These brownies. are. so. serious. They don’t mess around. They just deliver….candied hot-spiced chocolaty-intense luxurious sweetness that’s impossible to resist. When I made these, here was the scenario: take that plate away from me, no bring it back, I ate too many, just one more bite, let’s make another batch. So how did this little scenario end? I went into the kitchen and made another batch. Life’s too short for regrets, right?
The inspiration for these brownies was a spiced carob pudding I made several years ago. For that particular pudding I used avocado as the base and added chili spices, cacao and coffee. It was incredibly edibly good. The combination of coffee, chocolate, chili spices….decadence meets heat. And that recipe morphed into these dramatic brownies.
The main ingredients alongside the avocado are old friends like stellar buckwheat flour (although you can use any flour you wish), butternut squash (can anyone get enough of this buttery and versatile veg?), and shredded coconut (the king of healthy plant fats). They all serve their unique purpose in making these brownies taste like an imposing mouthwatering cake. In fact, double the recipe and you have a fully loaded chocolate cake with glaze.
These are bold, brave little brownies. In a world filled with brownies made from just about every ingredient known to man, they really hold their own. They are sweet and tender and delicious and and and…….healthy and vegan. But in case you don’t favor the vegan version, you can substitute the non-dairy butter or avocado with butter and have at them. I’ve tested all three and they all work great.
The main ingredient in this recipe is butternut squash which I’ve really come to appreciate more and more over the years. Butternut Squash is a Winter relative of the pumpkin and gourd, having the properties of both. It’s considered technically a fruit because it contains seeds, however the monikor “butternut” aptly describes the buttery flavor of this succulent squash. On the outside, butternut squash has a thin skin which can be easily cut away to reveal the fruit and seeds. On the inside, it has medium-soft fruit, which can be scooped or sliced. The seeds can be soaked and sprouted for a delicious alternative to pumpkin seeds.
The versatility of this gorgeous squash is simply amazing. It has a pleasant slightly sweet flavor and great fleshy texture, and caters to both sweet and savory recipes. It’s also a great addition where bulking or thickening is needed. I’ve used it in most everything from smoothies to breads and never been disappointed. I especially like the fiber content of butternut squash which, for me, is very important since fiber affects how the body breaks down sugar. As a hypoglycemic, I found squash in general, to be especially helpful for maintaining my healthy blood sugar level. Needless to say butternut squash is a staple in my home.
Benefits of Eating Butternut Squash include:
- Extremely high amounts of Vitamin A (almost 354 times the daily recommended allowance per serving!)
- High levels of magnesium and potassium
- Loaded with phytonutrients and antioxidants
- Rich in fiber
I glazed my scrumptious brownies to add even more decadence, sugary goodness, and extra moisture. Glazing literally took them from snack to dessert and is definitely a cure for any lingering sugar cravings. Not that these brownies aren’t great naked: they can go either way. Hubby prefers without, I prefer with. You can go either cacao or carob powder; they both do their job beautifully. The butternut squash can be substituted with any number of varieties of squash, and the seasoning isn’t uptight. You can modify as needed. These brownies offer so many options.
This recipe is easy to make, requires little baking time, and is ready to saveur after just a few minutes of cooling from the oven. But don’t get me wrong, the incredible flavor lingers for days so storing won’t harm them a bit. And you can always re-heat for warm sensuous brownies. I hope you enjoy these brownies and don’t forget to share them. On second thought, grab your brownies and milk and get comfy. It’s your turn to splurge.
This recipe is vegan, dairy/gluten/nut-free and makes 12 – 18 brownies.
Glazed Chili Chocolate Cake Brownies
- I use fresh butternut squash that I cut into chunks. I puree it in the food processor and then blend until smooth. If you use frozen thawed butternut you can simply process until smooth. You can substitute the butternut with pumpkin, kabocha, sweet potato, yam, buttercup, or any other fleshy mild squash of choice.
- If you do not use the glaze, increase the baking time to 30 – 35 minutes and eliminate the broiling step.
- If you want less fat, you can substitute the Whipped Butter (or other substitutes) with 1/2 packed cup of pitted soft Medjool dates. Adjust sweetener according to your taste.
- 2 cups peeled butternut squash chunks
- 1 cup sprouted buckwheat flour or other unrefined flour of choice (preferably sprouted)
- 1 1/2 cups shredded coconut
- 1/2 cup Whipped Butter or mashed very ripe avocado
- 3/4 cup cacao or 1 cup carob powder or a combination of both
- 1 tsp coffee extract or 1 Tbsp instant coffee granules or 1 Tbsp coffee substitute (optional)
- 1/2 – 1 tsp chili seasoning or smoked paprika or chipotle powder to taste
- 1/4 tsp cayenne
- 2 vanilla beans or 2 tsp vanilla or other vanilla flavoring of choice
- 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 3/4 – 1 cup coconut/palm sugar or sucanat or other dark granulated sweetener of choice to taste
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp vanilla-flavored stevia or stevia to taste (optional)
- chopped nuts
- cacao nibs
- chocolate chips (dark or white)
- any other ingredients you want
- Add butternut squash chunks to a food processor and process until pureed. If using fresh, add to a blender and blend until smooth then return to the food processor.
- Add the remaining ingredients and process until well mixed. The mixture will be very thick.
- Remove and fold in any additional ingredients (i.e. chopped nuts, cacao nibs, etc.).
- Transfer to a greased 9-inch brownie pan and spread evenly.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 25 – 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
- When ready, remove and add one of the glazes below.
Here are three options for the glaze:
1/2 cup Maple Cashew Butter
- 1/3 cup maple syrup or other thick unrefined liquid sweetener of choice
- 3 Tbsp coconut butter
- 1/4 tsp maple extract (optional)
Stir ingredients together with a fork until smooth and creamy. Use immediately or store refrigerated.
1/2 cup maple butter or maple cream
- Spread the glaze of choice evenly over the top of the warm brownies. I sometimes cut the brownies in the pan then add the glaze so that it seeps down the sides of each brownie. That way you get a little caramelization around each brownie. Keep in mind the brownies will be a bit more fragile when hot so cut carefully if you do this.
- Place brownies back in the oven on the middle rack and broil (at 500 degrees) for about 5 minutes or until the top is gently bubbling.
- Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes.
- Garnish with whatever other toppings you want. I like to dust with extra cinnamon and cacao powder.
- Cut and enjoy.
- Yields one 9-inch pan of brownies or about 16 brownies.
- Can be stored refrigerated up to 5 days.