. Pour the flax seeds into a bowl, and make flax eggs by mixing in 6 tbsp of water. Set aside.
3. Place a small bowl over a pan of lightly simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn't touch the water. Add half the chocolate and gently melt, stirring regularly, until fully melted. Remove from the heat and set aside.
4. In a clean bowl, whisk together the oil and sugar until combined (it will look a little like coarse sand).
5. Add the flax eggs and vanilla extract, and whisk again until well combined, then gradually add the melted chocolate, whisking continuously.
6. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cacao powder and baking powder. Add the salt, and stir to combine.
7. Fold the flour into the bowl of wet ingredients, being careful not to overwork the mixture. Finish by folding in the reserved chocolate chunks and ½ cup of the cherries.
8. Pour the brownie batter into your lined baking dish, scatter the remaining cherries on top, and bake for 30-45 mins.
9. Check the brownies after 30 mins – you want a slight wobble to be remaining in the middle, as they'll continue to cook as they cool. If they're still very wobbly, keep cooking and checking every 5 mins until they look done.
10. While the brownies are baking, make your compote. Add all the ingredients to a small pan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook gently, until you have a light syrup around the cherries – about 15 mins should be more than enough. Set aside to cool and thicken a little.
11. Next, pour the yoghurt into a bowl, and whip until light and fluffy, using a free-standing mixer if you have one.
12. Very gradually add the maple syrup and kirsch, if using, whisking continuously, then store in the fridge until ready serve.
13. When the brownies are ready, allow them to cool before cutting into 9-12 squares. If you want to serve them warm, you'll need to use a spoon, as they'll be very gooey!
14. When you're ready to serve, top the brownies with dollops of whipped coconut yoghurt and a little cherry compote, and dust with a little cacao powder or icing sugar, if you like.
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