Gastronomy 101, a blog about food and Los Angeles restaurants

EVENT: Sugar High Friday: The Surprise Inside!

It's that time again. It's Sugar High Friday! This month's edition is hosted by Veggie Venture. The theme for this month is: The Surprise Inside. Participants are asked to create a sweet dish with some sort of surprise inside--either a surprise ingredient, or a hidden surprise treat, or any other reasonable interpretation of the theme.

In honor of the host, I began with a vegan recipe for brownie bites by Erin McKenna of Babycakes NYC. So the first surprise inside of this recipe is what's not in it: eggs, milk, and gluten. Then I destroyed the vegan-ness of it by adding in Vosges red fire chocolate chips, which are made with butter. Which is the second surprise, as these brownie bites have a spicy cinnamon-chile heat lurking in their belly.

As McKenna acknowledges in the article where I found this recipe, it's really hard to make good vegan brownies. The recipe is the product of six months on her part of trial and error, so as far as the main ingredients go, I didn't deviate at all.

However, I am not a vegan so I didn't feel the need to go strictly vegan and to be honest ... for a non-vegan, a vegan brownie is just never going to be as good as a buttery, eggy dessert. And I not only have myself to please, but a husband who doesn't care so much about health when it comes to his desserts, but they do need to taste good. Which is why I decided to add the Vosges chocolate chips instead of the dairy-free chips called for by the recipe. The exotic flavor provided the surprise that allowed me to participate in this Sugar High Friday. The Red Fire chips are made with dark chocolate, Mexican ancho and chipotle chili peppers, and Ceylon cinnamon. I was afraid they might be too spicy for the little brownie bites, but a quick taste before adding them proved that the heat was subtle and instead of burning, provided a warm background to the exotic cinnamon flavor.

The brownie bites turned out great -- soft and moist and fluffy. There is definitely a taste difference from a regular brownie. The applesauce gives it a more vegetable sweetness. We had exmaples both with and without the chips, to compare. I thought they were delicious with or without the chocolate chips, although I thought if they were any bigger, they wouldn't have been as good. J. thought that without the chocolate chips, they were a little disappointing. With the chocolate chips, he thought they were perfect.


Makes 12 servings

Prep time:

Active: 15 Minutes
Start to finish: 30 Minutes

  • Vegetable oil spray
  • ½ cup Bob's Red Mill gluten-free, all-purpose baking flour, plus 2 tablespoons
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon xanthan gum
  • ½ cup applesauce
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup Vosges Red Fire chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 325. Spray 2 mini muffin pans with vegetable oil spray or line with baby muffin cups. In a bowl, whisk the baking flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt and xanthan gum. In another bowl, whisk the applesauce, oil and vanilla; stir into the dry ingredients. Stir in the chocolate chips. Spoon the batter into the muffin pans, filling them three-quarters full. Bake for 15 minutes, or until set. Let the brownies cool in the pans for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.

Nutritional information per serving:
ONE BROWNIE: 69 cal, 4 gm fat, 0.8 gm sat fat, 10 gm carb, 0.8 gm fiber.



Yum! I just tried some of the Vosges Red Fire chocolate last week and I am seriously addicted now.

said by linda at 9:42 AM Delete

Yes! It is very good ... I'm really glad there's not a Vosges store nearby because I love their products.

My chocolate chips came with a recipe for brownies made with their Black Pearl chips, so I may have to think about that next!

said by KT at 12:23 PM Delete

I've never heard of these red fire chips before but I definitely have to get myself some. I've just started experimenting with putting hot flavours with chocolate and I really like it. I made a chocolate cookie with habanero pepper sauce and they turned out pretty good.

said by Brilynn at 2:42 PM Delete

Wow, a cookie with habanero is a pretty brave venture! I definitely think that chocolate and chile flavors go astonishingly well together. I am not much of a plain chocolate fan, but I love chocolate and chile or chocolate and salty also ...

said by KT at 2:46 PM Delete

vosges is (are) the bomb. what are in the black pearl chips?

said by Anyanka at 3:05 PM Delete

Black Pearl = dark chocolate with ginger, wasabi & black sesame seeds.

My chips came with a recipe for brownies with these in them plus candied ginger and marshmallows ... I think ... sounds magically delicious!

said by KT at 3:08 PM Delete

I've made a chili recipe which has choc chips as an ingredient and crumbled blue cheese as a condiment. Wish I had known about Vosges... That would have been perfect.

The women loved the chili... the guys...notsomuch.

(Are we having Thanksgiving at your house this year?)

said by Sooslo at 5:29 PM Delete

Red Fire Brownie Bites is such a great name! And the fire is a truly surprising twist for your SHF entry. How fun!

said by Josie at 12:11 PM Delete

Sooslo: Chili with chocolate sounds like a great idea. Mole sauce often has chocolate in it, so it makes total sense!

Josie: Thank you! These were really easy to make, also, and the ingredients are easy to find if you have a health food store or a Whole Foods nearby. Or you could just stick the Red Fire chips in a regular brownie recipe and I bet it would be fantastic.

said by KT at 12:16 PM Delete

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