I have been extremely busy lately with very important activities – marathoning both seasons of Scandal at an unhealthy pace – but took a brief break this week to do my very first from-scratch gluten free baking in honor of my friend Andrea’s birthday, as friendship is one of the few things that trumps obsessive TV watching.
Andrea isn’t gluten free, but since I now own only GF baking ingredients, that’s what everyone is getting. I knew I wanted to start with brownies for my first homemade gluten free baked good, as their low flour content meant that I could use my existing recipe without any complicated modifications. And thankfully, these came out exactly the same they did when I made them with regular flour. I really don’t think you’d know they were gluten free if I hadn’t just told you.
But this is a birthday, so fun modifications needed to be made. I had originally been thinking of doing a cream cheese swirl, but then Pillsbury sent me some of their new gluten free doughs (check out how their pizza dough came out in my post on Babble!) and made me think a cookie dough swirl was in order instead. Then brilliance struck, and I figured, why not do both? And the baked good angels sang, because this was one of my best ideas ever. In fact, I was mostly sad that I had not made more of the swirl, because I had to put it all in the brownies instead of eating it with a spoon.
I made these entirely with gluten-free all-purpose flour, but I’ve printed the recipe below with some of it replaced by almond flour, as it will give the brownies an even richer flavor without overpowering the swirl. (I didn’t make them with it because Andrea is allergic to some nuts and didn’t want to chance killing her with a present.) And on that note, I only used half extra dark cocoa here so that the swirl would still stand out, but feel free to use all dark, or all regular, cocoa.
And now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go finish watching Scandal.
Dark Chocolate Brownies with Cream Cheese Cookie Dough Swirl (adapted from Fat Witch Brownies)
Ingredients for Brownies
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus extra for pan
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) salted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup extra-dark cocoa powder
1/4 cup regular unsweetened cocoa powder (or just use a full 1/2 cup of one of these)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (the real stuff, kids)
1/2 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour (I use King Arthur)
1/4 cup almond flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional, but highly recommended)
Ingredients for Swirl
3 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons cookie dough, softened (the pre-packaged kind works just fine here)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8×8 baking dish with butter. Cut a piece of parchment the width of your dish, but long enough to go up the other sides. Place in dish; butter parchment.
Make the swirl: in a small bowl, combine cream cheese, cookie dough, extract, and sugar until well combined (I used a fork to mash up things). Set aside.
Make the brownies: In a glass bowl, heat butter in 30-second intervals in the microwave until melted. Let cool for a few minutes, then add sugar and cocoa powders and whisk until well combined. Add eggs one at a time, whisking between each edition. By the 4th egg your batter should be very shiny and should be pulling away from the sides of the bowl a bit when you’re stirring. Whisk in vanilla, then whisk in flours and salt until no trace of the flour remains. Stir in chocolate chips.
Pour batter into prepared pan, spreading to even out. Drop swirl in dollops around the pan (don’t forget the corners), then take a knife and swirl it around the pan until swirl is nicely distributed, but not melted out of sight. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with some crumbs attached. Cool in pan for 30 minutes, then use parchment to lift brownies out and transfer to a rack to cool completely. Cut into 16 squares and try not to eat four of them in one go.