Saturday, February 23, 2013

My Favorite Gluten Free (or not) Brownies.

Guys, can we be really honest for a minute?

You need to make these brownies.

I mean, I guess if you don't really like delicious things that are so chocolatey and gooey they'll make you forget that just two minutes ago you totally effed up your taxes, you probably shouldn't make them.  But if you like delicious things, keep reading.

My brother and his awesome lady are coming over tomorrow for dinner.  Though they live ten blocks from us and we love them dearly, we've never had just the two of them over for dinner.  It's time and I'm excited to feed them.

When I used to get together dinner parties, it was an ordeal.  The house had to be deep cleaned.  An elaborate meal had to be planned, usually involving several days of cooking and bellies so full of rich food afterwards that brains turned off and folks had to be rolled down our porch steps and into their cars.  Sometimes that kind of dinner party can be fun.  But more and more I'm willing to let some of that to-do go in order to have people over more often.

That means the elaborate dinner parties are on vacation for awhile.  These days, I do pizza.  Pizza and brownies.  I realized awhile ago that people aren't coming to our house so I can impress them with how obsessive I am about menu planning or how clean I can get our house.  People (at least the people I hang out with) like to eat, but they're also pretty easy to please.  That's why I like them.

This weekend, we're doing gluten pizza with various toppings (I do have a gluten free pizza dough I like, but not quite enough to serve to gluten eating folks).  The dough is from this book and I can say confidently that it's the best home-made pizza dough I've ever had, and also the easiest to make.

Then we're having these brownies.

I wonder sometimes if more people make from-scratch brownies than I realize.  I kind of assume most people make them from a box (Incidentally, I will not turn down a from-the-box brownie, or any brownie for that matter.  I'm magnanimous that way.), but that could very well just be the way it was in my house growing up.  There was never a discussion of whether to do from-scratch or from-box; when we wanted to make brownies, we bought a mix.  Realizing how easy brownies are to make from scratch was a revelation to me, and realizing how much better they can be than boxed-brownies sealed the deal.

This is my go-to, fail safe brownie recipe; I've been making these for ten years and they satisfy my itch every single time.  This recipe makes a gooey, gooey, luscious, chocolatey, not-too-sweet bar.  I apologize in advance to lovers of chewy brownies--these may not be what you're looking for.  Nonetheless, I encourage you to give them a shot.  They did, after all, make me forget about my taxes in one bite.

Gluten Free Brownies

adapted from Rosie's cookie book

  • Preheat your oven to 300°.  Grease an 8x8" baking pan and line it with parchment paper.  You might be all, "parchment paper, whatever" so if you don't have it/want to use it, do as your heart tells you.  Then next time do what I tell you.  The parchment will make your life better, I promise.

1 c. unsalted butter
6 oz. unsweetened chocolate

  • Combine these in a small saucepan and place over low heat  until they're melted.  Watch that the mixture doesn't boil up or burn; it won't surprise you that I'm not particularly finicky about this, so you shouldn't be either.  Allow the mixture to cool for 10 or so minutes.

4 large eggs, room temperature (yes, the room temp thing is important.  If your eggs are straight out of the fridge, as mine almost always are, place them in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes to take the chill off).
1.5 c. granulated sugar
  • Combine the eggs and sugar in a large bowl and beat the heck out of them with a hand mixer or a stand mixer for a good couple of minutes. You'll know this is ready when it becomes a beautiful, creamy, buttercup-yellow goo.  This step is important because it helps leaven the brownies and provide some structure, so don't get lazy with the beating.
  • Add 1 T. vanilla extract and 1/2 t. salt.  Beat for a couple of seconds to combine.
  • Add your cooled-ish chocolate mixture to your egg mixture and give it a quick whirl to incorporate.  Don't beat this for more than a couple of seconds.
150 g. gluten free flour (or 1 c. regular unbleached wheat flour)
  • Add the flour to your batter and beat briefly to combine, just until the streaks of flour disappear.  This is a great time to add any nuts or other additions you would like to use.
  • Pour the batter into your prepared pan, slide it into the oven and set your timer for 45 minutes.  I find this recipe varies a bit on how long they take to bake but they tend to be done somewhere between 45 and 60 minutes.  They key to fudgy brownies is under-baking them a bit.  You'll know they're ready when the center doesn't jiggle when you jiggle the pan but a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a nice thick coating of barely solid brownie batter.  I know that's not the greatest explanation, but you'll get the hang of it.
  • Remove the brownies from the oven and allow them to cool completely.  Ideally, let them sit out uncovered overnight to solidify.  However, if you're in a rush, they should be ready to eat two to three hours after taking them out, unless your method is to insert a spoon into a pan of hot brownies, in which case we should hang out more.
Enjoy!  xo

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