Archives for posts with tag: brownies

This Great Gluten-Free Recipe Challenge has certainly lived up to its name. I tend to cook with a lot of eggs. Mint, well, not so much. So you can imagine my ‘delight’ when I found out that, as well as being gluten-free, the recipe ALSO had to be egg-free AND showcase mint.

Hmmm. Not a propitious combination.

Luckily I can still eat eggs although I don’t take this for granted. Food sensitivities seem to have a lot in common with buses – there isn’t one for ages and then several all pitch up in one go. Over the last few months I seem to have developed a sensitivity for alcohol and/or sulphites but I’m not sure which, as most alcoholic beverages contain sulphites anyway to halt the fermentation process. Eggs could easily be next for me.

Not only do I love eggs for their own sake, when they’re scrambled, poached, boiled and fried but I also rely on them a lot to compensate for the lack of gluten in my baking. And mint is one of those tastes that I’m still in the process of acquiring: I do like it but it has to be quite subtle and also be combined with other flavours. So this challenge was going to be tough because every mint recipe I thought of (that I would like to eat) had eggs in it and in such a way too that I didn’t think egg substitute would work.

This recipe came about quite by chance. I was originally planning a microwaveable mint chocolate fondant dessert based upon an eggless sponge recipe. I made a batch and poured a portion into a coffee cup. ‘One minute should do it!’ I thought as I set the timer on the microwave with gay abandon and gazed expectantly through the glass door. Ping! Yuk. Didn’t work. Another portion. 40 seconds, set more hesitantly this time. I gazed doubtfully through the glass door. Ping! Ew! All I can say is, if you want to be cheffy and decorate a dessert plate with edible (mint-flavoured) soil, I’ve got just the recipe…

I still had about a third of the mixture left. I hate waste so I thought I’d put it in a pan and chuck it in the oven just to see what happened. When it came out, it didn’t look so good so I tossed it aside on the worktop and sat down to come up with another idea (which I did do and I will get around to posting it sometime soon). When I came back to it some hours later so that I could put it in the bin, I realised that it had started taking on the texture of a brownie. Still a little powdery but my mind started to tick over. More butter, more chocolate and added golden syrup…

Gluten-free and egg-free mint-triple-choc-chip brownies

Don’t be tempted to do anything with the brownies until they have had their requisite 3 or 4 hours in the fridge. Don’t try to cut them and definitely DO NOT taste them. They will be dry and they will crumble. They will also taste of overheated peppermint. Take it from someone who knows… They are worth the wait though. Once they’ve been chilled, they become dense, fudgy and chocolatey and the peppermint flavour is deliciously fresh and light.

Makes 16

85g butter, cubed
150g gluten-free plain chocolate, coarsely chopped (at least 74% cocoa solids)
200g sweetened condensed milk
1½ tsp peppermint extract
2 tbsp golden syrup
90ml water
80g gluten-free plain (all-purpose) flour
30g Community Foods potato flour (potato starch)
30g cocoa powder
2 ½ tsp gluten-free baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp xanthan gum
100g ground almonds
50g gluten-free white chocolate chips

You will also need a 24cm x 20cm x 4cm cake/brownie tin

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease and line the tin with baking parchment or greaseproof paper.

Put the butter in a microwaveable jug or bowl and microwave on ‘high’ for 40 seconds or until the butter has melted. Add the chopped chocolate and stir until completely melted.

Whisk the condensed milk, in a large bowl, with the peppermint essence, golden syrup and 60ml of the water for a minute or so with an electric whisk until well-combined.

Sift the flour, potato starch, cocoa powder, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and xanthan gum into the chocolate mixture and continue to whisk until all the dry ingredients have been incorporated into the wet. The mixture needs to have the texture of chocolate mousse so, if it is on the dry side, add the remaining 30ml of water, a tablespoon at a time, and whisk until you have a uniform mixture. Fold in the ground almonds and white chocolate chips.

Pour the mixture into the tin and smoothe the surface with an oiled palette knife. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool before putting the tin in the refrigerator and chilling for at least 3 to 4 hours. Cut in half lengthways and then in eighths widthways to create 16 brownie fingers. Store in the refrigerator.

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This dish really has no right to be called “bread and butter” pudding because there is neither bread nor butter in it. I had some of my chocolate and prune brownies left over (no reflection on how delicious they were – but there are only so many that a girl can eat, especially when she’s still trying to lose the ‘mummy tummy’ after 12 months!). But I really hate wasting food and I do it far too often as it is. So I was determined not to throw them away without at least experimenting with them first. But what to do with them? Then I thought, “I know – I’ll put them in a dish, make a vanilla egg custard to pour over them and bake them like a bread and butter pudding! What’s the worst that could happen?” So that’s what I did and I threw in some orange zest for good measure. It’s not the most elegant-looking of dishes but it was really yum.

Gluten-free chocolate brownie and orange “bread and butter” pudding

A really simple and comforting dish which is great for using up brownies which are surplus to requirements.

Serves 4

250g chocolate brownies
2 eggs, lightly beaten
6 heaped tbsps half-fat crème fraîche
125ml milk
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
zest 1 orange

You will also need a 600ml capacity ovenproof dish.

Slice the brownies in half horizontally (so that each brownie becomes two thin brownies). Layer the pieces in the ovenproof dish so that they overlap each other slightly.

In a bowl or jug, whisk together the remaining ingredients until well-combined. Pour over the brownie pieces and leave to soak for half-an-hour, meanwhile preheating the oven to 180°C. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes, or until the custard is set around the edges and still wobbly in the centre. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving.

Serve warm with crème fraîche, single cream or ice cream.

Prunes. Yick. Well, that’s most people’s reactions to them. Including mine. So why have I got three or four tins of them in the cupboard…? And why am I cooking with them…? Well, they were bought about 18 months ago for purely ‘medicinal’ purposes when I was pregnant. I mashed them into rice pudding every evening after dinner and forced them down.  I don’t know what it is about them. I love plums, both raw and cooked. They’re sweet, warm and comforting and are the embodiment of an English garden in late summer. But when they’re turned into prunes, they metamorphose into a cloying and sickly morass of yuckiness.

So why do I have a bowl of them in the fridge…? My 12-month-old son has, over the past week, rejected his early morning milk feed and I’ve had a devil of a job getting enough fluids into him. Predictably enough, he started having trouble in the nappy department so desperate measures were called for. Luckily for me, Thomas eats nearly everything that’s put in front of him, including prunes mashed into custard. Crisis averted. But that left me with a bowl of prunes in the fridge. They’ve been lurking there for the past couple of days, glowering at me every time I open the fridge door, daring me to do something with them. It was at the back of my mind that, if I left them there another couple of days, I’d be justified in throwing them out. But then I thought, “How wasteful – there’s a recession on! I’ll see if I can disguise them in a brownie…” And voilà!
You can’t actually taste the prunes but they enhance the chocolate, giving an almost licorice-like flavour, cut the sugar needed by more than half and add a velvety softness. Great with a cup of cha.

Gluten-free chocolate and prune brownies

Makes 12 brownies
3 medium eggs
95g dark Muscovado sugar
pinch salt
2 tbsp gluten-free plain (all-purpose) flour
70g cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
100g ground almonds
2 tsp vanilla essence
175g drained and pitted tinned prunes
You will also need a 24cm x 20cm x 4cm brownie tin
Preheat the oven to 150°C (mine’s fan-assisted – presumably conventional ovens would need to be about 160°C). Line the base and sides of the brownie tin with baking parchment. Lightly brush the parchment with oil.
Whisk the eggs, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl with a hand-held electric whisk for 5 minutes until tripled in volume.
Purée the prunes in a blender or food processor until smooth and add to the mixture. Sift the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder into the bowl. Add the ground almonds and vanilla essence and beat everything until well combined.
Pour the mixture into the prepared tin. Cook in the middle of the oven for 20-25 minutes*. Remove from the oven and cool in the tin for 20 minutes. Remove from the tin, peel off the parchment and cut into individual brownies.
*I took the brownies out after 25 minutes. I think, next time, I would see what they were doing after 20, just to see if I could get them a bit more squidgey.
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