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salted coconut caramel brownies + hi mom ❤


I come from a long line of tough brauds, no question. The inclination to cook, do more physical work, stay constantly busy, and get my hands dirty has never been a mystery to me. My grandmother turns the ripe old age of 89 this month and continues to work 5 days a week. I still can’t fully comprehend that. I remember my Nana as the most feisty, resourceful, don’t-take-any-shit type of woman I’ve ever known. I didn’t appreciate her tenacity so much when she was with us, but now I try to emulate that very quality she held up high so often. I miss her quips and thoughtfulness, always in a perfect balance.

My mother definitely follows suit with the theme of tough ladies here. A day of luxury with manicures, brunch and tea? No thanks. She’d rather tackle a gardening or building project and actually get something done with her time. We were at a bookstore recently and I pointed to a table they had set up under a pastel banner that said “Treat Mom,” or something of that ilk, huge smirk on my face knowing what the reaction would be. There were delicately tasseled blankets, various types of flowery bubble bath, semi-trashy novels, glossy hardcover biographies of 50’s starlets, striped canvas totes for leisurely trips to the beach, scented beeswax candles, rose-hued lip balms etc. She just scoffed at the whole thing in a lighthearted way, and I was laughing along with her. Not to say that curling up with a new book in a lovely blanket with rosy-glossy lips is preposterous. It just doesn’t exactly embody the ultimate treat for ladies like us. A rare native plant for her massive, immaculate gardens or perhaps a shiny new electric drill? Now you’re getting close.

Her days are filled with endless to-dos that always get done because she plugs through and stays motivated to work hard, regardless of the task. I admire that so much. If something is worth doing (and it almost always is), you should do it really well. It’s this unrelenting, guiding mantra that seems to drive her forward. And for all of that, the goodness that she brings into my life, the woman deserves some chocolate once in a while (she actually deserves it every day, truth). I originally planned to make something rhubarb-y this week. Market availability kind of squashed that whole plan, but it’s all the better because chocolate is number one around here, always (PROOF!).

The base recipe for the brownies themselves from here (the fantastic Oh She Glows blog) is already so good, the best I’ve had actually. I added a central layer of coconut milk-based caramel, putting them into mega fudge-y territory, a quality I can never get enough of with brownies. There’s a good amount of (organic evaporated cane) sugar in these, but what is life if you can’t enjoy a little sugar with those you love once in a while, right? Right. C’mon, you know I’m right.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the amazing ladies celebrating. Your strength and care is an inspiration. Love you Mom! X’s, O’s and chocolate forever :)


salted coconut caramel fudge brownies (vegan, GF)
brownie recipe super lightly/barely adapted from Oh She Glows
caramel recipe adapted from Baked Explorations (favourite baking resource as of late)
serves: makes an 8×8 pan
notes: Resist the temptation to use all of the caramel! Reserve about 2-3 tbsp from the recipe and set it aside for another use (ahem, to drizzle on top of a cooled brownie with some Luna and Larry’s coconut bliss perhaps?).  On top of that, you should refrain from trying to eat them warm (guh, I know it’s hard). These need a solid 3-4 hours to cool completely before removing from the pan and cutting.

caramel:
1/2 cup natural sugar
1 tbsp maple syrup (or honey, agave nectar etc)
2 tbsp water
1/3 cup full fat (canned) coconut milk
fat pinch of sea salt

brownies:
1.5 tbsp ground chia seeds (or flax) + 1/4 cup water
heaped 3/4 cup GF flour (an all purpose blend, white or brown rice etc)
1.5 cups almond meal/flour
2 tbsp arrowroot
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cinnamon (this is just to bring out the chocolaty-ness)
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil + extra for greasing (in a semi solid/soft state–not melted!)
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup natural sugar
1/4 cup full fat (canned) coconut milk
2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8×8 inch pan with coconut oil. Layer 2 pieces of parchment into the pan in opposite directions to line it. Grease the parchment with more coconut oil. Set aside.

Make the caramel: place the sugar, water and maple syrup into a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir gently so as not to splash the sugar up on the sides too much. Continue to stir as the mixture starts to bubble and boil. Do not walk away! Once the colour of the mixture turns to medium-dark amber (like the colour of dark maple syrup), remove it from the heat. Pour the coconut milk in slowly. The mixture will bubble up and spit slightly. Start quickly whisking the mixture as soon as you can to achieve a homogenous mix. If there are hardened parts, set the pan back on the burner over low and continue to whisk until most of the lumps are gone. Add a pinch of salt and scrape mixture into a small bowl. Set aside to cool completely. It should thicken up quite a bit (I place the bowl in the fridge to speed this process up).

Whisk together the ground chia seed and water in a small bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the flours, arrowroot, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda and cinnamon. Set aside.

Set a medium saucepan with a couple of inches of water over medium heat. Bring to a light simmer. In a medium, nonreactive bowl, combine the coconut oil and semisweet chocolate. Place bowl over simmering water, ensuring that the base of the bowl is not touching the water. Whisk chocolate and oil until chocolate is completely melted. Remove from the heat.

To the chocolate mixture, add the chia and water mixture (it should be gel-like at this point), natural sugar, coconut milk and vanilla extract. Whisk to combine.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix together with a spatula. The batter will seem dry and stiff. Mix until there are no more dry/flour-y spots left in the batter.

Scoop half of the batter into the prepared pan. Smooth it out as much as you can with a spatula. To thoroughly flatten it,I place a sheet of saran wrap on top of the batter and press on top with my fingers/palms until the surface is even and the bottom of the pan is covered.

Pour all but 3 tbsp of the coconut milk caramel on top of the first layer of batter. Smooth it out to evenly distribute it. Scoop the remaining batter on top of the caramel. Spread it out as best you can, employing the previous spatula and saran wrap technique combo. Place pan into the preheated oven and bake for 35-40 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely before de-panning and cutting.

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Kasey09/05/2012 - 7:34 pm

Love the tribute! My mom’s not the frilly type, either, and truth be told she probably works harder than I do (clocking in after hours on freelance assignments and even designing the Turntable Kitchen Pairings Box recipe cards!). Love that you’re celebrating your mom with chocolate – it’s always the number one choice (obviously).

sara09/05/2012 - 7:53 pm

that caramel! oh man, i NEED these.

Jacqui09/05/2012 - 8:02 pm

I like you and your family of women, they sound just like mine : )
I’ll take brownies over bubble bath any day! Love the carmel layer too.

Erin09/05/2012 - 8:09 pm

These look absolutely divine! I love that the caramel sauce uses coconut milk- definitely put these at the top of my “to try” list!

Cookie and Kate09/05/2012 - 8:25 pm

Love your accounts of the no-nonsense women in your life. My mom is a really hard worker as well (a workaholic, really) and the woman has had one manicure, ever. How she runs her own company without a drop of coffee in the morning is just beyond me. These brownies look incredible, no doubt my mother would love a slice. :)

Marissa | Pinch and Swirl09/05/2012 - 8:26 pm

You’ve described my favorite kind of ladies – especially love this – “I miss her quips and thoughtfulness, always in a perfect balance.” + plus brownies look amazing, salt makes everything better.

Jeanine09/05/2012 - 11:37 pm

That caramel coconut layer sounds divine, I’m going to make these this weekend!

Michelle10/05/2012 - 1:28 am

Oh wow! This post made me so happy. Firstly. because these brownies, dear god! Secondly, because I totally feel you re: strong, powerful ladies. My mom is the single biggest female influence in my life and I’d have it no other way. I always strive harder and aim higher because of her. Feeling the love and passing it on.

Thelittleloaf10/05/2012 - 3:05 am

These look incredible-I love the idea of coconut caramel.

Kathryn10/05/2012 - 4:41 am

The women in your life sound pretty darn amazing; what fantastic role models to have. I think these brownies are a very fitting tribute to them.

talley10/05/2012 - 6:40 am

my mom would choose weeding the garden over getting a manicure any day! I only wish I had a garden. These brownies look heavenly; enough chocolate to make me happy, coconut caramel to make my husband happy and gluten free for my mom. Wonderful recipe, cannot wait to try it out. Beautiful post.

Emily10/05/2012 - 5:15 pm

These are stunning! They look and sound delicious. Lovely photos!

Jenné @ Sweet Potato Soul10/05/2012 - 9:30 pm

Wow, these looks incredible! The perfect treat to soften a tough lady. I will give these a try this weekend. Have a great mother’s day with your family!

Margarita10/05/2012 - 9:56 pm

My mom is the best of both worlds… she is a girly girl when she steps out of the house, but at home she’s hands and knees scrubbing the floor, hacking meat, gutting fish, gardening, and so on. I took after her kitchen love but the girly girliness not yet. I love these brownies… I’ve never made anything with a coconut and chocolate combo before (unless you count cookies with coconut flakes and choc chips).

sarah10/05/2012 - 11:18 pm

These look *amazing*. And I loved reading about your mom – lovely.

Richa@HobbyandMore11/05/2012 - 12:59 am

My mom is like that too.. she always has so much to do.. and still has like 5 times more energy than me.
These brownies are gorgeous, gooey and look delicious!

Alicia @ Treble Tart11/05/2012 - 8:47 am

I have been craving brownies like none other lately! Thank you so much for posting this; it’s exactly what I needed!!

Winnie11/05/2012 - 10:13 am

Great post and the browning look heavenly. ps I am new to your blog and I am loving it!

georgea11/05/2012 - 12:27 pm

these look amazing! I can’t wait to try them

Sarah11/05/2012 - 1:07 pm

I cannot wait to try these! They look so very tasty. Love all the big pictures on your fantastic blog!

Jennifer (Delicieux)11/05/2012 - 8:13 pm

What a beautiful tribute post, all the women in your family sound so strong. And chocolate is a wonderful way to celebrate. I especially love the sound of the coconut milk caramel. I am so going to have to try this.

[…] The First Mess, which is another brilliant food blog full of yummy veggie and vegan food.  These brownies have me thinking of doing a vegan […]

art and lemons16/05/2012 - 7:17 am

Every time I read your blog, I’m inspired to get into the kitchen no matter what time of day, and cook or bake. Certainly 7 a.m. is brownie time, yes? Or at least a post-Mother’s Day chocolate exception counts. Lovely account of the women in your family, I would certainly fit right in with the hard working, no nonsense, chocolate first ethos.

Meaghan19/05/2012 - 4:20 pm

I made these today for the first time. Uhm…I really can’t come up with a word that describes how ridiculously fudgy and amazing they are. Fudgemazing, perhaps? I used Mimic Creme’s Almond and Cashew Cream instead of Coconut Milk in both the Caramel and the Brownie recipe – worked very well.

I made a double batch in a 9×13 pan and saved about 1/2 cup of the caramel to drizzle over the top. Great tip! I can’t seem to keep my fingers out of the bowl though.

Anyway – just wanted to say thanks ’cause these rock. I’m very excited to bring these to the dinner party I’m going to tonight – I know all the omnivores will marvel at my cruelty free dessert!

Aimee06/06/2012 - 6:10 pm

I’ve been drooling over this recipe for a week. I just put them in the oven. First, the batter and the caramel are delicious ;). I must say though, the caramel in between didn’t work for me. I leveled out the bottom layer of brownie mixture which in itself was quite tedious then poured most of the caramel down and immediately knew that getting the second layer of brownie batter on top was not going to be easy. The caramel just leaked up while I was spreading the batter out. So now I have caramel floating on the very top of my brownies which is fine by me! I just hope it doesn’t burn :/. They are in the oven now. I will come back with results.

How the heck did you get the caramel to stay in between the layer?

Thanks so much for the recipe, it’s going to be delicious no matter where the caramel lay.

[…] for the ice cream makes a bit more than what is needed for the pie. Oops :) Cool thing: I had some caramel from these brownies and drizzled some onto the crust before I laid the ice cream in. Highly […]

Jessacita03/09/2012 - 1:04 pm

I was wondering if the coconut milk you are using is the thick kind that comes in a can or coconut milk that comes in cartons similarly to soy, almond and rice milk. I really don’t want to use the wrong thing :( Thanks for your help!

Laura03/09/2012 - 1:39 pm

It’s the canned kind! I’ll specify in the recipe :)

joanne07/09/2012 - 5:04 am

This recipe sounds delicious! Is it possible to substitute coconut sugar for the sugar or yacon syrup? If it’s possible to substitute yacon syrup, how much would you recommend? Thanks!

Brooke05/12/2012 - 8:03 pm

I cannot have nuts, any suggestions for an almond flour substitut? Thanks so much!!

Laura06/12/2012 - 9:43 am

Hi Brooke, I don’t have any experience making these without the almond flour. A little google searching led me to this idea: replace it with half coconut flour and half ground flax meal. Coconut flour tends to soak up a lot of moisture so you may notice that the batter is drier. In that case I would add a 1-2 tbsp more of the coconut milk. Hope that helps!
-L

Brooke06/12/2012 - 5:41 pm

Thanks for your quick response!! I am going to give it a try.

Elsa11/04/2013 - 11:09 am

Just wondering how far in advance I can make these? Typical brownies are no good the next day… do these keep for a couple of days?

Laura Wright11/04/2013 - 11:16 am

Hey Elsa, If you wrap them super tight they would be fine for 2-3 days. The caramel layer kind of keeps the moist quality intact.
-L

Mik04/07/2013 - 5:31 pm

For the GF flour do you recommend a special blend? can it be only white rice flour or must be a mix between brown and white? Thanks!!

Laura Wright05/07/2013 - 8:21 am

Hi Mik,
I’ve made these using a mix of brown and white rice flour, but also with just pure white rice or brown rice flour. Haven’t tried any all purpose blends yet, but brownies tend to be less finnicky in the world of GF baked goods, so if you have a blend that you like it’ll probably work.
-L

Rozanna07/07/2013 - 2:41 am

These are delicious! We have a tradition at work where you have to bring in cakes on your birthday. We had three lots this week, including my batch of these brownies. In what was declared the Exmouth bake off, I was crowned winner! So delighted that the Vegan entry beat non-vegan baking. It’s great to be able to share delicious vegan food with non-vegans, helps dispel the myth that vegan food is dull or that we are making some kind of sacrifice :)

Ariane15/07/2013 - 11:43 pm

Your recipe and the pictures inspired me that I just had to go and make them last night. They turned out yummy, but not as nice as on your pictures. I wonder why? They don’t have this crunchy top and the very fudgy middle – did I bake them too long? The top looks like a dry cake with speckles of almond flour visible and a slightly fudgy inside. When do you take them out, when it’s still a bit wobbly? Or when the cake is firm? Or could I have done something else wrong? I followed everything to the t :-( (btw I used 165 degrees Celsius fan forced)

Laura Wright16/07/2013 - 8:17 am

Hey Ariane,
I’m so sorry that the brownies didn’t work out for you! From the way you describe the texture, it sounds like you may have baked them a little too long. Also, I don’t have a fan in my oven, but I know from working in professional kitchens that forced fans tend to cook things a lot faster. The brownies should seem a bit soft in the middle of the pan when they’re ready to remove from the oven. I hope this is helpful in some way and that you’ll maybe be inspired to try them again. Thanks for your feedback too! :)
-L

Ariane16/07/2013 - 11:36 pm

Thank you Laura. I will for sure try them again! I will now need to find an easy and yummy vegan cake recipe that my boyfriend can whip up for my birthday in a few weeks. I am hoping for something with berries ;-) I will search your lovely website and see if there is something that I can give to him as a challenge.

Amadea20/01/2014 - 1:22 pm

Hi Laura,

I’m wondering if I need to use arrowroot if I end up using nonGF flours?

Laura Wright22/01/2014 - 7:57 am

Hi Amadea, as long as you replace the the 2 tbsp of arrowroot with 2 equal tbsp of flour, you’re good :)
-L

Sheryl13/02/2014 - 12:24 am

Wow! I’m in my pajamas in bed goofing around on Pinterest when I saw these. I’m tempted to get out of bed and go make them right now. YUM! I can’t wait to try these. I’m so grateful for creative culinary people who share their tasty talents.

SJ24/03/2014 - 5:47 pm

Hi,
Just curious, but are the chia seeds required for this recipe?

Laura Wright27/03/2014 - 12:22 pm

Hi SJ,
I use the chia gel as a binder in this recipe, essentially replacing what would normally be an egg in a traditional recipe. Ground flax seeds will work all the same if you have those!
-L

Tracy Ross08/04/2014 - 7:07 pm

I really want to try these but I need clarification on “natural sugar”. Is white sugar not natural? Thanks!

Tracy Ross08/04/2014 - 11:57 pm

As long as I’m asking silly questions, is regular old salt not “sea salt”? Where does it come from if not the sea? Thanks!

Laura Wright09/04/2014 - 7:05 am

Hi Tracy, natural sugar just refers to evaporated cane juice, or white sugar that hasn’t been turned white yet. It looks like white sugar, just a bit more golden/beige-ish coloured. I specify it because it’s a bit less processed. And the sea salt thing is just to get away from iodized table-style salt, which has a bit of a weird taste.
-L

[…] of gathering ’round more often. I’ve wrote here about how tough and motivated my mum is before, but in this noticeably busier season of life, her strength and inner drive has been particularly […]

anna28/05/2014 - 11:26 pm

Hi Laura! I LOVE all your recipes. You are so inspiring! I want to make these brownies tomorrow but I am wondering, do you think oat flour would work instead of the 3/4 cup of GF all purpose or rice flour?

Laura Wright01/06/2014 - 3:29 pm

Anna! Sorry for replying to this so late. I think oat flour may just work as a substitute in this situation. Let me know how it went if you tried!
-L

Cat25/07/2014 - 6:59 am

Just got these in the oven, didn’t quite go as planned, the caramel was runnier than I thought it would be, although forgot to put it in the fridge, so it sort of all mashed up with the top layer, I also need a smaller pan, so some of the caramel leaked out to part of the pan that was empty. However, the mix tasted amazing, so who cares, just means I’ll have to try again :)

[…] maybe make some and try them For a glutenfree version see Laura’s Salted Caramel Brownies here For more baked desserts, cakes, cookies see here. Grab a bite and then try to explain to hubbs […]

[…] maybe make some and try them For a glutenfree version see Laura’s Salted Caramel Brownies here For more baked desserts, cakes, cookies see here. Grab a bite and then try to explain to hubbs […]

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