pin it!
pin it!
pin it!
pin it!

Chocolate on Halloween is key and nothing beats these peanut butter-swirled grain-free brownies. We’re away at Disney World on this most spooky of days this year. I loaded this post up ahead of time for you, but I have no doubt that I’ll be stuffing my face with all manners of Mickey Mouse-shaped treats today. Posting all the action on Instagram if you’re curious!

These brownies are a gentle riff on the mega fudgy ones from my cookbook. They’re almost TOO fudgy at times, which is a strange selling point, but let’s just go with it. Once these are thoroughly cooled, I like to keep them in the fridge. Perfectly chilled wine and equally exquisitely chilled brownies is a good way to live.

We use peanut butter as our nut butter of choice for this version of grain-free brownies, and we’ve locked down a more streamlined cooking process! I’m not much of a baker–I know, I say this ALL the time. I don’t have the patience and I just don’t particularly enjoy doing it for some reason, but healthy-ish and easy treats like this with less than 10 ingredients? I can get down.

When my friend Lily shared her version of this recipe a while back, I noticed that she heated all of the liquid ingredients in a saucepan and just melted the chocolate in the warm goo (so appetizing lol) before adding the dry ingredients. In my cookbook, I have you melt the chocolate separately in a double boiler. The saucepan method is a crucial time/extra dishes saver and is most definitely reflected here.

Hope you have a great Halloween! If I wasn’t at the happiest place on earth, I’d be at home watching The Love Witch and handing out cute little bags of chips to trick or treaters (and probably eating many bags myself hehe). I love eating and creating high vibe vegan food/recipes, but I go with full-on treats on this holiday–no seaweed snack or apples at my place ;)

pin it!
pin it!
pin it!
pin it!


Print the recipe here!
SERVES: Makes 9 large, square brownies or 12 medium-ish, rectangular brownies :)
You can use any nut or seed butter in place of the peanut butter!
-The batter is quite stiff, but if you’d like to make swirls of peanut butter on the top, just make sure that your peanut butter is quite drippy/runny. Drizzle a bit on top and then drag a paring knife through the peanut butter and the brownie batter before baking.
-These brownies are naturally oil-free minus the parchment paper greasing at the beginning. I imagine you can get away with not greasing the paper though. Might just stick a tiny bit.

¾ cup natural, smooth peanut butter, plus extra
¾ cup unsweetened applesauce
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons maple syrup
½ cup dairy free chocolate chunks/chips, divided
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
3 tablespoons coconut flour
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
flaky sea salt for garnish (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8x8x2 baking pan with parchment paper “slings” going both ways. There should be overhang on both sides. Grease the parchment paper thoroughly with oil.

In a medium saucepan, combine the peanut butter, applesauce, maple syrup, and all but 3 tablespoons of the chocolate chunks. Place the saucepan over medium heat and stir with a spatula until all of the chocolate is melted, about 4-5 minutes. Stir in the vanilla extract and remove the saucepan from the heat. Let the peanut butter mixture cool slightly.

In a medium bowl, combine the cocoa powder, coconut flour, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to combine.

Once the peanut butter mixture is slightly cooled, add the cocoa powder mixture to the saucepan. Using the spatula, mix everything to combine.

Scrape the grain-free brownie batter into the prepared pan and spread it out evenly, smoothing the top with your spatula. Then, drizzle some drippy peanut butter on top and drag a paring knife through the top of the brownies to create a swirl effect. The batter is quite thick, so you have to be quite deliberate. Press the remaining chocolate chunks into the top and sprinkle with flaky sea salt if you like.

Bake the brownies until firm and slightly dry on top, about 27-30 minutes. Let them cool completely, for at least 2 hours, before slicing into squares. Store brownies covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

  • Debbie Reynolds30/10/2019 - 7:07 am

    These look delish! Coconut flour wreaks havoc with my stomach – is there something gluten free I could replace it with?
    (BTW I make your recipes for my family on a regular basis and we love them!)

    • Abby30/10/2019 - 1:34 pm

      I plan to try these tonight with almond flour – I’ll be sure to report back if it’s a total disaster!ReplyCancel

    • Laura04/11/2019 - 9:10 am

      Hi Debbie,
      People have messaged me in the past saying that they have had success with all purpose flour, spelt flour, and gluten-free all purpose flour blends. I have not tried any of these personally, but all reports were positive :)

  • Grace31/10/2019 - 2:55 pm

    Can you use cacao instead of cocoa?ReplyCancel

    • Laura04/11/2019 - 8:10 am

      Yes definitely! I have done this recipe with cacao powder in the past and it tastes great.

  • Kathryn01/11/2019 - 1:47 pm

    I made those two days ago and the result was fantastic! I used spelt flour instead and they came out just fine!ReplyCancel

  • Katie Stanley04/11/2019 - 4:14 pm

    Seriously delicious – thank you. Even with sub-ing some evil (not natural :D ) peanut butter and a bit of tahini to make the recipe happen, it turned out delightful. Thanks for sharing with all of us, and making my Halloween taste a little more like Reese’s Pieces. <3ReplyCancel

  • Lauren07/11/2019 - 5:15 pm

    Any substitute I can use for the applesauce? I’m on a rather strict protocol and am not supposed to use, but all other ingredients are a thumbs up! SOUND DIVINE!ReplyCancel

    • Laura08/11/2019 - 6:30 am

      I think canned (or fresh) pumpkin puree would work here! It kind of performs the same function. It won’t be as sweet and it might make the brownies a touch more dense, but I think it would work.

  • Leila17/11/2019 - 7:36 pm

    Hi Laura, I love your recipes and I make them on a regular basis. These brownies look so delicious and I cannot wait to try them. Could I omit the chocolate chunks or maybe substitute them with more cocoa?ReplyCancel

    • Laura19/11/2019 - 5:02 pm

      I think you could omit them entirely without any adjustments! Haven’t tried this myself though, so let me know how it works out.

  • Lynsey20/11/2019 - 12:02 am

    Hi Laura,
    Just wanted to pop in to say that your recipes are AMAZING and I love your taste and style. I have convinced my family to have a vegan Thanksgiving with almost all of your recipes this year – including these brownies – and I am SO EXCITED!!!
    I am a total fan :)

  • Cassie Thuvan Tran15/12/2019 - 1:23 am

    Wow! This batch of brownies looks SUBLIME. Peanut butter on a rich chocolatey base with chunks of chocolate…nothing gets better than this! I totally agree with you on Halloween. It’s not the same without a lovely chocolate treat!ReplyCancel

  • Cassie07/03/2020 - 9:56 pm

    I made these this afternoon and WOW. This is my first First Mess recipe and I was a bit wary about vegan/GF brownies (could they really be good??) and the answer is yes. I used whole spelt flour instead of coconut flour (what I had on hand) and they turned out amazing. I’m trying to eat more plant based and this was a good “easing into it” recipe that I’ll definitely come back.ReplyCancel

  • Jessica Flory20/03/2020 - 9:39 pm

    Wow these were AMAZING!!! Oh my goodness so delicious!ReplyCancel

  • Carrie13/04/2020 - 6:18 pm

    I’ve made these brownies from the cookbook a handful of times, but wanted to try this version. Altered it a bit – almond butter instead of pb and yacon syrup instead of maple. Absolutely delicious! Laura’s recipes never disappoint! I may have caught myself eating one before 11a this morning…ReplyCancel

  • Amanda21/04/2020 - 6:26 pm

    I am not normally a brownie person, but these are SUBLIME. Reporting back that they worked just fine with whole wheat pastry flour. Wanted to use up some soy flour, but worried the taste would be too noticeable. May try next time and see.

    I missed the step about pressing the chips into the batter, but definitely will do that next time — I just scattered them on, and a fair number of them just rolled off when I cut the brownies.

    I’m hoping these freeze well, because I don’t need 8 of them burning a hole in my fridge for the next few days!ReplyCancel

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *