[vegan, soy-free, palm oil-free; gluten-free option available]
The daughter of my host family got so fed up with the rustling. We were sharing a bedroom, but I just couldn’t bring myself to stop. I had been trick-or-treating with my friends from high school. I had a pillowcase full of all kinds of goodies: chocolate bars, Peanut Butter Cups, Tootsie Rolls, and suckers. There wasn’t much left in the morning, except for the wrappers littering the floor next to my bed. It had been quite the feast, but Halloween festivities are no stranger to that. That’s why this year, I’m baking spooky vegan slutty brownies to celebrate All Hallows’ Eve with.
Celebrating Halloween for the First Time
My first Halloween during the exchange year was a weird experience. My school day had been amazing: full of silly business, crazy costumes, pranks, and laughter. It wasn’t something I hadn’t ever experienced before. And trick-or-treating with three of my friends had been just as much – if not even a bit more – fun. So much so that my stomach had been hurting from laughing so hard. Our neighbors had been more than generous, quickly filling our pillowcases with armfuls of candy, chocolate, and even mini donuts and muffins.
At night, I found myself wanting to binge eat. It had a lot to do with how I was feeling about myself. I was feeding the homesickness prickling in my stomach with sweet treats. I had some serious growing pains that I was numbing with food. I felt horrible in the morning. I opened my eyes to the pile of wrappers, but at the same time, I had to open them to the realization that something was wrong with my eating behavior. I’m not saying that it would have been all fun and games back home, but in Arizona, my feelings of loneliness, detachment, and dissimilarity had made things worse.
My first real Halloween left me with a conflicting feeling of abundance. The following day, I wasn’t sure whether to cry or laugh about it. I called my friend Kristy (to a landline!) and shared my thoughts with her. She was so amazing and supportive, opening up about her own struggles with food. Talking to her made me realize that I wasn’t alone with it. It felt like a big relief.
But I guess Halloween is all about contradiction. And so are my spooky vegan slutty brownies. We are celebrating the dead by having a whole lot of fun. We’re watching scary films and sharing ghosts stories, only to fool around like little kids and laugh our hearts out. The roots of Halloween, also known as All Saints’ Eve or All Hallows’ Eve, are in ancient Celtic harvest festivals. They were a celebration of the beginning of winter, which is when the ghosts were believed to roam around.
What Do Spooky Vegan Slutty Brownies Say About Me?
A lot, actually. Firstly, despite my weird first Halloween, there’s a lot I love about this festival of pumpkin lanterns and Scream masks. Halloween is supposed to feel weird.
Secondly, they point to my complexity. I tend to be all about the opposites. I’m usually all in or all out. I think of myself as a social hermit, if there ever was such a thing. I’m a perfectionist at times, and at others, I couldn’t care less. I often don’t seem to have a sense of humor at all, or I find myself unable to stop giggling at stupid jokes. A lot of the time, I have a hard time predicting my own reaction to things. Yes, I’m pretty complex (which my posts make clear, since a lot of the time they’re more about my life than the recipe of the day…)
These contradictions come through in my recipes, too. Just look at the spooky vegan slutty brownies. They take Halloween seriously: the blondie batter tastes and smells like pumpkin, and even the filling of the spider-decorated Oreos is orange. These over-the-top brownies are a feast for the taste buds, which is the way to celebrate in the U.S. And if you want to read even more into it, the juxtaposition of the colors represents the conflict between good and evil.
I love playing with color when I’m coming up with new recipes. Many of my recipes – including my inside-out blondies and marble loaf cake – focus on color. I enjoy stunning, extravagant desserts and bakes, as to me, they symbolize the essence of American baking.
Dreaming up Spooky Vegan Slutty Brownies for Halloween
I’m also a dreamer. This time around, my daydreams were about the spooky vegan slutty brownies. I dreamed up the recipe based on my previous experimentation and certain essential criteria.
Here’s a list of the main things:
- In February, I posted on my Instagram about the perfect vegan slutty brownie recipe I had found on the Crazy Vegan Kitchen blog. I’ve adapted my chocolate brownie batter from this recipe. So, many thanks to Amrita for creating and sharing such a brilliant recipe.
- The blondie batter is my own creation. I think it’s a lot of fun (and a bit frugal, too) to bake with homemade, unsweetened fruit sauces and purees. Applesauce is a favorite, but this time I used pumpkin puree, of course. I made it from a large pumpkin that I roasted in the oven, but nothing will keep you from substituting store-bought pumpkin puree for it. Just make sure to use an unsweetened kind.
- Pumpkin pie spice adds some Holidayish flavor to the blondie batter. I’ve included the exact amounts in the instructions, but usually I make a little larger batch to use in other recipes, as well. I’ve found these good amounts to go with: 4 tsp cinnamon, 2 tsp ginger, 1 tsp cloves, and 1/2 tsp nutmeg. Then just put 1 teaspoon of that spice blend in this recipe.
- It’s easy to make the spooky vegan slutty brownies gluten-free. Simply substitute gluten-free flour blend for the all-purpose wheat. Depending on the brand you use, be prepared to add a couple extra tablespoons of the flour blend in each batter.
- Slutty brownies might seem complicated to make, but despite the few phases, they are actually really easy to make. Don’t be deceived by how they look! And let me tell you, I always prefer an easy recipe. Why make baking difficult when it can be easy?
- These brownies are so GOOEY! Eating them comes very close to perfection for someone like myself, who loveslovesloves fudgy foods and cookie dough. It’s important to remember, though, that you shouldn’t be in a rush about serving the brownies. Let them cool completely after removing them from the oven. That way they’ll have enough time to set just enough to slice into pieces. And be sure to keep them in the oven long enough, or you’ll end up with raw brownies. And if you can, keep them in the refrigerator overnight and cut and serve the day after. If you’ll ask me, that’s when they are at their best. But I’m not suggesting that it would be easy to keep your hands off the baking tin…
Halloween time is finally here,
So all you scaredy cats, it is time to fear.
For all the evil spirits and witches are now near,
You can run but you cannot hide, my dear!
Have a spooky Halloween!
Spooky Vegan Slutty Brownies
Pumpkin Spice Blondie
- 1 ½ cup all-purpose wheat flour or gluten-free flour
- ⅓ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice ½ tsp cinnamon, ¼ tsp ginger, ⅛ tsp clover, and ⅛ tsp nutmeg
- ¼ cup + 2 tbsp coconut sugar
- 3 tbsp coconut oil melted
- ½ cup + 1 tbsp unsweetened almond drink
- ½ cup + 1 tbsp unsweetened pumpkin puree
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 16 Oreo Spooky sandwich cookies
- 1 cup all-purpose wheat flour or gluten-free flour
- 1 cup granulated or coconut sugar
- 6 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- ½ tsp salt
- ⅓ cup + 2 tbsp canola oil
- ½ cup water
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350°F/175°C. Line a 8×8-inch square baking tin with parchment paper and grease or spray lightly with cooking spray.
- Start by preparing the pumpkin blondie batter. In a large bowl, combine the wheat flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt ja pumpkin pie spice. Add the coconut sugar and whisk to combine.
- Add the melted coconut oil, almond drink, pumpkin puree, and vanilla extract. Whisk until smooth. The batter should be soft and sticky. Pour the mixture onto the lined tin and spread it evenly with a spatula.
- Layer the 16 Oreo Spooky cookies evenly on the surface of the pumpkin blondie batter.
- Prepare the chocolate brownie batter. In another large bowl, combine the wheat flour, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. Add the canola oil, water, and vanilla extract and mix until combined and smooth.
- Pour the chocolate brownie batter over the Oreo layer. Spread the batter careful all the way to the edges of the tin. Bake on the middle rack for 35–40 minutes. The brownies are done when the top of the brownie batter has set.
- Let cool completely in the baking tin. Lift out from the edges of the parchment paper and slice into 16 pieces. Enjoy! Store leftovers in the refrigerator for a week or even two.