I have been following The Bojon Gourmet, the gorgeous blog by “recovering pastry chef” Alanna Taylor-Tobin, for a long time. Not only because I’m a big fan of Alanna’s stunning photography and food styling, but also because her recipes are always original and – perhaps not surprisingly with her background – very accurate and precise. I was very excited about her first book Alternative Baker and after it made his way across the pond, I couldn’t wait to start baking from it.
In this book Alanna offers more than 100 wholesome treats that just happen to be gluten-free. Alanna makes no big fuss about countless health claims, but instead focuses on the flavor profile of these alternative grains. Because they are packed with flavor and bring new aesthetic pleasures to the kitchen. And isn’t that what’s truly important?
I decided to start with the chestnut brownies, since the intro mentioned how “it’s always a win when an alternative flour doesn’t just match its glutinous counterpart but actually bests it”. Sounds promising, right?
The steps resembled my usual brownie recipe (no leavening, but whipping the eggs and sugar really well for lightness), but the chestnut flour adds a velvet-like texture and an earthy intense deepness to these brownies that I absolutely loved. Boy, these are good. I added a handful of chopped walnuts for extra crunch, but it’s totally up to you.
Alanna mentioned how these chestnut brownies keep well for several days, but I’m very sure yours won’t last that long. Mine certainly didn’t!
for 16 brownies
6 tbsp (85 g) unsalted butter
8 oz (230 g) bittersweet chocolate (60–70% cacao mass), chopped (about 11⁄2 cups)
1⁄2 cup (50 g) chestnut flour
2 tbsp (15 g) tapioca flour
3 large eggs, at room temperature
3⁄4 cup (150 g) organic granulated cane sugar
1⁄2 tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
optional: handful of walnuts, chopped
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350oF (175oC). Line an 8-inch (20-cm) square baking pan with 2 crisscrossed pieces of parchment paper cut to fit widthwise, leaving an overhang on each side. This will make the brownies easy to remove from the pan.
Place the butter in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan set over the lowest possible heat. Add the chocolate and let melt together, stirring frequently to prevent the chocolate from scorching. Continue cooking until the mixture is pleasantly warm, but not super hot, to the touch. Remove from the heat and keep warm. Sift the chestnut and tapioca flours into a small bowl and set aside (chestnut flour tends to clump, so don’t skip this step).
Meanwhile, place the eggs, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and whip on medium-high speed until the mixture is very light and fluffy, 5 minutes. Turn the mixer to low and stir in the vanilla until just combined, then the warm chocolate-butter mixture. Add the flour mixture and optional walnuts and mix on low until combined. Remove the bowl from the mixer and use a flexible silicone spatula to give the batter a final stir by hand, scraping the bottom of the bowl and making sure all the flour is incorporated.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth into an even layer. Bake the brownies until the top is puffed and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with moist crumbs, 24–30 minutes, taking care not to overbake. Let the brownies cool completely, then use the parchment handles to lift them out of the pan and onto a cutting board. Use a sharp chef ’s knife dipped in hot water and wiped clean between each cut to slice the brownies into 16 squares.
The brownies keep well, airtight at room temperature, for up to 3 days, or refrigerated for up to 5 days.