Recipe: DIY Brownie Packet Mix (gluten-free)

OK, after yesterday’s exploration of the truly disgusting things one can create while in pursuit of dessert, I thought we deserved something a bit less traumatic. So here, have a soothing brownie.

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Is it not beautiful?  Does it not inspire meditation?  Or, indeed, imitation?

Or even levitation?  This brownie is not, in fact, levitating, but you wouldn't know it to look at this photo.

Or even levitation? This brownie is not, in fact, levitating, but you wouldn’t know it to look at this photo.

The good news is, you can plan this brownie ahead of time and eat it whenever you like.

This brownie mix grew out of the fact that at certain times of the month I desperately, desperately crave chocolate cake and brownies, but am generally feeling far too unwell to do the culinary work required to create them.  This leaves me with the option of buying brownies made by someone else  – and I don’t have any good sources for those in my vicinity – or resorting to packet mixes (I use the Donna Hay ones because the ingredients are actually proper cake ingredients).  Only then I feel guilty about resorting to packet mixes, and then I need to eat more chocolate brownies.  This cycle serves nobody (except, perhaps, Donna Hay).

But I am breaking the cycle!  I am breaking the cycle by creating my own packet mix, that can be put together on days when I actually feel like measuring stuff, and then stashed in the pantry, ready to be made up when I need it.

This packet mix is gluten-free, and can be made in a variety of flavour profiles.  I haven’t yet figured out how to veganise it, but I suspect this would not be too difficult for anyone with practice in the matter.  That will be my next brownie experiment.

In the meantime – enjoy!  Enjoy very, very much.

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Ingredients

75 g cocoa
60 g almond meal
50 g rice flour
100 g caster sugar
125 g brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
120 – 150 g chopped dark chocolate, or a mixture of chopped chocolate and chopped nuts or freeze-dried fruit

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125 g unsalted butter
3 eggs

What to do?

Combine everything except the chopped chocolate (and other mix-ins) in a bowl, and mix very well. Put in a sealed container for later. Put the chopped chocolate and other bits and pieces in a sealed sandwich bag at the top of the sealed container (this is essential if you are using dried fruit rather than freeze-dried), or just place them at the top of the container. This mixture should keep for several months as it is completely dry.

You could also put this mix into a nice jar and give it to a friend...

You could also put this mix into a nice jar and give it to a friend…

To Bake

Pre-heat your oven to 170°C, and line a 20cm tray with baking paper.

Melt 125 g unsalted butter, and let cool while you organise everything else.

Pour the packet mix into a mixing bowl. If you didn’t put the chopped chocolate separately, just let it fall to the bottom of the bowl, so that it naturally gets incorporated last.

Or just mix it in.  This recipe is fairly forgiving.

Or just mix it in. This recipe is fairly forgiving.

Break the eggs into the melted butter, and whisk with a fork.  Pour this mixture into the dry brownie mix, and mix everything well. Last of all, stir in the chopped chocolate and other mix ins.  You will have a fairly stiff batter.

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Scrape into your 20 cm tray, and bake for 25-35 minutes. 25 minutes is very squidgy and 35 minutes is pretty much chocolate cake. You want the top to be set, but it should still be a bit gooey underneath. Remove from the oven and let cool in the tin.

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Variations

This recipe is gluten-free and low fructose, but contains nuts.  You can replace the almond meal and rice flour with plain flour for a nut-free (but no longer gluten-free) version, or use your favourite gluten-free flour mix.  This works well with a non-dairy butter, but I haven’t yet worked out the logistics of getting it egg-free.  I do think that a vegan version with a bounty bar flavour would be easy to manage with coconut milk and a bit of extra baking powder, but as I’ve said, I haven’t really worked out the chemistry of vegan brownies.

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Flavours I’ve played with so far are:

– Christmas in July (with dried orange peel powder, gingerbread spice, glace ginger and milk chocolate chips)

– Double chocolate and raspberry (with freeze dried raspberries and dark chocolate chunks)

– Triple chocolate (with 50g each of white, milk and dark chocolate)

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Flavours I intend to try soon include rum and raisin (heat the raisins in rum in a microwave for 30 seconds while you are melting the butter); caramel (chopped up columbines through the mixture); and apricot (make holes in the batter and fill with apricot jam).

Note that freeze-dried fruit is fabulous in these brownies, but it positively drinks moisture out of the batter and gives you a cakier texture.  You might want to add a tablespoon or so of water to the batter if you are including freeze-dried fruit.

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