Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Spelt brownies

My 17 month old son has been waking up every morning at 4:30 am the past few days. I don't mean waking up, crying and then going back to sleep. I mean, waking up, crying, and then deciding that it's time to start the day. This is so not okay and makes for some cranky babies and parents. Cranky pants need chocolate. And so, in my sleep-deprived delirium yesterday, I made brownies. When first out of the oven I wasn't too impressed. But overnight they cooled, and the flavors developed, and oh my - they are GOOD. I adapted them from a recipe whose author described her aim of making brownies that had the texture of those made from a mix but without the chemical aftertaste. These do indeed have the texture of mix brownies - more pudding-like than fudgey - but the flavors of the olive oil, dark brown sugar and quality chocolate make for a much more gourmet experience. And with no wheat, no diary and no refined sugar they could even go for a label of healthy.... ish.

The dark brown sugar and agave can easily be swapped out for white sugar or light brown sugar. The olive oil can be replaced by any other oil, but keep in mind that vegetable oil (or any other flavorless oil) will make the brownies more bland. Spelt is easily replaced by white or whole-wheat flours. Next time I am going to try buckwheat instead of spelt (making them gluten-free), and all agave as a sweetener. One thing to keep in mind.... do NOT over-bake these. My oven heats unevenly and one half of my pan of brownies was a tad overcooked. The overcooked ones are not good. The other side is divine. Remember.... an undercooked brownie still tastes good. An overcooked one is ruined.

Spelt Brownies
adapted from Melissa Clark via the NYTimes

 Don't overbake these pudding-textured treats!

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup plus two tablespoons boiling water
2 oz unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup agave syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cup spelt flour
2 1/2 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 and grease a 9x13 baking pan.

Put the cocoa powder in a large bowl. Add the boiling water and whisk together until smooth. Add the finely chopped chocolate and whisk until smooth. Next whisk in the oil, then the eggs - one at a time, then the vanilla and lastly the sugars and salt. Whisk well after each addition, and when adding the brown sugar make sure you whisk out all the lumps. Gently fold the flour into the chocolate mixture. Stir in the chocolate bits.

Bake for about 25 minutes - or until just set. A toothpick will not come out clean; these brownies set as they cool and so might still look underdone when they are actually done. Do NOT overbake. It will ruin the texture, making them dry and coarse.

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