Sunday, February 13, 2011

Browned butter brownies (gluten free, gum free)


Browned butter seems to be cropping up in recipes everywhere these days – in both savory and sweet recipes, involving meats, breads, and vegetables.  From breakfast to dessert.  Nothing seems to be safe from browned butter!  

Given the proliferation of browned butter, it wasn’t much a surprise to see it on the cover of this month’s Bon Appetit.  

It seems this fat is our newest cover girl!  (The irony!)  

In all honesty, it wasn’t the butter itself on the cover, but brownies made with this butter.  The tagline promised the, “Best-Ever Brownies,” along with the warning, “You will eat the entire tray.”  And there they stood, stacked in all their glory, photographed up close, for all the world to see every crumb. 

They looked as good as any brownie would that close, but oozed an alluring character and mystery, if only because they were made using the ever-famous browned butter. 

Given my lack of experience with this fat fad, and my chocolate craving, I took on the challenge of turning Bon Appetit’s best-ever browned butter brownies gluten free and gum free.  My challenge: to accomplish that crispy, flaky brownie top; keep the middle moist and fudgy; and keep them from falling apart when you grabbed for one (or two… or three). 

In the process, I learned that making browned butter goes a little bit beyond melting and “cooking” the butter, to toast the fat solids (this is what imparts the nutty toasted flavor – and, it seems, everything tastes better toasted).  The recipe describes cooking the butter in the saucepan until it stops foaming.  The recipe writer wasn’t kidding!  In fact, the butter began to foam and froth like no tomorrow.  It resembled something of sea foam and started to get kind of creepy-looking.  Then, suddenly, the foam dissolved away and the butter looked again like melted butter.  And, oh! The aroma is amazing!

This was one mission completely accomplished.  I tried to show you in the picture above, but in case you can't tell, that top is perfectly brownie-crisp and flaky, and that middle is the perfect amount of fudgey, with crumbs that stick to your fork - just like a good brownie should.

Browned butter brownies (gluten free, gum free)
Adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine
These are actually a snap to make, but you may want to bake a double batch, or bake two square pans at a time to freeze one for later.  They are that good!  Also, I don’t like nuts in my brownies, but I know many people do, so I kept that in the ingredient list.

10 Tablespoons salted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 ¼ cups raw sugar
¾ cups natural unsweetened cocoa powder (non-alkalized)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 teaspoons water
2 large eggs
2 Tablespoons tapioca flour
4 Tablespoons quinoa flour
1 cup walnut pieces (optional)

Position rack in bottom third of oven (mine was at the top of the bottom third) and preheat oven to 325F.  Line a metal 8x8x2 inch baking pan with parchment paper and either spay with gluten free nonstick spray (olive oil) or butter the parchment. 

In small saucepan, melt the 10 Tablespoons butter over medium heat, stirring frequently.  Cook until butter stops foaming and brown bits form at bottom of pan (about 5 minutes).  Remove from heat and add the sugar, cocoa, water, and vanilla.  Stir well.

Let the mixture cool for 5 minutes.  Get out a whisk and add each egg slowly, one at a time, whisking each one quickly to incorporate before it cooks.  Add the second egg after the first one is completely incorporated.  The mixture will become thick and shiny.

Add flour and stir until blended.  Pour into the baking pan.

Bake about 30 minutes, until a few moist crumbs are still attached to a toothpick inserted in the center (but toothpick is mostly clean).  Edges will start to look crunchy.
Cool in pan on a wire rack.  It will take a lot of willpower, but do not remove the brownies from the pan/cut into the brownies until they are completely cooled.  When they are completely cooled, lift the brownies out of the pan using the parchment paper and cut into pieces.