Yes, you read that right.
Salted Caramel Pretzel Brownies.
Just how decadent can a brownie get?
Decadent, and yet still created from delicious, whole-food ingredients. YES!
And I have to tell you, these squidgy, caramelly, chocolatey squares of heaven taste just as delicious as they look. They come to you approved by a family of non-vegans.
The fifth adaptation to my original black bean brownie recipe from way back, this batch has been given the full-on treatment. For the record, the brownie timeline goes a little like this:
- Black bean, unadulterated (I have no idea where the recipe has gone);
- Peanut Butter Chocolate Brownies (a classic!);
- Chocolate Orange Black Bean Brownies;
- Boozy Mince Pie Brownies (bookmark this one for the festive season).
That’s a lot of brownies. But I think these ones really have it. They’re:
- rich and sweet with a tang of salt;
- super chocolatey;
- gooey with home-made caramel;
- crunchy with pretzels; and
- studded with juicy cherries!
Aside from tasting seriously good, they hold some surprising secrets of virtue! These brownies:
- are made with kidney beans – no, really!
- can be easily adapted for gluten-free bakers;
- are super simple to make;
- can be made without any refined sugar (depending on the chocolate you use); and
- are the vehicle for a seriously good, and ridiculously easy, 2-INGREDIENT CARAMEL!
This particular brownie incarnation stems from a delicious birthday present earlier this year. Dan always finds amazing ingredients and treats that I haven’t seen in my perusal of the organic aisles, and they always find their way into a present package; I’m very lucky. One such treat was an intriguing tub of Quinoa Bretzels!
I’ll admit now though, I wasn’t sure how I felt about pretzels following the Delta incident of 2014 that bore witness to my one and only wedding meltdown…
If you’re a regular around these parts, you’ll know that two years ago we got married in the most awesome, amazing, different and totally unforgettable way possible (I’m sure everyone says that – and rightly so!) We planned, in secret, to travel to Portland, Oregon, to get married in a beautiful autumn park under a bridge, behind a wild backdrop of turning leaves. Now, I’m a serial planner, so we had everything organised minutely – including flights, connecting flights and vegan meal requests – well in advance.
We said goodbye to my Mum and Humphrey the cat, and left our London home full of excitement – and our precious secret. And then… our taxi driver decided it would be a good idea to drive to Heathrow via central London – for NO REASON AT ALL – during the morning rush hour.
Having literally thrown ourselves out of the car at the sliding doors of terminal 5 to hear the call for last check-in on our flight, Dan calmly handed the check-in lady our passports and confirmation details, while I hopped around in the background hyperventilating (please note – this doesn’t help. It makes airport staff suspicious. I get pulled aside EVERY TIME I am in an airport.)
“Oh… you don’t seem to be booked on this flight!”
WHAT DID YOU SAY I’M GETTING THIS PLANE TO MY WEDDING WHAT ARE YOU SAYING WHAT WHAT WHAT IS HAPPENING
As I shed my now hysterical tears all over my face and Dan’s shoulder, squeal and hop/fall repeatedly over my suitcase; the check-in lady ums and ahs far too much for my liking, while telling us it’ll all be fine. I’m pretty sure the plane has already left. Dan, of course, is pretty sure it will all be fine.
MAYBE IT IS FINE BUT I AM NOT A RELAXED PERSON AT THE BEST OF TIMES
Of course, it was fine. She figured out that between them, Virgin, Delta and whatever online booking system we’d used had conspired to ruin our meticulous planning, and had all decided it was someone else’s job to tell us.
So we ran to the gate, obviously both got pulled aside by 1) “a representative of the US government”, and 2) three airport staff who made me take off my boots and explain why the case for my tablet had a miniature keyboard, whilst another member of airport staff shouted at them all to let us on the plane.
Last people on, tear-stained, hyperventilating, out of breath, shoe-less.
But what does any of this have to do with pretzels?
Well, when your meal vegan meal request is lost by an airline, they respond with a mountain of the things and nothing more.
A mountain of pretzels!
So there you have it. The Salted Caramel Pretzel Brownie: homage to America, the pretzel, and making it to our wedding, 4, 910 miles away.
- 60g rolled oats
- 180ml non-dairy milk (I use organic, unsweetened soy milk)
- 1 tin of kidney beans, rinsed and drained*
- 4 Medjool dates, pitted** (or 2 tbsp maple syrup)
- 4 tbsp tahini
- 4 tbsp cacao powder
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- 40g good quality, vegan dark chocolate
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 10 cherries, pitted and chopped (optional)
- Salted Caramel
- 4 Medjool dates, pitted
- 180ml coconut milk (these tiny tins from Biona are great)
- A few pinches (approx ⅛ tsp) good quality salt (I use Himalayan)
- A couple of handfuls of your favourite brand
- Heat the oven to 180°C / 350°F / Gas Mark 4.
- Begin by making the brownie batter. Melt the coconut oil and chocolate in a bain-marie on the hob (or melt the coconut oil in a ramekin as the oven heats up and grate the chocolate).
- Meanwhile, pulse the oats in a food processor to create flour.
- Next, pour in the milk, and then add the rest of the ingredients - not forgetting the coconut oil and chocolate), except the cherries. Blitz it until you have a smooth batter - about 30 seconds, depending on the power of your processor.
- Stir in the cherry pieces.
- Line an 8-inch square tin with parchment paper and pour in the batter. Smooth it out evenly with a spatula and cook in the oven for 20 minutes.
- While the brownies are cooking, make the salted caramel. Rinse out the jug of your food processor and pop in the dates and coconut milk. Blend until you have a thick, smooth caramel.
- After the brownies have had their 20 minutes, remove from the oven and pour over the caramel. Sprinkle on the salt and pretzels and return to the oven for a further 15 minutes. The caramel should have a more set appearance.
- Once cooked, remove from the oven and leave to cool. I like to put these in the fridge for 30 minutes to set further, but they're just as tasty as is.
- These will keep in the fridge for a week, however the pretzels don't retain their crunch for more than a day.
**Alternatively, use smaller dates, but increase the number.
Make them gluten-free: Use gluten-free oats, baking powder and pretzels.
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