Monday, 19 December 2016

Chestnut Flour Brownies - 1

gluten- and dairy-free

Chestnut flour is something that I've been meaning to try for a long time, but I've only ever seen it for sale online, where minimum order charges or postage charges haven't made it economical. So when we were on holiday in Italy in September, and found ourselves passing a wholefood supermarket I had to see if they had any. I think I probably paid as much per kg as I would have in this country, but I got organic flour, and didn't have to buy anything extra to make up an order.

Once I'd got the flour, I decided to keep it for Christmas baking, but couldn't resist trying these brownies from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial, which only needed 40g of flour, when I wanted to try something different in the way of gluten- and dairy- free baking. I had to adapt the recipe to make it dairy-free, and to allow for the fact that I only had 70% plain chocolate available, but Celia's recipe was certainly the inspiration. In this post Celia warns of the pitfalls of trying to use chocolate with too high a percentage of cocoa solids in this recipe, so although I didn't have any problems, you might want to stick to the original recipe.

100g hard dairy-free baking fat - I used Stork
200g 70% plain chocolate
175g light muscovado sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
40g chestnut flour
130g 70% plain chocolate, chopped coarsely

NB - check that the chocolate is dairy-free if this factor is important.

Preheat the oven to 170C and line a 20cm (8") square brownie tin.
Melt the chocolate and baking fat together in a bowl, over a pan of simmering water, then remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract and sugar.
Cool, if necessary, until the mixture is only lukewarm, then beat in the eggs, one at a time.
Sift in the flour and stir vigourously until  the flour is incorporated and the mixture 'snaps' (as Celia describes it). This is the point at which the texture of the batter stiffens and comes cleanly away from the sides of the mixing bowl.
Fold in the chopped chocolate, transfer the batter to the baking tin, spread evenly and bake for 25 minutes until just form.
Cool completely in the tin before cutting into pieces. I recommend small pieces, as these brownies are very, very rich. The pieces in the photographs were only about 2.5cm square!

I'm usually reluctant to use non-dairy fats in place of butter, but in this recipe the chocolate hit was so powerful that any adverse flavour from the Stork baking fat was completely masked. I very rarely say things like this, but I think this recipe made something that was too rich to be thought of as a brownie. Even after cutting into tiny squares, it was difficult to eat more than one - it was like eating semi-solid chocolate, not any sort of cake. We had to eat the brownies as an after-dinner chocolate treat rather than a dessert. They were absolutely delicious, but not what I was looking for in terms of a gluten- and dairy-free dessert.

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