Friday, August 24, 2012

Coconut Oil Brownies (Brownies without the Soy)


My friend (you know who you are :) ) and I have been commiserating about how soy is in EVERYTHING. Even our beloved chocolate bars. Soy lecithin is added to keep the cocoa butter and cocoa from separating (i.e., an emulsifier). We -- my friend and I -- agree that too much soy is something to avoid, for many reasons.

So I've been trying to decrease (eliminate, if possible) the soy from the chocolate desserts I make. Since I love the coconut oil/cocoa powder combination in the Homemade Chocolate Bars recipe, I wanted to make brownies using that combination instead of using a bittersweet chocolate bar (with its soy lecithin). (My friend and I also believe in the health benefits of coconut oil.)

My first attempt wasn't entirely successful. This is why I still consider myself a beginner when it comes to cooking. I equate where I am with the "branching" phase that eaglets go through when learning how to fly. First they flap their wings (avid eagle watchers call it wingersizing) while standing around in the nest. Then they hover over the nest for brief periods. The next step is branching, when they take short flights to a nearby branch then return to the nest again.

The first brownie batch was based on my best estimate of ingredient proportions. It turned out thin and very dry. Not to worry about wasting food here ... a topping of pistachio gelato saved the day. It was passable only with the added gelato.

I did more research and discovered the tweaks I needed to make. And this is the recipe I'm sticking with for the foreseeable future for brownies, because it's so good! It got the rare "check mark, plus, plus" hand notation on my working copy.

Ingredient notes:
  • About the bittersweet chips. I thought I may have found some soy-free chips, however it's never that simple, is it? There is not a single soy ingredient listed on the package. But when I ventured onto their website to find out what ingredient is used as the emulsifier, it states that soy lecithin is used in their products ... but it's not clear if the chips are one of those products specifically mentioned. I haven't received a reply to my inquiry (and don't expect to). I think these would still be delicious without the chips, if you wanted to avoid the soy possibilities altogether.
  • I used slightly less than 1 cup total sugar. I'd be curious to find out if using all brown or all white makes a noticeable difference.

Coconut Oil Brownies
(adapted from

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup extra virgin coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup natural cane sugar
1 tsp espresso powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup bittersweet chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-inch square pan (I used coconut oil).

Sift the cocoa powder into a medium bowl, then add the coconut oil and stir until completely smooth. Add the sugar and mix well. Stir in the espresso powder, vanilla, and salt, then add the eggs. Add the flour and mix until just combined. Lastly, fold in the chips.

Gently spread the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes.*

* I baked them for 22 minutes, with a toothpick coming out clean ... and they were not dry at all (they weren't gooey, but they were moist enough). Next time I may try a bit shorter time, more like 20 minutes, just to experiment.

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