I mean, if there’s one thing I love, it’s mixing the savoury with the sweet. It’s fun to put ingredients in a dessert that you’d think have no right being there, and yet turn out to taste so good.
A few months ago, I stumbled across this vegan, gluten-free, four-ingredient brownie recipe. The four ingredients were: cooked sweet potatoes, maple syrup, nut butter and cocoa. I tried it, adding a few key ingredients, and it was…. good. Okay. Not amazing.
So I started to play with the recipe a little. I’d originally used peanut butter, because that’s what I had, but I wondered what a different kind of nut butter would bring to the party. What if I used pumpkin instead of sweet potato? What if I mixed in some different flavours? The end result? Harissa Brownies!
So now the brownies are no longer just four ingredients, but they are still vegan and gluten-free!
This particular version took on a distinctly middle-eastern flair with the addition of tahini and harissa.
Harissa is a new discovery for me in just the last couple of years. It’s a spicy paste made from roasted peppers, and it’s used a lot in Persian cuisine. You can buy it in a tube from your local Persian market (if you’re in Vancouver, go to the Persia Foods, they have several locations around town). Tahini is also heavily used in middle-eastern food, so you can pick some of that up there, while you’re at it. Tahini is just nut butter or paste made from sesame seeds (so less chance someone will be allergic–bonus).
The only downside of this recipe is because it lacks flour and eggs, it is a pretty wet batter, and it takes a full hour to bake properly. But this is, hands-down, the best vegan, gluten-free brownie recipe I’ve tried (and I’ve tried a lot and been really, really disappointed every time).
I cooked my sweet potato by cutting it into 4 pieces and dropping it into the Instant Pot on top of the trivet with a bit of water in the bottom for 10 minutes, but honestly, just toss and extra one in the next time you’re cooking sweet potatoes for dinner. And use it make dessert.
The end result is something akin to Mexican hot chocolate, or a Mole; chocolate, sweet and spice. If you don’t like spice or can’t find the harissa, just leave it out.
- 1 cup cooked, mashed sweet potatoes (or try with canned pumpkin); about one medium sweet potato
- 1/2 cup tahini
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1 tsp harissa paste
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Add the sweet potatoes to a large bowl and mash them well. I have also used a ricer or a food mill to ensure the silkiest quality, but mashing them with a fork is fine, too. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well until combined.
- Line a 7″ square pan with parchment, and scrape the batter into it.
- Bake in a 350 degree oven for 60 minutes.