Secret Ingredient Vegan Brownies

Secret Ingredient Vegan Brownies

Secret Ingredient Vegan Brownies

 

When I am at a loss for what to make, looking through my pantry is the easiest source of inspiration. I simply go through the various cupboards searching for an ingredient I have an abundance of. So I was browsing around in the fridge for some kind of ingredient, which is when it struck me. As a precaution, I will not tell you the secret ingredient before I spam your face with some photographs of this deliciousness.

 

Secret Ingredient Vegan Brownies

Secret Ingredient Vegan Brownies

Secret Ingredient Vegan Brownies

Secret Ingredient Vegan Brownies

 

Ok, the secret ingredient is… 

*drum-roll*

Cauliflower.

 

Secret Ingredient Vegan Brownies

Secret Ingredient Vegan Brownies

 

Ok, I know what you are thinking. “Gross! Who the heck puts cauliflower in a brownie?”.

Well I do because I am weird. After my success with the Black Bean Brownies I figured using cauliflower would not be too crazy. Trust me when I say, you would never guess that it had cauliflower in it. Pinky promise. And the brownies are only sweetened using dates, making this incredibly nutritious and healthy as well. Considering the fact that I nailed the recipe on the first try, I would say it was pretty darn successful. Or I could say it was a piece of cake!

Hahahahaha.

Sorry, I will go away now…

 

Secret Ingredient Vegan Brownies

 

Secret Ingredient Brownies

makes 15-20 squares

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups chopped, cooked and cooled cauliflower
  • 3 cups dates, pitted
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened plant-based milk
  • 1/2 cup certified gluten-free oat flour
  • 1/2 cup high-quality unsweetened cacao powder
  • 4 tbsp all-natural peanut butter *
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1/2 tsp maldon salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder

Optional add-in:

  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup sugar-free vegan dark chocolate chips

 

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees Celsius/350 degrees Fahrenheit. Start by processing the cooked cauliflower in a food processor until completely smooth. Add in the milk, dates, vanilla and nut butter as well and continue processing until you have a creamy paste.

 

Secret Ingredient Vegan Brownies

 

2. Stir together the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Add the dry ingredients in the food processor with the other ingredients and run for about 1 minute or so. Scoop this into a bowl and optionally stir in the chopped chocolate and walnuts.

 

Secret Ingredient Vegan Brownies

3. Spread the batter relatively thin in a medium-sized pan lined with parchment. Cook the brownies for about 1 1/2 hours, or until the top has started to form some cracks and a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool at least 15 minutes, preferably wait until completely cool, before trying to cut.

 

Secret Ingredient Vegan Brownies

Secret Ingredient Vegan Brownies

 

Additional notes (*):

  • You can substitute the peanut butter for whatever kind of nut butter you wish. My second choices would be almond or cashew. If you wish for this recipe to be entirely tree nut-free you can use homemade coconut butter instead.

 

You have kind of two options when serving these. If you like them to me gooey and moist, serve them after they have cooled at room temperature. The addition of chocolate chips is highly recommended since it adds richness and makes it taste more like an authentic brownie, but you can get away with skipping it. If you are like me and prefer them to be more on the chewy side, opt for leaving them in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours (ideally over-night) before serving. You can therefore obviously make these a day in advance if you want!

 

Comments

  1. Tanya Ebach says

    I love your site so much! Thanks for sharing and never go away again! :)
    Do you come up with the recipes completely on your own or do you make amendments to existing recipes? I’m just curious. You’re a genius either way!

  2. says

    I wouldn’t never have guessed cauliflower but I believe you when you say it’s good. Recently I’ve made a dark chocolate cake with eggplants and they came out so rich! Eager to try out a cauliflower version!

  3. Kristina says

    Curious if you use fresh or dried dates. I find it easier to find fresh in Sweden but would usually use dried back in Canada.

  4. Rach_the_vego says

    Very intriguing…Cauli is in season here – we had a version of cauli and cheese tonight which went down a treat (have made a vegan version of that before), so it’s quite cheap….excellent timing…..going to have to try it out once I go vege shopping on Friday.

      • Rach_the_vego says

        Got the cauli today so going to have a crack this week. Just curious if the cauli is measured as 3 cups before it is cooked (eg 3 cups of florettes) or after it is cooked and mushed up?

        • Rach_the_vego says

          Just got these out the oven. Covered at about an hour as top starting to burn. I think they should still be ok. Kids liked eating the mixture when I was cleaning up so I think even if this batch don’t work I will make them some raw as a dessert!! :D

      • Rachel says

        Ok. Not too bad. I liked the consistency (cooled in fridge) but a little weird tasting (could taste the cauliflower more than I expected). One of the kids liked and the other didn’t although as I said they both liked the mixture before it was cooked, husband not too fussed about the baked result. Taking the rest to work to see if people go them there – won’t tell them what is in them. I think if I make this again I would use sweet potato instead of cauli…..rather save the cauli for savoury things…..I realy like cauliflower soup / cauliflower “cheese” and cauliflower curry etc.

  5. Iiris says

    Hi! I’m a vegetarian from Finland and interested in sugar and wheat free baking. But since I am just a beginner, I would like to ask if I can replace the oat flour with low-fat almond meal? Last time I baked just with almond flour, income was flat and not fluffy at all.

    • says

      Hiya there! Almond flour is a great gluten-free flour, however I would not recommend it for this recipe. You can perhaps try using rice or buckwheat flour instead, but this might leave a more dense result. May I ask why you do not wish to use oat flour? If it is difficult for you to get your hands on it, just grind up regular rolled oats in a food processor (or high-speed blender) until you have a fine flour!

      • IirisS says

        Well, there are always some rolled oats in our kitchen cabinet (i can’t say that about almond flour, kinda hard to get that stuff here) Oat is also much cheaper option to almond flour. But why I am, interested in using almond, is because of its high contents of protein and fibre (plus a nice nutty taste). Of course oat is real nordic superfood too, but I just bought a bag of almond meal and want to use it (:

  6. says

    HI Solveig,
    We only have cauliflower where I am during the winter (I live in the sub-tropics) and so I use sweet potatoes instead. But in wintertime, if I can grow some, I’m anxious to try the cauliflower.

    I don’t like cakey brownies and these look gooey enough for me!

    • says

      Luckily the winter months are coming soon then! I hope you enjoy it once you try it out. So many people on Instagram thought the secret ingredient were potato, I might actually try out making a brownie recipe using that ;)

  7. says

    Eager to try the cauliflower. Have made the black bean, beet, sauer kraut (cut fine like coconut)) potato, nothing better than getting our veggies as dessert.

  8. Sarah says

    What a clever way to get a super nutritious veggie in! Your blog is so inspiring. Everything I’ve tried from your site has not only been the best gluten free recipe I’ve tried, but frequently the best “healthy” version period!

  9. Adriana says

    OMG!! This looks awesome, never guess! Thanks so much again for sharing with us. I’m learning a lot with your recipies :)

  10. Kara says

    Not only do you gift awesome, healthy recipes for folks (thank you) but your writing style is quite impressive too.
    I really enjoy your blog!

  11. jenn menezes says

    new to your blog but I have become an avid reader. could recommend a food processor that you utilize the most in your recipes. thanks jenn

  12. says

    I made a cauliflower cake the other day and it was delicious! You are not weird at all because that would make me weird too and I’m not (ha! that’s what I think), it makes sense to eat your veggies in all the ways humanly possible! That being said I’m baking this brownies tonight! Great recipe as always :)

    • says

      I am so glad to hear you decided to give this a shot. I hope you enjoy it and be sure to let me know what you thought! Cauliflower is so versatile and definitely my new favorite vegetable. I’m already working on lots of other ways to dress it up, haha! :)

  13. says

    Hi Solveig, I’m new to your blog, and have been going crazy over your recipes. I do have a question. In my tiny town it is very hard to find dates. And you use a lot of dates in your recipes! Is there anything (besides bananas, I’m allergic) that you have ever tried besides dates? I’m assuming you use dates for their sweetness and their consistency. They probably help substitute things like butter or eggs, right? Anyway, thank you in advance for any help you can give.

    • says

      Hi there! I am so happy to hear you’ve been enjoying the site. If you cannot get your hands on dates, try using raisins! As long as you have a good food processor (or blender) that can properly puree them, it will work perfectly. Another option is prunes, however they will leave a slightly bitter after-taste. Best wishes ;)

  14. says

    Solveig, thank you for your inspiring blog, your creative recipes (including this crazy one I’m going to have to try asap), and for helping to make the world a better place!

  15. Jolene says

    I just made this, but unfortunately it didn’t turn out good :(
    The mixture tasted yum before it went in oven so thought I was onto a winner! After forty minutes in oven I took out as top cracked and it was burnt on top. Not cooked in middle and burnt underneath. Just put back in oven to try cook more as middle was still raw!! Have you made this a few times?

    • says

      Oh, I am so sorry to hear that! Yup, I’ve made it three times the past week actually. Did you use a fan setting on the oven? That could be the reason why the top got burnt! I always have to cook it between 80-90 minutes before it is finished, and even then the middle will be somewhat gooey. It firms up massively once it has cooled completely, which is necessary before you try to cut it. From what you’ve described, it sounds like you’ve either had too high heat on the oven or used a fan setting :/ Perhaps your oven just runs a little hotter? Try lowering the heat (or maybe even add 1/4 cup more oat flour) if you decide to give it another shot!

  16. Iiris says

    Hi again, i just have to tell u that i tried these! Baked them last night, let them cool overnight and ate them for breakfast with some blueberry ice cream (just frozen bananas, blueberries, soy yogurt and some fresh lemon balm). haha, brownies and ice cream for breakfast, can that be healthy? – yep!

    Very lovely recipe, the texture was amazing! Especially my mom loved these, she’s eating them right now.. There’s soon nothing left.

    I used homemade almond butter instead of peanut butter. It was my first time I made it myself, and oh my gosh i was sooo amazed! Couldn’t believe my eyes when the almond crumbles turned into butter. And I feel so cheated: I have never bought nut butters before (except tahini and peanut) because of their price. C’mon, almost 10 euros for a 150 grams? That’s insane, especially now that I know how easy they are to make at home. The first jar is empty already, i have no other option but to make another hit tonight. Sooooo good.

    Thank you Solveig for your inspiring recipes and sorry for this too long comment !

    • says

      Yay, I am so happy to hear you liked it! Thank you so much for letting me know. Haha, brownies and ice cream sounds like my kind of breakfast ;)

      Oh and I totally agree on what you said about nut butters. They are crazy expensive here in Norway, almost four times the price of nuts. Knowing how to make your own was a financial lifesaver for me. I also have a tendency to eat them up really quickly though! Almond butter and apple slices will be the death of me.

      Again thank you so much for the lovely message, and best wishes to you!

  17. says

    Cauliflower huh? Hmmm… I think I’m more intrigued than turned off by the idea of trying to make brownies out of it. So I suppose I’ll give it a shot. These sound like a pretty healthy alternative to the brownies normally made – I like how they are only date sweetened =)

  18. Brody says

    This is amazing, I have made it twice, the first time I did half your recipe and the second we had to make the full recipe, we now have them in our fridge for grab and go but prob won’t last long. Thanks

  19. says

    Hi again :-)
    Tried this receipe last weekend – and it didnt turn out good. It looked and tasted good before I baked it but it came out all gooey. I didnt let it cool down, cut it right after I took it out of the oven, because my husband wanted to taste it. :-)
    But he didnt really like it, he said he tasted the cauliflower too much, I tasted it too but it didnt bother me – is there a way to make the cauliflower less recognizable?

    But the biggest problem was that even after 90mins in the oven it didnt firm up, it only had a crust.
    Also – to give it a try I only took half of your measurments and I had to sub the butter because I was all out, so I used 1 TBSP olive oil (too much for half the measurments?)

    The dough was a good consistency (or so it seems) and tasted good before I put it in the oven, but after taking it out it still pretty much was the same consistency as before (other than the mentioned crust). :-)

    I had it in a ceramic/pottery dish, initially I thought it was too thick so the heat in the oven wasn’t transfered all the way to the middle of the dough?!

    I really would like to give it another try (without telling my husband of the cauliflower before LOL) can you give me any tips to make it work this time?

    Thanks Michaela

    • says

      Hi there!

      I am so sorry to hear it didn’t work. Right off the bat I can tell you that I think the biggest mistake was not letting it cool. It has to be completely chilled before you even try cutting it!! It firms up remarkably once it has cooled properly. Also, I liked the consistency best after I had let them sit in the fridge over-night.

      Oh and I am sorry to say I have no idea about substituting the nut butter for oil, since it is one of the few ingredients I never use.. To be guaranteed the best result, I recommend you stick to the ingredients listed above! Same goes with the taste. I served these to at a party and no-one could taste the cauliflower, so I am not quite sure what could be the reason it did not work for you. Maybe the trick is just not letting him know it has cauliflower in it? ;)

      I hope everything works out better this time. Best wishes to you :)

      • Michaela says

        Thanks for your help! Will give it another try once I’m back from vacation. :-) … and will do my best to let it cool down and follow your other tips. :-)
        PS: Read yesterday that you can sub butter with banana … so should I ever run out of butter again, will rather try that. Thanks again!

  20. says

    Flott matblogg må jeg si! Morsomt med blomkål i oppskriften, liker virkelig når mer nordiske råvarer brukes :) Har akkurat begynt å lage blomkålpannekaker selv. Er det noe jeg kan bruke i stedet for dadler tror du? Bruker helst ikke dadler pga den høye GI’en og for tennenes skyld…

    • says

      Haha, ja det er jo fryktelig lett å få tak i blomkål her oppe i nord! Du kan alltids prøve å bruke rosiner, men kun om du har en god nok food prosessor. Da er du helt forsikret på at det ikke blir noen biter! :)

  21. Iris says

    I loved loved loved making these, smelling them cook in the oven, but the best part was eating them! My boyfriend hates cauliflower, so I just gave them to him as a desert and the first thing he said was: “This tastes amazing!” Haha. So yay, thank you for a cauliflower recipe he actually likes!
    And I loved them too, great recipe!

  22. Gary says

    Whoa! I’m not even vegan but trying to eat healthfully and with no added sugar– I never need another non-cauliflower brownie as long as I live! Great recipe, and I can’t wait to try your others! Cheers, Gary in Caulifornia

  23. Shweta says

    I am so glad I stumbled on your blog. I have already made a few recipes like oreos, samosa and vegan crackers. Everybody in my family loved all those recipes. I did make a few changes. I added 1/2 banana in oreos instead of nut butter. I think adding too many nuts and dates makes the recipe extremely calorie dense so I like to either use bananas or applesauce to counter that. But overall I am really impressed by your efforts in writing such a comprehensive blog with wonderful recipes. Thanks!

  24. keeley uzzell says

    Hey, if i was to substitute the cauliflower for sweet potato, would I use the same amount do you think?
    Thanks,
    Keeley

  25. Gary says

    Hey Vegan Girl- I made a double batch and it came out great! But my sister’s family commented that they couldn’t taste the chocolate… They said that the unsweetened cocoa”just isn’t the same” but I can’t quite see what they’re saying. I love this recipe and can never imagine me having the sugar or butter in regular brownies ever again… Cheers, Gary

  26. Emma says

    Hi there, I’m very keen to try these and I just wondered if I could sub some of the dates with apple sauce or banana or anything?

    Thanks :)

  27. keeley uzzell says

    These were amazing! My boyfriend mentioned that he would like me to add some of his protein powder into the next batch but want to keep the same consistancy. Any suggestions?
    Thanks.

  28. Melissa says

    Hey, these look great! Do you recommend storing them in the fridge? Also, would an 8×8 inch pan be ok for this amount? Thanks!

  29. says

    Hi Solveig,

    This week I made your “Secret Ingredient Brownies.” I was worried from some of the comments that the cauliflower taste would be too strong.

    My daughter (she’s 23) loves dates but thinks the calories are much too high, so I substituted using 1/2 cup of dates and added 1/2 cup unrefined cane sugar. I had to use an entire head of cauliflower to get the 3 cups worth — I had no idea it took that much of the vegetable. I used the amount of chocolate you recommended but added 2 tablespoons more, as it seemed like maybe I had a little more than required cauliflower. I also did not have any oat flour, so I used just whole wheat flour. (Our version was not gluten free.)

    I noticed you did not have a time listed for how long to bake it, so I just put it into the oven and waited until it pulled from the sides of the pan, and was firm to the touch in the middle. I did notice that putting in a toothpick to check made it pull out with the wet ingredients. However, knowing you had recommended refrigerating it, I took it out anyway and let it cool.

    After cooling, my daughter and I ate two large pieces! The cauliflower taste (not much, but we were probably aware of it only because we knew it was there) was small. I also sprinkled a tablespoon of half and half cocoa powder and unrefined sugar over the top of the cake.

    THEN, the best part was we kept it in the refrigerator and on the 3rd day it was lovely! I think it took longer than I had thought for the chocolate flavor to be absorbed into the cauliflower and the moisture of the cauliflower to dissipate. It had a wonderfully smooth texture, an amazing mousse filling, and a very thin layer of “cake” on the top and bottom. Now that I am getting the hang of it, I am definitely using it for potlucks, and special events! :D

    My tip to those who let it cook too long, or felt it tasted too much like cauliflower is to follow Solveig’s instructions and let it cool and set first. You’re right, overnight is much better, and on the next day — it was like a gourmet dessert you’d find in a restaurant!!

    I now call it a “chocolate mousse cake.” It was delicious!!!! :D :D :D

    I am looking forward to trying more of your recipes!! Thank you so much for your hard work and clear explanations!! What a terrific recipe this is!! :D

    Sharon Tenney
    Santa Cruz, California

  30. says

    these are great! I love when vegies are added to sweets, it makes me feel super healthy when I’m eating them. The fact that there are chocolate brownies that are healthy makes me all excited. Yay!

  31. keeley uzzell says

    I make these all the time, always add nuts, seeds, cinnamon & a bit of chococlate. They are amazing! You can’t taste the cauliflower at all.

  32. Rebekka says

    Hei! Jeg lagde denne for en uke siden, og resultatet ble veldig bra! Den smakte veldig godt, og den fikk mer og mer smak for hver dag! En liten feilkilde var at jeg hadde dadler med stener.. Elsker oppskriftene dine :):)

  33. Gio says

    I made this recepie and it was a huge success, my 17 year old son basically left my husband and I 5 cookies out of the whole batch!

  34. marine says

    hi there :) i’ve been wanting to try these for some time but can i substitute the dates for something else, like bananas? i don’t like the taste of raisins or prunes so i was wondering what else can i put in! thanks in advance, dear!

  35. Janice Circo-Randazzo says

    I can’t wait to try the brownies. I will send the recipe to my daughter for my granddaughter who is vegan.
    JCR from Long Island New York USA.

  36. says

    I tried making these but they didn’t taste great, the only thing I changed was leaving out the dates because I don’t like them …..

    • says

      The dates are there for sweetness as well as texture… Without them you basically just have a lump of cauliflower and cacao powder. They are essential! You do not have to worry about the taste of dates, it will be completely neutralised by the other ingredients.

  37. Bre says

    Thank you for your website!! I’ve been on a very restricted diet because my daughter has severe food allergies and I am nursing her…I’ve loved trying your recipes!

    What brand of sugar-free vegan chocolate chips do you use? I haven’t been able to find any that have no sugar and no dairy. Thanks!

  38. Suvi says

    Hi!
    sounds delicious! + healthy!! yey :)
    do you think it would work if i replace the dates for honey? :)

  39. Gary in California says

    I made these for the 6th or 7th time, this time a double batch (6 cups cauliflower)… and they are just awesome! I cannot reiterate enough THESE ARE AWESOME. After 19 months now of a low-sugar diet, I have mostly been eating fruit for dessert to help calm down my ‘sweet tooth’. Once in a while I bake these vegan cauliflower brownies and I AM IN HEAVEN… I try to share with my family and friends (who still do eat regular cake, ice cream etc) and they say “hey that’s a great idea” but I still think they can’t truly appreciate this recipe as much as I have since I have eliminated added sugar from my diet completely… I look forward to finding more super cool sugarless sweet treats here, THANK YOU SOLVEIG! cheers, Gary in California

  40. says

    Hi :-)

    That looks amazing, and the cauliflower is such a great idea for making them lighter! I was looking for your dinner roll recipe that I found a while ago and I’m glad I did, great recipes!

    Greetings from Belgium

  41. Lyonrose says

    It’s in the oven ;) I’ve done few lots of your chocolate chips muffins but I love the idea of cauliflower as it will make it lighter ;) Since I became vegan, I’ve been craving more sweet tastes but I’m really not up to teach my body to sugar in my early thirties. That’s why I love the idea of dates. My body doesn’t mind them in cooked form at all!
    Love your site, keep recipes coming!
    :) Lada from England

  42. A Krogh says

    Hi
    I just wanted to ask if you are not a fan of dates in the brownies recipe, do you have any tips for a replacement?
    Regards
    Ann-Margrete

If you have any questions, feedback, or just want to say hi, leave it in the comment section below and I will get back to you as soon as time allows!