I was having one of those nights where the fella was out of town so there was no one to talk me out of my overwhelming urge for a brownie. A big ooey gooey chocolaty mess of a brownie. Rich and fudgy and melting off the fork before it even gets to your mouth kind of brownie. You know the kind I'm talking about.
None of these adjectives however tend to apply to any gluten free brownie I've ever seen. All of the recipes I could find online looked disappointing or down right scary. I was not to be deterred from my brownie craving so easily so I took Mark Bittman up on his promise to know How to Cook Everything. Sure enough he had a brownie recipe that I was fairly sure I could modify with some sort of nut flour and come up with something tasty.
When the hazelnuts fell out of the cupboard I took that as a sign. I toasted them and ran them through my little coffee grinder and made fine ground hazelnut flour, pouring it in until I had the gooey consistency I was hoping for. But it was still missing something, looking at the liquor shelf I realized what it was...booze! So I threw in some brandy just to be super decadent.
Now I crossed my fingers that this experiment would result in the best brownies ever as I was in no mood to be denied chocolate. I figured that if worse came to worse this would be a very yummy boozy batter to lick raw from the pan if it for some reason refused to cook. Luckily it didn't come to that because 20 minutes later I had the best brownies in the world in my kitchen. Better even than any gluteny brownie. These literally were the best brownies I had ever tasted.
The chef, the roomie, and her friends all happened to be witness to my fabulous creation so I sat them down and “forced” them to taste test my brownies. I didn't stop at the brownies however. I had made Carmel Pear Ice Cream from David Lebovitz's book The Perfect Scoop the day before and so put a tiny scoop of that on the warm melty brownies. The ice cream which was almost too sweet on it's own was the perfect contrast to the dark chocolate. Everyone agreed these were the best brownies in creation. We made so many yummy noises the house was probably vibrating.
Then the chef had to go and say something about how the only way these could be any better was with raspberry sauce on top of the ice cream. So of course the next afternoon I bought some raspberries and made it so. He was right the chocolate, pear, raspberry creation is out of this world. As you can imagine this tray of brownies barely lasted two days. And I'm still dreaming of them, trying to resist the urge to make more, trying to wait at least a couple more days before giving in and baking them again.
I was so focused on getting these brownies to turn out that I didn't experiment this time around with substituting in agave nectar. When I give in and bake them again I will update the recipe. Until then I put in parenthesis the modifications to the ingredients I think would make using agave instead of sugar work. If someone wants to give it a try please let me know what happens.
Gooey Gluten Free Hazelnut Brownies
8 tablespoons butter (reduce to 6 tablespoons)
3 ounces dark unsweetened baking chocolate
1 cup sugar (replace with 3/4 cup agave nectar)
2 eggs (replace with 1 egg plus 1 egg white)
1 cup hazelnut flour
pinch of salt
1/ 2 teaspoon vanilla (omit this)
1/ 4 cup brandy (reduce to 3 tablespoons)
Heat oven to 350 degrees (325 if cooking with agave nectar.) Grease an 8 or 9 inch square baking pan with butter.
Combine the butter and chocolate in a small saucepan over very low heat, stirring occasionally. When chocolate is just about melted, remove from the heat and continue to stir until smooth.
Transfer to a mixing bowl and stir in sugar (or agave.) Then beat in the eggs one at a time. Gently stir in the hazelnut flour (make your own by toasting, removing the skin from and grinding the nuts in a coffee/spice grinder until very fine), salt, vanilla, and brandy. Pour into the prepared pan and bake until just barely set in the middle, about 20 minutes. If in doubt under cook them slightly rather than over cooking them.
Top with Caramel Pear Ice Cream and Raspberry Topping for the ultimate dessert.
The sugar free gluten free version of this recipe can be found here.