Brownies Approaching Mom’s

Brownies have been the first treat I hunt for at any party’s food table. I’ll eat the chips and hors d’oeuvres first but will grab a brownie or two early to make sure I get mine.

Butterscotch blondies are a fine alternate, and I can take or leave the nuts add-in, but my mom’s chocolate brownies are what I am seeking. She was a conventional home cook. While I have her old cookbooks and index card box, and made their recipes that looked like they’d work, I’ve not found the right one.

Here at last, from just this summer, is the best approximation so far of my tongue and mouthfeel childhood memory. I’ve made slight changes to make them a bit more cakey than fudgy, but the base recipe is a clear chocolate, not overly sweet. The ingredients list and prep steps appear long, but all goes together fast.

This is vegan and with its oil and sugar an occasional treat. Adapted from “Fudgy as F*ck Brownies” from the cookbook Party Grub by Bad Manners (Michelle Davis and Matt Holloway).

  • 3/4 cup plant milk at room temperature
  • 2 Tablespoons egg replacer powder OR ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon or lime juice
  • 1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips OR chocolate baking chips
  • 3 Tablespoons refined coconut oil (solid)
  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 cup flour, any kind (whole wheat preferred)
  • 1/2 cup baking cocoa powder (Dutch-processed OK)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • Powdered sugar (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using an 8-inch or 9-inch square baking pan, cut and fold a piece of parchment paper to fit. Making the parchment width match the inside of the pan but leaving the length a few inches longer allows you to make a hammock or sling to lift out the brownies once baked. Lightly oil the two sides of the pan not covered by the parchment.
  2. In an 8- to 16-ounce measuring cup or bowl, stir together the milk, egg replacer powder (or ground flaxseed) and juice. The powder must be thoroughly dissolved. It will thicken in a few minutes.
  3. Place in a 32-ounce microwave-safe measuring cup or bowl the chocolate chips and both oils. Heat in the microwave 30 seconds, stir, and repeat 30-second heat-stir cycle 1-3 more times until all is melted or nearly so.
  4. In a medium mixing bowl, mix well together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  5. Stir the sugar and vanilla into the oil-chocolate mixture and stir. Add the thickened and soured plant milk mixture into the oil-chocolate-sugar-vanilla mixture and stir very well.
  6. Pour the liquid mix into the bowl of dry ingredients, using a rubber spatula to move all the liquid over. Mix only until nearly all the dry ingredients are moistened. Do not overmix. This makes a very thick batter. Scoop into the prepared baking pan, smoothing it mostly level with the soft spatula.
  7. Place on middle rack in the preheated oven and bake 25 minutes. Test for doneness with a toothpick. The toothpick should be not too dry with only a little brown when withdrawn. The edges of the whole brownie will have pulled a little away from the pan. If dough clings to the toothpick, bake another 5 minutes and retest. It should not take over 40 minutes.
  8. Place the pan on a wire cake rack to cool 10 minutes then, using the parchment paper as a sling, gently lift the brownie and place on the wire rack to cool at least 20 more minutes – a minimum of 30 minutes rest total.
  9. Cuts into 16-20 brownies. Sprinkle with optional powdered (confectioner’s) sugar. Cover leftovers and store at room temperature or refrigerate.


  • Egg replacer powder is found in the baking aisle of natural food stores and, increasingly, major supermarkets. If what you have is whole flaxseed, grind in a coffee or spice grinder.
  • Unrefined coconut oil tastes like coconut; we don’t want that here. Either coconut oil resembles shortening by being solid at room temperature, and we do want that.
  • Vinegar can be substituted for the lemon or lime juice.
  • I suppose 1/2 roughly chopped walnuts could be folded in at step 6, but I haven’t tried that yet.
  • The chocolate chips, with oils, also can be melted conventionally with a double boiler or similar method.
  • The brownies bake faster in a 9×9 baking pan than 8×8 as they’re spread a little thinner. A rectangular baking pan is fine, so hold its square inches to be in the range of these square pans, which here measure between 64 and 81 square inches. I believe metal pans work better here than glass.
  • The Bad Manners cookbook series have a gimmick, exuberant cursing, but the sass is motivational. These are clear well-tested whole-food plant-based recipes.

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