Friday, July 27, 2018

Flour Power: Not Your Usual Brownies, Plus Some Encouragement

True story: I've been working with alternatives to wheat flour for many years now. I do this to provide something a bit more nutritious for myself, as well as create options for friends and family who need to avoid grains, either out of desire or by necessity. I've made these coconut flour brownies in the past, and they're very good. And recently, I spotted this grain-free brownie recipe online, and definitely wanted to try it!

I already had almond flour on hand (you'll remember those grain-free/egg-free chocolate-chocolate chip cookies from last month), and just needed eggs and some chocolate hazelnut spread to pull the whole thing off. After all, with only three ingredients, how hard could it be??? Of course, when the day came and the time was right, I gathered my loot and reviewed the recipe, only to notice a few minor details:

* I had a little more than half the amount of chocolate hazelnut spread as called for, but no worries - I'd just make half a recipe in a smaller pan.
* I had, inexplicably, bought jumbo eggs.
* I remembered, also inexplicably, I had about a Tablespoon of coconut flour left rattling around in the pantry.

The first two anomalies gave me more liquid in proportion to the dry called for in the recipe, but the third gave me the ability to correct for it - not to mention, use it up without letting it go to waste! I was confident (and greedy) enough to proceed, and dumped my ingredients, plus a bit of salt for balance, into a bowl and began to stir:

bowl of grain-free brownie ingredients

The batter came together, I set it in the oven to bake, and you know what? It worked! Fudgy, gorgeous brownies - nutty, chocolatey, and divine. I was grateful I had some experience with these ingredients under my belt, and didn't need to scratch the project completely. So, even though I didn't really follow a recipe, or even develop a new one, I still wanted to encourage you with this thought: cooking and baking with alternate flours is like any other cooking and baking. Once you get to know the ingredients and how they behave, you will be able to adjust as needed if circumstances aren't going quite to plan. If being grain-free is something you'd like to explore for any reason, don't be afraid to do so. I've created a new tag here on the blog for "grain-free", so you can find those options quickly. As well, I wholeheartedly suggest browsing through some of my long-time favorite sites, including Elana's Pantry and Deliciously Organic - and, for more awesome treats like those brownies, The Big Man's World! Be open, be curious, and take full advantage of the resources available. Others have been generous in sharing their work so you can avoid disappointment in your own kitchen. And, most importantly, enjoy :-)

grain-free almond flour brownie

Notes: If you really want to make these exact brownies, here's what I did!

Grain-Free Brownies a la Oops

13 oz. jar of chocolate hazelnut spread (you know the one, or an organic one!)
1/2 cup almond flour
1 Tablespoon coconut flour (alternately, increase the almond flour by two additional Tablespoons)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 jumbo eggs (large or extra-large will still be fine)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter an 8x8-inch baking pan and set aside. In a medium bowl, stir together all the ingredients until fully combined, being sure to scrape the bottom frequently to catch and incorporate any dry bits. Let stand for a few minutes to allow the flours to absorb the liquid. Scrape the batter into your prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the edges are dry and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with fudgy crumbs. Let cool for a while before trying to cut and serve (they will actually have more flavor the longer they are allowed to cool). Baked goods made with almond or coconut flour are more filling than their conventional counterparts - you may be pleasantly surprised by feeling satisfied after just one serving!