Sea Salt and Caramelised Almond Brownies (Vegan/GF)

Chocolate

Eggs and flour have been hard to come by since the UK entered the lockdown zone, so I’ve been working on a few bakes free from both. I thought brownies would be a good place to start and after a few variations, I decided that this caramelised almond version was far superior to any others I’d tried (and actually one of the best brownies I’ve made, regardless of ingredients). If you don’t like almonds this will be a bit of a non-starter as I’ve used almond butter in place of dairy, ground almonds in place of flour and flaked caramelised almonds as a crispy, almost florentine-esque topping, otherwise please do try; they’re moist (sorry) and incredibly moreish.

Ingredients (makes 12-16 brownies in a roughly 9×9 inch tin)

Caramelised almonds (you can omit these if you like, although I think the texture contrast and salt/nutty flavour is delicious!)

  • 75g flaked almonds (or any other nuts you like)
  • 75g caster sugar
  • generous pinch sea salt

Brownie batter

  • 3tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 250g dark chocolate
  • 170g almond butter (or your favourite nut butter, or tahini)
  • 50g vegan margarine/butter
  • 120ml aquafaba (the water from a can of chickpeas)
  • 100g light brown soft sugar
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 100g ground almonds (or blitz up 100g oats into a flour)
  • generous pinch sea salt
  • An additional 100g dark chocolate, roughly chopped (optional- I like adding chocolate chunks to brownies as I don’t understand the concept of too much chocolate, but you can leave this out if you’d rather)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170c. Grease and line a 9×9 brownie tin.
  2. Start by making the almond brittle. To do this place a piece of baking paper on a heatproof work top or baking tray. Put the sugar in a small saucepan and allow it to melt, swirling the pan occasionally until the sugar has completely dissolved. Once the caramel reaches a golden colour, stir through the flaked almonds and salt, then tip onto the paper and spread out into as thin a layer as you can. Leave to set hard while you make the batter.
  3. Put the flaxseed in a small bowl with 5tbsp water. Stir and set aside. Put the chocolate, almond butter and vegan butter in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of gently simmering water (don’t let the base of the bowl touch the water). Let the ingredients melt together, stirring occasionally.
  4. Meanwhile, place the aquafaba in the bowl of a stand mixer with whisk attachment (or use an electric whisk and large mixing bowl). Whisk the aquafaba until stiff peaks form (about 10-15 minutes). By this point the chocolate mix will be glossy and smooth- set aside to cool.
  5. Now add the sugars and flax mix to the aquafaba and whisk to create a glossier texture (about 2-3 minutes). Scrape the cooled chocolate mixture into the aquafaba and briefly whisk again until it’s combined, then fold the ground almonds and salt in with a large metal spoon.
  6. Spoon half the batter into the prepared tin then scatter over half of the roughly chopped chocolate (if using). Now add the remaining batter and level off. Break up the almond brittle into uneven pieces and scatter all over the top of the brownie along with the remaining chocolate. Bake for 35-40 minutes (longer than a regular brownie) or until there is just a slight wobble left in the middle. Once baked, leave to cool completely in the tin before slicing up and serving.