Chocolate Brownies (gluten-free, no added fat)

July 06, 2012

Chocolate Brownies

You know those desserts that leave you speechless with their exquisite taste? The ones that are so decadent and addictive you find yourself sneaking into the kitchen for just one more bite, promising it would be the last? These chocolate brownies are that good! By the time I finished taking all the pictures I had already eaten a quarter of the brownies and that was just dinner, the dessert came later;) Author's advice: don't cut the brownie before having your meal, it's dangerously tempting and once you start eating you can't stop at one piece.

There is a special ingredient that helps keep these beauties moist and fudgy: butternut squash. I had some leftover purée after making butternut squash hummus and what better way to use it up than to make brownies? Now, the brownies themselves are great on their own, but what really takes them to that level of ultimate delight is the chocolate ganache. You wouldn't expect it to be so, considering how simple it is, but truly these brownies would be incomplete without it.

Chocolate Brownies

Michelle at Peachy Palate has a simple recipe for Vegan Chocolate Pumpkin and Walnut Brownies that I liked and used for inspiration. With my brownies I just wanted more moisture, so I played with the ingredients a bit to achieve that. I also wanted taller brownies to pack more chocolate into each bite, so I used a smaller pan for baking. Michelle's recipe uses spelt flour, but as I didn't have any I used brown rice flour instead.

Chocolate Brownies

In the first batch I added raisins and almonds (scroll down for details and photos) and while I greatly enjoyed the crunch and nuttiness I wasn't getting that full-on chocolate flavour, so I made the brownies again, simple this time. I absolutely loved how they came out. The squash combines well with chocolate and adds an earthy flavour to the brownies. The taste and texture of the two layers are wonderfully balanced and I'm glad I didn't make them thin. Although they look rather big in the close-up photos, they're about 3 cm tall.

The brownies are intensely chocolaty, moist, fudgy and not overly sweet or sticky. They are also light and delicate, compared to the gluten/butter/cream/egg version. I couldn't decide which photos were the best to share, so I've posted quite a few, hoping they will entice you into trying this great recipe:)

Chocolate Brownies (adapted from Peachy Palate's recipe, see link above)

Dry Ingredients
  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp gluten-free baking powder (aluminum-free)

Wet Ingredients
  • 1 1/4 cups butternut squash purée
  • 1/3 cup applesauce (Bramley applesauce has a sharp edge that I like)
  • 1 flax egg
  • 1/2 cup agave nectar
Note: the measuring cups I use are 250 ml (1 cup), 125 ml (1/2 cup), 80 ml (1/3 cup) and 60 ml (1/4 cup).

Prepare the butternut squash purée

Wash and cut in half a medium squash, then scoop out the seeds. Place the halves cut side down in a pan with a little water (about 1 cm). Bake in the preheated oven at 350°F (180°C) for 30-40 minutes until the skin is soft. The time will also depend on your oven. I didn't want the purée to be too soft and watery so I baked the squash until the seed part was soft and the other part tender. Carefully remove the squash from the pan and place it on a plate cut side up. When it's cool enough to handle scoop out the flesh or peel it. Let cool completely, then blend until smooth. Use the necessary amount of purée and store the rest in the fridge in a bowl covered with cling film or in a tightly closed glass jar.

Prepare the batter

  • Before you start, preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
  • Grind 1 Tb brown flax seeds in a coffee grinder (or use ready-made) until powdery. In a small bowl add the flax and 3 Tb lukewarm water and mix. It will turn into a gel. Set aside.
  • In a bowl sieve together and mix the dry ingredients well.
  • In a separate bowl add the flax paste and the rest of the wet ingredients and give them a good stir. If the applesauce is not completely smooth, push the apple bits through a fine sieve before using it.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well with a spoon.
  • Line the bottom of a 20 cm (8") loose bottom pan with parchment paper and very lightly oil the bottom and sides of the pan.
  • Pour the batter into the pan and spread it around. Even out the surface with the back of a spoon dipped in water. 

Chocolate Brownies

Bake the brownie for 25 minutes until the top is well set and dry and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out with a little thick batter. Remove on a wire rack and let cool for about half an hour. As it sits it will pull away from the sides.

Chocolate Brownies

When warm enough to handle, remove it from the pan, peel off the parchment paper and place it on a plate. Let it sit for another half an hour to cool completely. Put the brownie in the fridge to chill for about an hour until the frosting is ready. Meanwhile prepare the ganache.

Chocolate Brownies

Chocolate Ganache
  • 100 g vegan chocolate (60% cacao)
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar
  • 2 Tb coconut milk (the carton type or use homemade)
Put the ingredients in a glass bowl. Place the bowl on top of a pot of simmering water over medium-low heat without the bottom of the bowl touching the water. Leave for a few seconds for the liquid to warm up, then stir gently with a wooden spoon. Before the chocolate is completely melted remove the bowl and allow the residual heat to melt the rest. Leave it on your worktop for an hour to thicken, stirring from time to time, careful not to trap air bubbles inside. The consistency changes from thin and runny to thick and creamy and it will be runny enough to form an even layer without the need of a spatula.

Chocolate Brownies

I wanted a pure chocolate taste both for the brownie and ganache, but if you like you can flavour them. You could add vanilla, rum, chili powder, cinnamon, maple syrup instead of agave nectar, etc.

Chocolate Brownies

Now here's the thing, you could pop the ganache in the fridge for about an hour to harden instead of leaving it outside and that would make frosting the brownie very easy with the use of a spatula, but you won't get that smooth, glossy finish. To do that, I thought of a trick and it worked both times I made the recipe. When kept at room temperature, the ganache will still have a pourable consistency but it won't set in a thick layer.

Chocolate Brownies

That's why the cake needs to be completely chilled when frosted. The moment the ganache comes in contact with the cold surface of the brownie, the cacao butter in the chocolate starts to solidify and the ganache becomes much thicker. So this is what you do: pour the ganache in the centre of the cake and as it spreads towards the edge use the wooden spoon to spread it back towards the centre, turning the plate around to maintain an even layer. It will drip a little over the edge, so just run the spoon along the sides while turning the plate around and pour the ganache back on top. Give the plate a little shake when you do that so the top remains smooth. The whole process takes a minute or two. When the ganache no longer drips on the sides, place the brownie in the fridge for 30-45 minutes for the ganache to properly set.

Chocolate Brownies

Remove from the fridge and start cutting the brownie. To obtain a clean cut use a thin knife dipped in a glass of warm water (not hot) and wipe it. A little brownie batter will stick to the knife, so you need to clean it inside the glass each time before cutting. After each cut separate the long brownie bars, then cut them individually.

Chocolate Brownies

Choose any shape and size you prefer. I cut them into about 3.5 cm squares and later I halved them for a nicer presentation.

Chocolate Brownies

I still had a few pieces of brownie the following day and was surprised to see that the ganache was still creamy and smooth, I thought it would become harder and sticky but it didn't:) This happened both times, so this ganache really works.

Chocolate Brownies

For the crunchy version I used 1/2 cup chopped almonds and 1/3 cup raisins soaked for 30 mins in warm water, then drained. I only used 1/3 cup agave nectar and the raisins added more sweetness. The brownies turned out darker than in these two photos.

Chocolate Brownies

I hope I've convinced you to give one of these versions a try.

Enjoy and spread the magic!:)

I put a lot of time, effort and passion into each recipe I post. My greatest satisfaction comes from your feedback. If you made this recipe, please take a minute of your time to leave a comment below. And if you like it, please share it so that others have access to it as well. Thank you all in advance!



You know, the house next door to me is for sale. Vegan goddess, you did it again! Hello, Yummo!

Vegan Magic

LOL Laurin, you're so funny:) If you keep calling me that, it will go to my head;) I'm so happy you like the brownies!


Hi, your brownies are simply droolicious :0) As I do not get butternut squash here could I substitute it with avocado or anything similar ?

Vegan Magic

Hi Madhulika and thank you for your lovely comment:) My first choice would be banana, as avocado would add too much fat. Mango puree is another alternative. I'd start with 1 cup and see if I need more. Do you get fresh pumpkin or canned pumpkin puree?

Michelle @PeachyPalate

These look incredible!!! I will definitely be making them some day soon!

Vegan Magic

Thank you very much Michelle, I'm so happy you like them:)

Roxana GreenGirl {A little bit of everything}

say no more! You convinced me to give them a try! i'm so intrigued by the squash puree! saved it on pinterest and shared it on facebook. too good not to! d

Vegan Magic

Hi Roxana:) I am thrilled that you like the brownies. Many thanks for sharing:)


Hello! These brownies look amazing; I've been looking for a recipe that uses squash instead of fat, in addition to a gluten free brownie. This is the best of both worlds! Because this is a vegan recipe, and I am not, would it be possible to sub in a small egg or egg white in place of the flax egg? How much is flax egg...? I'm completely uneducated in the world of veganism, and vegan cooking...Sorry! Thank you very much for this fine recipe!!! =] I'm so excited to try it (with or without the flax egg :))

Vegan Magic

Hi Kathryn and thank you for your interest in making the brownies:) 1 flax egg is the equivalent of 1 egg, so if you must, then you can use one egg instead. In this recipe ground flax seeds are used to help create that fudge-like consistency. Since you're not vegan you may think there would be no point in buying a small bag of flax seeds for one recipe, but I would strongly suggest you try, if only for its exceptional nutritional value. Flax mixed with water creates a gel, for that reason it's great in smoothies. It has a rather neutral taste so it works great sprinkled over cereal, salads, or mixed in soups etc.

You could also replace it in this recipe with 1/2 banana, mashed, or 1/4 cup applesauce. The squash puree pretty much does the job of making the brownies fudgy, so the flax egg can also be omitted. It's up to you, but whichever way you choose, you're going to love these brownies:) Enjoy!

Catherine Bergeron-Radoux

This looks delicious! I love flax seeds and any way I can get more fiber in my diet the yummy way works for me :)
How much ground flax seed do you use for the flax egg? Or I guess what I'm asking is how you make a flax egg?

Can't wait to try it!

Vegan Magic

Hello Catherine and thank you for your enquiry. I'm happy that you like the brownies and want to try them:) The details are already in the instructions, second line under "Prepare the batter". I look forward to your feedback:) Enjoy!


I am in the process of attempting your lovely creating and need to clarify what you mean by coconut milk. Are you referring to a thinner milk such as almond or rice - only coconut? I have a CAN of coconut milk but it is much thicker consistency.

Looking for your input :)

Vegan Magic

Hi Jan, I hope my reply comes on time. Yes, the coconut milk is the same type as almond and rice, the kind you drink or pour over cereal. You can just use 1 Tb canned coconut milk + 1 Tb water, mix them separately, then add to the bowl. 2 Tb are not much, but if you use thick coconut milk you won't get the same runny consistency to pour the ganache uniformly. I hope this helps, please let me know how the brownies turn out. Thank you so much for trying the recipe:)


Hi, Sorry didn't see your reply till today. Yeah do get pumpkin here, can make a puree out of it, would that substitute well ? Also is there anything I can sub instead of Coconut milk, I am trying to avoid all sorts of fat however good they might be for now, can I use brown rice milk instead?

Vegan Magic

Pumpkin puree works great too. As for replacing coconut milk, you can either use your preferred non-dairy milk or simply add 2 more Tb of agave nectar. I hope this helps:)


Thanks for the quick reply Adya, I will try both the chocolate mousse and the brownie and let you know how they came out with the subs.

Vegan Magic

Best of luck and enjoy the treats:)


Hi...I made two batches of these chocolatey brownies last night (one to eat & one to freeze) and they were even better than your photos look, although that seems impossible! They are far above any other brownies I've ever had! (And I've eaten more than my fair share!) They were rich and moist and your ganache just put them way over the top. Thank you so much for your work making & posting ecos recipe! Can't wait to try another of your recipes! God Bless!

Vegan Magic

@Anonymous: With every successful story I am more and more motivated to keep posting great recipes:) Thank you so much for the feedback and for trusting the recipe (you made 2 batches right from the start). I hope you find more inspiring desserts on my blog:) Thank you kindly for taking the time to write, it is great meeting you, if only through comments:) Blessings!


I made a batch of these tasty & fabulously rich vegan & Gf brownies & they rocked my taste buds: so good, so tasty & so apart too!

MMMMM,..A really fantastic dessert!!!!

Vegan Magic

Sophie, I couldn't be happier to know that you enjoyed the brownies:) They're crazy-good:) There are a few more brownie recipes on my blog, I hope you'll give them a try sometime, they're all amazing! Thank you so much for the feedback, it's much appreciated:)


Thank u soo much iw as searching soem fat free gluten free brownie and u gave it thanks a million
I dont get butter nut squash here
Pumpkin are available and even bottle guard which one is better and do i need to first boil pumkin and than puree it? ??
Pls let me knw

Vegan Magic

Hello, Disha and welcome to my blog! I'm so happy you've found a few recipes to try, these brownies are super delicious:) You can definitely use pumpkin here, to prepare it just quarter and roast in the oven as described in the recipe (the time may vary); alternatively you can peel, cube and steam the pumpkin, then blend. I hope you enjoy them and look forward to your feedback:)


I just started a gluten-free diet and was looking for a dense, indulgent chocolate recipe to make for my birthday. Think this is it! Can't wait to try it.

Vegan Magic

Happy birthday, Cila, and congratulations on going gluten-free!:) If you go ahead with the brownies, you're in for a treat:) They're all the things you want them to be...and more. Enjoy the party and have a fabulous year! Thank you so much for stopping by.


These look amazing! Can't wait to try them. Do you have a suggestion for an alternative sweetener to agave? I have fructose malabsorption so I was thinking of trying coconut nectar or maple instead. Do you think this would work well? :) Thanks

Vegan Magic

Melissa, I'm very happy you like the brownies. I've never used coconut nectar, but maple syrup would make a great replacement for agave nectar, especially since it will also add a hint of caramel:) You can keep the same amounts, both for the brownie and the ganache. I hope you enjoy this dessert and look forward to your feedback. Have a lovely day!:)

Tori Guy

These look delicious! Are they low-carb? My dad's on an Atkins diet, so he can't have sugar or carbs. Thanks!

Vegan Magic

Tori, thank you! I'm afraid they're not low-carb:(


I am going to make these this weekend. I am sure I will eat them ALL if they are 1/2 as delicious as they look and the other people who have commented have said.

I will let you know how they turn out. Brownies are my favorite food (I am not kidding). BTW my husband says brownies aren't food, but I bet everyone here disagrees with him! :)

Vegan Magic

Shawna, thank you so much for your kind words. I hope the brownies turn out to be everything that you expect...and more:) And I hope your husband is impressed;) I can't wait to read your feedback.


I made and adaption yesterday with argentinian ingredients, awesome recipe! thank u very very much :)

Vegan Magic

Gracias, Diego! I'm delighted that you enjoyed the brownies and greatly appreciate your feedback:)


I'm so excited to try this recipe! My son is allergic to apples, so i'm going to try this with coconut milk in the brownie recipe... i'll write back to let you know if it worked!


Made these today, with coconut milk in place of applesauce, very good! thanks for recipe!

Vegan Magic

Lauren, I'm thrilled to know the substitution worked out great for you. Thanks so much for letting me know how it all went:)

Shannon Kirk

These look amazing, and after months of sitting in my bookmarks, I've determined to try them this weekend. However, I am not gluten-free and don't want to buy rice flour. Do you know if regular flour would work, or would the gluten cause an issue? Thanks! Can't wait to try em!

Vegan Magic

Shannon, I'm sorry for this late reply, I've been away for over a month. Regular flour will do, however without trying first I can't say if the amount would be the same. Please let me know if you gave it a try and how the brownies came out. Thanks so much for stopping by.


After finding a good recipe to try, I think trying yours will be worth it! I'll be shopping and looking forward to try it tomorrow! I'm always looking for vegan options without needing to give up chocolate entirely. And butternut squash? Now, that's magic to my tongue! I have no doubts that I'll love it and the rest of the family will too!

Vegan Magic

Betty, thanks so much. I hope you and your family enjoyed the brownies.

Hannah und Julia

Hey, I'm from Germany and I just cannot find a translation for "flax egg"... Can you describe it for me?

Vegan Magic

Hi, thanks so much for stopping by. Flax egg is just ground flax seeds mixed with water and left to become like a jelly. It adds texture. The directions on how to prepare it are in the recipe: 1 Tb ground flax seeds mixed with 3 Tb lukewarm water.

Previous Next Home