Thursday, September 4, 2014

Gluten Free Walnut Brownies



With the rise in popularity of the gluten-free diet and more people being diagnosed with intolerances or Coeliacs every day, I'm finding I have a lot of people in my life who don't eat wheat or gluten. Being the feeder that I am, it's necessary for me to have an arsenal of gluten-free recipes on-hand for entertaining my pals with dietary requirements… Not only is it a bit of a challenge (which I love), but it's just hospitable - we Southern girls are nothing without our good sense of hospitality!

I made these brownies quite a lot last year during the holidays and gave them to various clients and friends with gluten sensitivities as Christmas gifts, aside from the batches I ate myself with little shame and abandon. They went down a treat and now with the weather cooling down after a hot summer, I'm looking forward to baking these again soon… They really are a treat when they're fresh and warm from the oven, but somehow they seem to get better and better over the next couple of days if they last that long! 

I realize it may seem odd to add cinnamon to brownies, but it's this small ingredient that really makes these beauties sing. i love adding chopped walnuts, but I've also tried them with almonds and that's a nice alternative too, though no nuts are necessary to make these delicious should you choose to eliminate them altogether.

Ingredients

90g (6 Tablespoons) softened unsalted butter cut into cubes plus extra for pan
1/3 cup cornflower (cornstarch if you live in the US)
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
200g dark chocolate (At least 70% Cocoa)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs (preferably organic)
100g (about 1/2 cup) chopped walnuts
Baking or parchment paper (optional)


Method

1. Preheat oven to 175°C (350°F).

2. Using a paper towel, very lightly butter an 8 inch square baking pan and line it with baking or parchment paper leaving two inches extra length on each side. 

3. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the cornflower/cornstarch, cinnamon, cocoa powder and salt. Set aside.

4. Chop up the chocolate and melt it with the butter in a saucepan on the stove over medium-low heat stirring constantly and taking care not to burn it. Immediately transfer to a large mixing bowl, using a rubber spatula to get all the chocolate out of the pan. Alternatively, if you have a microwave, you can do this using a microwave safe bowl.




5. Stir the sugar and vanilla extract into the chocolate until combined. Then stir in the eggs until combined one at a time.

6. Add the cornflour mixture and stir vigorously for about 2 minutes or until mixture is completely smooth, combined and gooey thick.

7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top and sprinkle with the walnuts. Alternatively, you can stir the walnuts into the batter just before pouring it into the pan, but I love the way they taste when toasted beautifully on top - they're decorative too!

8. Bake in the oven at 175°C (350°F) for about 30 to 35 minutes or until a fork inserted comes out mostly clean.

9. Leave in the pan until they are mostly cool or completely cool if you like (I like to eat them slightly warm) before removing them. When you're ready, use the excess baking paper to remove the brownies from the pan and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into squares to serve and enjoy!


Alternative Options

  • Allergic to nuts? Try sprinkling white chocolate buttons or chips on top instead - yum!
  • Try stirring peanut butter chips into the batter for a different flavor - just make sure they're gluten free if necessary!
  • Almonds will work instead of walnuts. You could even try pecans or peanuts!
  • For a more festive treat during the holiday season, try adding 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract to the batter and sprinkle the top with crushed candy canes.
  • Drizzle with caramel before sprinkling with walnuts or pecans for a turtle version… Yum!
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