Whole Wheat Winter Squash Brownies. No really, they’ll change the way you bake [recipe]

When working with alternative flours like whole grains or gluten free, you might find that texture and moisture are suddenly problems you never had to deal with with standard all purpose flour.  How many whole wheat breads and gluten free cookies have you tried to enjoy that just crumbled in your mouth and left you needing a drink?  We’ve found a solution to the dryness that comes with alternative healthy flours that is not only easy, but it results in a lower fat, higher fiber treat that anyone will enjoy.

winter squash brownies left out for santa

By eliminating the healthiest parts of a grain–the bran and the germ–the starchy, low nutrition, carbohydrate-rich endosperm is left behind in all purpose flour to create baked goods that puff up into soft, decadent treats.  A lot of people enjoy this and just eat with guilt, but to my tastes even the best recipes made with 100% all purpose flour are always lacking a strong backbone of texture and flavor.

Alternative style baking with whole grains and gluten free is a passion of ours.  We like the challenge. We like being able to bring treats to friends and family with dietary restrictions.  And, most of all, we revel in the chance to increase the nutrition of otherwise unhealthy food.

One of our tricks, as you may have noticed recently here on the blog, is adding squash.  Applesauce is also a favorite add-in.  Use these to replace half the butter in a recipe to cut the fat and at the same time boost the vitamins.

Come here a minute, we’ll show you how we do it with brownies, in a recipe that with virtually identical results whether you use 100% whole wheat flour, gluten free flour, or most other standard flours and blends.  It is rich, dense, and smooth, without a hint of grittiness.  We were inspired by the whole wheat recipe in King Arthur Flour’s Whole Grain Baking, but we’ve tweaked so much of it that it has become our own.


Winter Squash Brownies – 100% whole wheat or 100% gluten free Recipe


  • 4 oz (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 12 oz (1 2/3 cups packed) brown sugar
  • 2 1/4 oz (3/4 cup) baking cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 ounces (1/2 cup) pureed winter squash
  • 3 eggs
  • 5 ounces whole wheat flour (or brown rice flour for gluten free brownies)
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (or more if skipping nuts!)
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans


1. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat, and then add the brown sugar.  Pro tip: For best texture and a shiny top to your brownies, cook until sugar is dissolved and mixture is bubbling, stirring regularly.  Remove from heat.

2. In a heat-safe large bowl, stir together the cocoa, baking powder, and salt.  Add the brown sugar-butter mixture and stir thoroughly to combine, then add the vanilla and squash.  It will suddenly become very smooth and shiny! Allow the mixture to cool a bit so it doesn’t hurt to touch with your finger.

adding squash to whole wheat brownies for less fat and better texture

3. While the mixture cools, preheat the oven to 350°F and prepare a 9×13 pan by greasing with oil, butter, or lard.  You can line with parchment to skip greasing and reduce fat slightly more.

4. Whisk the eggs into the mixture, making sure to be thorough.

5. Stir in the flour, then the chocolate chips and nuts, then spread in the prepared pan.

6. Bake for about 25 minutes, checking 5 minutes early just in case. The brownies are ready when a toothpick comes out clean, or with a few wet crumbs.

winter squash whole wheat or gluten free brownies

These are probably best the second or third day. Good luck waiting!


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