[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.
[vegan, palm oil-free, refined sugar-free]
The front lawn of my parents’ house is home for three apple trees. One of them is approximately one hundred years old. It was there long before the house my parents built on the lot. The other two trees are later additions. They were planted there two or three years ago. All three have yielded plenty of apples each fall. From one harvest season to another, there have been ripe white transparents, red cinnamon spice apples, and fall apples. The veganized classic apple pie is made with all three varieties.
Apple Blast from the Past
I have adapted the veganized classic apple pie from a recipe that I first tried in the fall of 1993. That’s when Soul Asylum’s “Runaway Train” and Spin Doctors’ “Two Princes” were huge hits. And Whitney Houston’s cover of “I Will Always Love You”, of course. In true grunge fashion, baggy jeans and plaid shirts were all the rage. That’s also when I was an insecure 7th grader. We had just started having home economics, and traditional Finnish apple pie was among the recipes that we made during the first few lessons.
I really enjoyed home economics. Our teacher was a strict, old-fashioned older lady, but she sure knew how to keep us in check. She was also our homeroom teacher and could actually be really nice to the students that were smart enough to be nice to her first. I though of her as fair. And for some reason, I’ve always fared best under the guidance of tough, demanding teachers. We had a Swedish teacher that was like that, and I can honestly say that I owe a lot of my solid command of the language to her. I think it’s about keeping my easily wandering mind from wandering and focused on what’s relevant.
The 7th-grade home economics books had many great recipes that I kept experimenting with at home. I still have the book. I might not be using it as much now, but from time to time, I enjoy veganizing a recipe or two from it. Today’s veganized classic apple pie is an example of those.
Updated & Veganized Classic Apple Pie
The original ingredients list looks like this:
And in case that was a whole lot of pig Latin for you, here’s the list in English:
- 1 heaping cup all-purpose wheat flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla sugar (typical Finnish dry ingredient containing vanilla powder and granulated, white sugar; can be substituted with vanilla extract)
- sour milk (cultured milk sold in the Nordic countries) or sour cream (the kind sold in the Nordic countries)
- 1/3 cup shortening
- 1 egg
- 4–5 apples
- about 1 tsp cinnamon
- about 2 tbsp granulated sugar
For greasing the pie dish:
- margarine (the literal translation would be ‘grease’, but that sounds weird!)
The most substantial difference from the original is veganization, of course. Yes, we are making a vegan classic apple pie. Since both sour milk and sour cream are regular dairy products, I substituted Alpro Plain No Sugars for them. Besides, if you’re located anywhere except in the Nordic countries, you’d be unlikely to find those sour products at grocery stores. Not that it matters, since we’re not doing dairy. I substituted cold-pressed virgin coconut oil for the shortening. Vegan butter would work, too. Finally, I substituted the egg with aquafaba, which is chickpea brine.
Another major change is skipping the refined sugar. Anyone that’s into vegan baking is familiar with the avoidance of white sugar. Historically, sugar has been filtered through bone char to achieve the white color. Needless to say, such sugar would not be vegan. At least in my home country, though, bone char is no longer used in the production of white sugar. But since white sugar isn’t health-promoting, either, vegan bakers and bloggers tend to prefer alternatives that raise blood sugar levels less dramatically. For this recipe, I chose coconut sugar for the batter and maple syrup for the apple filling.
Thirdly, I updated the veganized classic apple pie by adding more filling. The original recipe says to cut the apples into thin slices and to layer them in a round, symmetrical pattern on top of the batter. I made things easier: I simply cut the apples into small cubes, added the maple syrup and the cinnamon, and rolled them in a large bowl.
Because of the amount of filling, veganized classic apple pie is really rich, thick, and moist, with a deliciously chunky texture. There’s enough to eat in a slice for a cup (or two) of coffee. So yes, the updated recipe definitely deserves some major praise. The veganized recipe takes classic apple pie to a whole new level but manages to remain pretty much anyone’s favorite.
If the Darkening Fall Nights Make You Pie Crazy…
…there are other things that might work, too. As far as I’m concerned, late September nights are good for eating pretty much anything sweet.
If you’ve run out of apples, I’d go with these:
- Cookie dough cups – These totally yummy, no-bake goody bites cure all kinds of cravings, and could even mend broken hearts. They’re soooo good!
- Peanut butter cookies – These 3-ingredient cookies are super easy to make, in case you want something sweet right now.
- Inside-out blondies – Nothing can go wrong with soft chocolate batter and amazing Peanut Butter chips. It’s a winning combination!
Veganized Classic Apple Pie
- 1 cup whole wheat or spelt flour or gluten-free light flour blend
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ cup + 2 tbsp coconut sugar or regular granulated sugar
- ½ cup + ⅓ cup unsweetened soy or oat yogurt
- ⅓ cup coconut oil, melted
- 3 tbsp aquafaba i.e. chickpea brine
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 10 small apples
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- Preheat the oven to 395°F/200°C. Grease a pie pan with vegan butter or nonstick spray.
- Melt the coconut oil in a hot water bath.
- Slice and chop the apples and add them in a large bowl. Add the cinnamon and maple syrup. Carefully toss the apples in the bowl to get the coating on most of them.
- In another large bowl, add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and coconut sugar mix well with a wooden fork. Add the soy yogurt, melted coconut oil, aquafaba, and vanilla extract. Mix until well combined.
- Pour the dough into the pie pan. Spoon the apple filling on top and spread out evenly, leaving some of the dough visible at the outer edges.
- Bake the pie on the center rack for 30–35 minutes.
- Let the pie cool for 30 minutes before serving. The recipe makes 8 sizable slices. Refrigerate leftovers for up to a week. At room temperature, they will keep for a couple of days.