My mom likes to say, 'You're entitled to your own opinion, even if it's wrong.' As a psychologist specializing in subjectivity, she should know.
But it seems there is an area in which only one opinion counts, and that is the hotly debated issue of cakey vs. fudgy brownies.
Or is it REALLY hotly debated???
Nearly every brownie recipe header I've read begins with something akin to, 'Some people like their brownies cakey, but we prefer them rich and fudgy, so here's a recipe for you superior bakers who are smart enough to know better.'
Are there really people out there who like cakey brownies, or is this just an ego-stroking myth perpetuated by the fudgy brownie lobby to make us feel banded together against some common, imaginary foe? Isn't the whole point of brownies that they are rich, dense, chocolaty and gooey? Wouldn't you just make a chocolate cake if you wanted something 'cakey?'
When I was a kid and would make brownies from the box, I would always choose the 'fudgy' option over 'cakey,' which entailed adding an extra egg, and I remain true to my fudgy preference today. (Though of course I wouldn't admit otherwise lest you think me hopelessly uncool.)
But along comes Alice Medrich with this 'New Bittersweet Brownie' recipe to shake everything up. These brownies aren't exactly fudgy, though they do satisfy the über-chocolate craving that often plagues fudgy brownie-lovers. But they aren't cakey, either. Nor are they 'chewy,' the newest category of brownie to emerge on the scene. Their texture most closely resembles a fluffy-dense flourless chocolate cake, but not the gag-me-rich, truffle-ganache sort; the type that has some air whipped into it so that it comes out delicate and manageable. Alice Medrich describes them as being 'mousse-like', and they do have a delicate, airy-ness to them, but 'moussey brownies' don't sound particularly appealing. 'Whipped brownies?' 'Really friggin' awesomely delicious brownies?' I'm at a loss.
Perhaps they just need to be in a class by themselves.
Categories and pigeon-holing aside, let's talk about why these brownies are so awesome:
- They are packed with a full 8 ounces of bittersweet chocolate. I used the 70% cacao mass stuff I get in bulk at Rainbow, and I can say that it is some of the best chocolate I've ever tasted: fruity, mild, complex, deep and dark but never bitter.
- Whole eggs are whipped with salt and a demure amount of sugar (1 cup, whereas some fudgy brownie recipes call for double that amount) until light and fluffy, creating the superbly uncategorizeable, light-yet-dense texture I keep going on about.
- A scant amount of flour, no leavening, and just the right amount of butter (3 ounces) contribute to this gorgeousness.
- I add in a hearty slug of whiskey to give them a little je ne sais quoi. Well, actually, I do know what: to add a complex tang which complements the chocolate flavor without taking over.
- If you thought it couldn't get any better, I made these gluten-free, although you would never know it if you tasted them and I didn't tell you.
I think Ms. Medrich says it best: 'On a plate, with a fork and a dollop of cream, these are definitely dessert.'
So, if you give these brownies a go, and have an idea of what to call them, please let me know. Just be sure not to over-bake them, as this can lead to 'accidentally cakey brownies.'
And nobody likes those.
More chocolate treats:
- (Optionally Gluten-Free) Chocolate Bouchon Cakes
- Triple Chocolate Chile Cookies
- (Gluten-Free) Chocolate Rum Blondies
- (Gluten-Free) Chocolate Hazelnut Brown Butter Cake
*Bojon appétit! For more Bojon Gourmet in your life, follow along on Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest, purchase my gluten-free cookbook Alternative Baker, or subscribe to receive new posts via email. And if you make this bittersweet whiskey brownie recipe, I’d love to know. Leave a comment and rating below, and tag your Instagram snaps @The_Bojon_Gourmet and #bojongourmet.*
Gluten-Free Bittersweet Chocolate BrowniesPrint Recipe Pin Recipe
- 3 ounces unsalted butter, sliced (6 tablespoons, 3/4 stick)
- 8 ounces bittersweet (I use 70% cacao mass) chocolate, chopped (a scant 2 cups)
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup organic granulated sugar (7 ounces)
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 tablespoons whiskey or other flavorful spirit* (optional)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅓ cup sweet rice flour (sometimes called 'sticky' or 'glutinous')* (1 3/4 ounces)
- Position a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat to 350º. Line an 8x8" square pan with 2 criss-crossed parchment slings so that the bottom and all of the sides are covered, with an inch or so of parchment hanging over the sides (see photos above). (Lacking parchment, you can use heavy-duty aluminum foil instead, or simply grease the pan.)
- In a small saucepan, place first the butter and then the chocolate; melt together over very low heat, watching the pot like a hawk and stirring frequently so as not to scorch the chocolate (alternatively, you can do this in a heatproof bowl placed over a pan of barely simmering water). When the mixture is completely melted and very warm, remove from the heat.
- Meanwhile, in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip together the eggs, sugar and salt on medium-high speed until the mixture is very thick, pale and fluffy, 3 - 5 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the whiskey and vanilla, then the chocolate mixture. Sift the flour if lumpy, sprinkle it over the batter, and mix on low until combined. Remove the bowl from the stand and give it a few stirs by hand, scraping the sides and bottom, to make sure it is thoroughly combined.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and stick it in the oven. Bake until the brownie is pulling away from the sides of the pan, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few wet crumbs but no gooey batter, 25-30 minutes. (These brownies are best baked a little further than most; underbaked, the texture is overly dense.)
- Cool the brownies completely in the pan. (For the cleanest cuts, you can chill the brownies in the fridge for an hour or two, or up to several days.)
- Use the parchment as handles to lift the brownie out of the pan, and cut into sixteen 2" squares using a chef's knife dipped in hot water and wiped clean and dry after every cut.
- The brownies keep well for up to 5 days, stored at room temp in an airtight container.
I want to have a constant supply of these delivered to my mouth, please. Like, one an hour, maybe?
Or...can they be injected through an IV? We could maybe just put them on a slow drip.
Alanna, these are SO GOOD. In a "they wouldn't be better with wheat flour" kind of way, and you know how much I love my wheat.
I'm going to Rainbow tomorrow after work to buy chocolate. Yes.
Ann Lam says
Yay! Tangerine Olive Oil Cake turned out beautiful last night. Tonight's project is the brownies. Thanks, Alanna. The Jack Daniel's is just waiting to be opened!
Ann Lam says
PS- Thanks for the brownie cutting tip. Very good to know ...
So glad to hear it. Happy baking!
Ok, these are seriously the best brownies EV-ER. I mean, E-V-E-R.
So glad you like them!
Marshal Drake says
Now this explains why brownies are very addictive. Can I add 3 more table spoons of whiskey in this recipe?
If I were to add 3 tablespoons more whiskey, I would also add 3 tablespoons more flour to absorb the extra moisture. That's my best guess. Please let us know if you give it a shot (or 3).
I love you.
Question?....If I were to use "Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey Whiskey" would I lessen the amount of sugar or just omitt it al together due to its sweetness?
Yikes, I've never tried that liqueur, so I'm not sure how sweet it is. The brownies aren't super sweet, so you might be fine just adding it as is. Otherwise, try reducing the sugar by the amount of liqueur you add. Let me know how it goes. :)
Will do......Thanks so much for your reply! =0)
If these have whiskey in them, they aren't technically gluten free because whiskey has gluten in it?
There seems to be contention as to whether whiskey does indeed contain gluten. This site says it doesn't: http://www.celiac.com/articles/222/1/Gluten-Free-Alcoholic-Beverages/Page1.html. As I point out in the headnote, if you're worried, trade the whiskey for an alcohol that isn't made from grains, such as dark rum.
Just in the reading stage, but these sound very rich and gooey good. I just have a tip that I learned from my sister-n-law Carla, try cutting brownies with a cheap plastic knife from a fast food joint...we now have several at the 4H stand to cut our brownies. You just keep cutting, no need to wipe the blade until the pan is done, and no crumby edges. Try it. Lorrie
Thanks for the kind words and the groovy tip - I'll definitely give that a try next time! :)
I do not exaggerate at all when I say that these are the best GF brownies I've tried yet. And I used to bake and sell GF brownies (and other goodies) on Etsy, so that's saying something. This is definitely a recipe I will be making again and again. Mine turned out a little darker than yours, which I attribute to the fact that I used unsweetened chocolate and half the sugar was brown (lots of "making do" to get these puppies in the oven!). Also added a little extra sugar to the melted chocolate/butter since my chocolate was unsweetened instead of bittersweet. But yes. Will definitely be doing this again. Thank you for sharing your amazing recipe!
Hi Meg! That is high praise indeed! I'm so glad you like the brownies, and that your modifications turned out well. Thank you for the super sweet note! :D
Thank YOU. I am *so* going to be trying some of your other recipes now.
Aw! Glad to hear it. :)
Hi! Can I substitute the flour with almond meal or a gluten free flour? Thank you!
I think a GF AP blend would work great! Not as sure about almond flour with its coarser texture, but let me know what you try. :)
Hi, is it possible to get this recipe in Grams instead? please please it looks to die for! and i tried your almond pulp brownies today and oh my god im in love with your blog... Thanks!
Aw thank you! Actually there's a very similar recipe in my cookbook that has gram measurements. Do you happen to have a copy?
Oh my. No i dont, i just got to know your blog few days ago. I'm from indonesia.. From where can i get your cookbook? And are all the recipe there in Grams? Omg i wanna buy! Hahah
Thanks for the reply
Aw, you're so sweet! Where do you usually buy or order your books from? Do you have Amazon over there?
Kim Snyder says
I made these a couple of years back. But it's foggy - they tasted really good, but I have a question about them. I was wondering if you thought they'd hold up in a 6" cake pan, which I would layer. Maybe three layers worth?
Maybe I should make a chocolate cake instead? It's my partner's 40th birthday, and we are having an ice cream sundae bar, but I thought a cake would be sweet. :-)
Thanks for making amazing things!
Aw thanks for the sweet words! Were you planning to bake the layers in 3 separate pans and then layer with frosting or something? If you wanted to remove the guesswork, you could try this chocolate cake. :)
I was thinking layers and then maybe powdered sugar. The frosting is actually the problem. He’s got T1 diabetes and it’s always so much sugar, the frosting. But I suppose you’re right, frosting would make it tasty. :-)
I will check out the cake!
I should just make a brownie stack with a candle like your other brownies are doing. That is adorable!
Ah that's tough. Frostings are often too sweet for my taste too. I do have a less sweet cream cheese frosting that I like: https://bojongourmet.com/cream-cheese-frosting/ And Sarah at Snixy Kitchen has a maple-sweetened cream cheese frosting that is divine too. Please let me know what you end up trying! :)
Oh! THAT cake. It IS the best cake ever. I made it last year for my own birthday. Ha! Amazing. Love that cake.
Ah I'm so glad you liked it! Thanks for trying my recipes. :)
Lea Grant says
Hey Alanna! Do you think these would work with aquafaba or flax eggs instead of real eggs? We have an open bottle of bourbon that I want to make disappear and I’ve been dreaming of these brownies for like 3 weeks now.
Hi Lea! Hmmm that's a great question! I think aquafaba would be a better bet since you can sort of whip them up like eggs? But I'm not totally sure. If you experiment I would try a half batch - you can bake them in a loaf pan or in muffin tins - just in case it doesn't work. Please let me know if you try!
9 years later and they are still delicious!
I was too lazy to make cookies and made these instead. Spot on, as usual and caused envy among my friends. Perfect for the 4th of July.
Awwww thanks for trying my recipe Claire - I'm honored! So glad they were a hit. Hugs to you and the family! <3
Hi! Do you think these would work with almond flour instead?
Hi Katie, you could certainly try almond flour, though it isn't as absorbent as sweet rice flour, so you may need to add more flour and/or adjust the baking time. Please let me know if you give it a try!
These are exquisite.
I’ve made them with my homemade Nocino in place of the whiskey - recommended.
I’ve subbed the vanilla with whiskey and topped them with dollops of whiskey-infused maple cream cheese icing - recommended.
I’ve dusted them with powdered sugar - recommended.
Love this recipe.
Oh my goodness, this all sounds amazing! I have some homemade nocino in my cupboard made by a good friend. Must try this! You might also like the nocino tiramisu recipe in my cookbook if you haven't tried it already!
Anna Lai says
I skipped the whiskey and only used about 2/3c sugar. Turned out fantastically gooey and chocolately without being too sweet. Thanks for the recipe!!
Fabulous - I'm so glad those subs worked! Thanks for trying my recipe (and with that amazing-looking topping to boot!)
ST Chin says
Hi Alanna, tried with the sweet rice flour and was a success. Everyone loved and raved so much about it. Another attempt with plain flour, and it turned out to be a bit flaky. I realized the flour type has a part to play in overall texture.
Oh interesting! That's helpful to know. By plain flour you mean all-purpose wheat flour? I'm so glad everyone loved the gluten-free version at least! :)
Hello! Is this recipe safe for children too? Does the whiskey get baked out? Thanks!
Alanna Taylor-Tobin says
Yes, the alcohol cooks out as it bakes! But if you're making it for kids, they might not love that flavor, so you can also just leave it out or sub with a little decaf coffee. Let me know what you try!
These are delicious! I can’t wait to make them again and add toasted walnuts. In case anyone else runs into this issue - I baked them in a Pyrex pan and they took significantly longer (almost 45 minutes in total). Thank you for the recipe!
Alanna Taylor-Tobin says
Mmm these would be so good with walnuts. Thanks a bunch for sharing the note about the glass pan taking longer to bake - I'll update the recipe with that information!
Do you think these would work with a plant based butter substitute?
Alanna Taylor-Tobin says
Definitely, that should work great! Please let me know if you make them. :)