Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Brownies Make October Better

I recently received an email from a friend requesting a recipe for gluten free vegan brownies with a caramel sea salt topping.  Food requests are perhaps my favorite requests.  I had a ton of fun the past few days trying different recipes out!  I didn't write the recipes myself, but I've got info on where they came from.  I tried out a few different caramel ones and the one below was my favorite.  I suspect that if I had a gas stove, I would have liked the others, but I burned one batch, sadly, and the one I've shared is really simple-no chance (I hope!) of burning.
The recipe for the Gluten Free Baking Mix and Brownies comes from Cybele Pascal’s book, The Allergen-Free Baker’s Handbook.  It’s pretty magnificent.  It contains a ton of vegan recipes - only a few call for gelatin and I just don't use them.  I use the book quite a bit as a basis for recipes or sometimes I just use the recipe the way it’s written.  I wrote my own notes in italics.  The caramel sauce recipe is from www.theglutenfreevegan.com  I’ve only used her recipes this one time, actually, but I’m pretty stoked on the caramel, so I’m guessing she’s got a lot to offer.  I wish I created the recipes myself-I have made regular caramel sauce a few times before, back when I ate normal foods, so I knew how to get started, but this caramel journey was exciting!
Gluten Free/Vegan Brownies with Caramel & Sea Salt Topping

First things first, you'll need to make the Gluten Free Baking Mix:
4 cups superfine brown rice flour - I use Bob's Red Mill brand
1 1/3 cups potato starch (not potato flour)
2/3 cup tapioca flour (also called tapioca starch)

1. To measure flour, use a large spoon to scoop flour into the measuring cup, then level it off with the back of a knife or straightedge.  Do not use the measuring cup itself to scoop your flour when measuring!  It will compact the flour and you'll wind up with too much for the recipe.

2. Combine all ingredients in a gallon-size sipper-top bag.  Shake until well blended.  Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.  (I keep mine in the freezer and have never had any difficulties)

 Dark Chocolate Brownies
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup dairy free, soy free vegetable shortening - I use Soy Free Earth Balance
2 cups granulated vegan sugar (ugh, the sugar debate-I now only buy vegan cane sugar, but it's really up to your discretion)
8 ounces of unsweetened apple sauce - the recipe calls for prune or apple/plum baby food.  I'm pretty opposed to going in a baby food aisle, and I love homemade applesauce, so it wins.
1 Tbs. vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. Gluten Free Baking Mix
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
1 Tbs. double acting baking powder (make sure it's gluten free)
1 1/2 cups dairy-free, soy-free chocolate chips - (there are brands that specifically state that they're vegan - also, by the time I finished snacking on chocolate chips, I really only added about 1 1/4 cups)

1. Preheat the oven to 325.  Grease a 9 by 9-inch baking pan, then sprinkle with a little gluten free flour mix, tapping out any extra.  (I personally think that pan size is much too small.  I used a 12 by 8-inch pan-or something super close to that size) 

2. Combine the unsweetened chocolate and shortening in a microwave-safe bowl and melt in the microwave, stopping to check and stir every 30 seconds.  (Alternatively, you can melt the chocolate and shortening in a double boiler.)  Once melted, stir in the sugar and apple sauce.  Mix well, add the vanilla, and beat until smooth.

3. Whisk together the flour mix, xanthan gum, and baking powder.  Add to the chocolate mixture in three batches, stirring well after each addition.  Beat until smooth.  Fold in the chocolate chips.  (Variation: I’ve made these brownies as rocky road brownies so instead of 1 ½ cups of chocolate chips, I do about ½ cup chocolate chips, ½ cup vegan marshmallows and ½ cup chopped pecans) 

4. Spread the batter in the prepared pan, smoothing down the top with the back of a rubber spatula or large spoon.  Bake in the center of the oven for 55 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through.  Bake until the top looks glossy and the brownie is just beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan.

5. Let the brownies cool completely in the pan, then cut into squares.  Remove and enjoy.  OR COVER IN CARAMEL TOPPING!

Vegan Caramel Sauce
½ cup vegan shortening –(soy free Earth Balance)
2 cups brown sugar (this part gets tougher to buy vegan, but Woodstock Farms makes some)
¾ plain, unsweetened non-dairy milk, divided (I used So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk Beverage)
2 Tbs. arrowroot powder

1. Melt vegan margarine in a saucepan over medium heat (it melts quickly!) 
2. Add brown sugar and ½ cup of non-dairy milk.  Whisk and bring to a boil for 4 minutes
3. In a small bowl mix the remaining ¼ cup of non-dairy milk with arrowroot
4. Remove saucepan from heat and whisk in the milk/arrowroot mixture
5. The mixture will seem runny at first, but it thickens as it cools

Pour cooled caramel sauce over the brownies.  Sprinkle with sea salt.  Enjoy!
(The caramel sauce isn’t super thick-I think an additional tsp. of arrowroot might solve that problem, but it really depends on how thick you want it.  It’s really flavorful and with the salt it’s quite awesome!)

Bake these brownies for some loved ones you've got.  Share them while you watch Hocus Pocus or listen to Brotherhood of Thieves.
So, send me recipe requests/homework assignments, bake with care, enjoy the leaves, work on your Halloween costume, eat fewer potatoes than I do and cheer for the Patriots!

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