Low-Fat Buckwheat Brownies

One of the challenges of sharing recipes with others is trying to manage expectations. I’ve posted several brownie recipes on this site (I should start a section just for “brownies” in my recipe index, there are so many options at this point), each with its own character, texture and taste. Some are cakey, some chewy, some fudgey. Some are sweet; others, less so. Some have added flavors and different dimensions, others are old-fashioned and pure chocolate. They’re all different, but each still good in its own right (in my humble opinion).

The problem is, when you call something a “brownie,” there are still certain underlying expectations: a) that the recipe in question is chocolatey, and ┬áb) that the finished product is sweet enough to satisfy a certain level of sweet tooth. My concern with this recipe, while possibly unfounded, is that it will satisfy neither expectation to the fullest. Sure, there is chocolate. And sure, these tend toward “sweet” on the sweet-savory scale. But then there’s the whole buckwheat factor, which adds a light nuttiness that sets a backdrop for the more subtle chocolate taste, and the fact that these are not that sweet when compared to other desserts sharing the “brownie” title.

Nevertheless, I’ve decided, based on the fact that I love this recipe, to abandon any inhibitions I may have about this recipe and just post it already. Because, after all, just because they’re not a “typical” brownie doesn’t mean they’re not good in their own right. In fact, I’m willing to argue that one of the most crucial components of a good brownie isn’t the sweetness or overall chocolate content at all, but rather the texture. These are soft and chewy — the perfect combination.

In keeping with my most recent self-imposed challenge to cook and bake without added oils, the only oil required for this recipe is a light spray of the pan to keep the finished product from sticking. Otherwise, these gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, sugar-free brownies are oil-free as well. If that sounds sufficiently disgusting to you, make this recipe anyway. You might just be surprised at what a little applesauce and soy yogurt can do.

Yield: 1 9×13″ pan of brownies

Low-Fat Buckwheat Brownies:

2 cups Bob’s Red Mill brown rice flour

1/2 cup Bob’s Red Mill buckwheat flour

2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 cup plain soy yogurt*

1 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup coconut nectar**

2 tablespoons non-dairy milk

oil for spraying pan


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flours, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Add in remaining ingredients and gently stir until incorporated.

3. Pour batter into a lightly-greased 9×13″ baking dish. Bake in preheated oven for approximately 25-30 minutes, or until top bounces back when lightly pressed. Let cool completely on a wire rack before serving.

* I used WholeSoy & Co. unsweetened plain soy yogurt. Many plain soy yogurts do have some added cane sugar, so if you use one that is not unsweetened, be mindful that it may increase the overall sweetness of the final product.

** I believe agave may be substituted with good results, but it will still likely change the overall texture, at least slightly.


  1. Rene s. says

    Thanks for a great recipe!! I was in the mood for brownies,
    and actually had all the ingredients in the house. I used Westsoy Organic Unsweetened soymilk (my fav, love the rich, creamy texture) for the non dairy bev and the brownies turned out great!

  2. Beth says

    Rene — So glad you liked them! I love when I have all of the ingredients available for a recipe. Thanks for the feedback and enjoy!

  3. sophie says

    Hi! These brownies look very tasty! I have two question for substitutions. Because I cannot both dairy and soy – could I sub the soy yogurt for almond milk? And…do you know the conversion of coconut necatar to coconut sugar (crystals) ? Do you think it would be more, less, or the same? :)

  4. Beth says

    Hi Sophie- Unfortunately, I’m not sure either of those substitutions would work 1) because the soy yogurt is a lot thicker in texture than almond milk and 2) because every time I’ve tried coconut crystals for the nectar, the result is a lot more crumbly. Might I suggest a coconut-based yogurt for the yogurt and perhaps agave or maple syrup for the coconut nectar? Of course, feel free to experiment, but I feel compelled to warn you that — based on experience — the result may be quite different!

  5. says

    I’ve not baked with buckwheat flour (frankly, I don’t bake all that much), but I see you have mostly rice and a bit of buckwheat. Is that necessary?

    I had wondered if buckwheat flour mightn’t simply substitute for normal, glutenous flours, but I’m guessing not from this recipe.
    Charlie van Becelaere recently posted..Glacage du Jour – 24 July 2011

  6. Beth says

    Charlie — buckwheat flour has sort of a nutty “buckwheat” flavor that I think would be a little overpowering for brownies. I like brown rice flour the best for a substitute for gluten flours and the buckwheat adds a nice dimension and flavor without being too overpowering. I think it pairs well with chocolate, too.

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