Brownies are chocolate. And chocolate is the signature for Valentine’s Day. Therefore brownies must be the official food for the holiday, right?
And that, my friends, is why I opted to take my college logic 101 and 102 classes with a pass/fail grade. I have the ability to warp logic into a pretzel stuffed into an olive the size of a raisin. It’s a gift.
Using my crazy logic, let’s compromise and call brownies
the (one) official chocolate treat for Valentine’s Day.
However, these are not my mother’s brownies. While her version is a time honored recipe that brings back all kinds of retro good nostalgia, this grain-free version is also crazy good. If she were around today, she might even approve once she was finished wrapping her brain around things (iPhone, iPad, computers and coffee makers) that look like the gizmos from Get Smart or The Man from UNCLE.
It took a few tries to get the balance just right so that the brownie came out fudgy and smooth with a proper lightly crackled top. The first try looked great but crumbled to pieces. The next one was almost right but not enough right. This one is just right and the brownies taste even better as the days go by – it’s always that way with chocolate goodies.
Some brownie baking tips. First, a trick I learned (from Alice Medrich’s chocolate books) years ago – to line a pan with foil, turn it upside down and pretend you are gift wrapping the pan. Remove the foil gently, flip the pan back over and insert the foil right into the pan and smooth it out.
Adding the sugar to the hot melted chocolate butter mixture gives it a chance to soften and melt a little bit – a good idea for that coarse coconut sugar. Also, cooling the mixture slightly before adding the eggs will help them not to scramble as they are stirred into the batter. Really mix in the eggs until they disappear. Stir like crazy once the flour is in the batter until the whole thing starts to come away from the sides of the pan. The batter should be very glossy and smooth. When scraping the batter into the foil-lined pan be sure to tilt the pan so the batter slides to each corner. Then wiggle the pan and rap it on the counter to get rid of air pockets and even it out.
The oven starts out at a higher temperature and then is lowered for a good reason. Almond flour is sensitive to burning with higher heat and longer baking times. Brownies, whether grain-free or not are done when the top looks set and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with gooey crumbs – not raw batter and not naked, either. Gooey.
To make them festively decorated use a store-bought cookie icing in a pouch to draw an abstract heart or make some royal icing here and pipe it on. Of course they can be served without any icing at all. Or. Try adding a scoop of ice cream, whipped cream and a cherry. Or a berry. And happy Valentine’s Day.
|Triple Chocolate Grain-Free Brownies|| |
- 135 grams unsalted butter, melted and lightly browned (9 tablespoons)
- 88 grams unsweetened (99%) chocolate, chopped (1/2 cup)
- 88 grams bittersweet (71%) chocolate, chopped (1/2 cup)
- 85 grams semisweet mini chocolate chips (1/2 cup)
- 150 grams coconut sugar (3/4 cup)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon brewed coffee
- ½ teaspoon almond extract (optional)
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 extra large eggs
- 75 grams blanched almond flour (3/4 cup)
- 1 tablespoon tapioca starch/flour
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8x8-inch pan with foil. In a medium large saucepan melt butter until it is beginning to turn nutty brown. Remove from the heat. Stir in chopped chocolate. Let sit for a minute or two and stir again until all the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Stir in coconut sugar until combined and sugar begins to melt, about a minute or two. Add vanilla, coffee and almond extract, if using. Stir in the salt.
- Let the mixture cool for 4-5 minutes. Mix in eggs all at once until the mixture looks smooth and it looks like you forgot to add eggs (no trace of egg glop). Blend almond flour with tapioca starch. Stir into chocolate mixture until the batter starts to come away from the sides of the pan. Scrape into the foil lined pan and rap on the counter to remove air pockets and make sure the batter is evenly distributed.
- Bake 10 minutes and then turn down the temperature to 325°F. Bake 18-22 minutes more until the top is set, glossy and slightly crackled and a toothpick inserted into the center meets some resistance and comes out with barely melty chocolate crumbs and not raw batter. Cool in the pan on a rack for about 45 minutes. Use the foil it from the pan. Place brownies on the rack to cool completely before slicing with a serrated knife. Makes 16 squares or 32 small bites.
- To decorate for Valentine's Day, use cookie frosting in a tube or make royal icing (link in the post). Squiggle abstract hearts. Let set and serve.