Teff Brownies with Salted Tahini Frosting {gluten-free}

Salted tahini makes an addictive topping to bittersweet fudgy brownies made with malty teff flour. Adapted from The Gourmet Kitchen by Jennifer Farley

Teff Brownies with Salted Tahini Frosting {gluten-free}

At a dance class the other night, a classmate had been given a box of chocolates for her 60th birthday which she was offering away, claiming that she “doesn’t eat chocolate.” I assumed she had an allergy – otherwise, why wouldn’t one eat chocolate at any and every opportunity? Seeing that they were from my favorite local chocolatier, Michael Recchiuti, and not wanting them to go to waste, I offered to take them off her hands and held mine out to take the box. She looked startled. “I don’t want you to get fat,” she blurted out.

Teff Brownies with Salted Tahini Frosting {gluten-free}

I see this sweet woman every Monday in dance class. Together, we’ve panicked about both the presidential election and challenging choreography. We’ve shared photos of our cats, discussed our thoughts on animal rights, and walked to our cars together after class. You think you know a person.

Teff Brownies with Salted Tahini Frosting {gluten-free}

Seeing the look on her face made me want to burst out laughing. I had just finished telling her about my career as a baker/pastry chef turned food photographer/author, so I was perplexed as to how she thought I could get by in life chocolate-free. Last year, a normal day consisted of baking 5 cakes to test for my book. I had a large jug of hot cocoa, bag of homemade butter toffee, and jar full of our favorite chocolate bars, not to mention two giant bags of chocolate granola, all waiting at home. I spend a large part of each day looking at photos of food – gooey chocolate cakes, plump chocolate chip cookies, glossy brownies – and dreaming of the next vehicle with which to deliver chocolate to my face. In other words, I eat chocolate for a living.

“I’ll manage,” I told her.

Teff Brownies with Salted Tahini Frosting {gluten-free}

In the end, she relented when I promised to share the chocolates (which turned out to be chocolate covered salted caramels) with Jay, who, I made sure to add, was very skinny.

“So, are you allergic to chocolate or something?” I asked. Her eyes widened.

“No, I just don’t want to get fat!”

“All things in moderation – except for chocolate,” was my reply. Then I went home and baked a batch of these brownies.

Teff Brownies with Salted Tahini Frosting {gluten-free}

I’ve been hooked on these beauties from my friend Jen‘s beautiful new cookbook The Gourmet Kitchen. I’ve been following Jen’s work for years, and have always been struck by how clean and bold her photography is, with flavors to match. The book is full of Jen’s elegant imagery, and a varied mix of recipes ranging from family favorites (her grandmother’s crab cakes that look insanely good) to eclectic flavors gathered from her travels (spiced baked acorn squash with garlic yogurt) to cozy comfort foods (banana peanut butter layer cake with chocolate ganache and apple cheddar caramelized onion galettes). Jen’s recipes are straightforward and simple, with clear instructions that bring cooking school techniques into the home kitchen.

Teff Brownies with Salted Tahini Frosting {gluten-free}

These brownies are dense and fudgy, and the layer of buttery tahini frosting on top makes them completely addictive. Chocolate and tahini are a beautiful and unexpected match, with the roasty, nutty taste of sesame ricocheting off bittersweet, mellow chocolate – think chocolate and peanut butter. I traded in teff flour for the all-purpose to make these easily gluten-free; it adds a bit of earthy depth.

Teff Brownies with Salted Tahini Frosting {gluten-free}Teff Brownies with Salted Tahini Frosting {gluten-free}

Cut these into small squares and stash them in the fridge to keep the frosting firm, and you may find yourself dipping into them with alarming frequency. Or do what I did for my 35th birthday and skip the cake in favor of a pile o’ brownies.

Teff Brownies with Salted Tahini Frosting {gluten-free}Teff Brownies with Salted Tahini Frosting {gluten-free}

Teff Brownies with Salted Tahini Frosting {gluten-free}
Yields: 16 small but rich brownies
 
Feel free to trade the teff and tapioca flours for all-purpose if gluten isn't an issue. Adapted from The Gourmet Kitchen by Jennifer Farley.
Ingredients
Brownies:
  • 5 ounces (140 g) bittersweet chocolate, chopped (around 70% cacao mass)
  • 5 tablespoons (70 g) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, plus a bit for the pan
  • ½ cup (100 g) organic granulated cane sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ⅓ cup (55 g) teff flour
  • 1 tablespoon (6 g) tapioca flour
Frosting:
  • 4 tablespoons (55 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ⅓ cup (80 ml) well-stirred tahini
  • ¼ cup (30 g) powdered sugar, sifted
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
Instructions
  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 325ºF. Butter an 8x8-inch baking pan and line it with parchment overhanging on two sides.
  2. In a large, metal bowl set over a pot of barely simmering water, melt together the chocolate and butter until smooth, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and whisk in the sugar, then the eggs and vanilla. Sift the teff and tapioca flours and salt into the batter and stir until smooth. Scrape into the pan and spread into an even layer. Bake until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean, 20-30 minutes. Cool completely.
  3. Meanwhile, make the frosting. Whip the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle until smooth. Beat in the tahini until smooth, then add the sugar and salt. Increase the speed to medium and whip until light and fluffy, 1 minute.
  4. Spread the frosting over the cooled brownies. For the cleanest slices, chill until firm, then cut into squares with a large, sharp chef's knife dipped in hot water and wiped clean between each cut. Serve either chilled or at room temperature.

 

29 thoughts on “Teff Brownies with Salted Tahini Frosting {gluten-free}”

  1. Isn’t it sad when a person decides to cut something good totally out of her (or his) life because of the false assumption that it will have the power of a magic wand: Voila’, you are now fat.

    You are right, moderation is key – plus, this lady is clearly active, dancing, being involved in issues, that all matters.

    You made a beautiful batch of brownies, and I am intrigued by the tahini icing… I have a recipe for Ottolenghi tahini cookies that could be a nice match for a brownie. Or two. ;-)

    Happy Holidays!

  2. Thanks for this recipe. I am making these brownies today and maybe again for my birthday in a couple weeks. I’m allergic to sesame seeds so will sub sunbutter for the tahini. It usually works.

  3. These look amazing and I can see them on my new year’s table. Is there something that I can sub for the tapioca flour? I have so many flours at home….but not tapioca.

      1. I too don’t have tapioca flour, but could I substitute potato flour or another thing to assist in the same way the tapioca flour would, so they won’t be so delicate?

  4. I’ve been desperate to try teff for ages Alanna after I heard it discussed on a radio show. These brownies look fantastic, oh and a love without chocolate isn’t a life worth living!

  5. Happy birthday Alanna, that brownie cake is something I would be satisfied with for my own party.
    There are many bloggers out there who are doing the gluten-free/vegan/paleo/healthy/decadent hippie schtick nowadays, most are pretentious and mediocre, lots of culturally exploitative trendy white gurls who mask their dieting obsession with a thin foil of healthificity and kale and quinoa and !natural!, but you are not like them. Your recipes are good, you are a talented baker with experience, I have enjoyed every recipe of yours I have made and received compliments for them especially by my coeliac friend. I know I will buy your second (I hope) book, wheter sweet or savory.
    ~Didie

  6. can i be on your mailing list, please? my sister is frequently sending me recipe’s from your blog postings so that i can concoct them for her. your photography is beautiful and recipes so creative and divine! its time i just get your inspired recipes directly.
    having been GF for 8 years, i have experimented and explored to no end to find and create delicious recipes. my motto around food is “heathy…not horsey” and your work fits the bill. don’t we all want our gf food to taste and behave normally without being too processed, too sugary or seeming like it came from a horse feed bag? seriously.
    thank you for your beautiful offerings!
    cheers,
    jeni

    1. Aw, thanks for the sweet note Jeni! You can definitely be on the list – just put your email address into the box on the right of the main page and each new post with show up in your inbox with a clickable link that takes you to the post. You might dig my cookbook Alternative Baker, too – it’s all GF baking recipes. :) Love your motto!

  7. Ahhhhh, your philosophy on moderation pertaining to everything except chocolate is identical to my views on both chocolate and Champagne!! Cheers to both of those things! I hope you enjoyed your birthday. Sometimes a tall stack of brownies is even better than a cake. There was also a day this past month, where I downed an entire batch of brownies for dinner. All was set right in my world. I hope all is right in yours, and happiest, warmest wishes for a wonderful 2017. It’s got to get better, and if it doesn’t, well, there’s chocolate! XO!

    1. Awwwww, thanks for the super sweet note, dear friend! I did have a lovely birthday. And I’m afraid we’re going to need ALLLLL the chocolate (and champagne!) in 2017…

  8. Oh, Happy Birthday!! These look AMAZING. Does it make any difference in flavor or texture if you use brown or white teff? My local Whole Foods has both and I’ve been curious to experiment!

  9. Happy Birthday, Alanna, and Happy New Year, everybody!

    I made these brownies for the New Year’s Eve dinner for two. They were delicious, but didn’t rise at all. I noticed that there is no baking soda or powder listed in the recipe. Is that by design?

    1. Hi Yana! Thanks! Mine didn’t rise much either, and yes, there is no leavening in the recipe to keep the brownies dense and fudgy – though I suppose you could try adding a bit if you wanted them a bit fluffier. Cheers!

  10. What a gorgeous post and I’m so intrigued by the tahini frosting top. I love tahini but hadnt thought of it as a sweet frosting. Anyway it makes so much sense because you get halva in chocolate flavour which is magnificent.

    Your words re dance class also resonnated as I have been doing Pilates with a group of women for 4 years and have a similar kind of relationship with them. Wish some of htem would offload their chocs with me.

    s x

    1. Aw, thank you Sam! I used to love chocolate halva when I was a kid, and these brownies totally remind me of that heavenly sweet. :) I just started taking pilates lessons and I LOVE it!

  11. The story makes me a bit sad to know that someone, who I assume doesn’t have any health problem or weight problem, restrains herself to the point that she wouldn’t let herself enjoy even a small piece of heavenly chocolate. Thought the sadness quickly turns into gladness when I see your scrumptious-looking brownies. :)

    BTW, happy belated new year, lady.

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