Almond Flour Brownies (Gluten-Free)

I’ve been having some unusually good brownie karma lately.  After making an especially delicious batch of candied bacon brownies, I was emboldened to bake a batch of gluten-free brownies using almond flour.  In a word, these brownies are perfect.  They have a crispy, shiny top crust and an uber fudgey center.  The almond flour adds a “je ne sais quoi” overall richness to the chocolately flavor while keeping everything moist and tender.  If you don’t have almond flour in your pantry, it’s worth buying just to make this recipe.

IMG_9030[1]

Almond Flour Brownies

Makes 16 brownies
(from King Arthur Flour)

Ingredients

5 tablespoons (2 1/2 ounces) butter, melted
1 3/4 cups (12 1/4 ounces) sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups (2 1/4 ounces) cocoa powder, Dutch-process or natural
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups (5 1/8 ounces) almond flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Grease or line with parchment an 8″ square pan that’s at least 2″ deep.
  3. In a large bowl, stir together the melted butter, sugar, salt, vanilla, and eggs.
  4. In a medium size bowl, stir together the almond flour, cocoa, and baking powder.
  5. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until well mixed.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, spreading it to the edges.
  7. Bake the brownies for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is set and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few damp crumbs.  Do not overbake, or the brownies will be dry.
  8. Remove the brownies from the oven, and cool for about 15 minutes before cutting.

Note: Store the brownies in an airtight container at room temperature for several days or freeze for longer storage.

Mini Almond Cakes with Chocolate Ganache (Gluten-Free)

Gluten-free sweets lovers rejoice!  These Mini Almond Cakes with Chocolate Ganache are perfect in so many ways.  The cake is light, tender, and spongey with just a hit of almond flavor while the chocolate ganache is rich and creamy.  Plus, these cakes are barely palm-sized, so they’re easy to share, which is a good thing because these cakes are best eaten warm or within eight hours of baking.
A few things to know before you bake these:

  • Allow enough time to chill your ganache (30-60 minutes in addition to prep and baking time)
  • Finely chop your chocolate so that it will melt smoothly into the heated cream
  • Don’t overdo it on adding almond extract as the flavor can be quite strong
  • It really cuts down on prep time to use both a food processor and a mixer
  • Whipping egg whites is the key to the spongey, light cake texture so make sure to follow through on this
  • Don’t overbake the cakes on the first round of baking as it will be more difficult to insert the chocolate ganache balls for the second round of baking

IMG_8384[1]IMG_8385[1]

Mini Almond Cakes with Chocolate Ganache (Gluten-Free)

Makes 12 cupcakes
(from New York Times Cooking)

Ingredients

Ganache

⅓ cup (80 milliliters) heavy cream
3 ounces (85 grams) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

Almond Cake

6 tablespoons (85 grams) melted unsalted butter, cooled, plus more for muffin tin
¾ cup (85 grams) almond flour or meal
¾ cup (94 grams) confectioners’ sugar
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
2 large eggs
Few drops almond extract (optional)
3 tablespoons (24 grams) cornstarch
1 ¼ teaspoons (4 grams) baking powder
2 large egg whites
2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated sugar

Directions

Chocolate Ganache

  1. Put the cream in a glass measuring cup (a 1-cup size works well), and heat it in the microwave (approximately 45-60 seconds) until it’s bubbling (or you can heat the cream in a heavy-bottomed saucepan).
  2. Add the chocolate to the heated cream, and let it sit for 1 minute.  Then stir the chocolate and cream together until smooth.
  3. Transfer the chocolate ganache to a small container (preferably metal) and freeze until firm, at least 30 minutes.
  4. Scoop the chocolate ganache (a small cookie scoop works well for this), and roll into twelve 3/4-inch balls. Since the ganache is very soft and can be messy to handle, you don’t need to create perfectly round balls.  Place the ganache balls in the refrigerator until needed.  Ganache balls can be prepared up to 1 week ahead.

Almond Cake

  1. Heat the oven to 350F.
  2. Butter a muffin tin or line a muffin tin with cupcake liners.
  3. Using a food processor or blender, mix the almond flour, confectioners’ sugar, and salt until powdery, about 30 seconds.
  4. Add the two eggs and almond extract, and process until smooth, 30 seconds longer.
  5. Pulse in the butter, cornstarch, and baking powder.
  6. Scrape the mixture into a large bowl, and set aside.
  7. Using an electric mixer, whip the two egg whites until very foamy.
  8. Gradually add granulated sugar while beating the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
  9. Using a spatula, gently and carefully fold a third of the egg whites into the almond mixture to lighten it. Then, fold in the rest of the egg whites just until no streaks remain.
  10. Spoon the batter into prepared muffin tin, and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven.
  11. Remove the ganache balls from refrigerator, and place one ball in the center of each cake, pushing it down halfway into batter.
  12. Return the cakes to the oven, and bake until light brown and a toothpick inserted into cake (and not the chocolate) comes out clean, another 8 to 10 minutes.
  13. Serve warm or at room temperature, preferably within 8 hours of baking.

Flourless Fudge Cookies

Typically I don’t have much interest in baking gluten-free sweets.  But recently I reached a threshold number of friends who are gluten sensitive/intolerant, and thus have made a more concerted effort to provide a few gluten-free baked goods options.  These Flourless Fudge Cookies will make any chocolate lover swoon.  When you don’t have flour to work with, you pack a cookie with flavor-rich ingredients like cocoa powder (use a good quality cocoa powder like from Penzey’s) and espresso powder.  This light-as-air cookie has a delicate crispy top and a delightfully chewy center, all while packing an intense chocolate punch.

IMG_7897[1].JPG

Flourless Fudge Cookies

Makes 16 large or 32 small cookies
(from King Arthur Flour)

Ingredients

2 1/4 cups (9 ounces) confectioners’ (powdered) sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon espresso powder, optional
1 cup (3 ounces) cocoa powder, natural or Dutch-process cocoa
3 large (3 3/4 ounces) egg whites
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups (8-12 ounces) chocolate chips, chopped nuts, and/or chopped dried fruit, optional (I don’t use add ins as the cookies are pretty delicate and thin, and I don’t want them weighed down)

Directions

  1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, and grease the parchment.  These cookies will stick, so greasing the parchment is a must.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg whites and vanilla.
  3. In a separate bowl whisk together the confectioners’ sugar, salt, espresso powder, and cocoa powder.
  4. Pour the egg-vanilla mixture into the dry ingredients, and stir together to mix well.  Make sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, and stir until the batter is smooth.  The batter should be the consistency of thick syrup.  It will not look like your typical cookie dough, but do not be alarmed.
  5. Add the chips, nuts, etc. if using.  I prefer not to add these in as the cookies are delicate.
  6. Drop the batter onto the baking sheets in 3″ (for large cookies) or 1 3/4″ to 2″ (for smaller cookies) rounds.  I like using a cookie scoop for this as it gets messy because the dough is so liquidy.  Let the cookies rest on the baking sheets for 30 minutes while you preheat the oven to 350°F.  Don’t skip the dough resting step as it allows the cookies to bake more evenly.
  7. Bake the cookies for 7 minutes (for small cookies) or 8-9 minutes (for larger cookies).  The cookies will spread slightly while baking, and become somewhat shiny, and develop faintly crackly tops.
  8. Remove the cookies from the oven, and allow them to cool on the pan.  When they’re nearly cool, loosen them from the pan with a spatula.

Flourless Chocolate Cake

This Flourless Chocolate Cake is the overlord of all chocolate cakes.  With a chocolate trifecta of chocolate chips, cocoa powder, and espresso powder in the cake plus a hearty slathering of chocolate ganache on top, this is the richest, most decadent chocolate cake you will ever eat.  There’s no flour in this cake to take up any space from the chocolate, so gluten-free people rejoice!

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Makes one 8 inch cake, 8 to 12 servings
(from King Arthur Flour)

Ingredients

Cake

1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons, 4 ounces) unsalted butter
3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 to 2 teaspoons espresso powder, optional
1 teaspoon vanilla extract, optional
3 large eggs
1/2 cup (1 1/2 ounces) unsweetened cocoa powder, Dutch-process cocoa preferred

Glaze

1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup (4 ounces) heavy cream

Directions

Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Lightly grease an 8″ round cake pan; cut a piece of parchment or waxed paper to fit, grease it, and lay it in the bottom of the pan.
  3. Put the chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl, and heat until the butter is melted and the chips are soft. Stir until the chips melt, reheating briefly if necessary. You can also do this over a burner set at very low heat. Transfer the melted chocolate/butter to a mixing bowl.
  4. Stir in the sugar, salt, espresso powder, and vanilla. Espresso enhances chocolate’s flavor much as vanilla does; using 1 teaspoon will simply enhance the flavor, while 2 teaspoons will lend a hint of mocha to the cake.
  5. Add the eggs, beating briefly until smooth.
  6. Add the cocoa powder, and mix just to combine.
  7. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.
  8. Bake the cake for 25 minutes; the top will have formed a thin crust, and it should register at least 200°F on an instant-read thermometer inserted into its center.  Note: The original recipe recommends inserting a thermometer, but I didn’t do that.  Remove it from the oven, and cool it in the pan for 5 minutes.
  9. Loosen the edges of the pan with a table knife or nylon spreader, and turn it out onto a serving plate. The top will now be on the bottom; that’s fine. Also, the edges will crumble a bit, which is also fine. Allow the cake to cool completely before glazing.

Glaze

  1. Combine the chocolate and cream in a microwave-safe bowl, and heat until the cream is very hot, but not simmering. Remove from the microwave, and stir until the chocolate melts and the mixture is completely smooth.  Or you can melt the chocolate and cream over a double boiler. 
  2. Spoon the glaze over the cake, spreading it to drip over the sides a bit. Allow the glaze to set for several hours before serving the cake. 

 

Nutella Sugar Cookie Bars (Gluten-Free)

For years, my skepticism that gluten-free flours could produce the “right” baked goods texture made me highly resistant to experimenting with gluten-free baking.  But during a recent trip the to the Williams Sonoma outlet, a bag of Cup4Cup, a gluten-free flour developed by a chef, finally made its way into my shopping basket.  My first experiment was with Nutella Sugar Cookie Bars, and what a perfect recipe to start off my foray into gluten-free baking.  The cookie bars were soft but not crumbly or dry, and the Nutella made these even more over the top delicious.  I can already hear the much rejoicing among my gluten-free friends.

Cup4Cup gluten-free flour is pretty amazing.  It’s the only gluten-free flour I’ve tried so far, but I still think it’s amazing.
Nutella Sugar Cookie Bar-C4C5

The Nutella Sugar Cookie Bars don’t look too impressive from above, but…
Nutella Sugar Cookie Bar-C4C2

…the side view reveals all the delicious layers.  Nutella Sugar Cookie Bar-C4C3

Nutella Sugar Cookie Bars (Gluten-Free)

(from Cup4Cup)
Makes one 9″x9″ pan

Ingredients

½ cup unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ¾ cups Cup4Cup flour
½ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
¾ cup Nutella

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a non-stick 9” x 9” pan with cooking spray.
  2. In a bowl mix together the Cup4Cup flour, baking soda, salt, and cream of tartar.
  3. In a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
  4. Add the egg and vanilla to the butter-sugar mixture, and mix on medium speed until combined.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the mixture, and mix on low until a dough is formed.
  6. Place half of the dough into the bottom the baking dish, and use your fingers to spread it out into an even layer.
  7. Spread the Nutella evenly over the top.
  8. Take the remaining dough and scoop it by the tablespoon to cover most of the Nutella. Spaces of Nutella between the dough are ok.
  9. Bake for 30 minutes until baked through and light golden brown.
  10. Cool to room temperature, cut into squares and serve.