Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Writing Better Recipes (for you)

It's that time again...Potluck Time!
On Tuesdays Forbes and I attend a church small group.  The other families in our group are also vegan, or partially vegan so we enjoy a potluck dinner together once a week.  Tuesdays are usually my favorite day of the week for this very reason.

This week I let Forbes choose our potluck meal out of the Peas and Thank You Cookbook.  No surprise he went for the manly choice, "Pea Daddy's Jambalaya."
This dish utilized Tofurky sausages and red quinoa as a twist on the N'awlins classic.  We changed the original recipe a bit, adding okra to the mix and baking the whole dish for about 20 minutes to keep warm before the potluck.

At the last minute I decided to throw together a batch of brownies since we were celebrating Ben's birthday.
As a vegan, "throwing together a batch of brownies" isn't as easy as it sounds.  You have to account for eggs and butter.  I have had my share of really awful vegan brownies, and this is actually the first that I would recommend.  I found inspiration from several different recipes, and in the end came up with my very own that utilized the ingredients I had on hand.

During the Healthy Living Summit I attended a workshop on writing better recipes.  It turns out I have been missing some very important pieces to recipe writing:

  1. title (even if the title of the recipe is the title of your post)
  2. ingredient list
  3. instructions
  4. headnote + tips
  5. yield
  6. prep + cook times
Now which of those 6 have I been leaving out?  Oh yes, prep and cook times as well as the yield and a headnote (description) and any tips I may have.  Boy have you been suffering! 

Stepfanie Romine also gave us several other tips in her presentation: Keep ingredient lists short and put them in order of when they are used, do not add photos between steps, offer alternatives for cooking gadgets that others may not own, include a printer-friendly version and spell out abbreviations (teaspoon and tablespoon). 

Well, here is my first attempt at an improved recipe.  You will have to be the judge.  Tell me how I did!  And if you decide to make these, leave a comment and let me know how they turned out!

Vegan Brownies
makes 12 brownies (or 9 large ones!)

This brownie recipe is hands down the best vegan brownie I have tasted.  It pulls together all the elements of a perfect brownie: a cake-like texture that turns to fudge in your mouth, dark and rich chocolatey flavor and a little bit of crunch from the vegan chocolate chips.  

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes


1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup organic sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup applesauce
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup hot coffee
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoon whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 tablespoon arrowroot powder
2 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon xanthum gum
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 cup vegan chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 325*F

Grease a 9x9 baking dish with butter or olive oil.  Dust a little flour in greased baking dish.

Combine canola oil, sugars and applesauce in bowl of stand mixer or you can use your muscles if you'd like.

Add in vanilla and hot coffee until mixed.

In separate bowl whisk together flour, cornstarch, arrowroot powder, baking soda, xanthum gum, salt and cocoa powder.

Add dry ingredients to wet 1 cup at a time using the stand mixer.  Continue mixing until just combined.

Fold in chocolate chips.

Pour batter into prepared baking dish and bake for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean.

Print this recipe

Ok, ok, I know the ingredient list is a bit long here.  So 9 outta 10 ain't bad (but that grammar is!)  Honestly, it is worth it for these delicious brownies!

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