Monday, November 14, 2016

Flourless Brownies (Gluten-free, and oh-so-good!)

One of my new favorite cookbooks is The Great Big Pressure Cooker Book by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough. I've written about it a number of times, and every time someone asks me for a good cookbook to go along with their Instant Pot, I recommend it.

Yeah, I really like that book. A lot. Hint: Make the cheesecake!

So when I heard that those same authors had written a cookbook called Turbo Blender Dessert Revolution specifically for high-powered blenders (like the Vitamix or Blendtec) I knew I had to have it. I was so excited, I pre-ordered it. I seldom do that.

As I browsed through the book, there were a ton of recipes I wanted to make. I had all the ingredients for the very first recipe in the book - vanilla pudding - so I was in the kitchen immediately, blending and "cooking" pudding in my blender.

I was yapping on Facebook about the book, and Mark Scarbrough replied to my post:

Well, shoot, if a book author tells you that you have to make a recipe, there's probably some kind of law that says you have to, right? Or maybe just a Facebook obligation.

I had used up all the eggs on the pudding, so I had to wait until I bought more, but it wasn't long before I was in the kitchen, blending the batter for the brownies.

There is no flour in this recipe, and no leavening. And no, it's not cooked in the blender. You do the mixing, then you put it in a pan and bake it.

While there are some recipes that are 100 percent prepared in the blender, there are a lot of them where you also use another appliance, like an ice cream maker or an oven.

But the blender isn't just taking the place of a hand mixer. It is used for purposes besides simple mixing. For example, there are recipes where you grind flour and then mix ingredients for something you're going to bake.

If you have one of those high-powered blenders, this book will for sure get you using it for more than smoothies and blended cocktails. Make the brownies. Trust me.

Gluten-Free Brownies
Adapted from Turbo Blender Dessert Revolution
By Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough

The book notes that they almost didn't want to label these as gluten-free, since they wanted "everyone to make them." Well, okay, they got me to make them. And I see what they mean. They're gluten free, but you'd never know it. They're just yum.

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut in small pieces
10 ounces semisweet chocolate chips, or semisweet chocolate broken into squares or roughly chopped
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used black cocoa)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (I omitted this)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup pecans or walnuts, roughly chopped (I used walnuts.)

Heat the oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the center. Butter a nonstick 8-inch square baking pan (I used baking spray), then line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper (I made a sling rather than just covering the bottom) and then butter the parchment (again, I used spray).

Put the butter and chocolate into a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high in 10-second bursts, stirring each time, until about 3/4 of the chocolate is melted. Then remove the bowl from the microwave and stir until smooth. Set aside at room temperature for 15 minutes. This is a good time to do all the measuring of the rest of the ingredients.

Put the sugar, eggs, and vanilla into the blender container. (They refer to it as the large canister. Mine came with one blender container; there may be other blenders that come with different sized containers.)

Blend at the highest speed until the mixture is smooth and airy, about one minute. Add the chocolate mixture, cover, and blend at high speed for 20 seconds, until smooth.

Add the cornstarch, cocoa powder, cinnamon (I didn't use it) and salt. Scrape down the inside of the container. Cover and blend at low speed, stopping the machine often to scrape down the container to make sure it's all mixing evenly. This should take about 30 seconds of blending for it to be evenly blended and smooth.

Remove the blender container from the machine and add the nuts. Stir to combine.

Scrape the mixture into the prepared baking pan. Bake until set and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs, about 35 minutes.

Cool the pan on a wire rack for about 10 minutes, then turn out the brownies, remove the parchment paper from the bottom, and flip it right-side-up again on the rack or a cutting board. Let it cool completely before cutting.

Oh, and just for the heck of it, here's some pudding for you. Sorry for the not-great photo. I hadn't planned on using it once I made the brownies, and this disappeared too fast for me to grab another photo. Oopsie!

The pudding had an interesting texture. A little airy from the bubbles added from the blending. Really good!