Friday, November 23, 2012

Gluten-Free Fudgy Brownies

When I was at home recuperating recently, I had time to go through a year's worth of Martha Stewart's "Food" magazine.  I hate having magazines pile up around the house, so I like to go through them and only keep what really interests me, like this recipe.

What I also like to do have treats that everyone can enjoy, if I know I'll be baking for a group of family or friends.  Our family now includes Megan's Belle Mere Sylvia - isn't that much nicer than saying "almost mother-in-law"?  And, because Sylvia is very belle and can only enjoy gluten-free treats, I tried these and hoped she'd enjoy them.  As it turned out, everyone who tried them loved them - including my almost-son-in-law Duncan, who doesn't usually like brownies!

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6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces (plus more for pan or have cooking spray handy)
1/3 cup cornstarch (spooned and leveled)
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
12 ounces (1.5 cups) semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 cup chopped nuts.  The recipe calls for toasted pecans, but I used regular walnuts.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter or use cooking spray on an 8-inch square baking pan and line with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on all sides. Whisk together cornstarch, cocoa, cinnamon, and salt. In a microwave-safe bowl, microwave butter and chocolate in 30-second increments, stirring each time until melted and smooth, about 2 minutes. Rather than trying to whisk everything by hand, I used my stand mixer for the next steps.  Mix sugar and vanilla; add in eggs one at a time until combined. Add chocolate and butter mixture, followed by cornstarch mixture and mix vigorously until mixture is smooth and begins to pull away from side of bowl, about 2 minutes. My mixture didn't exactly "pull away", but the result was still good.  Stir in nuts.

Pour batter into pan and smooth top. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 35 minutes, rotating pan halfway through. Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Using paper overhang, lift cake out of pan and cut into 16 squares.  It's very important to allow these brownies to be *completely* cool before you cut them and they'll still look quite wet when you do, but will then dry out further to a nice fudgy texture.

Megan actually liked them so much she asked for the recipe for her office United Way fundraiser.  I hope they all enjoyed them too!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Ups and Downs of October

My goodness, it's been two months since I've posted on my own blog - bad, bad, blogger!  I had the greatest intentions of trying all sorts of new recipes in October, but life didn't work out that way.

The month started with lots of repairs to my house, including the entire roof being replaced, right down to the plywood sheeting.  My daughter was back at home for Thanksigiving weekend, which was a real treat.  It was a good thing that I got a lot of garden cleanup done after Thanksgiving weekend, because the rest of the month was a major trip downhill.  What I thought was a really horrible stomach ache on a Sunday afternoon turned into surgery to remove an "emergent" appendix - read "ready to burst" - one day later.  I had great, quick care at Centenary Hospital (part of the Rouge Valley System) and was back at home by Tuesday afternoon.

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I was told to rest and not do anything, but I didn't need any reminders.  Just sitting in a chair was enough of a challenge, let alone trying anything more strenuous.  Did I feel like crafting, or baking, or blogging - nope.  I didn't have the inclination or energy to sit at my work table or stand in the kitchen making any new creations.

I spent three weeks at home, reading and re-reading favourite books, napping more than I ever thought possible, catching up on daytime TV, watching all the news reports on Hurricane Sandy and the US Presidential election and being royally bored out of my mind by the time I was allowed to return to work.  You know you've got serious cabin fever when the highlight of your day is waiting for the newest Barefoot Contessa cookbook to be delivered by UPS and then giving the delivery guy Hallowe'en candy to say thanks. ;) 

Family and friends were a godsend and I couldn't have gotten through three weeks without them.  From dog sitting, to picking up groceries and Hallowe'en candy and calling to check up on me, they kept me sitting still (which they'll tell you is a hard thing for me to do!) and sane - I love them all.  So now I've been back at work for a while and doing some baking again on the weekends.  Ina's newest book, "Foolproof", has inspired me already and I'll be testing one of the recipes on Friday night.  I'll keep you posted on how it worked and then it's on to some Christmas baking.