Sunday, January 17, 2016

gluten free brownies

It’s January. It’s cold. Comfort foods rule. And we’re on the way to February—still cold—and the first of the chocolate holidays… Perfect time for a tray of brownies.

Gluten free chocolate brownie: topped with dark chocolate ganache fondant icing and dried sour cherries, dusted with icing sugar.
Served on a wood-fired stoneware platter. Christine Pedersen. 2016.

A gluten free friend sent me this brownie recipe back in 2002—and I still have the original email I printed off. The paper looks a bit brown now - not from age - just the accumulated smudges of brownie batter and fondant icing from hundreds of bakings… For I am “She Who Brings The GF Brownies” to neighbourhood functions, a deliverer of dessert to those prowling the buffet table in the hope of a dietarily-appropriate chocolate fix. But, if asked, other guests do not seem to care that the recipe also happens to be gluten free, they’re just scarfing down really good brownies before they all get eaten.

All this makes me ponder the potentially unanswerable: is there such a thing as the “perfect” brownie? Maybe. But perfect for me and perfect for you might be different solutions to the same problem: I found that this recipe is so good for me that I have never sought another.

My friend adapted the recipe in one key way as she wrote it out for me: fondant was originally described as “optional”, to which we both said “Yeah, right!”. I have added my own fondant recipe (thanks mum, again!) because I like it to be seriously chocolatey, and because I like a LOT of fondant.

I wish you good eating, and may this recipe aid in the quest for your perfect brownie.

Please read on for the brownie recipe.

Brownie ingredients 
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup cocoa
2 large eggs

1/8 tsp salt
1 cup sugar (any kind of granulated sugar, white or brown)
3/4 cup gluten-free flour 

Flour: brown rice flour works fine on its own. Or 1/4c rice flour plus e.g. 1/2c Bob's Red Mill All Purpose baking flour mix. Rice flour is coarser compared to some of the other GF flours, and helps the brownie not stick to the tray. I sometimes substitute a couple of tablespoons of milled flax for an equal amount of flour.

1. Grease an 8" square glass brownie tray.
2. Pre-heat oven to 350C/180F.
3. Melt butter and cocoa in a pan over a very low heat, stir gently until mixed, take off heat.

4. Whisk eggs and salt, in a medium sized bowl, until frothy.

5. Add butter/cocoa mix, sugar, and flour to eggs - fold all ingredients together quickly. 

6. Transfer to the greased tray and bake for 25 - 30 minutes, until the brownie batter pulls away from the sides.

For those brave enough to even think of it: yes you can double the recipe and successfully bake it in the same 8" square tray. It makes a seriously deep gooey brownie.

I often make the brownie the day before and seal it in a container to rest (go gooey). Allow the brownie to mostly cool before frosting, a bit of warmth will help the fondant flow.

Dependent on the occasion, I will put the fondant on the brownie whilst still in the baking tray. Alternatively, I cut the brownie into squares and push them tightly together on a serving plate, before spreading slightly warm frosting over all the pieces (as in the first picture of the brownie on one of my stoneware platters).

Fondant Ingredients
2 tbsp water (or whipping cream for a ganache-like experience)
2 ozs butter (approximately 1/4 inch slice from a 1lb block)
6 heaped dstsp icing sugar
3 heaped dstsp cocoa

1. Melt butter with water or cream on a very low heat.
2. Sieve icing sugar with cocoa, add to butter/liquid and beat until smooth. Add more liquid if necessary to make a smooth, not too runny, fondant. 

3. Spread the still-warm fondant over the brownie before it cools. The warmer the fondant is when you ice the brownie, the more it will flow.
4. Serve with dried tart cherries, sliced banana, strawberries... So many things go well with brownies.

Even without frosting these brownies, it will still be a good day. Hope you enjoy.

Plain GF brownies, served on a "Don't Eat The Yellow Snow" porcelain tea plate. Christine Pedersen. 2016.

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