My first foray into baking was begun by ripping off the top of a Duncan Hines box.
When I was eight years old, I stirred Wesson oil and an egg into a fluffy mound of chocolate flour. And then there were brownies.
Even though I can no longer eat gluten, and I certainly don’t bake much of anything from a mix, I still remember the giddy joy of pulling those brownies from the oven. I had made something! I had made brownies!
After weeks of baking and re-baking recipes that will be in my first book, I can hardly believe that I turned my back on baking when I first found out I had celiac disease. It makes sense. With that first news that gluten must be gone, baked goods don’t feel like the first priority.
But I’m here to show you: baking can be yours. You can still have the joy of pulling fresh-baked brownies out of the oven.
GLUTEN-FREE BROWNIES, adapted from Alice Medrich’s New Classic Brownies
These brownies are adapted from one of the best brownie recipes in the world. That is, if you like a fudgy brownie, unadorned with any fillers. These have a crackly top, with a discernible texture as your teeth bite down. And beneath them? Pure, smooth chocolate, as rich as flourless chocolate torte. These are rich, and only to be indulged in once in a while. (In fact, when I made the one-year anniversary dinner for the Chef and me, I made these brownies instead of flourless chocolate torte. He didn’t mind.)
I’m pretty sure that many combinations of gluten-free flours would work here. I tried sorghum first, and it’s probably my favorite. But some people complain that sorghum tastes bitter not to me so I used brown rice next time. Just fine. Try the flours you have at hand. This doesn’t need to be complicated. They are brownies.
By the way, do NOT use a glass baking pan for this. It could crack.
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (or as dark as you can stand it)
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour
Preparing. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Grease an 8-inch square metal baking pan. Chop the chocolate into small slivers. Slice the butter into one-inch pieces. Combine the two flours together.
Melting the chocolate. Bring a saucepan of water to a boil, and then turn it down to a simmer. Place a large metal bowl over the top of the saucepan. Put the chocolate and butter into the metal bowl and stir, occasionally, as they both begin to melt. As they come to a full melt, stir and stir, vigorously, until you have a cohesive mixture.
Making the brownies. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the sugar and eggs, whisking vigorously until they are creamed together, with a silky consistency. Add the vanilla extract and salt and stir well. Add in the gluten-free flours and stir. Finally, pour in the melted chocolate-butter mixture and stir, carefully, with a rubber spatula, until the mixture has become smooth.
Baking the brownies. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking pan. Smooth the top with the spatula. Slide the baking pan into the oven and set the timer for 25 minutes.
Finishing the brownies. As the brownies are baking, fill the sink with ice cubes and 1 inch of water. When the brownies are finished baking, remove the pan from the oven and place it immediately into the ice-water bath. (Don’t let any water splash up onto the brownies!) Let the brownies stay there until they have cooled completely.
These brownies taste best the next day, after an entire night of refrigeration. That makes the top crunchy, the insides decadently chewy. However, I’m sure no one would suffer if you ate the brownies immediately, either.
Feeds 12 people (if they have the restraint to not eat more than one brownie.)