Black Bean Brownies (gluten and dairy free)

Adapting to a gluten free diet is, for me, a case of changing all my expectations. No matter what people might say, things without gluten just aren’t the same as things with. It’s not that they’re worse, necessarily, just different, and at the moment I’m working on not expecting a gluten free brownie to taste exactly like the normal, glutenous, sugar packed brownies that I have been enjoying for the last 21 years.

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If you, like me, have recently had to make the switch to a gluten free diet, the key is adapting. It doesn’t mean that you’re consigned to a life bereft of all your favourite foods. It simply means that the expectations you have of your favourite foods will change slightly.

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I’ve been bogged down recently with a 10,000 word dissertation about nationalism in Mexican fashion after the 1910-1920 revolution. I’ve loved writing it, but it has commandeered most of my time, leaving me unable to really start dabbling in the world of gluten free baking. I’ve been using up all the normal flour left in my cupboards over the past few weeks, baking endless loaves of bread and cakes that I can’t eat. However, as of last Thursday, my dissertation is done, handed in and out of my hair, leaving me completely free from all uni commitments and, subsequently, with an awful lot of free time of my hands.

In between celebrating with my friends and freaking out about what I’m going to do with my life, I have finally had the chance to snoop through my local health food store and pick up a variety of gluten free ingredients.

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These brownies are my first foray into rice flour, and, I think, quite a successful one. They use black beans (my absolute favourite food, although not necessarily as an ingredient to bake with!), coconut oil and honey, making them not only gluten free but also dairy and refined sugar free. Infinitely healthier than your everyday brownie, and just as tasty! They are gooey and really rich- eat them while they are still warm for ultimate gooey-ness!

Black Bean Brownies

1 tin black beans (23og)

3 tbsp coconut oil

15og your favourite dark chocolate

2 eggs

150ml maple syrup/ agave nectar

60g rice flour

pinch of salt

Preheat your oven to 170 degrees and line a square tin/ ceramic dish with baking paper.

In a bowl over a pan of simmering water, melt your coconut oil and chocolate together, then leave it to cool completely.

Meanwhile, in a food processor, blitz the black beans until they form a sort of paste. When the chocolate mixture is cool, add that and blitz to combine. Then add the eggs, maple syrup/ agave nectar, flour and salt and blitz until everything is well mixed.

Spoon into your lined tray and bake for about 30-45 minutes until the top is crispy and starting to crack and the brownies feel slightly firm to the touch. Cut into squares and devour with a handful of your favourite berries.

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xxR

Sneakily Caramel Brownies

There are a couple of lessons to be learnt in making these brownies:

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1. There is absolutely no sensation more wonderful in this world than melting chocolate over a pan of simmering water. It’s probably the nicest feeling in the world. Nothing seems to happen for the longest time and then suddenly the chunks disappear and you are left with silky, runny, chocolate loveliness.

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2. It is very difficult to make brownies this gooey look good. But hey, sometimes food doesn’t have to look good, okay? Sometimes it’s all about the taste.

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Speaking of taste…

These are delicious. For a start, they are too gooey for words, so that’s always a good thing. And also, they have sneaky caramel them, which adds to the gooeyness.

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Sneaky- no we aren’t making caramel for our brownies. That’s waaay too much effort for the kind of chocolate indulgence we need on this cold January Tuesday.

We are throwing in some Rolos! This was probably the best brownies addition ever. You can’t actually tell when you get a bite of Rolo, the whole thing just has an overall caramel essence that is unmistakable and truly decadent!

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Sneakily Caramel Brownies

250g plain flour

100g cocoa powder

1 ½ tablespoons baking powder

125ml vegtable oil

250ml golden syrup

125ml milk

250g chocolate

2 tubes of rolos

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Melt the chocolate over a pan over simmering water, and allow it to cool.

While it is cooling, sift the flour, cocoa and baking powder into a bowl.

In a separate bowl, mix together the oil, the syrup and milk. Once the chocolate is cool, add that.

Mix the wet ingredients into the dry. Add the rolos.

Bake in a well lined tin for 30 minutes at 180 degrees.

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xxR

Sunshine Lemon and White Chocolate Brownies (and Leftover Lemons Lemon Tart)

The sun is finally here! And for good- it seems! To me, the sun means LEMONS. I love lemons, lemonade, lemon cake…

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Plus- lemons are just insanely cheap in my local supermarket (its so great- it’s Turkish, so all the food is interesting and dirt cheap. Literally. Six lemons for 99p. That is just a joke. And completely irresistible.)

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So, laden with all the lemons I could possibly carry, I headed home, ready to cook up some summery treats.

Lemon and White Chocolate Brownies

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(I adapted my favourite brownie recipe from Gwenyth Paltrow’s cookbook- seriously try these brownies, they are delicious! here)

250g plain flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

pinch of salt

125ml vegetable oil

250ml golden syrup

125ml milk

200g white chocolate melted

juice and zest of two lemons

175g white chocolate chips (optional)

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Melt the chocolate over a saucepan of simmering water. Then, set it aside to cool.

In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking powder and salt.

In another bowl combine the oil, syrup milk and chocolate. Then mix in the lemon juice and zest. Add t his to the flour mixture.

Pour into a well greased and lined baking tray and bake for 30 minutes at 180 degrees.

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For the sticky lemony glaze to the top the brownies:

4 ounces of icing sugar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Sift the icing sugar into a bowl, add the lemon juice and mix well.

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Leftover lemons! (Maybe six for 99p was a curse after all!)

What to do with three leftover, juicy lemons?!

Lemon Tart

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For this I started with my basic shortcrust pastry recipe:

4 ounces of plain flour

2 ounces of butter- cold and cubed

a few drops of cold water

Rub the butter into the flour using your fingertips, until it resembles breadcrumbs (all the butter should have a coating of flour. Or it should like a crumble topping.)

Add a very small amount of water to bring the dough together- not too much that it’s really wet and sticky, but just enough that all the dry pieces come together to form a ball of dough. Wrap it in clingfilm and let it sit in the fridge for about 20 minutes to rest.

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Take it out of the fridge and roll it out on a floured surface. Try and get it as thin as you can- crispy is the way with pastry! Place into a lined pie tin and bake it blind- (cover the pastry with greaseproof paper,  and bake it with baking beans, dry rice or beans in the middle in a 200 degree oven for about 15 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and firm. This ensures that the pastry is crisp and evenly baked before you put the filling in.)

To make the filling:

4 eggs

150ml double cream

125g caster sugar

3 lemons- juice and zest

Whisk all the ingredients together until smooth.

Once the pastry base has baked and cooled, pour the filling into the base and bake in a 180 degree oven for 40-45 minutes. The filling should have set but still have a very slight wobble in the middle. You don’t want it to be too runny or it will be a nightmare to cut!

I covered my tart with a strawberry coulis (I simply cooked strawberries with caster sugar until they had turned runny and sticky), which balanced out the tartness of the lemons.

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Enjoy the sunshine!

xxR

(it’s just started to rain- ironic!)

Stolen Bicycle Cheesecake Brownies

Living in London, you kind of expect to have your bicycle stolen. But that doesn’t mean its not still painful.

I LOVED my bike- it was beautiful, an old (vintage!), green Hercules Balmoral ladies bike. Okay okay, so the brakes weren’t great and the gears were a bit funky and it was very hard to peddle (getting over Waterloo Bridge every morning really was a killer.)

I also loved not paying for the bus.

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It was chained up on a quiet, residential road in Camden, the kind of road where no crime ever happens and everyone rides bikes. Or so it would seem. But someone cut the lock, and just like that, its gone.

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I need something gooey and chocolate to cheer me up. Something like these delicious cheesecake brownies. (They are SO good- the gooiest brownies you’ve ever seen on the bottom, with a cheesecakey, crispy drizzle on top.)

Cheesecake Brownies

recipe taken from here

85g butter

4 ounces chocolate

130g sugar

2 large eggs

70g flour

1 tablespoon cocoa powder

pinch of salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

80g chocolate chips

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Melt butter and sugar in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Remove from the heat, then beat in the sugar and eggs.

Mix in the flour and cocoa powder, then vanilla and chocolate chips.

Spread evenly in a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Then make the cheesecake topping.

200g cream cheese

1 large egg yolk

75g icing sugar

splash of vanilla extract

Beat cream cheese, yolk, sugar and vanilla until smooth. Distribute it in dollops around the brownies, then, using a dull knife, spread it around in a marble effect.

Bake in 180 degree oven for 10- 15 minutes- but keep an eye on them! You want them to be really gooey!

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xxR