Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Chestnut Flour Brownies - 2

gluten- and dairy-free.

After my earlier, not entirely successful, experimentation with chestnut flour (see previous post), I looked back over all my brownie recipes to see which one might be best adapted to use chestnut flour in place of flour containing gluten. I soon found this Diana Henry recipe for brownies made with rye flour, which is lower in gluten than wheat flour. This made me think the recipe might work as well with a gluten-free flour, so I tried a straight swap of flours, using chestnut flour instead of rye, and also added 3 chopped marrons glacé instead of the nuts suggested (you could add more, but they are very expensive!). I also used a hard dairy-free baking fat (eg Stork) instead of butter, as I was still trying to make the brownies both gluten- and dairy-free

The batter was a lot stiffer than I remembered it being in the original recipe, and really difficult to spread, so I was worried that the brownies might be too solid. However, the baked brownies were fine - quite delicious, in fact. They were dense, chewy and fudgy - everything a good brownie should be. They also tasted as if they had a lot more chocolate in them than they actually did, but without being too rich, as in my last recipe. The little pieces of candied chestnuts added an extra dimension to both the flavour and the texture.

I suspected that the stiff batter was down to the chestnut flour absorbing more moisture than rye flour, although none of the baking recipes using chestnut flour that I've looked at suggest that any adjustment is necessary. So I tried the recipe for a second time, adding 2 tablespoons of water to the batter, which made it easier to spread in the tin, but also made the brownies a little less fudgy and added a few minutes to the baking time.

My only slight disappointment with both batches of chestnut brownies was that I didn't really pick up any flavour components that I could attribute to the chestnut flour. Yes, the brownies were delicious, but would they have been any less delicious if made with spelt or rye flour? As chestnut flour is so expensive, I don't think it's something that I'll bother to keep in stock, unless I find a recipe which showcases it's flavour.

I'm sending these brownies to Choclette's 'We Should Cocoa' link-up for December, over at Tin and Thyme. Chocolate is always associated with Christmas, but adding chestnuts to these brownies makes them even more seasonal.


Snowy said...

Haven't tried chestnut flour; have used rye and spelt. The brownies look delicious, but as you say, if the chestnut flour doesn't add anything, it's not worth the extra expense.

Phil in the Kitchen said...

They look and sound like fine brownies to me but I quite understand that the chestnut flavour can't really compete with the chocolate. I've used chestnut flour occasionally in the past but I must admit that I did find it a bit of a struggle at times. There seem to be quite big differences in the flavour between different brands. For the biggest chestnut hit I've made castagnaccio but actually I find the chestnut flavour can be too strong sometimes for my taste.

Happy Christmas.

Choclette Blogger said...

I made some shortbread for Christmas with chestnut flour, but I was very cautious and didn't use very much of it. I think it added something to the texture, but I didn't get much in the flavour. Next time I will be braver and try a higher percentage. I do love the combination of chestnut and chocolate and your brownies sound superb. But I'm guessing the ratio of chestnut flour to everything else was just not high enough. It is so expensive, I'm not sure how justified it is really. But it's also quite fun trying out different flours I find. A dilemma!

Thanks for joining in with We Should Cocoa. I hope you had a lovely Christmas and I wish you a very Happy New Year.