For some of us, a love of chocolate seems to be there from the moment we’re born. Bibi’s first words about three decades ago weren’t ‘vegan sweet potato brownies’ but they weren’t far off. She could barely utter ‘mama’ when she started saying ‘ickle agg, ickle agg’.
‘That’s odd,’ I said to my mum – Bibi’s Grandma – ‘it sounds like she’s saying little egg’. At this, my mum flushed a lovely shade of puce and admitted she’d been feeding my baby little chocolate eggs, whispering ‘have this but don’t tell your mother,’ each time. Little tinkers, the pair of them. My mum for ignoring the ‘don’t feed her crap’ instructions and Bibi for grassing up her grandma with her very first words! Ah, family life, eh?
Now that Bibi has a baby of her own – Stanley, Stanley, joy of my heart – I find myself dreaming of the day I can buy him his first apron and we can hang out in the kitchen cooking together. Obviously, we’ll start with easy things so that he will think I’m an absolute genius. We’ll graduate to more complex cooking when he susses me and realises that I’m full on regular just like everyone else.
On my list of things to make with him (yes, I do really have one) are these vegan sweet potato brownies. They’re are an absolute doddle to make and – bonus! – they’re totally delicious. They have everything you could want from a brownie. They’re moist but firm at the same time, slightly sweet but not cloying and they’re totally and utterly moreish. I made them as buns – I tried them as a tray bake but found them a bit too moist. I used a silicone muffin tray but a Yorkshire pudding tin or just small cake or muffin cases would work just as well.
Sweet potatoes are better for you than your average cake ingredient too. They’re really high in Vitamin A which, among other things, is a great antioxidant, naturally helps to slow aging and is helpful in maintaining healthy vision (note to speccy self: eat more of these brownies).
There’s not such thing as a healthy cake, of course. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. However, there is such a thing as a not-too-unhealthy cake that can be part of a nutritionally sound diet and taste delicious too. These brownies fully fit that bill (hurrah!). I think the little guy is going to love making these. Watch this space to find out if his first words are ‘vegan sweet potato brownies.’
- 400g cooked sweet potatoes (approx - doesn't have to be too precise)
- 1 banana
- 150g soft brown sugar
- 200g self raising flour
- 200ml almond milk
- Half teaspoon vanilla essence
- 8 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 50g ground almonds
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 50g pecans or walnuts (optional)
- 30g coconut oil
- 3 tablespoons agave
- 4 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 2 tablespoons hot water
- 2 heaped tablespoons peanut butter (optional - plus add 2 extra tablespoons hot water)
- Preheat oven to 180C / 350F / Gas5
- Lightly grease and line a 20cm x 20cm baking tin (or some muffin or Yorkshire pudding tins)
- Use a food processor, blender, stick blender or fork to mash the sweet potato and banana together
- Add all of the other ingredients and blend well. The mixture will be thick and sticky so it might take a bit of work to blend it. Add a tablespoon or two more plant milk if it's difficult to mix - not more though or the brownies will be soggy.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes. Pierce with a fork after 30 mins. If it doesn't come out clean, place some foil over the tin and place it back in the oven.
- Check again after 40 minutes. They should be ready now but add a few more minutes if the fork doesn't come out clean.
- When cooked, remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin.
- To make the topping, melt the coconut oil in a pan or microwave.
- Add all of the other ingredients and mix together well.
- Spread the topping over the brownie tray bake or individual buns. Add extra tablespoons of hot water, one at a time, if the mixture is too thick to spread.
- Cut into 16 small squares or 4 large ones.