A 4th of July Picnic Menu: Gluten free Vegan Sorghum Brownie Recipe

July 5th, 2010 yum Posted in 4th of July, Baked Goods, Chocolate, Dairy Free, Egg Free, JM friendly, Nut Free, Party Food, Rice Free, Sorghum, Soy Free, Sugar free, Vegan, beets, tapioca starch free 8 Comments »


Gluten-free Flax seed, Beet puree, and Agave sweetened brownies, from left to right.

This 4th of July I had one goal. I hadn’t had a good brownie since I went dairy, soy and egg-free after Baby Yum was born, and I was determined to make a vegan brownie that would pass a glutenoid taste test and satisfy pesky chocolate cravings. It is easy enough to make a good brownie with butter and eggs and lots of melty, milky chocolate, but how about without those things? How could you compensate for their absence? As I researched, I found that the real sticking point was the absence of egg. Luckily, vegan bakers are extraordinarily creative, and have come up with all kinds of substitutes, including flax seed, applesauce, and even beet puree. Another sticking point was the chocolate of course. I wanted these brownies to be safe for me and my highly soy-sensitive friend (who avoids even soy lecithin), so I had to find safe chocolate for us. I found baking chocolate (melt in the microwave and add agave or other sweetener to taste), Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips, and cocoa powder (Penzey’s) to be my salvation. I knew a vegan brownie that would pass the glutenoid taste test would be a challenge. And when it comes to that, I’m not a huge brownie girl, either, so it would be tough to find one I liked myself. I like fudgey brownies, not cake-like or bread-like brownies. To find the perfect recipe, I decided to make three recipes, adapted from those above. I called the first recipe “F” for flax seed, the second “B” for beet puree, and the third “A” for agave. Note that except for the applesauce recipe, the recipes linked above are not gluten-free, but of course my versions were. Anyway. Then I lined up my testers. You all (may) know my friend JM, who has inspired many allergen-sensitive recipes here on the Book of Yum. She is free of gluten, potato, soy, avocado, and dairy. Her partner in crime, M, is an adventurous glutenoid who has patiently tried many gluten-free experiments over the years at gluten-free potlucks and the like. Then there was me, gluten, soy, corn, potato, etc. free. And finally, there was my glutenoid DH who loves chocolate and has also been the guinea pig for many recipe experiments over the years.

First: the flax seed recipe. I am a recent convert to this egg substitute, so I had high hopes for this recipe. However, I’m afraid I was disappointed. It had a heavy, vegan brownie feel and the DH condemned it as “Tasting gluten-free.” Darn it. Unexpectedly, our tester M chose it as his favorite, perhaps because he likes that type of texture in his brownie and felt it was closer to a traditional brownie. JM and I gave it a resolute thumbs down.

Second: the beet puree recipe. I had a sneaking fondness for this recipe because I liked the novel idea of adding beets to chocolate, AND it had coffee, which just makes me happy. JM said it had an “earthy” aftertaste and M said it was his least favorite. The DH shrugged and said “well, it’s chocolate” and ate it. I might make this recipe again, actually, perhaps with some modifications. The lack of sweet chips (its chocolate was provided by agave sweetened baker’s chocolate and cocoa powder) may have made this less popular than it would have been otherwise. -I liked its deep dark chocolate flavor and earthiness, personally, but it isn’t for milk-chocolate lovers.

Third: the agave sweetened brownie recipe. This was the only recipe that started out gluten-free, but I had to radically change the flours to accommodate our various intolerances. JM, I and the DH all chose this recipe as our favorite, making it a clear winner. It was the only recipe that wasn’t lowfat as it actually contained oil, which might have helped its cause. The texture was also nice, having an appealing fluffy lightness not often found in gluten-free, vegan recipes. It might not have screamed brownie, but that made me like it a little more, and it was sweet (without being too sweet) and nice and chocolate-rich thanks to the generous amount of chocolate chips it called for.

And so, our gluten-free vegan brownie taste off ended with success and an empty box of brownies. Even the brownies that we supposedly didn’t like vanished from our picnic basket. After all, they were all chocolate, and were all pretty tasty, judging aside. Here’s our favorite recipe to share with you, and a few more gluten-free recipes I found online that I would love to try when my diet includes things like nuts and eggs again. Have any favorite gluten-free brownie recipes? Share the link in the comments and I’ll add them to my list!

If you can have nuts and eggs, try Elana’s Almond Butter Brownies
No eggs, and prefer the raw foods approach? Try Elana’s Chocolate Espresso Power Bar Recipe
Eggs are Ok and you want dairy-free dark chocolate? Karina’s Rich Dark Chocolate Brownie Recipe may be the ticket!

Just for fun, here is a pictures of Baby Yum taken on her first 4th of July. We had a lovely family picnic with friends and were all set for her to see the fireworks- but literally minutes before the show began she decided to nurse and didn’t so much as peek at the show as she fell fast asleep mid-snack. Better luck next year. I can’t believe my baby is almost one!


Gluten Free Sorghum Vegan Brownie Recipes
Ingredients
Spectrum Palm Oil Shortening or mini cupcake liners

1/2 cup your favorite oil (I bet coconut oil would be really yummy, but I used canola)

3/4 cup plus 4 tablespoons sorghum flour

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons arrowroot starch

2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Penzeys Dutch)

10 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons agave nectar

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

2 tablespoons vanilla

1/2 cup brewed coffee or espresso (I use decaf)

2 cups dairy-free and soy-free chocolate chips (Enjoy Life)

Directions
Special equipment: 2 Mini muffin tins or mini donut molds, although they are a bit delicate for the latter.

Preheat oven to 325. Either line mini muffin tins with mini cupcake liners or baste with shortening.

Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl, mix, and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients. Gently fold in dry ingredients. Fold in chocolate chips.

Fill each mini muffin cup (or mini donut mold etc) with 1 tbsp. batter. Put in oven and bake until a toothpick inserted into
the center comes out clean, 12 to 15 minutes. Place muffin tin on a cooling rack and let cool. Don’t put warm muffins on a plate or moisture may make the bottom soggy.

Gently remove mini muffins or mini donuts (the latter is more challenging) and serve. Yummy!

Notes
A light and delicate chocolate feast, winner of our vegan brownie taste-off!
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Gluten-free Vegan Onion Sorghum Roll Recipe

July 1st, 2010 yum Posted in Bread, Breastfeeding for Allergic Baby Recipe, Dairy Free, Egg Free, JM friendly, Karina Friendly, Rice Free, Soy Free, Vegan, corn free, onion, tapioca starch free 8 Comments »

Rolls, even gluten-free rolls, can be delightfully easy if you have one simple tool. A muffin tin. This humble tin, when paired with your favorite yeast dough instead of a quick rising batter, will yield gorgeous rolls with gorgeous crusts if you overlook its muffin-y appearance. I had eaten one too many jowar roti, or sorghum tortillas, when I decided to experiment more with flax seed as an egg substitute and make myself some tasty yeast onion rolls. I was initially not impressed with flax gel in early experiments, but my recent love affair with Isa Moskowitz’s recipe for vegan and gluten-free buckwheat pancakes convinced me that I needed to give flax seed a second chance. After all, Ener-g Egg Replacer works reasonably well in many recipes, but it can produce gummy products if you’re not careful. I was disappointed with using flax seeds as an egg substitute in Chebe tapioca bread mix, but I think that is because the low-protein tapioca starch requires a high protein ingredient to work as a bread. Flax seed is interesting, healthy stuff, rich in omega-3 fatty acids and high in fiber. Those of you on a gluten-free diet who don’t eat oatmeal will be happy to know that two tablespoons of flax seed meal contains four grams of fiber. This is the same amount of fiber as 1 and 1/2 cups of cooked oatmeal, and similarly to oatmeal, it is reported to help decrease harmful LDL cholesterol drop without lowering good HDL cholesterol. Why haven’t I been eating more of this stuff already? Maybe because until this recipe, I hadn’t found a good way to use it!

These rolls rose beautifully and became quite gorgeous when they baked. You can eat them fresh out of the oven, tearing them open with a fork tin and slathering them with (non-dairy, soy-free) margarine or drizzling them with high quality olive oil, but their texture is best after they cool. They are also wonderful the next day after a quick stint in the microwave. My DH who mourns the current absence of rice in our diet (and my old white rice flour-tapioca starch french bread) gobbled these rolls up and looked for more. I didn’t tell him how healthy these whole grain, high fiber rolls were! I made my version with arrowroot starch, but you could easily make them with tapioca starch and they would undoubtedly be great. The flax seed gel really enhanced the texture of these rolls and made them very strong but with a soft, rippable center. I don’t think I would use flax seed in a delicate or sweet flavored recipe (unless it was nutty or well-spiced), but in this savory onion bread, it worked perfectly. I can’t wait to make this recipe again!

Gluten Free Vegan Sorghum Onion Rolls
Ingredients
2 cup sorghum flour
1 cup tapioca flour (or, for a more delicate bread, arrowroot starch)
1 tbsp. xanthan gum
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. egg replacer (optional)
2 tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 cup lukewarm water
2 tbsp. yeast
2 tbsp. olive oil
3 tbsp ground flax seed + 3/4 cup water
1 tsp. vinegar (i use cider)

1 or 2 tbsp. melted Soy-free dairy-free earth balance margarine
minced dried onion
kosher salt

Directions
Grease muffin tin with your favorite shortening. I use spectrum naturals palm oil shortening. Or, if making free-form rolls, line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 375F.

Combine flours, xanthan gum, salt and egg replacer (if using) in the bowl of a standing mixer. Place sugar in a small bowl and add your lukewarm water, whisking to combine. Add your yeast and stir in gently. Let sit for a few minutes while yeast activates and forms brownish clumps. Combine flax seed and water in a food processor or blender and blend until you have a thick and creamy consistency. Add your oil and vinegar to the proofed yeast water and add to the flours, along with the flax liquid. Beat using the paddle for 3 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt margarine in microwave or on stovetop and add a generous amount of minced dried onion to the melted margarine. (1/2 tsp or so). Let it sit.

For muffins, fill half-full with batter. For free-form rolls, take a large spoonful of dough and shape it into a soft round with WET hands. Run your hands under the water in-between rolls as needed. Place on the parchment paper, leaving plenty of room between them. To season, baste the top of the rolls with onion margarine, making sure you get actual bits of onion on the roll, and sprinkle with kosher salt.

Let rise for 50 minutes or until doubled in size. Bake for 30 minutes or until rolls are browned and sound hollow when you tap them.

Notes
Texture is best after they cool. The next day, a brief reheating in the microwave oven makes for a perfect, fresh tasting and hot roll!
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