Gluten free baking and the best brownies ever

Everyone needs a great standby dessert recipe. Whether it’s a gourmet homemade layer cake or Funfetti cupcakes from a box, there’s a tried-and-true recipe for every kind of baker, no matter what your laziness level is. I definitely fall towards the lazier side as a baker, and I’m pretty adamant about the fact that I don’t get into buying a million different kinds of flour in order to bake gluten free stuff. Potato, sorghum, tapioca, xanthan gum, brown rice, white rice, coconut flour, almond flour–just reading some of these recipes makes my head spin! I’m not a chemist, and I don’t have unlimited time on my hands to measure out minuscule amounts of obscure ingredients.

Enter: the gluten-free flour mix. Through years of dry, crumbly, metallic-tasting  trial and error, I have finally found two relatively failsafe options: King Arthur and Better Batter. These pretty much work flavor-wise in recipes for things like loaf cakes, muffins, and brownies. Beware, though: the really tricky part of GF baking is keeping things from flattening out all over the pan. Gluten is the stuff that gives your baked goods springiness and structural integrity, so things like cookies and cakes can be challenging. Not impossible, but don’t assume that subbing out the flour cup-for-cup with a gluten free version will work. Also, be sure that your GF flour blend contains xanthan gum, which takes care of some of the structural integrity conundrum.

With those tips in mind, I’m about to present to you my previously secret, always rich and fudgey, super simple family brownie recipe. This recipe is so gosh darn easy it actually takes less time and effort than a boxed mix, and it is so delicious you may even be able to fool your friends into thinking it is chock-full of gluten. (Yes, I have tried this at a party.)

Keepsake Brownies

  • 4 squares unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 cup butter or margarine
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  • 1 cup GF flour blend
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Melt chocolate and butter in microwave. Cool. Add sugar, eggs, vanilla. Mix.

Add nuts if you’re using them. Mix flour and salt. Add gradually and mix well. Pour into greased and floured 9″ square pan, or something slightly wider and more shallow if that’s your preference. Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes (subtract 5 min or so if you like em really gooey). Cool and cut.

This recipe is super fun to play around with. Check out my melted peanut butter swirl and candy corn versions, and feel free to experiment with your own. Happy brownie baking and brownie eating!

Peanut butter swirl brownies
Peanut butter swirl brownies
Candy corn brownies--a fall favorite
Candy corn brownies–a fall favorite

What are your favorite dessert recipes? Do you have a favorite gluten free baking mix?

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Top five Pinterest recipes

Hello, my name is Leah and I really really like reading blogs. In fact, about 95% of my motivation to branch out in the kitchen comes from my blog reading/Pinterest-ing. (You can follow me on Pinterest here!) However, like pretty much every single other Pinterest addict out there, I do not make the vast majority of the things I pin. Of the recipes I do attempt, I attempt most of them only once–usually because they were either too much work or I just didn’t love them enough to incorporate them into my eating plan (I’m a bit of a creature of food habit, especially when I’m busy!)

So without further ado, here are top five favorite recipes from the land of the internets! I’ve made all of these many, many times and they are incredibly delicious and (for the most part) simple to make.

Breakfast: I absolutely adore these no-bake chocolate peanut butter breakfast bars from 86 Lemons. They are easy to make, super adaptable (try subbing out the nuts/seeds/fruit for your favorites), and healthy. They’re gluten free (duh), vegan, refined sugar free, AND they have both the whole grains and protein you need to keep you full until lunch. My big tip here is to store these in the freezer–it helps them keep their chewy texture.

Healthy lunch: Salads are my go-to for lunch, and this yummy kale salad from my friend Jennie’s amazing nutrition blog is one of the very best. I add some protein to the basic recipe and it’s a full meal. I’ll be writing a longer ode to my love affair with kale in a future post, so stay tuned.

Massaged kale salad and chicken stew
Massaged kale salad and chicken stew

Hearty dinner: This is probably the most time-consuming recipe on the list, but it’s worth it. The Cookin Canuck’s Hearty Chicken Stew with Butternut Squash & Quinoa is healthy comfort food at it’s very finest. It has veggies, whole grains, and protein galore, and the way the flavors all blend together is just magical. A bowl of this on a chilly evening is the best!

Dessert for one: If you haven’t tried mug cake yet, you really should. These little single-serve cakes that you make in a mug in the microwave are absolutely necessary when you need to satisfy a craving without wolfing down half a pan of brownies. This chocolate chip cookie mug cake recipe is pretty foolproof, and relatively healthy for a dessert. I usually tend to have the ingredients hanging around, so it’s a perfect last-minute treat. Plus it’s gluten/dairy/soy/corn/potato/egg/coconut free. I promise it still tastes great 🙂

My favorite mug cake
My favorite mug cake

Treats for your besties: I think everyone needs a go-to “wow” recipe to bring to a party–something that you know everyone will love. These Cookie Dough Truffles from Chocolate & Carrots do the trick for me every time. The recipe is a little time consuming (as you have to dip each truffle in chocolate), but they’re well worth it. I usually sacrifice aesthetics and melt the chocolate in the microwave rather than tempering it. They are gluten-free and grain-free but they taste exactly like chocolate covered balls of raw cookie dough, since they use a cashew meal base (easy to find at Trader Joe’s).

What are your go-to recipes? How often do you make things from Pinterest/the blogosphere more than once?