You asked and I have delivered. Gluten-free, nut-free brownies that are a direct riff on my best-ever brownies made with almond meal. Needless to say, I’m always happy to test another batch of brownies. You know, just to be sure.
As I’ve mentioned, these brownies are gluten free, nut free and FODMAP friendly. Although it might impact their shininess, you could also make them dairy free by using a butter substitute.
At the risk of repeating myself, I have repeated myself with all my tips and tricks for gluten-free, nut-free brownies in this post. With further ado:
TECHNIQUES FOR THE BEST-EVER GLUTEN-FREE, NUT-FREE BROWNIES
- Know what sort of brownie you enjoy and want to bake. I am firmly in the fudgy brownie category, as are these brownies. If you like cakey brownies, you’ll be disappointed.
- Start with good quality chocolate, cocoa and butter. These are the primary ingredients, so the quality is extremely important to the end result.
- Dutch processed cocoa is always advisable. It makes such a difference.
- The recipe blooms the cocoa in coffee and water. Blooming cocoa brings out a deep and dark chocolate flavour, and is important to making these brownies super chocolatey.
- Personally, I recommend using a dark cooking chocolate that is 70%. I used to recommend 50%, but I think the 70% adds a depth of flavour that others do not. That all said, anything above 50% is great. Just make sure it contains a bit of sugar.
- You must beat the eggs into the melted butter and sugar for 5-10 minutes on a medium-high speed. This creates a meringue-like crust on the brownies, which is responsible for that smooth, crackly surface we know and love. You can over-beat – it will result on a bubbly (but still crackly) top. The mixture is ready when it’s lighter, thicker and fluffy looking.
- Wait until the brownies are cool before eating. Everything melds together, and you minimise the risk of eating an oily brownie. They are also much easier to slice when cool. This FOOD 52 feed suggests making them the night before, which I’m inclined to agree with. I also recommend keeping them in the fridge.
- If you’re in the mood to delve into more brownie research: this article contains an interesting tip about using some milk chocolate to create a shiny a top.
- Make sure your eggs are room temperature!!! Always!!!
- If you’d like a gluten and nut free version of this recipe, please see my recipe here.
- For a vegan version, see my vegan brownie recipe. They use almond meal – I haven’t tested the whole trifecta – gluten free, vegan AND nut free yet, but imma get there.
- You could use hazelnut meal as a substitute for almond meal, if you like.
- On the note of substitutions, you can use a whole cup of caster sugar, as opposed to half light brown and half caster. Light brown sugar brings a depth of caramel flavour that caster doesn’t, but it works in a pinch.
- I use extra large eggs, meaning I buy the 700g packet here in Australia. The size of your eggs is quite important in gluten free baking, because it has a tendency to be dry. As previously mentioned, make sure they are room temperature. Cold eggs will ‘shock’ the brownie mixture and may cause the chocolate or butter (or both) to seize up in the batter, effectively ruining it.
- The espresso, salt and vanilla bean paste work actual wonders in producing a super rich, flavourful brownie. I don’t recommend omitting any of them.
- To make these into fruity brownies, simply add 1/2 – 3/4 cup of berries to the mixture after you’ve poured it into the pan. You’ll need to adjust the cooking time to compensate for the extra liquid from the berries. Don’t use too many or your brownies will never cook. If you want to use frozen berries, cook off the extra liquid before using them.
LEVERS TO PULL FOR YOUR ULTIMATE BROWNIE
It would be no fun if there were no options, right? Right. So here are a few ways you can make this brownie recipe your own.
TO MAKE A FUDGY BROWNIE:
- If you like a super fudgy brownie, consider cooking it for a little less time. This will leave a molten interior with a crisp exterior.
- In the same vein, use the lesser amount of flour specified, and use extra large eggs as opposed to large.
- Light brown sugar can contribute to bite and chew, so you could try using 1/2 light brown sugar and 1/2 caster.
TO MAKE A CAKIER BROWNIE:
- Basically, the inverse of the above!
- Cook your brownies for longer than specified. This will firm up the interior, but without making them too dry.
- Add the higher amount of flour specified.
- You can use large eggs instead of extra large so as to add a little less liquid to the batter.
- I’m unsure whether using half light brown sugar would make the brownie more fudgy than cakey. All of my light brown sugar knowledge comes from my cookie experiments. If you know anything about the topic, please let me know.
There is many an ingredient one can use to fancy up a brownie. My suggestions are:
- Raspberries, but cooked ones. I actually find frozen raspberries that are cooked until jammy make a much nicer addition than fresh ones. They look nicer (picture included) and they don’t make the top look as scary as fresh ones.
- Peanut butter. Oh, the irony! I realise these are nut free brownies, but it’s an option nonetheless. If you’re the type of person who loves peanut butter not using almond meal for baking, this option is for you.
- Sea salt flakes (although they’re not really optional in my biased opinion)
- Chopped up chocolate, chocolate bars, maybe even white chocolate? Basically anything that goes with chocolate will go well here. Just take care not to stuff the brownies too much.
Gluten free, nut free brownies (the best-ever)
- 175 g butter
- 1 cup caster sugar or 1/2 light brown and 1/2 caster
- 3 large or extra large eggs see 'levers to pull' notes
- 200 g dark cooking chocolate I use 70%
- 2 tablespoons Dutch processed cocoa
- 1 tablespoon freshly brewed espresso
- 1 tablespoon hot water
- 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
- 1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
- 1/4 + 2 tablespoons - 1/2 cup fine white rice flour see 'levers to pull' notes
- 1/4 cup 25g tapioca flour
- In a small saucepan, melt the butter over a low heat. Once melted, add the sugar(s) and stir well to combine. Turn the heat off, and leave the mixture to cool for 10 or so minutes. The mixture can’t be too hot or it will cook the eggs in the next step.
- Add the butter sugar mixture to your kitchen mixer and use the whisk attachment. Start the motor and, while beating on a medium speed, add the eggs, one at a time. Leave the mixture to beat on a medium speed for 10 minutes. This will help create the meringue-like crackly top we covet.
- While the mixture is beating, melt the chocolate using a double boiler. As a refresher, a double boiler is a steel bowl placed over a small saucepan of water on a medium heat. Make sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl, or it might overcook the chocolate. Continue until melted, and then remove from the heat.
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius, and line a 24cm x 24cm square baking pan. I like to put a bit of butter or oil in the bottom so the paper doesn’t slide around.
- Add the salt, vanilla bean paste and cocoa to the chocolate mixture. Pour the hot water and coffee over the cocoa to 'bloom' it - bring out the depth of the chocolate flavour. Gently stir the mixture until just combined - it will quickly begin to stiffen, so don't stir more than strictly necessary.
- Turn the motor off on the kitchen stand, and add the chocolate mixture to the bowl. Mix on a low speed until just combined. The mixture should be silky, smooth and medium brown in colour.
- Add the flours to the brownie batter and mix until just combined. The mixture contains beaten egg whites, so stirring more than necessary will knock them out and create less of a shiny, meringue top. Once combined, pour the mixture into the pre-prepared pan, and place the brownies into the oven for 20-35 minutes, depending on how 'done' you like your brownies.
- Allow to cool before slicing, and for best, most delicious results, allow to cool completely before eating. Brownies are best made the night before – see the introduction for links and tips. I also highly recommend keeping these in the fridge.
- I like to sprinkle my brownies with a little extra sea salt, but you do you.