Fudgy No-Butter Brownies (gluten-free) for the Avid Bakers Challenge

Sounds like music to the ears……Fudgy No-Butter Brownies. Yes, you read it right ….no….butter! What more could one ask for? To be able to indulge without the guilt. There is justice in the world after all. This recipe by Christina Marsigliese promises just that.

coverBut hey wait a bit. What is used in place of butter is ground almonds. Now don’t almonds contain a fair bit of fat? The nutritional values for almonds per 100 grams show they have approximately 48 grams of fat. Isn’t it kind of self-defeating?

Not really because the fat is mostly mono saturated fat which increases HDL, the good cholesterol. That’s good news for your heart.

Almonds are a powerhouse of nutrients. They are high in proteins, vitamin E (an important antioxidant) and contain minerals like copper and magnesium.

I remember when I was a kid, my mom would soak 10 almonds overnight and make both my sister and me eat 5 apiece with honey. Why five? Well, because……I doubt even she knew the answer to that one.

Anyway almonds are considered a brain tonic and thought to improve memory and boost the function of the central nervous system. I figure she felt we needed all the help that we could get (just kidding).

Coming back to these brownies, besides having no butter, they also contain no flour, making these gluten free.

How do you get fudgy brownies without butter and melted chocolate?

Well as Christina says the secret lies in the use of three ingredients- icing sugar in place of granulated sugar, an extra egg white and ground almond/almond meal.

In her words:

Icing sugar dissolves instantly into the batter to create a syrup that keeps it moist.

An extra egg white boosts the protein to create a chewy texture and also adds moisture.

Almonds add structure in a way that cement does, but it does not add height or stiffness in the way that wheat flour would.

They really are very easy to put together, one-bowl and a wooden spoon/whisk is all that is needed.

no butter brownies closeup

I ground the almonds with some of the icing sugar in my handy-dandy chopper. It did not come out very fine (you can see the flecks) since I was handling it with kid gloves. I did not want it to turn to butter. This affected the texture of the brownie and it was quite grainy because of the coarsely ground almonds. On hindsight, I should have sifted the ground almonds.

The batter will look like it will not come together, but it does because of the icing sugar which takes very little liquid to turn runny.

When baking fudgy brownies you want them to be slightly under-baked. A couple extra minutes and they will end up cakey and then there is no going back. That is why I am like a cat on a hot tin roof while they are baking, constantly hovering around the oven. I like to check them every 30 seconds after about 20 minutes. A skewer inserted in the center should come out with moist crumbs still sticking to it.

With this one, I hit bulls eye. They were fudgy. This means that they really have to cool down before you attempt to cut them. Use a sharp knife and keep dipping it in hot water, wiping it dry and then cutting out each piece. The first few pieces were badly mutilated before I figured out the technique.

They tasted good, but as my son succinctly put it, “they look like brownies but don’t taste like them”.

The other Avid Bakers have also baked some, so please hop across and read what they have to say about these.

Fudgy No-Butter Brownies (gluten-free) for the Avid Bakers Challenge

Fudgy No-Butter Brownies (gluten-free) for the Avid Bakers Challenge

For the Brownies:
300 gms icing sugar
56 gms unsweetened cocoa powder
200 gms ground almonds/ almond meal*
1/2 tsp salt
2 large egg, at room temperature
1 large egg white
2 Tbsps water
1 tsp vanilla extract
140 gms dark chocolate chips or chopped bittersweet chocolate, plus extra for topping
*I ground the almonds with some of the icing sugar
To make the Brownies:
Preheat the oven to 175C/350F.
Prepare an 8" square pan by lining it with parchment paper and leaving an overhang of 1"over the edges of the pan (this makes it easy to remove the brownies from the pan).
Soft the remainingicing sugar and cocoa into a large mixing bowl.
Stir in the almond meal and salt.
Whisk together the whole eggs, egg white, water and vanilla extract and add it to the flour mixture.
Stir till well combined and smooth (_The batter will be quite thick_)
Stir in the chocolate chips/pieces.
Pour the batter into the pan, smoothen the top and sprinkle some chips on top.
Bake until a shiny crust forms and a skewer/toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist, sticky bits, around 25-30 minutes (mine took 25 minutes).
Remove the pan and place on wire rack.
Cool brownies in pan before removing them.
When cool use a sharp knife to cut them into pieces.
Keep dipping the knife in hot water, wipe it dry and cut each piece.
Keep in an air-tight container.