12 March 2015

Small Batch Grain-Free Brownies

A little while ago, I was an adventurous home cook wondering if we would have to, for a serious health issue, cut out all grain and sugar (well, if my husband-to-be would--but to not go along at least part of the way would be cruel). Lucky for him I don't tend to hover over the bread basket anyway. I spent a lot of two summers ago baking with almond flour, which was both delicious and and intersting, but had never touched coconut flour, the other popular paleo choice. Thankfully, we've adjusted to include grain and sugar but as always, in moderate amounts, and have concluded that balance is the best prescription. But when I got a bag of coconut flour for Christmas, the memories of all that almond flour resurfaced. Still an adventurous home-cook, but not willing to sacrifice taste for special ingredient needs, I found myself searching for a good starter recipe to use the flour and stumbled upon SlimPalate's brownie recipe from his cookbook, which the inimitable Topwithcinnamon had lightly adapted/auditioned. 

I have now made them about four times. Besides providing the perfect healthy snack to accompany obsessive weddingwire scanning, they are delicious, with minimal, easily sourced ingredients. A tad on the cakier side and strong on the chocolate, they will fool anyone who doesn't "need" a special diet sweet. No matter what dietary restrictions you may or may not possess, they are a keeper. They offer a few customizations on the nut front, feature (optionally) browned butter, contain no granulated sugar or gluten, come together in a flash, last a good few days in a container on the counter and satisfy that mid-afternoon sweet-treat. Or if you're like my husband-to-be (!), that mid-morning, mid-afternoon or mid-night sweet treat. 

Coconut Flour Brownies
makes 8 large or 12 small
adapted via SP via TWC 

Notes: I like to make these in a loaf pan. I'm not sure how this began but I just know it's the right size for halving a typically full batch intended to be baked in an 8 x 8 pan. It also offers good release utilizing the high parchment "sling."

2 Tbs (14 grams) coconut flour (I used Bob's Red Mill)
1 1/2 Tbs (7 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 tsp cinnamon and/or finely ground coffee (optional)
1/8 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 oz (42 grams) unsweetened chocolate, chopped (I used a Lindt 90% bar)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 oz (half a stick or 4 Tbs) organic butter
1/4 c (75 grams) honey
1 large organic egg
1-2 Tbs chopped toasted nuts, cacao nibs (optional)
Flaked salt to sprinkle (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and line a loaf pan with a sheet of parchment, lining it up to the top of the pan and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together coconut flour, salt, baking soda, cocoa powder (and cinnamon/coffee if using).

In a small sacuepan over medium heat, melt butter. Stir frequently as it bubbles and just as soon as it begins to brown, remove from heat. Immediately toss in chopped chocolate and stir to melt. Transfer to a heat-proof bowl and allow to cool a few minutes, then stir in honey and vanilla. Test a finger in the mix. It should be just a little warm, not hot (you don't want to cook the egg). Add egg and mix to incorporate, so the mixture is glossy. Add in flour mixture and stir until no flour is visible, about 20 strokes. Pour into prepared pan, sprinkle nuts and nibs over, if using, and a few grains salt.

Bake about 20-25 minutes. I usually do 25. Test with a wood skewer, it should come out very close to clean with no wet batter. Top will look set and dry but middle will still be soft to touch. Allow to cool completely in the pan, about 2 hrs, until removing and cutting. You can chill the pan 10 minutes before cutting, and also cutting with a plastic knife is a trick. Store airtight a few days. If they last. 

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