On the Seventh Day of Christmas, The Country Kitchen baked for me… Gluten-Free Sugar and Spice Ginger Brownies
Going back to my previous brownie post, it is needless to say that I love baking brownies. They are so much fun and you can be as inventive with your flavours as you like (caramelized bacon anyone?), and I get such joy when I slice into one of these fudgy little squares, I just can’t help but smile. That’s if there is enough time to smile in between the bites of warm, chocolatey-ness being popped into my mouth! You can judge, but I dare you to bake a batch of brownies and not try a slice while it is still warm and fresh from the oven…
Christmas for me is just as much about the abundance of festive spices and flavours used this time of year, as it is about the time you spend with your family and friends. This year, I made hampers for everyone which had a selection of delicious little treats inside, all bite sized so there was more than just a couple of things to try. One of the things I wanted to include was Brownies, as I am yet to meet someone who does not appreciate the art of brownie baking. But I didn’t just want to give them any old brownie, I wanted to make a special Christmas Brownie, using the ingredients and tastes you find the most of during the cold winter months.
I thought of making a Mulled Wine flavour, but that seemed far too complicated and I didn’t want people to get drunk off my brownies, that wouldn’t be very responsible now would it? I also pondered on the Candy Cane Brownies I love so much, but again this just didn’t feel quite right… I knew there was a flavour I was missing, but couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Then, I finally stumbled across the answer while enjoying a hot chocolate late one evening – ginger! How could I have overlooked this quintessential Christmas spice? What luck that I just happened to add a little ginger to my hot chocolate, just because I felt like spicing it up a bit. The deep chocolate flavour with that hit of spice was exactly what I wanted, so I thought, why not put that into a brownie?
So off I set making these gorgeous Gluten-Free Sugar-and-Spice Ginger Brownies. First I melted butter, sugar, oil, cocoa powder and salt in a bain-marie. This allows the butter to melt at its own pace, and the sugar to dissolve into the mixture without lumps.
Some recipes say to melt the butter in the microwave and then add it to the other ingredients, but that is really only good if you are melting real chocolate as well, and not cocoa powder. Also, because my recipe uses oil instead of pure butter, the sudden addition of heat from the melted butter can cause the oil to burn. So it is best to always heat them together over a pan of hot water, to avoid some kind of brownie burning disaster…
Once my mixture was completely melted and smooth, I took it off the heat and let it sit for 5-10 minutes until it was cool enough to add my eggs. You don’t want to end up with scrambled eggs in your brownie mix…
Oo I am practically drooling just looking at that deep, chocolate gooeyness. Maybe I shall go and bake some more brownies right now… I wonder what flavour to go for today? Oh the choices! Anyway, once my brownie mix was cool, in went my beaten free-range eggs, fresh from the chook house.
A good stir up with a metal spoon and I was ready for my next ingredient; flour.
Because I have family members that are coeliac, I used a Wheat and Gluten Free Flour from Doves Farm which I have used various times when making gluten-free biscuits and cakes, and you honestly cannot tell the difference at all. In fact, I once had a lady compliment me on some gluten-free cupcakes I made for a bake sale, right after she had made a long speech to her friend about how all “gluten-free products are never any good and taste horrid” You can imagine the look she gave me when I told her the cupcakes were gluten-free, it was brilliant! Hopefully the experience changed her mind on gluten-free products, so if I managed to convert her I’m sure you will love these just as much as I do.
Now that my brownie batter was done, it was time to add the all-important ginger. I had been experimenting with adding various different types of ginger before settling on this final recipe; should I use whole, ground, stem, glacé, crystalized? I could go on with the possibilities but it would take far too long. So in the end, I went with a mixture I found worked really well; using both ground ginger and a ginger preserve which was suitable for vegans and nut allergens.
I usually prefer to use stem ginger when making something ginger-flavoured, but the problem with that is that it is not suitable for people who suffer with nut allergies, and I wanted my brownies to be enjoyed by all. This is because the equipment used during the manufacturing process of stem ginger is also used for nut products. I know, silly idea right? Why would a manufacturing company use the same equipment for two different products, especially if one of those causes thousands of people to have allergic reactions which could be life threatening? Who knows, maybe we should write and confront them about it.
First I sieved in my ground ginger and mixed it into the chocolate brownie batter. Then I placed my ginger preserve in a small cup and warmed it in a saucepan of hot water. Again I could have just microwaved it, but it is always best to heat any kind of jam or jelly in a water bath or bain-marie. By doing it like this, you can heat the whole thing through properly and at its own speed, otherwise it could burn and you may find that little clumps of sugar appear in the middle and a crust forms on top. Not a good look…
Once this was warmed through, I added it to the mixture and gave it a really good stir so all the ginger pieces were evenly spread. Then into my brownie tin it went…
…where it was then baked in two stages; first for 45 minutes uncovered, and then for another 30 minutes but covered with a layer of aluminium foil to prevent the top from browning too much. The result? Perfection!
A gorgeously gooey centre, but still with that crisp, shiny top that gives a brownie that slight crunch when you bite into it. Despite the amount of liquid based ingredients in this recipe, it comes out surprisingly well risen and measures well over an inch in the centre, its lowest point.
Just look at that! I was rather shocked when I cut into my gluten-free sugar-and-spice ginger brownies, as they were so moist and sticky, just like a proper brownie should be. At the first bite of these spiced squares of festivity, I was in love. They were sticky. They were chewy. They were heaven on a plate just waiting for me to devour. But no, I could not devour all of them (as much as I really, really wanted to), otherwise what was I going to put into my Christmas hampers? Somehow I don’t think a photo of them would have been up to scratch.
These may take a little longer to cook than your average brownie, but believe me they are well worth the wait. The aroma in your kitchen while these are cooking is sure to turn any ginger-hater into a ginger-lover. And if these don’t do the trick, then I don’t know what will!
Gluten-Free Sugar-and-Spice Ginger Brownies by The Country Kitchen
- 120g Unsalted Butter
- ¼ cup Vegetable Oil
- 125g Light Muscovado Sugar
- 125g Dark Muscovado Sugar
- 35g Cocoa Powder
- A pinch of salt
- x2 Eggs
- 80g Wheat and Gluten Free Self Raising Flour
- 4 tbsp. Ground Ginger
- 6 tbsp. Ginger Preserve
- Preheat your oven to 170°C and line an 8 x 12 inch baking tin with baking paper.
- Melt the butter, oil, sugars, cocoa powder and salt in a bain-marie, mixing until smooth and lump free. Set aside to cool.
- Whip your eggs until frothy and add to the cooled brownie batter in two batches. Stir vigorously with a metal spoon until totally combined and the batter is a shiny, dark colour.
- Gradually sieve in the flour and ground ginger, stirring in with a metal spoon. Do not over beat, or the air will fall out of the mixture and it will drop after cooking.
- Spoon the ginger preserve into a cup placed in a saucepan of hot water, and heat until it is warmed through and runny with no lumps.
- Add the warm ginger preserve to the brownie batter and mix in very well with a metal spoon, making sure all the ginger pieces are evenly spread through the mixture.
- Pour into the prepared baking tin and bake for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and cover with a layer of aluminium foil, folding the edges down carefully. Bake again for 30 minutes, until the sides of the brownie have come away from the tin and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and discard the foil lid. Leave to cool completely in the tin before turning out onto a board and cutting into twelve squares.
There you have it folks, the only gluten-and-nut free Ginger Brownie recipe you will ever need! Why not add a little spice to your menu this Christmastide and New Year? I bet these would go down brilliantly while watching the fireworks exploding against the night sky over New Year. Fireworks for your eyes and for your taste buds, what more could you want this New Year’s Eve?
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone!
Happy Baking x
P.S. In case you were wondering, I didn’t go and bake a batch of brownies after looking at that photos of the brownie mixture, but I did make myself a very tasty hot chocolate instead! See you in 2014 x