I finally got to check having a picnic off my summer bucket list! Even more fun than a regular picnic, this was a picnic and a movie in a park! Chicago has SO many free outdoor movies in the parks this summer - check out this schedule to find out more! My friend Laura and I went to see Moulin Rouge last night, which was so fun. We hadn’t seen this movie in a while, and I forgot how good, but also sad, it is.
I found this adorable watermelon picnic basket at a consignment store earlier this summer, and have just been waiting for the chance to picnic with it, so I was thrilled to break it out! I got so many compliments on it from strangers as I was walking through Chicago on my way to the park.
For our picnic, Laura brought quinoa and I brought sliced red and yellow peppers, carrots, and chopped chicken sausage. I also created a recipe for vegan sweet potato brownies with strawberries and peanut butter coconut frosting. They turned out really good and I am bringing the extra brownies to my medical school lecture today to share with my friends!
My plan for the recipe initially was to use flax eggs, which I have used successfully as a vegan egg substitute in the past many times. However, when I started baking, I realized I don’t actually have any flax seed! But luckily I had a bag of Bob’s Red Mill egg replacer, which I hadn’t used before, but it worked out great. If you are not vegan, you can use regular eggs. I chose to make these brownies vegan because one of my good med school friends is vegan, and I wanted to be able to share them with her. Also, if you have a food processor, you could add all the ingredients to it to make mixing them together easier! I wish I had a food processor, but I don’t and making this by hand worked just fine!
Vegan Brownies with Strawberries
Makes about 20 brownies
1 cooked and mashed sweet potato (without skin)
½ cup almond butter
2 vegan “eggs” (or 2 regular eggs)
3-4 tbsp honey or maple syrup
Splash of vanilla
¼ cup coconut flour
¼ cup almond flour
¾ cup cocoa powder
Dash of cinnamon
Dash of salt
3-4 tbsp water
2 tbsp olive oil
About ¼ grated dark chocolate bar
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly oil a baking pan.
2. Prepare the sweet potato. I poked a few holes in it with a fork and microwaved it for about 7 minutes until it was soft, then peeled and mashed it.
3. Prepare your vegan egg. For the egg replacer I used, you mix it with water as directed on the package and let sit a few minutes - it will have a glue-like consistency.
4. Mix the sweet potato with the almond butter, vanilla, honey, and eggs.
5. Mix the coconut flour, almond flour, cocoa powder, salt, and cinnamon together.
6. Add these dry ingredients to the sweet potato mixture, and mix well.
7. Add oil and water, mix well.
8. Mix in the grated chocolate. The batter will be quite thick and almost like frosting. It tastes delicious unbaked, by the way, and you can eat it safely if you don’t use real eggs!
9. Spread batter in the pan, and add some strawberries (I dehydrated freeze dried berries) on top.
10. Bake for about 35 minutes until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.
11. Let cool and enjoy plain or with peanut butter coconut frosting!
Peanut Butter Coconut Frosting
Note: I used a hand mixer for this, but it would still probably work as a frosting without a mixer. You may just need to add more coconut flour to thicken it, or you could use cream cheese instead of coconut cream. If you are not making this vegan or dairy free, feel free to use regular heavy whipping cream!
1 can coconut milk or cream
¼ cup and 1 tbsp Crazy Richard’s Powdered PB
Dash of cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp honey or maple syrup
Optional/as needed: 2-3 tbsp coconut flour to thicken
Pour coconut milk out of the can into a large bowl and mix well so it is smooth. Place the bowl in the fridge for at least an hour to thicken. You don’t want it to be solid, but it should be about the consistency of cream.
Remove the milk or cream from the fridge.
Add in the other ingredients, and whip the cream with a hand mixer for 5-7 minutes until soft peaks form. If you overwhip it, it will develop a slightly grainy texture and be a bit runny (I found this out the hard way). It’ll still taste good, so to thicken it into frosting consistency, mix in some coconut flour.
Refrigerate until thickened.
Serve on brownies, or with other dessert, or on yogurt or toast - so many options!