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This brownie cake with fudge frosting is rich, chocolatey, and satisfying. The recipe is vegan and so it’s naturally egg and dairy-free as well. This easy vegan brownie recipe will have you eating a delicious cake brownie layered with rich chocolate frosting in no time at all!
When you make a brownie recipe from scratch, you need to decide from the get-go: will this be a fudge brownie or a cake brownie? Because of its rich chocolatey icing, this cake brownie almost crosses the line and gives you the best of both worlds.
With this brownie, you have the tender crumb-like texture of a brownie cake but with the fudgy goodness of the chocolate frosting.
For a lighter more healthy brownie that has all the flavor without the added fat, try my Oil-Free Vegan Brownies with Applesauce.
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The Ingredients for Vegan Brownie Cake:
(There is a handy printable recipe card at the bottom if you scroll down. This recipe card has all the ingredients with exact measurements and instructions. In the meantime, please read through the following sections for some tips, useful info, and yummy looking brownie pictures.)
The Wet Ingredients:
You will need:
- plant milk – I used unsweetened almond milk
- white vinegar
- vanilla extract
- oil – I have used melted (refined) coconut oil as well as canola oil for this recipe. I did not notice a difference in texture or taste.
The Dry Ingredients:
You will need:
- all-purpose flour
- white granulated sugar – use organic to ensure vegan compliance
- cocoa powder (unsweetened)
- baking powder
- vegan stick butter (I prefer Country Crock)
- cocoa powder (unsweetened)
- powdered sugar
- vanilla extra
- plant milk (I used almond)
- optional sprinkles
Are the Sprinkles Vegan?
Be aware that some sprinkles are not vegan. It they contain an item called confectioner’s glaze or shellac, it is made of “bug juices”. Yum – not. I buy this brand of sprinkles on Amazon all the time. They have some pretty cute sprinkle combos too!
How to Make Vegan Brownies Without Eggs:
It’s easy enough to replace the dairy in brownies with commercial dairy-free products such as plant-milk and vegan butter sticks. The eggs are a little trickier though. In the past I’ve used:
- egg replacer – such as Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer
- chia seeds
- flax egg – with ground flax meal
- agar agar
- vinegar, baking powder, and cornstarch (as I did in this recipe. See below.)
Can I Freeze Vegan Brownies?
A better question might be – will these brownies actually last long enough to make it to the freezer? In case you have more restraint than I do and actually have a need to freeze the brownies, the answer is a qualified yes.
Remember that they are frosted and so your container will need a little headspace so the frosting won’t get mushed.
Because they are frosted, you will want to allow the frozen brownies to naturally thaw in the fridge or counter-top. If you microwave these brownie cakes with frosting then you will have a goopy mess!
Do These Brownies Really Need Frosting?
I suppose they don’t. Ask yourself the bigger question. Do you really need frosting in your life? On your brownie? I say yes…but…to each his own.
Pro Tips to Make Vegan Brownie Cake:
Read through the “pro tips” section. You just might learn something new!
The Wet Ingredients Pro-Tips:
Before mixing any dry ingredients, go ahead and mix together the plant-milk and vinegar. This is an old-fashioned “buttermilk” hack I used way back in my pre-vegan days in order to make sour milk out of dairy milk to add into recipes. This is like adding buttermilk to your recipe. Luckily, it works just the same with plant-milk.
Add in the vinegar and let it sit for about five minutes. You will start to see the milk coagulate a little. At this point, you can add in the vanilla.
Use any kind of low/no taste oil in this recipe. I have used canola, avocado, as well as (refined) coconut oil. They all had similar results. Today for this recipe I used coconut oil because it’s what I had on-hand.
Why refined coconut oil?
It leaves very little taste. If you don’t mind a slightly coconutty taste, then feel free to use a less processed coconut oil.
The Dry Ingredients Pro-Tips:
Sugar– The only tip here is to decide which white granulated sugar you will use. If you are an ethical vegan then you probably already know that not all sugar is vegan as it can be processed using bone char. Read this informative article by Peta. If this is your concern, then use a sugar labeled vegan or use organic sugar which is never processed with animal ingredients.
Flour – This recipe calls for all-purpose white flour. If you want to make your brownie cake gluten-free then substitute in one-to-one your favorite gluten-free flour.
Cocoa Powder – Just use any baking cocoa powder that is unsweetened. (See below for sifting.)
Cornstarch…why do we use cornstarch? – I find when cooking without egg, it kind of helps to hold things together a bit.
Sifting the Dry Ingredients:
Honestly, if you have followed this blog for any amount of time and know me- you know I’m not a fan of extra steps. Why would I ever want to sift together dry ingredients that I’m just going to mix up anyway?
Well here are two truths about these brownies:
- You don’t want to over-mix them or the gluten will become overly developed and the brownies will become tough. So…
- Get the wet ingredients together.
- Get the dry ingredients together.
- Get your oil ready.
- Then add them together all at once and only stir until fully moistened. You don’t even want to use a mixer with this recipe. Just mix by hand. What does this have to do with sifting?
- Well here is the second truth. The cocoa powder is likely to have little clumps that need to be either squished or sifted out. If you count on getting rid of them by mixing, then you will end up overmixing the batter just to smoosh the cocoa clumps. Sift before mixing to ensure there are no clumps before mixing together with the wet ingredient.
Okay so here are my clumps of cocoa powder:
I actually tried to smoosh them out and soon lost patience. You see, I had a sifter at some point in my life. I have no idea where it is now. So…
Thinking outside the box, I decided to use a mesh strainer and “sift” the dry ingredients together one cup at a time. It worked beautifully! The cocoa sifted to perfection.
Interestingly enough though, there were some larger sugar crystals that didn’t get through the mesh. That did not bother me. I knew they would “melt” when added to the wet ingredients so I just dumped them in.
Baking the Brownie Cake:
After the dry ingredients have been fully moistened, you’ll have a very thick batter. Spoon and spread it into your prepared pan.
What kind of pan should I use for these cake brownies?
Use an 8×8 pan. The brownies will bake up a little too thin if you use a 9×9. I like to use a silicone pan so that I can more easily pop them out.
Even though I use a silicone pan, I still spritz with a little coconut oil spray. Just to make sure they won’t stick.
Place the 8×8 pan on a larger baking sheet for ease of removal from the hot oven. This is especially important if you use a silicone pan.
How will I know the vegan cake brownies are done?
So here is the tricky part. You check them and they aren’t done…then you check them and they aren’t done….then you check them and they aren’t’ done….wait…they were done! Now they are over-done! Yay us.
Brownies can be a little tricky that way. The toothpick test doesn’t necessarily work. If you are using a lot of oil (like you do in brownies), then the toothpick will show clean because of the oil when the brownie still needs a few more minutes to fully bake.
AND – Take the pan out too soon and the brownies may fall in the middle. Or fall apart when you try to take them out of the pan. And then you’ll just want to grab a fork and make the best of it eating them straight from the pan…
OR – Take the pan out too late and the brownies are hard as a rock around the edges.
Read below to see how it’s done.
Testing for doneness:
With a cake, you can give it the touch test. Lightly touch a fully done cake and it will bounce back a little. Unfortunately, when you lightly touch a fully done brownie, your finger may go through the top. I find you have to have a little experience with your oven and with brownie making to get it just right.
BUT go ahead and do the toothpick method. If the toothpick comes out clean then go ahead and give it the touch test. Ever so lightly touch the top of the brownie in various places. It will not bounce back at you, but it will feel somewhat solid…ish to the touch. A done brownie should not be wiggly in the center. It should be somewhat solid – but not totally firm
I bake mine for 30 minutes. Not a second more. Not a second less. But I know my oven.
Frosting and Finishing the Vegan Cake Brownies:
Pro Tip: You’ve got to wait until these brownies have totally cooled before frosting or you will have a mess. Resist the urge to have a warm frosted brownie. That’s just a myth.
Pro Tip 2:
You can go ahead and spoon on the frosting and spread with a knife. It will taste so yummy! BUT for a professional Pinterest perfect look, use a pastry bag (I use these disposable bags) and a star tip to frost the brownies. Then I put some colorful sprinkles on top for fun!
These vegan brownie cakes are so rich and decadent, you will want a nice glass of (plant) milk or a mug of coffee to go with them!
The Recipe For Brownie Cake with Fudge Frosting (Vegan):
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Brownie Cake with Fudge Frosting (Vegan)
- 8x8 pan
- 3/4 cup almond milk or plant milk of choice
- 2 teaspoons white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2/3 cup oil see notes
- 1½ cups all purpose flour
- 1½ cups granulated (white) sugar
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup vegan butter stick I use country crock plant butter
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 11/2 Tablespoons almond milk
- Preheat oven to 350° Prepare 8x8 baking pan by spritzing with cooking spray or oiling.
The Wet Ingredients
- Add vinegar to plant milk and let sit for about five minutes or until it starts to sour. It will begin to coagulate a little. Add in vanilla and set aside.
- If using coconut oil, melt and set aside. If using other oil, measure out and set aside.
The Dry Ingredients
- Add flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt, and cornstarch to a medium/large sized mixing bowl.
- Stir well so that all cocoa powder is broken up. Sift if necessary. I used a fine mesh strainer to sift. (See post above for photos and instructions.)
- Add soured milk mixture and oil to dry ingredients all at once. Mix by hand until all dry ingredients have been moistened. Do not overmix.
- Turn out into prepared pan and smooth the top.
- Set 8x8 pan on a larger baking sheet and put in oven. Bake for 27-32 minutes. My oven cooks this brownie recipe perfectly at 30 minutes.
- You will know the brownies are done when they are slightly firm to the touch in the middle. Do not overcook or they will be hard. They are undercooked if they are jiggly in the middle.
- Allow to thoroughly cool in pan on rack before frosting.
- While the brownies are baking and cooling, set the vegan butter on the counter to come to room temperature.
- Add the room temperature vegan butter, cocoa powder, powdered sugar, vanilla, and plant milk to a large mixing bowl. Beat with electric mixer until light and fluffy.
- When brownies have totally cooled, frost the tops. Cut into 12 pieces and serve.
- Use a light-flavored oil such as canola oil or (refined) melted coconut oil.
- You will use 1 1/2 sticks of vegan butter. My vegan butter of choice is Country Crock Plant Butter.