Saturday, April 5, 2014

Gluten Free Brownies

Last night was movie night at some friends' house.  There were gluten intolerant people there; they made Trader Joe's gluten-free brownies.  The batter needed to be patted into the pan instead of being poured.  It smelled like rice instead of chocolate.  The result was not completely inedible - we ate occasional spoonfuls in a meditative way and said "This isn't terrible?" and "You can really taste the rice.  Yes." while waiting for the movie to be less horrifying.  Then we went out for ice cream.

I looked up the mix on the internet: the reviews are "not great and I wish I could eat gluten" and "pretty good if you replace the oil with applesauce - no pictures included." Well.

So today I made gluten free brownies because I was certain I could do better.  You guys know about me feeling certain - you usually hear about it under the heading "Bad Idea Fridays".  (Spoilers: look up at the title.  This turned out to not be a bad idea.)

You should make these!  Gluten intolerant people are nice, and if you're going to trick them into becoming your friends you'll need something other than creme anglaise and fruit for dessert.  Also they are damn good brownies, thank you, I am a genius, make the brownies.  Look at the recipe and say "no, actually, that looks pretty good" and then make them and serve them with whipped cream.  If people are allergic to something besides gluten, well, there are eggs and milk and tree nuts in here, so be careful.  I'm sure you could replace the milk products - and maybe the tree nuts, somehow - but the eggs are essential.

Melt 5 ounces of good dark chocolate - I use the microwave in ten second bursts punctuated by brisk stirring.  If you don't stir, it may burn.  There is no recovering from burned chocolate.

Once it's 75% melted and very very stirred, add a stick of butter and continue brief microwaving punctuated by lots of stirring.  You'll end up with a bowl full of glossy chocolate.  It's beautiful.  It's worth eating on its own.

If you don't have almond flour or other nut flours on hand, dump about a cup and a half of almonds or hazelnuts into a food processor and reduce them to cous-cous sized bits or smaller.  You'll need one cup of nut flour, loosely packed.

Break four cold eggs into a big bowl and add a generous pinch of salt.  Whip these eggs without mercy for A MILLION YEARS.  Whip them until they are foamy and pale - at least a full five minutes of staring into space, holding a whisking machine or whisking madly.

Add one and a half cups of sugar - whisk until combined.  Add the now cool-enough-to-not-cook-the-eggs butter and chocolate mixture - and a teaspoon of vanilla - whisk, damn you, whisk like the wind! Add one cup of nut flour.  Whisk until combined.  Pour into a 9x9 buttered pan.  Sprinkle the surface with kosher salt.

Throw that into a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes.  Is the center still liquid?  Does it rock when you tilt the pan?  Give it another ten minutes.  Foam from the eggs and chocolate form a high pale crust - don't listen to that when it says the brownies are done, pay attention to how the weight shifts in the pan - you're waiting for the moment when the weight doesn't shift. When that moment comes, take it out of the oven.  If it turns out to still be liquid, put it back in for a while.  It's fine.

If you let it cool, you'll be able to slice it neatly.  I did not let it cool because I wanted to know if it was terrible.  It was not.  It was quite good.  The high pale crust? It's brittle and crunchy and amazing, and the brownies are dense and fudgey and amazing, and I am brilliant.  Yes.


  1. By the way, did you hear about the starving grad student who ate four cans of alphabet soup? She had the biggest vowel movement in history.