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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

April ABC Challenge: Fudgy No-butter Brownies (gluten-free, dairy-free... why???)

I'm perfectly happy with buttery, gluten-loaded brownies.  But I'm up for something new...  This is called a challenge, after all.  So, gluten-free brownies, it is.

April fools?  No.  I've been reducing grains and sugar from my diet for a while now, and therefore many of the baked goods I make (like this banana bread or these almond bars) use an almond base -- either almond meal or almond butter -- to replace the wheat.  They're pretty tasty, surprisingly!  They don't go down as easily as wheat-based goods, tending to stick in throat (so no snarfing!), but there's no sacrifice in taste or texture.

These brownies are no exception.  The lack of added fat (there is some in the almond meal -- 15g in 1/4 cup versus 12g in 1 tablespoon of butter) makes them less gooey and heavy-sitting, but does not detract from their richness.  They are VERY dense -- that would be the only giveaway that there is something unique about them.

I thought about making these entirely sugar-free, but ended up just reducing the sugar quantity.  I also halved the recipe.  Changes from the half recipe are in italics and strikeout.  Here's what I used:

1 ½ cup confectioner’s sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
100 g (about 1 cup) almond meal
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon espresso powder
1 large egg, at room temperature
½ large egg white
1 tablespoon water
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
2.5 oz (about 1/3 cup) best quality dark chocolate chips
¼ cup walnut pieces

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom and sides of an 8×4-inch loaf pan with parchment paper, letting it hang over the edges of pan.

Sift icing sugar and cocoa into a large mixing bowl. Add almond meal, salt, and espresso powder and stir to combine. Add whole egg, egg white, water and vanilla extract and stir until smooth. The batter will be thick. Stir in the walnuts.  Scrape batter into your prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake until a shiny crust forms and a skewer inserted into the center comes out with a few moist sticky bits, about 10-15 minutes.  Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cool slightly. For neat slices, let cool completely before slicing.

These whipped up very easily -- I love one-bowl bakes.  Since there's no flour, you don't need to worry about over mixing the batter, so beat away.  My oven went a little hot, and by 15 minutes the skewer came out completely dry.  Slightly overbaked by the originator's standards, I suppose, but by no means a detraction.  (It might have caused them to rise slightly less if the egg cooked before it had time to do its magic.)

Conclusion:   Dense, very chocolatey, good.  Using half the sugar made them semi-sweet, which was still perfectly acceptable.  They were definitely better the next day, when the moisture seemed to have soaked in and melded.  There was only the slightest of powdery texture from the almonds -- if they'd been made with flour and were this dense, they'd be creamy.  If one wanted to eliminate the added sugar entirely, they could probably be made with ground up raisins or dates as a substitute.  I'll keep this recipe handy for when I want something decadent but don't want to cheat too badly.  (And I might throw in a little oil.)

Original recipe:  Fudgy No-Butter Brownies via Scientifically Sweet


  1. You did what I wanted to do and should have done! They look good! They were way too sweet with all that sugar!! I think the date substitute sounds good and why not throw in a little coconut oil????

    1. I was thinking later they would have been good with a little orange zest and/or extract, too. Next time!

  2. I like how yours look like fudge. Maybe if I reduce the sugar like you did I would like them better. Nice job!

  3. I think I'll reduce the sugar in mine next time too. Not my favorite brownie recipe, but a good option if you have any friends who need gluten & dairy free options.

    1. Yes, a good recipe to have in the back pocket.

  4. Maybe they should be called fudge instead of brownies. Good for you for going with your instincts.

    1. Not nearly creamy enough for fudge, I think, but they are getting close. Sure glad I didn't use all the sugar!

  5. I added some espresso powder, too. Still quite amazed at how different we find this recipe.

    1. Yes -- I think it has a lot to do with the size of the eggs, and what they were baked in. Mine were ever so slightly overbaked because my oven got too hot (and I had a smaller quantity), but that seemed to help in keeping them together. Underbaking by even the slightest amount seemed to make them end up too fragile.

  6. Your brownies look fudgy and moist. Yum!! I loved these.