Melt-in-your-mouth coconut flavored gluten-free brownies made with quinoa flour and coconut oil.
These brownies are made without any wheat flour, butter, or granulated sugar, and instead of tasting like the graveyard dirt – the possibility of which I was a little haunted by, neither texture nor flavor are sacrificed.
Big, huge sigh of relief.
There’s typically a trade off when switching to healthier alternatives to long favored foods, but so far I can’t find any with this recipe.
A little about what I did:
- In place of traditional wheat flour, I used quinoa flour, and only quinoa flour. One of the things I like about working with this flour is that it doesn’t require gums, such as xanthan or guar gum, for it to hold together nicely in a baked product. If quinoa flour is relatively new to you, it has essentially the same texture as wheat flour (perhaps a little grittier), and has a nutty flavor. I’ve also seen the taste described as a little soapy, something I don’t disagree with. Because it does lend a distinctive flavor to baked goods, I strongly recommend using it in recipes with a strong counterbalancing flavor like chocolate for your first trial bake to ease the way. This brownie was a perfect vehicle.
- Next, I swapped coconut oil in for the butter. This is my new go-to cooking and baking oil thanks to my husband’s stepdaughter Robin. I wasn’t at all familiar with it until she brought it to my attention when making this fabulous no-bake fudge when she and her family visited us last summer. My cholesterol has insinuatingly creeped up over the years, and coconut oil looks to be a fantastic alternative to butter. In fact, there is increasing evidence that this former bad boy is actually good for you, but I should warn that it does have a coconut flavor, so you might not want to use it when scrambling eggs.
- And finally we come to the sugar. Brownies typically have a combination of sugar and brown sugar, but I’m trying to cut back on my processed sugar intake by at least half this month as my commitment to October Unprocessed. I went through the usual alternatives. I nixed agave nectar: I’m reading more studies indicating that agave nectar isn’t really much better for you than granulated sugar because of its high levels of concentrated fructose. Honey was quickly eliminated: I wasn’t looking for a honey flavor in the mix with the chocolate and coconut rumba. Scanning my shelves, my eyes lit up when I saw a bag of blonde coconut palm sugar. It was perfect with its faint brown sugar flavor, has some compelling advantages over sugar, and passed my unprocessed test with flying colors.
I made these little brownies a couple of times to get the texture and baking times right – my first attempt resulting in a brownie more cake-like than I prefer. So the second time through, I changed my eggs from large to extra-large, and cut back on both the flour and baking time to increase the chewiness. The result was a chocolaty brownie with faint overtones of coconut and cardamom that I plan to keep in my regular rotation!
As I note, the tombstones are shards of white chocolate and the RIP is white chocolate tinted with red food coloring (I use a powdered form). I placed the white chocolate tombstone shards in the freezer for 15 minutes. I melted some white chocolate with a couple of zaps in the microwave oven, added some food coloring, stirred well, cooled slightly, and piped onto the tombstones. It hardened immediately on the cold tombstones.
The pool of
blood strawberry syrup is just melted strawberry preserves, strained.
(Graveyard) Quinoa and Coconut Brownies
- 3/4 cup quinoa flour 3.375 ounces
- 1 teaspoon powdered instant coffee
- 1/4 cup unsweetened chocolate powder
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 ounces coconut oil
- 5 ounces unsweetened bar chocolate cut into small pieces (I used Sharffenberger)
- 1 3/4 cup coconut palm sugar
- 3 extra large eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon powdered cardamom
- 1 tablespoon cocoa nibs
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons coconut sugar
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a 8" X 8" baking pan with foil.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the quinoa flour, instant coffee, unsweetened chocolate powder, and salt. Set aside.
- In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt the coconut oil and the unsweetened chocolate together, stirring with a whisk to mix. Remove from the heat periodically so that the chocolate doesn't get too hot. Pour into the bowl of a standing mixer, add the coconut sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, and cardamom. Mix on high for 3 minutes.
- Fold the dry ingredients in just until they are completely mixed in.
- Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and smooth with a spatula.
- Combine the three Brownie Sprinkle ingredients in a spice grinder and whirl it around a few times. Sprinkle the mixture on top across the top of the brownies.
- Bake for 30 minutes. If you test the center with a toothpick, it will have a mixture of batter and crumbs on it. Remove from the oven and keep the brownies in the baking pan for 10 minutes.
- Pull the brownies out of the baking pan by the edges of the foil, and carefully peel the foil away from the brownies. Allow to cool for 15 minutes and slice into individual pieces.