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Quite a title, huh?
I felt these brownies deserved this significant title for many reasons, mainly because of the many many times I tried, and successfully failed, at making these ooey-gooey creations.
Making gluten free anything is often times a challenge. Many obstacles are presented at every turn. Baked goods turn crumbly and lack structure, sometimes treats are bland and lacking in good texture. Other times they are just disastrous (i.e. the Blackberry Pie I made for New Years Eve). Gluten Free baking becomes an art, unlike any traditional baking I ever learned in culinary school. I never put much thought into just how important gluten actually was. Add trying to make everything vegan (no eggs!?) and your entire life becomes a streaming of thoughts like, "how the heck can I fix those cookies I made two weeks ago?" and "how can I get that bread to rise to be nice and fluffy so I can serve it to people and have them actually like it?"
This is what my world has become.
So, experimenting with gluten free egg-less brownies has become that itching feeling I get every single time I am craving something moist, decadent and chocolate-y. I find inspiration, gather all of my baking tools, whip up a "new and improved" batter (better than the mess of crumbly brownies I made last time) and carefully (with fingers crossed) place it into the oven. I would say I have attempted about 10 different gluten free and vegan brownie recipes over the last year. Each one with shining qualities, and then becoming a complete and total flop.
Until last week.
Finally! Victory has been achieved! Somehow, out of the grace of god, out of my oven came something so utterly delicious, so perfect and so "not gluten free or vegan tasting" I smiled with relief. And I shared them with everyone who came my way.
You see, the gluten free flour was no longer an issue. I had successfully created a great flour mix, Wholesome Chow's All-Purpose Baking Mix, which had delicious texture and was able to replace cup for cup for regular wheat flour in brownie recipes. The problem came with structure of the brownies and holding together. Each recipe I used, was different from the last, but always fell apart. Its hard to enjoy and good brownie when your pick it up and everything falls to the floor. This was unacceptable.
Eggs are what you truly need. Or at least a good egg replacer. This combined with a good recipe.
The inspiration for this recipe came while reading the blog, Eat The Love. Irvin's post of Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc Brownie recipe sparked an enthusiasm for brownies in me which had been dead for months now. I liked the balance of flour and cocoa powder. I have very drastically changed this recipe, though I have to give Irvin credit because he found it first :) I also dumbed down the directions because, all though Thomas Keller is considered a food genius, I like to offer my readers the easiest and most effective recipes possible.
And here we go!
The World's Greatest Gluten Free Vegan Brownies
Makes 9-12 brownies
1 1/4 cup Butter (Non-Dairy or Dairy)
1 1/2 cup Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
3 tsp Flax Meal
3/4 cup Water
1 1/4 cup Wholesome Chow's All-Purpose Baking Mix
1 cup Cocoa Powder
6 oz (1 1/2 cups) Chopped Dark Chocolate
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 8x8 or 9x9 pan with parchment paper. Make sure the parchment hangs over at least 1" on either side.
- In a mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, blend butter and sugar on high until creamy, about 2 minutes.
- Add vanilla extract and blend for another 30 seconds.
- In a small bowl, combine flax meal and water. Whisk with a fork for 30 seconds. Add to the butter mixture and blend for another 30 seconds with electric mixer on high.
- Add All-Purpose Baking Mix and cocoa powder. Blend for another minute or so until well incorporated.
- Add chopped chocolate and fold into brownie batter.
- Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 40 - 45 minutes. Test brownies by poking the center with a toothpick to check for doneness. If the toothpick comes out clean (with no sticky batter, melted chocolate is OK), then brownies are done. Be careful not to over bake as brownies will become too dry. You want a moist brownie, cooked until just done, not any longer.
- Let brownies cool in the pan for 30 minutes. Then, place in the refrigerator until completely cooled.
- Slice into desired size and serve. Read Baking Tips below for optimal outcome of brownies.
- The key to great gluten free and vegan brownies is to let them cool completely before tampering with. Because there are no eggs or gluten in these brownies, they are very tender and can crumble easier than traditional brownies. These contain a great ratio of flour and cocoa so they crumble less, but it can still happen. Let the chopped chocolate inside them cool completely as this is also helping act as a binding agent. So don't skip on the chopped chocolate if possible!
- How to chop chocolate: Chocolate melts...very easily. So, start with a cold knife (serrated is best!) and cold hands. If your hands are warm, you will have a melty mess. Use your knife, on a cutting board, and chop chocolate as you would carrots. Use a firm and hard pressure and slice while chopping. Watch your fingers too! Reserve chopped chocolate in a cold bowl to avoid melting.
- Use an oven thermometer! This will save your life (and your brownies too!). Having the correct temperature is crucial for any kind of baking. Don't go through all the trouble of making a batter and dirtying dishes just to place your precious creation into an oven that's too hot or too cold. My oven sometimes will read at 475 when I mean to have it at 350. That's a huge difference!
Look at this little mischievous nakey buns...