Gluten-Free Chocolate and Raisin Brownies

Gluten-Free Raisin Brownies

Fussellette and I have been attempting to re-create the ooey-gooey goodness of Gluten-Free Pantry’s Chocolate Truffle Brownie Mix.  This recipe, from one of my favourite bloggers Nick at Frugal Feeding, may very well replace that mix in my heart.

The ingredients are simple: chocolate, butter, sugar, eggs, cocoa, almonds, and raisins.  And we all know the best things in life are often the simplest.

Gluten-Free Raisin Brownies

Preheat your oven to 350°F and spray and line a glass baking dish.  The larger your dish, the thinner your brownies will be, so keep that in mind.

Gluten-Free Raisin Brownies

In a large metal bowl suspended over simmering water, melt together 200g dark chocolate and 75g butter until smooth.  Remove it from the heat and put it on a heatproof surface.

Gluten-Free Raisin Brownies

Chuck in 130g sugar and stir that up.  Then add in, one at a time, 2 eggs.

Gluten-Free Raisin Brownies

Stir in, as well, 1 tablespoon cocoa powder and 2 tablespoons ground almonds.  I think next time I might experiment using almond flour instead, but today I didn’t have any. With just ground almonds I did have some trouble with cohesion when it was done.

Gluten-Free Raisin Brownies

When that’s all combined, add in a couple handfuls raisins according to your preference.

Gluten-Free Raisin Brownies

Slide that good stuff into your dish and bake for anywhere between 15 and 25 minutes, depending on your brownie depth, until the centre is JUST set.  If you bake any longer, then you’ll have cake, not a brownie, and that just isn’t the point.

Gluten-Free Raisin Brownies

As hard as it will be, make sure you let the brownies cool completely before slicing and serving.  in fact, it often helps, when making especially tender brownies, to freeze them for an hour before cutting them.  You can always heat them up again later, but if you move in too soon you’re likely to end up with a brownie mess.

Gluten-Free Raisin Brownies


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Tofu Feature Month: Dark Chocolate Mousse

Tofu Chocolate Mousse

Who says that tofu only belongs on the savoury side of life?

This chocolate dessert is quick and easier than doing it the hard way.

The original recipe I had called for carob powder, but I didn’t have any, so I chopped up dark chocolate and melted it instead.  I figured it would make a smoother treat that way.

Tofu Chocolate Mousse

In a blender, combine 1 package soft silken tofu, 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 1/2 melted dark chocolate, and 1/2 cup soy milk.  Add between 2 and 6 tablespoons of sugar (I did 2, the recipe I had called for 6, and that seemed like a lot).  Blend that until it’s smooth.  It might take some stirring to dislodge pockets of cocoa powder.

Tofu Chocolate Mousse

Pour into parfait cups or layer in a tall glass.  I tried to layer with marshmallows, but of course they floated when I tried to pour more chocolate on top. Yes, I am an idiot.

Tofu Chocolate Mousse

And the fresh raspberries I put on top sank.

Tofu Chocolate Mousse

Chill until firm(er) and serve.

To be honest, I was not a fan of this dessert.  Firstly, it was most decidedly not a mousse — that frothy, floating concoction that I know and love.  This was more like a heavy pudding.  And the smoothness of the tofu did nothing to hide the chalky feeling of undissolved cocoa powder sliding down my gullet.  It tasted fine, but the texture was all wrong.  In this case, I would stick with real dairy and straight chocolate.

Tofu Chocolate Mousse

Chocolate Moose Cake

My siblings-in-law Rusty and Mags are arriving today for a couple of weeks.  It’s Rusty’s first time on a plane, so something tells me he’ll need some chocolate when he gets here.  And possibly booze.

I borrowed the actual cake recipe from here, but everything else I made up on my own.  Make sure you’ve got some time when you make this cake, or at least a list of other things to do.  There’s a lot of waiting around for things to cool.

First, you need a springform pan.  Mine here is 10 inches.  Anywhere around that size should be fine.  You see how it has a little lip on the bottom?

Well, flip that so the lip is facing down and lock it in place.

Now butter it like there’s no tomorrow, making sure to fill in all those wee squares, and then dust it with flour.  Knock out the excess and set that sucker aside.

Preheat your oven to 325°F.

In a large bowl, sift in and whisk together 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa, 1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda.

In a small bowl, whisk together 1 cup water and 3 large eggs.

Chop up about 8oz bittersweet or dark chocolate (or milk, if you prefer, it’s your cake — who am I to tell you what to do?).  Melt that in a double boiler with 3/4 cup butter.

Remove that from the heat and whisk in the egg mixture until it’s smooth and feels like pudding.

Then whisk all that chocolate goodness into the flour mixture and get out all the lumps.

Add in 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar and keep on whisking.  Make sure to rest your whisking hand often, as this is a very whisk-heavy recipe.  How many more times can I say “whisk”?

Pour that glop into your prepared springform pan.

Make sure to rap the pan on the counter to get out all those pesky air bubbles.

Bake for 75 to 90 minutes, until the cake is starting to pull away from the side of the pan and a wooden stick inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Cool the cake in the pan for 20 minutes, then remove the ring and let the cake cool completely, about an hour.  Once the cake is cool you can carefully remove it from the bottom of the pan.

At this point, I brushed the cake with the contents of a wee bottle (50mL) of Grand Marnier, an orange-flavoured liqueur, to keep the cake moist while it awaits the arrival of its consumers.

While your cake is cooking and cooling, you can work on your fondant covering.

We’re going to do a cocoa-mocha fondant today.  So, in the bowl of your mixer, plop in 3/4 cup butter, softened, 3/4 cup corn syrup, and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract.  Mix that until creamy, then add in 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa, 3 tablespoons instant espresso powder, and, slowly, so you don’t start an icing sugar mushroom cloud, about 5 cups icing sugar.

You may need to adjust the level of icing sugar until you get the appropriate doughy texture.  You can always knead in more icing sugar with your hands.  Set that aside.  Possibly in the fridge to firm up a little.

Now we’re going to make the decorating fondant.  In a clean bowl, mix together 1/4 cup softened butter, 1/4 cup lily white corn syrup (because otherwise it won’t turn out as light as you want it to), and 1 teaspoon almond extract.

Mix that until it’s creamy, then add in about 2 cups icing sugar and mix until doughy.  Set that aside.  Again, you can put it in the fridge.  Or next to an open window to catch the cold Newfoundland breeze.  Of course if you live anywhere else at this time of year you probably have your air conditioning on so you could always use that.

Normally, you would create a buttercream icing to go under your fondant, a nice solid glue to hold everything together.  But since when do I obey the rules?  We’re going to go with a ganâche, and that’s all there is to it.

Chop up another 8oz chocolate (your choice, of course), and melt that in a double boiler.

When it’s completely melted, whisk in 2 cups whipping cream until smooth.  Chuck that in the fridge to let it cool completely and thicken.  Stir it around every once in a while.

As this cake is a welcome-to-Newfoundland dessert for my siblings-in-law, I thought I would put a moose on the cake.  The moose, in case you didn’t know, was introduced as a hunting species to Newfoundland at the end of the 19th century and, having no natural predators other than man (because introducing species to island ecosystems is a bad idea), has proliferated and is now one of the province’s biggest pests, wreaking havoc on people’s gardens within the city and accounting for high numbers of traffic fatalities for those unfortunate (or stupid) enough to drive across the island at night.  The moose is an extremely dangerous animal, for all its vegetarian-ness, but Newfoundlanders have adopted the moose as a cute symbol of what makes Newfoundlanders a bit different than everyone else.

What I’m saying is that it’s entirely appropriate to put a moose on your cake when you live in Newfoundland.

I printed out a stencil of a moose from the internet and cut it out.  I rolled out the white fondant onto a piece of waxed paper and laid my stencil on top.

I traced the outline of the stencil with a thin, sharp knife.

Then I peeled away the excess fondant.

And thar be me moose.  I set that aside to dry a little.

When your ganâche is cooled and thickened, you can slather it on your cake.

Like that.  Holy crap does that ever look good.  Chill that in the fridge to let the ganâche set a bit more while you roll out your coffee fondant.

The Pie and I used a rolling pin to ease the fondant onto the cake.  Because the ganâche is soft and squidgy it didn’t provide a very good base for the fondant and so you can see we have some cracks.  But we’re okay with that.  Plus the moose will cover up the worst of it.  For more information on dealing with fondant, check out my Raspberry Trifle Cake experiment.

Trim the excess fondant from the bottom and smooth the sides.

Lay that moose on down on top of the cake and smooth it down as well.

We used Cadbury’s chocolate covered raisins (like Glossette’s) as “moose poop” around the edges of the cake at the bottom.  And of course one big one, just behind the moose in question.

Keep this cake in the fridge to firm up the fondant and to keep the ganâche from spoiling.  Once you have cut into it make sure to keep it covered with plastic wrap, and eat it within a few days.

Simple Chocolate Pudding

It is one of my goals while doing this blog to perfect puddings and custards from scratch.  We have already seen the panna cotta I made last summer, as well as the custardy mixture that went into the vanilla ice cream at Thanksgiving, and the custardy failure during the making of my birthday cake.  Here I thought I would dial it down a notch and go with a simple chocolate pudding.  The process is relatively easy, though you have to pay close attention, and all it needs is a few hours in the refrigerator to encourage you to chocolate gluttony.  This recipe (adapted only slightly) comes out of The Joy of Cooking (1997), as all classic recipes should.

In preparation, finely chop 2oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate.  Set that aside.

In a bowl, drop 3 tablespoons corn starch.

Slowly add 1/4 cup milk (the fat percentage is up to you, as it’s the starch that makes the pudding thick), stirring until you create a smooth paste.  Set that aside as well.

In a heavy saucepan, whisk thoroughly together 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa, and a pinch of salt.Gradually stir in 1/3 cup warm water, making a smooth, runny paste.Bring to a boil over medium heat, making sure to stir constantly.

Remove from the heat and pour in your chopped chocolate.  Stir until melted and smooth.

Then stir in 1 3/4 cups milk (again, the fat percentage is up to you — I used 1%MF).

Stir in your cornstarch milk paste.

Stirring constantly, cook over medium heat until the mixture begins to thicken. 

Reduce the heat to low and bring to a simmer, then cook for a further minute.  Remove it from the heat and add in 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, then pour the hot pudding into 4 or 5 ramekins or pudding cups.  If you don’t want a skin to form, immediately place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the pudding surface.  I like the skin, so I left it as is.  Refrigerate your pudding for at least 2 hours before serving, and up to 2 days.

I served this version with some finely grated dark chocolate and fresh raspberries.  You could also serve it with whipped cream.  Nothing beats pudding.

Fix This Recipe! (Gooey Caramel Pecan Squares)

When I’m arriving at an interview for my research, I like to bring the participant a little something that I made as a thanks for their time.  It’s kind of a rule for me.  I made the following recipe for a family I interviewed a couple of weekends ago and I was disappointed at how it turned out — I’d appreciate your views on what you think went wrong and how we could make this a super awesome dessert.  In light of this being Groundhog Day, I would say this recipe saw its shadow and needs a do-over.

I pulled this out of Esther Brody’s The 250 Best Brownies Bars & Squares, which has also yielded the no-bake peanut butter crunchy squares and the extreme comfort brownies.  So I figured this would be another excellent concoction.  I followed the recipe exactly, with the exception of adding salt, which I never do anyway.  And I doubled the recipe, of course.  Something, however, went horribly, horribly wrong …

Preheat your oven to 425°F and line an 8″ square cake pan with foil, then spray the foil with cooking spray or grease with butter.  I used spray.

For the Base:

In a bowl, mix together 1 cup all-purpose flour and 1/4 cup granulated sugar.

Using your handy-dandy pastry blender (or two knives), cut 6 tablespoons cold butter into the mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs.

One tablespoon at a time, sprinkle 3 tablespoons ice water over the mixture, mixing lightly after each addition.  The dough should be just moist enough to hold together at this point.

I found I had to add more water in order to get the dough to stick together, probably about double the amount.

Press the dough evenly into your prepared pan.

Bake it in your oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown, then place on a rack to cool completely.  When I pulled mine out of the oven it was bubbling with butter and not golden at all.  I think I would perhaps use less butter.  Suggestions?

For the Filling:

In a saucepan over high heat, melt together 3 tablespoons butter, 1/3 cup light corn syrup, 1 1/3 cups packed brown sugar, 1/2 cup whipping cream, and 1 teaspoon white vinegar.  Bring the goo to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes.

Remove from the heat and stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla until the bubbling stops (bet you didn’t know it would bubble when you added vanilla, did you?)

Pour the filling over the cooled base (I let the filling cool a bit first, as it was rather molten).

Sprinkle the top with 3/4 cup toasted pecans and set aside to cool.

For the Topping:

In a double boiler or bowl set over a pot of simmering water, melt 3 oz semi-sweet chocolate and stir until smooth.  Let cool very slightly and then drizzle over the pecans.  Chill until the chocolate is set.

Using the foil as a handle, transfer your chilled squares to a cutting board and cut into squares.  My problem here?  The darned caramel didn’t set.  It got thicker, sure, but still remained steadfastly liquid.  What did I do wrong?

The bottom was pretty rubbery, too, which made eating this sweet confection impossible without a jackhammer, but it is definitely worth trying again, because while it didn’t work out the way I had anticipated, at least it wasn’t floor pizza.