When I was younger, I used to love baking cakes for my friends and family – especially for big occasions like birthdays or anniversaries. Since I’ve been through university and am now in a full-time job, I don’t find as much time for baking as I used to, but Christmas is the time of the year that I manage to squeeze some in!
There’s nothing better than walking into a kitchen that smells like something delicious is baking in the oven – and bonus if it’s something chocolatey! The mouthwatering smells fill the air and then you get to fill your belly with all the goodies! Brownies are my ultimate favourite when it comes to baked goods, and since I’ve been trying to cut down on the amount of animal products I’ve been eating, it was great to find a vegan recipe and modify it to my taste for this brownie bake.
I have to say, I’m not usually a big fan of coconut with sweet treats and did worry that it would be an overpowering flavour with the oil and milk. However, I think it was just the right amount to balance the chocolate. If coconut isn’t your thing, you could easily swap out the oil for dairy-free butter, and you could probably swap the coconut milk for your preferred plant-based milk. I might have a go at making these again with dairy-free butter and oat milk (my favourite!) to see how they turn out.
When it comes to decorating the brownies, the sky is the limit! I opted for a simple design with green butter icing and edible silver balls*, but you could go all out and use different coloured icing, sprinkles, chocolate, edible glitter – just have fun with your creations! Kids will love designing their own christmas tree brownies and then tucking into their masterpieces!
*Watch out – these are not even vegetarian! Who would’ve thought you’d have to check the label on something like this? I’m still learning to keep an eye out on some ingredients, and won’t be buying these again.
140g dark chocolate – high percent and check it’s dairy-free
170g self-raising flour
15g cocoa powder
150g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
65g coconut oil, melted
200ml coconut milk
80g dark chocolate chips
Your choice of decorations
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan/gas mark 4).
2. Grease and line an oblong baking tin – mine was 8 by 12 inches.
3. Break the dark chocolate into small pieces and place in a heat proof bowl. Sit the bowl over a pan of boiling water, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water (so the chocolate doesn’t burn).
4. Stir the chocolate until it has melted, then leave to cool slightly.
5. In a mixing bowl, sift the flour and cocoa powder, then add the sugar and vanilla essence.
6. Carefully stir in the melted chocolate, coconut oil and coconut milk (or alternatives if you’re not feeling the coconut). Stir until the mixture is well combined.
7. Add the chocolate chips and give one last stir before pouring the brownie mixture into the baking tin and levelling the top.
8. Bake for 15-17 minutes, until the top is crisp but the middle is still slightly gooey. You want the brownies to be firm enough to cut and shape, but still fudgey enough to enjoy.
9. Leave to cool for 20-30 minutes, then lift out of the tray using the greaseproof paper.
10. Cut down the centre of the tray (the long side) so that you can make two rows of trees. You’ll need to cut diagonally from top to bottom in an alternating fashion so that one triangle is upright, then the next is upside down and so forth. You’ll lose a bit of the brownie from the sides in the trimming process, but I’m sure you’ll gobble that up in no time! My mixture and cutting of brownies meant that it made 12 trees.
11. Time to decorate! I made my butter icing with 25g dairy-free butter, 50g icing sugar and some green food colouring gel. Then I just popped the silver balls on top.
I hope you enjoy making your christmas tree creations with your little ones! Make sure to tag me in your photos on social media – @loiskingscottauthor on Facebook and Instagram.