Recipe: Chocolate and Berry Brownies (Gluten-Free & Vegan)

I am so ridiculously proud of these brownies.  They are richly, deeply chocolatey with sharp, acidic raspberries and mellow blackberry jam in the background, and did I mention that they are magnificently chocolatey?  They are incredibly easy and fast to make – by far the most time-consuming part of the recipe is measuring all the different kinds of flour.  Once you’ve done that, you basically add the wet to the dry, mix and bake.  And they are made without eggs, dairy, or gluten.  You can make them nut-free quite easily, too, just by taking out the chestnut flour and adding a little cornflour and rice flour to make up the amounts.  In other words, they are very allergy-friendly, and you’ll never miss the eggs and butter…

This recipe was inspired by the blueberry and chocolate brownies in Veganomicon, to which it bears a family resemblance (though their version contains gluten).

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1/2 cup rice flour
1/2 cup quinoa flour
1/4 cup cornflour (the squeaky stuff, not polenta – and do check that it is actually made from corn, as a lot of cornflour is made from wheat)
1/4 cup chestnut flour (almond or hazelnut meal would also do here)
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder, preferably fair trade and dark
1/2 tsp bicarb of soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 – raw sugar
300g good quality blackberry jam (or other berry jam, but make sure it doesn’t use wheat-based glucose as the sweetener – try to get something made of fruit, sugar and pectin only)
1/4 cup soy milk (you could use rice milk or coconut milk if you are allergic to soy)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup raspberries (I think I used about 1 1/2 cups, actually, so feel free to make your cup a generous one)
200g good quality dark chocolate, chopped (check that it is dairy free – I recommend Lindt 70%)

Now what will you do with it?

Preheat the oven to 160°C, and line a swiss roll tin (about 22 x 32cm, and fairly shallow) with paper.

Put all your flours, your cocoa, salt, baking powder and bicarb into a sieve and shake through into a bowl.  Combine with a fork.

Put the canola oil, sugar, jam, vanilla, and non-dairy milk of your choice into a bowl, and mix together until there are no lumpy bits of jam remaining.  Well, maybe a few lumpy bits of jam – how industrious are you feeling?

(at this point, incidentally, you could leave everything nicely covered for a few hours or even overnight, so that you just have to whack it all together in the morning)

Melt 120g of your chocolate, and let cool slightly.  Very slightly.  I’m impatient.

Pour your jammy mix into your cocoa mix, and mix together well.  Add the melted chocolate, and keep mixing.  You aren’t waiting for it to change colour or anything, nor are you trying to mix it minimally, muffin-style – just get it all well combined and consistent.  Fold in the raspberries and the rest of the chocolate chips, and yes, it is ridiculously thick at this point.

Try to spread it into the tin.  Yeah, I know, it doesn’t want to.  I just blob it into the middle and try to press it out to the sides as much as I can with the spatula.   I blob a few bits into the corners as well, which helps, but it will spread while it cooks.  You could use a slightly smaller tin, but that would be cheating, and would also take longer to cook.

Bake for about 45 minutes.  This cake doesn’t pass the skewer test; it’s done when it’s cooked on top, doesn’t wobble when shaken, but still a bit soft when you press on it – it doesn’t quite leave a finger indentation, but it feels like it might if you pushed your luck.

Let cool for a few minutes, then turn out onto a rack, remove the paper, and turn back onto another rack.  I do hope you used the paper, because this cake is sticky.  Let cool for maybe 15 minutes if you want to eat it warm, then cut into rectangles to serve.

If you are feeling especially decadent, serve it with Raspberry Soy Ice-Cream.

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14 responses to “Recipe: Chocolate and Berry Brownies (Gluten-Free & Vegan)

  1. Is cornflour what would be called cornstarch in the U.S.? Very fine stuff that behaves intriguingly when mixed with water? Sometimes used to thicken gravies or stirfries? And to make puddings, by which I mean custard-like stuff, not dessert in general?

    • Yes, I’m pretty sure it’s the same thing – it sort of squeaks when you rub it through your fingers, and you can use it to thicken things (though I think it gives them an odd texture when you do), or make weird, jellyfish-like confectionery when mixed with a sugar syrup.

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  4. To ask a silly question, why do the brownies need 5 different types of flour?

    I was thinking about making these for a ‘bring a plate’ dinner on Friday which has gluten free needs, but I don’t even know where to get most of those flours 🙁 – I’ve mostly heard of substituting almond meal in for flour.

    • Honestly? Because I don’t know much about gluten free cooking, but everything I have read suggests that when you are trying to make a gluten-free flour that has similar properties to wheat flour, you’re best off with a mixture of several kinds. Some of the combinations I’ve seen are even worse than this, actually! I went with one that matched what was in my pantry.

      My understanding is that rice flour and cornflour hold things together, but take up water differently, quinoa flour has a similar personality and texture to wheat flour, but is fairly strong flavoured, and tapioca flour presumably helps things stick together. The chestnut flour was my addition because I had it in my pantry. You can skip it quite easily.

      I am sure this would work with a generic gluten-free flour mix, but these are harder to find than I had expected – last time I bought one, it turned out to be very specific about what you could use it for. I think it was designed for bread.

      I think almond meal alone might make these a bit dense and crumbly… I’d add *something* else to help it along, preferably quinoa + rice/cornflour. I’m sorry I can’t be more helpful. On the bright side, I’ve just been loaned a book on the chemistry of food which might help in future endeavours!

  5. Thankyou. That all makes sense.
    Wasn’t meant as a criticism, just caught me off guard.
    Doesn’t necessarily help me right now, as I think i’ll leave these to try on an occasion I’m not making them for other people first 😉
    I do want to make them at some point though.
    actually, I’ll see what my supermarket and local health food store have flour wise and go from there.

    I am not used to gluten free cooking you see.
    I did however just stumble across an interesting turkey meatloaf recipe. I’m hoping in America ground turkey is turkey mince. And contemplating whether I can substitute treacle – which I have – for molasses, which i don’t 🙂
    Yay food adventures!

    • Yes, I believe ground turkey is turkey mince. What the Americans call mince is already seasoned and sometimes cooked. And I often substitute treacle for molasses – it’s less bitter, but I don’t mind that.

  6. I found the flours, so dumb question part the 2nd, how many does this serve? (I did look, but may have missed this info so apologies if so).
    Just in case I need to double the quantity.

    • Depends how greedy they are! I sliced it into 16 pieces… and six of us ate twelve of them in one sitting, but that was really a bit excessive. I’d say it serves 12-16 people.

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