Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Cocoa Brownies (Gluten Free)



Ah, brownies... Fudgy or cakey? Edge piece or middle piece? Nuts or no nuts? And if you’re a fan of nuts, walnuts or pecans? Cocoa-based or melted chocolate-based? From a box or from scratch? Plain or frosted?


Everyone needs a great go-to brownie recipe.  Brownies are such a wonderful dessert option, especially when baking for a crowd. And brownies from scratch take only a few minutes longer than whipping up a boxed brownie mix (and they taste much better).  It’s very simple to customize a good brownie recipe with mix-ins & variables.


Most people have strong feelings when it comes to their brownie preferences. My personal preference is a fudgy, no nuts, made from scratch brownie (and I’ll never complain if said brownie is topped with ice cream).



Until recently, my go-to brownie recipe has been melted chocolate based.  Typically, I’d save the odds & ends bits of chocolate (white, milk or dark) that were leftover from other recipes or from chocolate tempering advdntures. Those leftovers would be melted together & added to the brownie batter.


But, my go-to recipe has changed.... My parents-in-law sent us many pounds of amazing European cocoa powder, and I’ve been on a quest to find ways to showcase the wonderful flavor of the cocoa powder. Let me tell you, this brownie recipe really delivers, not just in flavor, but in texture too! I may never go back to the melted chocolate brownies again.


Sprinkling coarse sea salt over the brownies adds a nice crunch & a slightly more sophisticated flavor.  A little secret about these brownies: I don't normally discriminate between edge brownies & middle brownies, but I think for these particular brownies, the edge pieces might be a tiny bit better :)


The original recipe made only an 8x8 pan, but in the 4 times I've made these brownies in a little more than a month, I've come to the realization that more brownies are always better! So, I've adapted this recipe for a 9x13 pan instead.


Best Cocoa Brownies, {Gluten Free}
Recipe inspired by Alice Medrich’s recipe via Food 52 

Note: Normally I hate sifting, but I do really recommend sifting cocoa powder.  Cocoa powder that isn’t sifted may leave bitter pockets throughout the brownie batter. Blech! 

Unsalted Butter 7.5 oz
Granulated Sugar 13.3 oz
Cocoa Powder 3.95 oz
Sea Salt         0.5 tsp (plus additional for sprinkling)
Vanilla Extract 3/4 tsp (optional; I usually leave it out *shock* because I find that the flavor of the chocolate does not need the vanilla)
Eggs, cold 3 large
AP flour         3.20 oz (I used Jeanne’s Gluten Free AP flour mix) 
Nuts 1 cup (optional, but I've used pecans in the past) 

  1. Add the butter (save the butter wrappers!), sugar, sifted cocoa powder, and sea salt to a medium sauce pan.  Heat over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until the butter is just melted & the mixture is homogenized.  It will be slightly grainy, but should not get hot enough to burn. Remove from the heat & cool slightly. 
  2. Preheat the oven to 325 F.  Grease an 9x13 pan, using the leftover butter wrappers. Line the pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides. Butter the parchment paper too. 
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs together.  Add the slightly cooled cocoa/sugar/butter/salt mixture & whisk to combine.  Add vanilla, if using. 
  4. Stir in the flour, using a spatula or wooden spoon & mix until the flour is no longer visible.  Scrape the sides.  Stir in the nuts, if using.  
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan & spread evenly. Sprinkle the top with additional coarse sea salt (optional) 
  6. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out with a few crumbs.  The time required for baking will depend on what kind of pan is used. A metal pan will bake in 25 to 30 minutes. A glass pan will bake in approximately 35 minutes. 
  7. Remove from the oven and cool completely.  Run an knife around the edges of the pan, and use the overhang of the parchment paper to lift the brownies out of the pan. Cut the brownies into squares. 
  8. Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature or wrap well and freeze.  

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