A friend had a special request for her birthday “cake”: brownies, not heavily frosted, possibly Sailor-Moon themed. I’m really glad, too, because apartments in Seattle don’t have AC, which is a helpful thing to have to dealing with butter-based decorations.
This recipe is dairy-free if you are using vegan baker’s chocolate. If you want to glaze or frost it, you can use non-dairy milk for a glaze or my favorite vegan buttercream, but the brownies are rich and moist without it.
To make it the brownies into an homage to the locket, I made a very basic glaze to give the pink color; a little leftover yellow buttercream to make the moon; and halved cherries to stand in for the gems.
I used a 8-in (20 cm) round cake pan for the lower layer and a 6-in (15.25 cm) pan for the upper layer. I wasn’t sure if they’d be good without the brownie corners, but the round pan actually created that effect all around the edge. If you like your brownies fudgey, use a 8×8-in or 9×9-in brownie pan; if you like them chewy, a 13×9-in pan. The coconut flakes make the brownies a little more toothsome. I like to use 1 cup of toasted coconut, but you can reduce or omit to taste.
Japan notes: coconut oil (kokonattsu oiru, ココナッツオイル) is available in some import stores, but it’s very expensive. If you can eat dairy, butter is cheaper. Just substitute the same volume of butter (1/2 cup, 115 g). (I reverse-engineered this to use coconut oil, so butter will be fine.) I also did a Japan version of brownies here; coconut flakes are often available in the baking section of the store.
Double Coconut Brownies
Adapted from The Joy of Cooking’s “Brownies Cockaigne” (2006 ed)
Yields ~30 small brownies
1 cup (90 g) unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup (120 L) melted or partially melted coconut oil*
4 oz. (115 g) unsweetened (dairy-free) chocolate
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups (400 g) sugar
1 cup (125 g) all-purpose flour
*Stored at room temperature in warm weather, it will melt. The “slurry” of coconut oil at lower room temperatures works, too.
Medium sauce pan
Double boiler (or a tall pot and a frying pan that can fit completely over it)
Stand mixer or hand mixer
Optional: parchment paper
1. Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease your pan(s) with coconut oil. (Optional: line with parchment paper.)
2. Add the shredded coconut to the saucepan and cook over low-medium heat to toast the coconut, stirring frequently. Set aside.
3. Begin heating the double-boiler. While the shredded coconut is toasting, finely chop the chocolate and add it and the coconut oil to the top of the double boiler. After it is completely melted, remove from heat and the bottom boiler and set aside to cool (~15-20 minutes).
4. When the chocolate mixture is mostly cool, add the eggs and salt to a large bowl or the stand mixer bowl and beat on medium until light and fluffy.
5. Slowly add in the sugar and vanilla and continue to beat.
6. Gently fold in the chocolate with a silicone spatula. Do not overstir.
7. Add in the flour with a few quick stirs to incorporate.
8. Bake at 350°F (175°C) for ~25 minutes (depending on pan size).