I often get requests for recipes that are less reliant on butter & eggs, and that are gluten-free, so I wanted to come up with a fun plant-based recipe that would be refreshing for these sweltering heat waves we’ve been having, and also gluten-free. (And not require an ice cream maker since I don’t have one!)
On hot days, I find myself reflecting more than ever on the connection between what we put on our plates and the climate crisis we find ourselves in. There’s no question that agriculture and the transportation of food across long distances are major contributors to climate change. But finding solutions and sustainable ways of eating can be complicated. For instance, if I forgo my beloved local grass-fed butter in these brownies, but use an avocado that was shipped from Mexico, or olive oil that was shipped from Italy, which of all those three has the lesser carbon footprint? I don’t have the answer to that. But I do know that my diet has a hefty carbon footprint (even as someone who eats largely from my own garden) and I am committed to finding ways to lessen that footprint. And while no one has all the definitive answers, reflecting on the complexity of these issues is important. One thing I know for sure, you can’t really go wrong by striving to eat more locally-grown foods, whether it’s by supporting local sustainable farmers in your area, or having a garden. Shopping at farmers’ markets where there is much fewer plastic packaging and food hasn’t traveled very far is is a win-win because it also supports your local economy and agricultural community. And of course, probably the biggest impact we could all have would be to replace our consumption of factory-farmed meat with either vegetarian options, or locally-produced grassfed and organic meat and dairy. Despite my questions about whether a vegan brownie is really better for the planet than a non-vegan one, I must say I thoroughly enjoy developing plant-based recipes. Not only do they force you to be creative with your ingredients but they’re truly delicious!
For this recipe, I wanted a plant-based brownie that wasn’t overly sweet. I love desserts and chocolate but I cannot stomach an overly sweet brownie and I find most recipes have way too much sugar. I was intrigued by an avocado brownie recipe I found on Spruce Eats, but I felt it needed some adjustments to give it the rich and chewy brownie texture I was looking for. So I fiddled around with the recipe until I arrived at a delicious gluten-free brownie that has become a standard go-to in my kitchen. It’s great on its own, but made even more exciting sandwiched with creamy raspberry “ice cream” (which is really more like a sorbet, but “sorbet sandwich” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it). Now this raspberry sorbet is really something. First, it has only 2 ingredients! Raspberries and sweetened condensed coconut milk (which you can find at any health food store). You could also make it with dairy-based condensed milk if that’s what you have on hand. Also, no ice cream maker is needed (though you’ll need a high speed blender). It’s so creamy and so refreshing and you’re mostly just eating berries, so good for you!
This recipe is a great way to make use of raspberries, and I am blessed with a raspberry patch of both red and yellow raspberries. Yes! Yellow raspberries are a thing! They taste like a cross between apricots and raspberries and they’re my absolute favorite. This variety is called “Anne”. And no, you certainly don’t need to use yellow raspberries, I just threw some in there because I had them.
The nice thing about this recipe is you can make the raspberry sorbet and just enjoy it on its own. Same with the brownies. They don’t need each other, but they sure do enhance one another and make a lovely marriage of flavors and textures.
Vegan Raspberry Brownie Ice Cream Bars
A perfect treat for a warm day! The nice thing about this recipe is you can make the raspberry sorbet and just enjoy it on its own. Same with the brownies. They don’t need each other, but they sure do enhance one another and make a lovely marriage of flavors and textures.
- For the brownies:
- 1 cup oat flour (or regular all-purpose)
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup cane sugar
- 1/2 cup mashed avocado
- 1/3 cup soy milk
- 1/4 cup olive oil (or any vegetable oil)
- 1 tsp vanilla
- For the raspberry ice cream / sorbet:
- 4 cups frozen raspberries
- 1/2 cup sweetened condensed coconut milk (or dairy-based condensed milk if you prefer)
- To make the brownies:
In a blender, puree the avocado, sugar, soy milk, olive oil, and vanilla. In a bowl whisk together the oat flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and mix well until smooth. Pour half the mixture into a parchment paper-lined 9 x 5 loaf pan. Bake at 350F for about 15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean or with just a few crumbs (start checking at 10 minutes though because these can cook really fast). Remove and cool the brownie on a rack. Repeat with the rest of the batter so you end up with 2 thin brownies.
- To make the sorbet:
In a high speed blender (ideally one with a plunger as it is will make your job a LOT easier), pour in the frozen raspberries and the sweetened condensed coconut milk. Blend slowly at first, stirring with the plunger and gradually increasing the speed. This will take some time to get to a smooth puree, be patient. If you don’t have a plunger with your blender, you’ll have to pause often to stir and push the raspberries down between blending, until you get a smooth raspberry sorbet.
- Using the same loaf pan you baked the brownies in, put down one of the two brownies. Pour the raspberry sorbet on top of it, smoothing it out. Place the second brownie on top of the raspberry sorbet and push down a tiny bit to ensure good contact between the sorbet and the brownies. Place in the freezer for at least 4 hours. When ready to serve, remove from the freezer and slice into bars. You can also slice into bars and return them to the freezer in a covered container and keep them there until ready to eat. Letting the bars sit out for a few minutes before eating helps soften them a bit. Enjoy!
Yield: 10 bars
Aube Giroux is a food writer, a James Beard award-winning documentary filmmaker and a passionate organic gardener and home cook, who shares her love of cooking on her farm-to-table blog, Kitchen Vignettes.