Some of you may know that I recently tried to bake some gluten free cookies for a work colleague without much success. They were dry, thin, brittle and quite bland in taste. Not really on the yummy scale. But, as the saying goes, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. I was determined to find a way to produce a gluten, or at least wheat free, treat that he could enjoy.
I decided to steer away from cookies and try something softer and more cake like. I know there are quite a few flourless cake recipes around, but I wanted to make something that he wouldn’t normally be able to eat. It was while I was flicking through a cookery book that I happened upon a recipe for lemon polenta cake and a little light bulb in my head lit up – ohh I could use cornmeal in place of the flour, that might work. I decided to make some brownies to find out.
The batter came together well and looked just like a standard brownie mix. I made them extra dark by adding a couple of tablespoons of Dutch process cocoa powder along with the melted chocolate into the mix. I also threw in some mint chocolate baking chips that were given to me by a good friend. I loved how dark and glossy the batter looked, and from licking the bowl I could tell it was good.
During baking the brownies rose up, but then deflated on cooling. They gave off the most wonderful chocolate smell with a hint of mint. They had a shiny crackled surface and once sliced revealed a soft, fudgey interior, almost inky black in colour thanks to the cocoa powder. I had a little nibble and they tasted yummy and really packed a punch with the mint flavour. I was amazed at how much flavour the little minty chips added. So with crossed fingers I packed them up and took them to work for the Monday Munchers.
They were received extremely well at work, with people loving their intense dark colour and strong minty flavour. I didn’t tell them they were gluten free until after people had began munching. When I told them, the look on their faces was one of utter amazement and one girl even admitted she wouldn’t have tried them if she had known (I think I put her off with the bad batch of cookies). More importantly I was then able to offer them to the guy on the wheat free diet and he described them as ‘ace’ which really made me smile. So at last a success – hurrah!
Gluten Free Minty Choc Chip Brownies
100g dark chocolate
180g caster sugar
15g Dutch process cocoa powder
85g fine cornmeal (polenta)
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
70g mint chocolate baking chips
Preheat the oven to 175C. Grease and line the base and sides of a square 8inch baking tin.
Melt the butter and chocolate together in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water.
Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar followed by the cocoa powder.
Beat in the eggs one at a time, until the mixture is airy and glossy.
Sprinkle over the cornmeal and the bicarb and mix in well.
Finally fold in the mint chips and pour into the baking tin.
Bake for 35-40 minutes until risen and a skewer inserted comes out sticky but not wet from raw batter.
Allow to cool in the tin (it will sink slightly but that’s ok).
Remove from the tin and slice into 9 squares.
Store in an airtight container until required.
Note: Replacing the cornmeal with plain flour works just as well and using standard cocoa powder and a bar of mint chocolate would be fine.