Last Wednesday, the NYT showcased these brownie recipes; they look so simple and easy you want to go right out and bake a batch. (I wonder if rice flour can be done in a 1:1 swap with wheat flour. Gluten-free cooks, thoughts?)

But brownies and I have a past and it's not a pretty one.

Whilst in college overseas, I tried to bake Real Gourmet American Brownies for my Euro-boyfriend. I found an American recipe and dug in. There was the metric conversion thing to tackle and the fact that English teaspoons and American teaspoons are not the same measurement but as an overly confident young cook I thought, “I can wing it.”

So wrong.

Baking is chemistry. If your measurements are off, well, as any of you bakers know your soufflé falls, the crumb is crumby, and grit thy name is cake. Some chefs have made good on their mistakes, the molten chocolate cake of recent years is a great example. But I'm no Vongerichten.

First issue, the chocolate seized. This was pre-internet, so there was no one to check with about how to unseize it. And I had never seen chocolate do that on Fred Smith or Julia Child. [Now I know, add more liquid and it will calm down].

As I had used expensive imported chocolate I felt I needed to soldier on. I should have quit whilst I was ahead-chocolate covered strawberries would have worked for the boy.

I added the requisite dry ingreds and baked the mess, I mean mix.

Did I mention the oven was an exercise of guess-my-heat level? Oven temperature gauges over there were, yup, not the same.

Needless to say, this lovely chocolate brownie concept was a complete disaster in reality. I didn't even show the boy the bad result; I binned the whole thing. Big sigh.

However, and this is a big but, the recipes in this article are fairly uncomplicated and I wonder, if I found a nut-free chocolate and some rice flour, do I dare to attempt it?


Heather said…
I have been planning on trying these recipes as well. You'll probably need something in addition to rice flour because it might be too grainy on its own. I'll probably experiment with a combinination of rice flour, tapioca flour, garbanzo flour, and/or potato starch. (I keep basic gf mixes I've made up in containers in the fridge. Rebecca Reilly's proportions are a good place to start.) Plus, I'd add about a 1/4 tsp of xantham gum to smooth everything out and make it cohere. GF brownies should be fairly simple because they tend to have a low percentage of flour compared to the other non-gluten ingredients. The mixes on the market are excellent, but it's always nice to make them (nut-free) from scratch.
Allergic Girl® said…
thanks heather! i'm thinking maybe garbanzo/fava might be better than rice, too grainy is right. and i dunno if i can use xantham again now that i know where it comes from via Twinkie, Deconstructed. ;-) thanks again though!
~M said…
If you can tolerate it, sorghum flour might be a good choice, as it is softer and less gritty than rice flour. If you want to save time but have a sorghum-based mix, I know Pamela's *bread* mix is nut-free and can be used as a self-rising mix, if you add some baking powder and salt.
Anonymous said…
You know, I would have eaten the brownie mess. It had chocolate in it, after all...
Allergic Girl® said…
-M, good ideas, thanks!

-steve-i totally should have spent the 10p and called you right over. drat.
Heather said…
I just started using sorghum flour and I like it, though it needs to be mixed with something else. To me, the trick is the right balance of flours, not just one flour on its own. The garfava is good, like you suggest.

Now I want a brownie!
Allergic Girl® said…
-heather--garfava, that's funny. we should have a GF brownie off in may. seriously.
Heather said…
It's actually called Garfava in the store! :)

Now I do have a box of GF Pantry brownie mix at home. Dessert tonight??
Allergic Girl® said…
now i know why it sounds so familar and funny. reminded me of an ep of Mad About You where they mention Estes Kefauver--sounds JUST like garfava!!!
Nat said…
I agree with Heather. For baking, generally a mix of GF flours (sorghum, rice, tapioca starch), with xanthum gum works best. Or a baking mix -- Bob's Red Mill has a GF baking flour; as does Pamela's. I would try them before rice flour alone -- it tends to crumble and taste...sandy?! Though I know nothing about the nut-free-ness of any of these.
I'm not a huge fan of the garbanzo or fava bean flavours, they tend to taste...beany (but they can be good in a mix).
Allergic Girl® said…
nat- thanks. bob's mill won't guarantee they are tree nut free though, so i've been hesitatnt to use them, even though they have everything i want!
Shauna said…
I made the New Classic brownies — wonderfully dense and fudgy, more like a flourless chocolate torte — with equal parts sorghum flour and tapioca flour.

Oh my goodness. Yum.

They were gone in half a day. Thankfully, I sliced them up and gave them away. Everyone who ate them can eat gluten. Everyone loved them.

(Still, it's best if you make them at night and let them sit in the refrigerator overnight. The brownies settle into themselves and taste fantastic.)

Try it.
Allergic Girl® said…
Shauna, that sounds fab-thank you!

ok looks like i've got some serious baking to do, and then a party because i can not eat an entire pan of bronwies myself.

still have to nail down some high qualty nut-free chocolate...

thanks everyone, great ideas!
Alisa said…
I didn't read through all of the responses, but brownies are one food (of very few) that I have found a rice flour replacement works well. I make this brownie recipe with just brown rice flour frequently - Everyone seems to like them! The egg acts well as a binder, and they don't seem to have that usual rice flour grit.
Vivian Mahoney said…
It's hard finding quality nut free chocolate. Have you tried Vermont Nut Free Chocolates ( The only thing is there may be some contamination with dairy. Good luck.
Allergic Girl® said…
hipwritermama--ive seen their website and emailed them about their practices but never heard back. ;-( have you had positive experiences with them?
Allergic Girl® said…
alisa--thank you for the link! godairy free, woo hoo!
Lynn Barry said…
Try my G sugar free brownie recipe. I will copy and paste if you want me suar, honey instead and rice flour...I make them and freeze then and take a piece right out of the freezer to enjoy. THEY ARE AMAZING! HUGS
Lynn Barry said…
Take an 8X8 inch pan and put the following in it (no need for a mixing bowl) mix it up as you go with a fork and bake for 30 min. at 325 degrees.
one cup white rice flour
1/2 cup cocoa
one tsp. Xanthan Gum
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup oil
1/2 tsp. vanilla
7/8 cup honey
Anonymous said…
Totally off topic, but have you seen the brownie pan that creates a crust for every piece?
Vivian Mahoney said…
The products from Vermont Nut Free Chocolates arrive quickly and they are pretty good answering questions via phone. I've never e-mailed them so can't speak of that.

The chocolates are totally nut free, but may have traces of dairy because they also make milk chocolate products.

I have never ordered their baking chocolate. I've only ordered the dark chocolate. The dark chocolate is not as smooth and sweet as some other brands. But it's still okay.
Allergic Girl® said…
anon--tell me more about that pan? does it work for lasagne?

hipmama--hmm not exactly a rave review for vermont...but still maybe worth contacting them again. thanks!

Popular Posts