Meet Our Sponsors: Pascha Chocolate

pascha chocolate

When people bemoan the fact that they can’t eat gluten, I like to remind them about chocolate. We still have chocolate. Except, it’s not that simple.

The cacao bean is gluten-free, of course. However, some good chocolates might be cross-contaminated with gluten from other sources in the factory. (I’m still mourning the fact that the Valrhona website suggests that people for whom gluten is a health issue not eat their chocolate.) I have to check the label of every chocolate bar to ensure I won’t grow sick with one bite of that dark luscious stuff.

And of course, many of us who are gluten-free also have other food intolerances or allergies. I can’t imagine how hard it must feel to be allergic to soy and want some chocolate. So many chocolates contain soy lecithin. And frankly, almost all the “allergy-free” chocolates I have tasted have been lifeless versions of their intended ideal.

This is why we love PASCHA chocolate. We’d like to introduce you to our latest sponsor.

PASCHA makes truly good chocolate, dark and sensuous, full of cacao bean flavor, ranging from 55% to 80% dark chocolate. This chocolate is organic, fair-trade, and contains no GMO products. Best yet, it is free from gluten, nuts, dairy, soy, and even potential allergens such as fish and eggs. It’s produced in an entirely allergen-free facility. And you have to love a chocolate company that has a clearly expressed chocolate philosophy.

We are big fans of PASCHA chocolate.

We’d like to let you hear more from PASCHA Founder, Simon Lester.

Why chocolate?

I started my working life in the chocolate business in the UK. Chocolate has always been a passion of mine. I wanted to created PASCHA to offer ultra-pure delicious chocolate that is safe for anyone to eat. I was also intrigued by the health aspects which dark chocolate offers (very high antioxidants) with many reported benefits (blood pressure, positive moods, etc) which people are looking for. I felt chocolate should be made without unnecessary ingredients like soy lecithin. I wanted people with allergies or without to enjoy a pure, terrific piece of ORGANIC, NON-GMO chocolate.

Why have you taken the care to make these chocolates allergy free?

I realized how life threatening and altering food allergies can be when one of my daughters had an anaphylactic reaction to food. Then the penny dropped that someone really needed to come out with a completely allergen-free, great-tasting organic chocolate. While most people don’t think of chocolate and allergies, the reality is that almost every chocolate plant in the western world uses milk, various tree nuts, peanuts, soy and often wheat, gluten and egg. Because of the difficulties of cleaning a chocolate manufacturing plant once these ingredients are inside the plant, a residual amount is left behind – which is the danger point for people with food allergies.

Did you have to sacrifice anything to make the chocolates allergy free?

Absolutely not! The more impurity you take out of chocolate the purer it becomes and the more you just taste the cocoa bean. That’s what makes fantastic chocolate.

Can you tell us a story of a customer who was excited to find your chocolates?

Talking with our passionate customers is amazing. At a gluten-free show in Chicago, a woman came up to me and said that she had not eaten chocolate for 3 years because of food allergies. There was literally nothing on the market that she could eat. She just thanked me for creating PASCHA. Everyday, people email us their list of food allergies, fearful that they will not be able to eat our bars. It is a great feeling to email them back – PASCHA is safe and please enjoy it!

Do you have a recipe you love using these chocolates?

Chocolate Chunk Rhubarb Cookies

These soft cookies serve up a delicious pairing of sweet and tart can be enjoyed warm or at room temperature. You can adjust the level of tartness by adding/removing some of the rhubarb. The cookies are most delicious when eaten within 2 days; but don’t worry they will be gone long before that!

Yields: 36 teaspoon size cookies

1/2 cup organic palm oil shortening
1/4 cup granulated organic sugar
1 teaspoon organic vanilla
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1/4 cup unsweetened organic applesauce
1 cup all-purpose gluten free flour (must include xanthan gum)
1 bar of Pascha’s 55% cacao, roughly chopped
1 cup of chopped organic rhubarb

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Using an electric mixer, whip the shortening, sugar, vanilla, maple syrup and applesauce.
3. Next, mix in your gluten free flour. Blend on low until mixed throughly.
4. In a small saucepan over very low heat, slowly melt 1⁄2 of the Pascha chocolate. When fully
melted add chocolate to the mixer. Blend.
5. Gently, by hand, fold in remaining chocolate chunks and rhubarb.
6. Using a teaspoon, scoop dough balls onto a lightly oiled baking sheet or baking mat.
7. Bake for 12 minutes or until toothpick can be inserted into the center of a cookie and it comes
out clean.
8. Let cookies rest 5 minutes on the cookie sheet before moving.
9. Enjoy!

This recipe has a lot of flexibility. You can chop the rhubarb finely so that its not as chewy or to make it more discrete looking when your kids grab a cookie. You can also do the same for the chocolate, if you prefer a less chunky cookie. You can shape the cookies round or flat.

PASCHA chocolate is offering chocolate to three lucky readers of our site. Please leave a comment about why you would like to try PASCHA chocolate.

gluten-free brownies

Brownies seem pretty simple, right? They’re flat, they taste of chocolate, they satisfy a quick urging for a weeknight dessert. How hard could they be?

Let me tell you, people, there are no end to discussions about brownies in the world.

A couple of days ago, knowing I wanted to work on this recipe, I asked for people’s ideal of a brownie. There are over 100 comments on that post on Facebook, with some vociferous disagreement. (“Cakey!” “No, fudgey!”) Last night, after baking a failed pan of brownies (we had run out of sugar so I used honey instead — but it might be the best chocolate cake I’ve ever made), I spent at least 2 hours perusing every brownie recipe I could find. How much disagreement could there be? A lot. Granulated sugar. Brown sugar. Unsweetened chocolate. Bittersweet chocolate. Ice baths. Tinfoil. Butter. No, oil. 1 egg. 6 eggs. Fudgey, almost like ganache. Crisp edges. Dry and flaky like cake. Not one hint of cake. “If I wanted cakey, I’d eat chocolate cake.”

I don’t think I’ve ever seen more disagreement on a single baked good in my life. Brownies create discussion, it seems.

There’s even an upcoming lecture involving brownies at Harvard: “Join fellow Harvard alumni in a special lecture series discussing the basic science and history of your favorite recipes for cookies and brownies featuring Michael P. Brenner, Glover Professor of Applied Mathematics and current Radcliffe Fellow.” (Actually, I wish I could go to that one.)

Let’s face it. Most of our first brownies had been made from a boxed mix. Mine were. I bet yours were too. And many people still long for their homemade brownies to taste like Duncan Hines. (It’s sad but it’s also natural. We crave what we ate for comfort as children.)

But I didn’t want to work hard to create a recipe that tasted just like it came from a box.

You see, this month on the Gluten-Free Ratio Rally, we decided to tackle brownies. Below you’ll see a list of bakers who made brownies and published their recipes on the same day together. That’s the fun of this rally idea — we’re in this together. So, if you don’t like the texture of our brownies, surely someone else will have made your kind.

I’m not going to give a ratio for brownies, which makes this ratio rally different than the others. Everyone has such a different sense of what makes a great brownie that I wouldn’t dare to presume. However, I will say this: the ratio of flour to the fats and eggs and chocolate is what really makes the difference. More flour in ratio to the other ingredients means a cakier brownie. Less flour means a fudgier brownie.

(Oh, and you don’t need gluten for a brownie! These are one of the easiest gluten-free baked goods to make.)

According to Shirley Corriher, mixing the brownie batter well after adding the eggs helps to make for a crackly crust, so don’t be afraid to keep stirring for awhile.

We already have brownies on this site, brownies I adore. These are an adaptation of Alice Medrich’s brilliant chocolate-determined brownies. They’re wonderful. They’re also just the tiniest bit fussy, since they require you pull out the brownies underbaked and plunge the pan into an ice bath in the sink. (Please don’t use a glass pan!) Other than that, they’re easy and decadent at the same time.

However, my priorities for what makes a great brownie in this house are simpler now. It’s this.

Since Lucy started standing at the counter with me and Danny, our priorities for food have shifted. In the past, I might have worried about making the “perfect” brownie, the most complex or stupendous. (That’s one of Lucy’s favorite words right now.) Now, I know that the best food is the food on the table. The best brownie recipe is the one that our daughter can stir together in one bowl, as I help her to add ingredients. I listened to her this evening, saying repeatedly, “Mama, Mama! I’m baking with you, Mama. Watch!”

Instantly, I was glad I skipped the instant espresso powder, the beaten egg whites, the shaved chocolate, or even slowly melting the chocolate in a double boiler. We melted butter and unsweetened chocolate together in the microwave, stirred in sugar, added one egg at a time, a bit of vanilla, a pinch of salt, and some teff flour. She stirred it all herself. I’ve never seen her so proud.

For that reason, these are the best brownies we have ever eaten.

You’ll probably disagree. That’s okay. You can make your own kind.


Visit the other folks who participated in the Ratio Rally! 

Adina from Gluten Free Travelette made Chocolate Brownie Pie with Orange Zest
Angela from Angela’s Kitchen made Gluten & Dairy Free Cream Egg Brownies
Brooke from B & the boy! made Triple Chocolate Brownies
Caitlin from {Gluten Free} Nom Nom Nom made Peppermint Brownie Bars
Caleigh from Gluten Free[k] made White chocolate and marshmallow brownies
Caneel from Mama Me Gluten Free made Triple chocolate brownies
Charissa Luke from Zest Bakery made Slutty gluten-free brownies
Claire from My Gluten Free Home PB&J Brownie Whoopee Pies
Claire from This Gluten-Free Life made St. Patty’s Day Marshmallow Swirl Brownies
Erin from The Sensitive Epicure made Mexican Cocoa Brownies with an Almond & Pepitas Crust
gretchen from kumquat made salted caramel brownies
Heather from Discovering the Extraordinary made Nutmeg Blondies
Irvin from Eat the Love made Blueberry Citrus Marble Brownies
Jean from Gluten-Free Doctor Recipes made Blue Ribbon Brownies
Jenn Cuisine made Grain free brownies with no-bake ricotta cheesecake cream
Jonathan from The Canary Files made Vegan Marbled Banana Walnut Brownies
Karen from Cooking Gluten Free! made GF Chewy Crackled Top Brownies with Raspberry Puree
Mary Fran from FrannyCakes made Gluten-Free Hazelnut (Nutella) Brownies
Morri from Meals with Morri made Oaxacan Brownies & Mesquite Cacao Blondies
~Mrs. R from Honey From Flinty Rocks made Black Bean S’More Brownies
Pete and Kelli from No Gluten, No Problem made Caramel Mexican Chocolate Mesquite Brownies
Rachel from The Crispy Cook made Co-Co Nut-Nut Blondies
Shauna from Gluten-Free Girl made Gluten-Free Brownies
Tara from A Baking Life Mint made Chocolate Flourless Brownies
TR | No One Likes Crumbley Cookies Gluten Free Berry Fudge Brownies 

p.s I have friends who swear by this brownie pan that makes more edges to the brownies. Have any of you tried it?

GLUTEN-FREE TEFF BROWNIES WITH CHOPPED HAZELNUTS , adapted from Kitchen Sense: More than 600 Recipes to Make You a Great Home Cook

I knew exactly the brownies I wanted to make when I read my friend Anita’s description of her ideal brownie: “…shattery top, not too thick, relentlessly chocolate-y.” Immediately I sent her a message, “What recipe do you use?” This simple, stir-it-all-in-one-bowl recipe from Kitchen Sense worked well here. The final brownie? A crackling crust on top that disappeared into a fudgy center. The edges are crisper. The chocolate taste is intense. If you don’t like this brownie, I’m not sure we can be friends. 

The secret weapon here is teff flour. Teff has a faint taste of chocolate and hazelnuts, so if you add both to the brownie, the entire flavor jumps out in joy. Because teff is the finest flour in the world, these brownies have not one hint of graininess to them. Technically, because teff is a whole-grain flour, these are whole-grain brownies. Maybe a tiny bit healthier than the boxed-mix brownies. I won’t tell anyone if you won’t. 

4 ounces unsalted butter
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 cup sugar
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
100 grams teff flour
2 handfuls chopped hazelnuts
2 handfuls semisweet chocolate chips

Preparing to bake. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a 8-inch baking pan with 2 pieces of tin foil, going opposite ways, leaving enough foil to hang over the edges. Grease the foil.

Melting the butter and chocolate. Put the butter and chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Run the microwave for 1 minute. Whisk together the melted butter and chocolate. If there are any remaining chunks of chocolate, microwave for 30 more seconds. Stir well.

Making the batter. Let the butter-chocolate combination cool until you can touch it. Add the sugar and stir until it is dissolved. Add the eggs, one at a time, stirring in between. Pour in the vanilla extract and stir. Add the teff flour and stir the batter thoroughly, with a rubber spatula, for at least 1 minute. Toss in the chopped hazelnuts and chocolate chips and stir until just combined.

Baking the brownies. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly into the corners. Bake until the edges have begun to pull away from the pan and the center is just starting to set, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the brownies from the pan. Cool for at least 15 minutes. Lift both pieces of foil and the brownies out of the pan and cool on a cooling rack. Dig in.

Makes about 2 dozen brownies.