Tofu Brownies Rock

So I’m curled up in bed catching up with a pile of magazines, and my finger stops on a recipe in the latest issue of Yoga Journal. Triple-chocolate chipotle brownies.

Tofu brownies.(Kim O'Donnel)

I dog-ear the page and move on to the section about how yoga boosts brain power, which I could use a little more of these days.

A week later, I return to the recipe, scanning it for ingredients, discovering that these aren’t just chocolate brownies – they’re tofu brownies.

A few years ago, I had better-than-good results with a vegan, gluten-free brownie “bite” that was published in Food & Wine. And many of my vegetarian readers know how much I love my tofu pumpkin pie. But tofu in brownies? Could it really pass sweet-tooth muster?

I put the recipe to the test last night. As with many dessert recipes that call for silken tofu, the brownies needed to completely cool and set up overnight. This did not make Mister MA very happy, but I reminded him that his midnight snack could be tomorrow morning’s breakfast instead.

I just cut into the brownies, and let me tell you, these are fudgy-wudgy, not cakey-wakey. Whewee! Expect a wee bit of crumbling, but the flavor is full-on choc, with a little kick from the chipotle chile powder. If chiles in your brownies just sounds wrong, why not try a wee bit of cinnamon instead?

Come on, you know you want to try these.

Today is chat day; talk to me today at 1 p.m. ET for this month’s What’s Cooking Vegetarian.

Triple-Chocolate Chipotle Brownies

Adapted from Jae Steel, author of “Get It Ripe,” as it appeared in the October 2008 issue of Yoga Journal

1/3 cup cocoa powder
A scant cup of semisweet chocolate, chopped (about 4 ounces)
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate (usually packaged as one-ounce bars)
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
1 cup silken tofu, blended in a blender or food processor
½ cup sunflower or Canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¾ cup spelt flour
1 teaspoon chipotle pepper powder (or ½ -1 teaspoon cayenne)
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon coarse salt


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper and dust with cocoa powder.

In a makeshift double boiler, melt semisweet and unsweetened chocolate together. Stir continually with a heat-proof spatula to prevent burning or hardening, about five minutes. Mix in the cocoa powder and remove the pan from the heat.

In a large bowl, combine sugar, tofu, oil and vanilla with a rubber spatula. Stir in melted chocolate, then the flour, chipotle powder, baking powder and salt.

Pour batter into baking pan, making sure that it spreads evenly. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until slightly puffed. You’ll know it’s done if a skewer inserted in the center comes out relative clean.

Remove from oven and let cool in the pan for two hour before cutting into squares.

Makes 16 brownies.

By Kim ODonnel |  September 25, 2008; 12:45 PM ET Baking , Vegetarian/Vegan
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We'll definitely have to try this one out. I'll probably put coffee granules in place of the pepper powder because I'm not fond of that chocolate/chile flavor.

Our current favorite vegan brownie is Monas Chewy Brownies on (we add chocolate chips and reduce the sugar by a little.)
Thanks for the recipe!

Posted by: Sarabeth | September 25, 2008 1:31 PM

can whole wheat or even all-purpose flour be subbed for the spelt flour? it's not an ingredient I usually have on hand.

ps: love your tofu pumpkin pie recipe and will be making it again this year!

Posted by: Mree | September 25, 2008 2:03 PM

I looked around a bit for a substitute for spelt and if it was 1:1, and found this bit of info:

NOTE: When using spelt flour as a substitute for All-purpose or whole wheat flour, always remember that spelt requires approximately 25% less liquid. You can either reduce the liquid by 25% or add 25% more spelt flour than your recipe calls for.

I would reason, then, that you would need to use a full cup of flour -- or maybe more tofu (for moisture), but you might have to play with it.

Just my two cents (and internet research). Others might have a better idea.

Posted by: Veggie in DC | September 25, 2008 2:15 PM

Veggie in DC: thanks so much for your input. I agree, a point worth considering.
Sarabeth: I think powdered coffee is a great idea if you don't want the kick of the chiles!

Posted by: Kim O'Donnel | September 25, 2008 2:19 PM

The link to the Tofu Pumpkin Pie recipe seems to be busted -- can you fix it, please?

Posted by: Ziggle | September 25, 2008 3:46 PM

Ziggle: It's all better now. Thanks for letting me know.

Posted by: Kim O'Donnel | September 25, 2008 4:01 PM

Hi Kim! Geesh what a great way to see your blog again. I've been away traveling and super busy w/work and projects. It's madness! I'll have to spend all weekend catching up with your posts. It may be about a month's worth if not more :(

I'm sure I'll find out how your settling in is going.

Love the brownies. I'm of the mindset that dessert is better than dinner so I could easily forgo it! :)

Posted by: Bren@Flanboyant Eats | September 26, 2008 9:52 AM

damn hippies.

Posted by: Eric T. | September 26, 2008 2:50 PM

Do you think the applesauce-for-oil sub would work in these?

Posted by: AmberGale | September 26, 2008 3:41 PM

Just wanted to help spread the information about the hazards of soy consumption, particularly American-style, where if a little of something is potentially good for you, then a lot must be better. Contrary to popular belief, soy is not good for you. Its phytoestrogens disrupt endocrine function and can promote breast cancer in women. Soy formula is linked to autoimmune thyroid disease and accelerates the onset of puberty. These are just a couple of examples of soys hazards. For more information, check this out:

Posted by: sc | September 27, 2008 10:38 AM

hi kim,
thanks for the shout out. glad you enjoyed the recipe. you know that as well as my book, i have many more on my blog:

to follow-up on some of the comments:
* Veggie in DC: you got it a little backwards there - if you use a cup of wheat flour you will get drier/cakier brownies. you could try using a scant 3/4 of a cup of wheat flour... though i'd really encourage you to experiment with spelt (we could all use a greater rotation of whole grains in our diets!).
* sc: about soy and health: you are right to be cautious with soy, but most people don't need to swear off it all together. i know weston-price takes a strong stand on this, but i'm more from the middle-path camp. you will read reviews from other health professionals saying that its phytoestrogenic properties are breast cancer inhibiting.... i do think that many veg/vegans eat too much soy, but if you stick to the organic/non-GMO stuff, and have it, say, 1-3x/week, that doesn't seem to be too much of an issue. sure, there are easier forms of soy to digest (miso, tamari, tempeh) and more challenging forms (tofu, soymilk) for our systems, but in the end i say "moderation, my friend, moderation"... and less cranky hard-lining around food & nutrition. not to say you were doing that, but that can be the weston-price approach (as valuable as i think some of their info is).

ps. kim, you might also check out the pumpkin pie recipe in Get It Ripe - the coconut milk in there makes it a real rich treat!

Posted by: jae steele | September 30, 2008 9:53 PM

okay, me again. upon closer look at the recipe here, i feel the need to make some comments. the thing is, pulling this recipe out of the book as Yoga Journal did, some of the very important ingredient specifications were lost:

* only 1/4 cup cocoa is needed (+ a touch more for dusting the pan - not a whole extra tbsp and tsp!).
* it's requested that the reader use ORGANIC and FAIR TRADE cocoa, sugar and chocolate for health reasons and political reasons (sugar & chocolate growers and producers shouldn't suffer so that we can have dessert!)
* a scant cup of chocolate chips would weigh about 6oz, which is 50% more than the recipe calls for. using that much would send all the ratios in the recipe out of balance.
* CANOLA oil does NOT fly in my book as it is too often genetically modified (and i'm a firm believer in avoiding GMOs as we don't know their long-term effects) and in this case i call for SUNFLOWER oil or non-hydrogenated COCONUT oil.
* coarse salt is not appropriate for this recipe - it's fine SEA SALT (rich in minerals that table salt or a conventional coarse salt would not have) in the recipe.

i hope you don't read this and think "wow, what a tight-ass!" ... i hope instead you understand that 1) i'm aware of the difference between having someone make a recipe with my name on on it and then think, "huh, her baked goods aren't all that great" - or having them think "wow! i loved those brownies! can't wait to pick up jae's book and try more of her recipes!" (when they make the recipe the way it was intended) and 2) by taking this recipe out of the context of the book - which is a holistic health reference/how-to guide as well as a cookbook and encourages the reader to make informed decisions about their health and food choices - i worry that it has lost the integrity it had in its original form.

thanks for your understanding - i do hope that folks pick up the book to get a better idea of what i'm on about.

Posted by: jae steele | October 1, 2008 8:41 AM

Hi Jae: Thanks for checking in and for your comments. This is why I wrote "adapted from" at the top of the recipe. I would love it if your publisher could get me a review copy of your book. Please e-mail me:

Posted by: Kim O'Donnel | October 1, 2008 10:50 AM

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