Monday, June 6th, 2011

Amazing Chocolate Brownies, gluten-free

amazing chocolate brownies, gluten free

I have to admit, I am the clingy type when it comes to recipes. When I have an utterly extraordinary recipe for something, it usually takes a lot for me to try a new one. Brownies are no exception to this rule, even if I have shared a small handful (this, this, and this) of brownie recipes with you in the past. Up until mid-April, it was nearly impossible for someone to convince me not to make these cocoa brownies to pop in the freezer for oh-so-convenient snacking. So, what happened in mid-April that convinced me that it was time to try another brownie recipe? Well, it was less than 24-hours until a gluten-free dinner party that I was invited to, and let’s just say that I was clueless as to what I was bringing.

I promised everyone I’d bring something with chocolate, and with chocolate, there simply must be a generous amount of dark muscovado sugar to accompany it (I’ve been obsessed with this stuff). I went through a never-ending list of possible things to make; I eventually settled on brownies. I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t end a meal without a brownie (Except for my sister who isn’t big on eating anything with chocolate. Weirdo.) I threw the brownies together, carefully noting the mass of each ingredient and the order they were mixed in. I was aiming for fudgy-bellied morsels of chocolate-y goodness studded with shards of macadamia nuts and viridescent pistachio pieces still blushing with their residual rosy skins.

amazing brownies, gluten free

I am sure that brownie purists will likely shoot me down in flames after hearing that I’ve used dark brown muscovado sugar in these brownies. So be it. It’s what makes these brownies so good. That amongst several other things (I don’t have to list them, do I?)

macadamia nuts being chopped with a mezzaluna

The brownies were a hit at the party and I mentioned them to friends and family, who demanded some. I even baked a pan to share with friends at BlogHer Food a couple weeks ago. I must admit, I did test for “quality control” (it’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it), carefully eating my way around some of the pan, just to make sure that everything was good enough to share. Oh, who am I kidding? These brownies are too good not to eat. I did manage to hold back on eating more than was necessary; I did want others to try the brownies.

mixing in the pistachios

After surviving almost 800 miles in blue chinese take-out containers haphazardly placed in my backpack, they were immediately shared with friends during a mini in-room potluck, and during the next couple days of the conference. People moaned, swooned, smiled, and thanked me. Some friends went as far as dividing the 2-by-2 brownies into several pieces to share with others. It was a lovely feeling to see friends and strangers enjoy them.

amazing chocolate brownies, gluten-free

Elissa, Hannah, Lauren, and Tessa insisted that I mail them each a shoebox filled with the brownies. We’ll be working out the brownie situation soon, but until then, my dear friends, I insist that all of you run (don’t walk) into the kitchen and prepare a pan of these bad boys. You’ll thank me. I promise.

Amazing Gluten-Free Chocolate Brownies
Inspired by various sources
Makes 16 – 25 Brownies

The dark muscovado sugar, along with the chocolate (there are a couple notes on chocolate at the bottom of this recipe) is part of what makes these brownies so darned good. If you can’t find dark muscovado sugar, I suspect an equal amount of dark brown sugar serves as a good substitute. If you have neither on hand, simply up the amount of granulated sugar to 1 cup / 200g.

I adore the combination of macadamia nuts and pistachios in these brownies.They’re pricey, but they’re worth it. The macadamia nuts I used were already dry roasted, if the one’s you have aren’t, simply toast them in a dry pan over medium-high heat for a couple minutes until you can smell their nutty aroma. The pistachios were lightly salted, which I think works really well in these brownies. 1 cup / 90g of any of your favorite nut, or a combination, will work wonderfully, just be sure to lightly toast them in a dry pan over medium-heat for a couple minutes. It makes all the difference.

If you don’t have almond meal on hand, simply process 1¾ cups / 145g almonds in a food processor until they resemble sand; be careful not to over-process them because you’ll soon have almond butter! After the mixture is processed, I like to run it through a medium-meshed sieve, just to make sure there are no stray chunks of almonds left in the mixture.

1 cup / 225g / 8 oz Unsalted butter, cubed
8 oz / 225g Good quality dark chocolate, at least 62% – 70% cocoa solids, chopped **
¾ cup / 150g / 5.3 oz Granulated sugar
¼ cup / 50g / 1.76 oz Packed dark muscovado sugar
⅛ teaspoon Fine grain sea salt
1 tablespoon (3 teaspoons) Pure vanilla extract
3 Large Eggs, briefly beaten
1 ¾ cups / 145g / 5.1 oz Almond meal, passed through a sieve
½ cup / 45g / 1.6 oz Macadamia nuts, chopped
½ cup / 45g / 1.6 oz Shelled pistachios, chopped


Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and pre-heat oven to 350ºF/ Gas Mark 4 / 180ºC. Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil or baking parchment, being sure to leave an overhang around each side.

In a heavy-bottomed sauce pan, melt the butter and the chocolate together on low heat (I don’t bother with a double boiler with these brownies; as long as the butter and the chocolate are melting together on a low flame, the chocolate won’t burn, but if you’re wary of burning your chocolate, feel free to use one).

Once the chocolate and the butter have melted into a smooth amalgamated mixture, whisk in the sugars, salt, and the vanilla.

Allow the mixture to cool for 5- 10 minutes. just until your finger can stay in the mixture for several seconds without being burned. The mixture will be granular, but once the eggs are added, everything will smooth out.

Add in the beaten eggs, stir vigorously.

Mix in the ground almonds, followed by the macadamia nuts and pistachios.

Place in foil or parchment-lined baking pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, until the top looks light in color, and feels soft to the touch. (Kamran Note: Using a cake tester to judge doneness for these brownies will serve absolutely little to no use; the cake tester will come out wet, even if the brownies are done.)

Allow to cool completely on a wire rack, then place in the freezer for 15 minutes for easy cutting. Cut into 16 or 25 squares.

Enjoy at room temperature with a glass of milk, or frozen with some ice cream! These brownies will keep in an airtight container in a cool place for up to 1 week.

Chocolate Notes:
** I’ve tested this recipe with quite a few brands of chocolate- Valhrona, Callebaut, El Rey, and Scharffen Berger. My conclusion- the better the chocolate, the better the brownies will taste. I must encourage you to spend your money on good-quality chocolate, and buy what you can afford. I find El Rey is probably the most affordable on the list, followed by Callebaut and Sharffenberger. Valhrona is pricey, but it’s worth every penny. I can go on-an-on about how much I dislike the taste of Ghirardelli dark chocolate (their chocolate chips are good, though), but I won’t. If you swear by Ghirardelli, use it, just don’t tell me about it. I’m sure that any of the chocolate brands listed above can be found at a Whole Foods.

Side Note: if you’re in an Airport and are traveling home from San Francisco and know that you have absolutely no time to go shopping for chocolate within the next week or two, stop at one of the news stands in your terminal and pick up Three 3-ounce bars of 62% Scharffen Berger. No need to thank me; I had to do it a few weeks ago.
Strawberry-Vanilla Swirled Ice Cream

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  • JulieD
    June 6th, 2011

    They are so beautiful, I think I will have to try these. They are going on my list. :)

    kamran replied:

    Aww, thanks Julie! They seriously are kick-butt. I can’t remember, did you get a taste of the brownies at the conference?

  • El
    June 6th, 2011

    Kamran, they look amazing. Love the addition of almond meal and pistachios. Bookmarking now.

  • Tokyo Terrace
    June 6th, 2011

    These look great Kam! I think they would be perfect to make for the long plane ride to Tokyo… Will definitely have to try these before my next flight!

    kamran replied:

    Oh, you’d have every person on the plane begging you for a brownie! My suggestion: keep them close at all times! ;D

  • JulieD
    June 6th, 2011

    I didn’t get a taste at BHF but I was coming back to say…because I forgot to mention what a pleasure it was to meet you! Hope to stay in touch!

    kamran replied:

    Well, I’ve to send you a shoebox of them to make up for that! It was such a pleasure meeting you, as well, Julie! :)

  • tracy
    June 6th, 2011

    love that nut chopping action, Kam!

    kamran replied:

    No pun intended, right? ;)

  • Nourhan @ Miss Anthropist's Kitchen
    June 6th, 2011

    Those look SO fudgy! I can’t wait to try :)

  • Kelly Senyei
    June 6th, 2011

    Finally! I’ve only been hearing about these bad boys for weeks. Adding them to my list ASAP, but I really just wish there was a button here I could click on and they’d be delivered to my door…

    kamran replied:

    I often wish that about so many things! Lately, I’ve found that pre-measuring the dry ingredients and putting them in a zip-lock bags works wonders for quick, convenient baking.

  • Nisrine M..
    June 6th, 2011

    I love, love, love baking GF and your decadent brownies with almond meal and nuts are making me so hungry right now. Brilliant texture.. Will definitely try these!!

  • Emily | Nomnivorous
    June 6th, 2011

    Viridescent? Goodness gracious, that’s quite a word. And rather appropriate for one of my favorite nuts of all time. Toasted, salted pistachios are the perfect dessert addition and these brownies look divine. Your whole wheat best cocoa brownies were tempting as it is (Smitten Kitchen’s recipe is my apartment’s favorite brownies). But these, these are special brownies. Nice job, once again.

    kamran replied:

    Thanks, Emily!

  • Angie Halten
    June 7th, 2011

    Looks delicious! I couldn’t agree more about using the best quality of chocolate you can afford (especially when you’re trying to impress people with your baking!).

  • Savorique
    June 7th, 2011

    One more proof that gluten free can taste good.
    TCHO is another chocolate which I strongly recommend for these brownies. Excellent value for the money.

    kamran replied:

    Who said that gluten-free had to taste bad, right? As for TCHO chocolate- I’ve to check it out and try it out; I’ve never heard of it until today. Thanks for the recommendation!

  • Sally - My Custard Pie
    June 7th, 2011

    This post was a great read as well as a great recipe. I confess to being slightly in the same camp as your sister (wierd!) but the fudginess of these really appeal. Always use the same brownie recipe myself so time for a change…

  • Lau@corridorkitchen
    June 7th, 2011

    Pistachios are a nice touch. Such a well written recipe, too. The way you say to allow the mixture to cool “just until your finger can stay in the mixture for several seconds without being burned.” Such intuitive instructions.

  • Cassie
    June 7th, 2011

    Perfect! I love all things nuts so the variety of them in the recipe totally hooked me – not to mention I have a friend who hates all kinds of sweets, cakes etc. except for brownies!! I’m always looking for new recipes to try out for her, so thanks!

  • shweta j
    June 7th, 2011

    is there any way where i can skip the eggs..we don’t eat eggs in our family..these brownies look so yummy : )

    kamran replied:

    Hi Shweta – the eggs play a vital role in this recipe- as a raising agent and as a binder. Because I haven’t tested this recipe to be vegan-friendly, I really can’t offer alternatives without changing the entire recipe and diving into “serious” gluten-free territory where several starches and flours would be needed, instead of the almond meal. I really do apologize for that… If you do find a way to make these vegan-friendly (which I am assuming your family is), please report back, I’d love to hear about your results! :

  • Brian @ A Thought For Food
    June 7th, 2011

    This is such a wonderful gf recipe, Kamran. I know how hard it can be to make a good REGULAR brownie… so gluten free is even harder. But, having done one myself, I know that they can be just as delightful as those with flour.

  • Ethan
    June 7th, 2011

    I’m particularly impressed with the shot of both your hands chopping the pistachios and you shooting the picture with the camera carefully placed on your head!
    GF or not, these look great. I’d take a shoebox of them too:)

  • Angela@spinachtiger
    June 7th, 2011

    This recipe is just what I need for the next gathering, where quite a few are gluten free. I’m going to look for that sugar. Such a great idea.

  • shweta j
    June 8th, 2011

    Thank you so much for your reply..We are not vegans..but we just don’t eat i guess i will have to just try lot of permutations and combinations to try this recipe : ) Thank you for the encouragement..

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  • The Cilantropist
    June 8th, 2011

    I love this gluten free adaptation of brownies, and I bet they taste so good that if you didn’t tell anyone they were gluten free, they would never know! Altogether this is quite a pricey recipe, but anything chocolate is totally worth it – and in my book, you get what you pay for. ;)

  • Eva
    June 8th, 2011

    These sound amazing. My friend is coming into town to visit me next week and she just started a gluten-free diet, I’ll have to whip up a batch of these while she’s here.

  • Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction
    June 8th, 2011

    These brownies sound incredible!! Yum :)

  • merry jennifer
    June 8th, 2011

    I can vouch for the deliciousness of these brownies, even though I only got a crumb of of one at BlogHer Food. When you’re mailing out shoeboxes of brownies, let me know and I’ll send you my address. :)

  • kankana
    June 8th, 2011

    I am one of those weirdo who doesn’t like chocolate much .. and NO i am not from any other planet! Having said that brownie with dark brown chocolate is something I could never resist. And here you have added one of my fav macadamia nuts.. This will be like a part in my mouth.. i can already say. I am going to make these .. yes I will :)

  • kankana
    June 8th, 2011

    OK I meant ‘ party in my mouth’ teehee!

  • Helene
    June 8th, 2011

    I use Callebaut because this is what I can find at my store, now I’ll have to try to find dark muscovado sugar, never seen it before. I’m drooling over your brownies.

  • Kulsum at JourneyKitchen
    June 9th, 2011

    Kamran! Can they be shipped all the way to Kuwait? Oh well alright I think I will have to make them myself. SO SO good!

  • autumn
    June 9th, 2011

    The look amazingly fudgy, which is totally my preference. I’ve also recently crossed over to the most-brownies-are-better-after-frozen camp and I bet these would freeze fabulously too! Thanks for the gluten-free recipe.

  • --kyleen--
    June 9th, 2011

    Yummm, I love brownies. I’ve been looking for a good brownie recipe since I was 12. Must give these a try :D

  • Maggie @MaggieCooks
    June 13th, 2011

    This brownies look delicious!
    They are def going on my “to bake list!”
    and your pictures make me hungry! haha :)
    cheers from mexico!

  • Adrianna from A Cozy Kitchen
    June 13th, 2011

    These look so delicious! I love the almond meal–clever! And the pistachios looks gorgeous.

  • Eliana
    June 16th, 2011

    Hmmmm – they could not look more delicious Kamran. When you’re ready to ship, send me a box too, will ya?

    kamran replied:

    Eliana- of course! :)

  • Khushboo @ Two Megapixel Food
    June 17th, 2011

    I adore the first photograph and these brownies look absolutely tempting! I have been thinking of making ‘brownies’ with white chocolate but they won’t be brownies anymore right? I am not even sure if they would come out good.

    kamran replied:

    Hi Khushboo – They’d be brownies, just blondies! I’m not sure the white chocolate would work for this recipe, though, as the muscovado sugar is used to highlight the dark chocolate in the recipe. I should have a recipe for blondies in the near future! Keep an eye out. :)

  • Kirsten
    June 17th, 2011

    Glad you’re back! These brownies look D-Vine. It takes guts to venture away from the recipes we adore to try others. Thanks for doing so!- Miss Slice

  • Chris
    June 27th, 2011

    I still can’t convince people that these are gluten free! Awesome!

  • wheat free
    July 5th, 2011

    Greetings from Scotland! I enjoyed reading your articles.

  • Julie
    July 21st, 2011

    Completely divine. Who needs gluten anyway?

  • Patricia
    July 28th, 2011

    I have tried this recipe twice and both times the top of the brownies don’t look nice and crackled they look bubbly and burnt. After the first time, I turned my oven to 170C instead of 180C but this hasn’t worked either.
    Any tips?

    kamran replied:

    Hi Patricia – The top should look a little crackly like in the photos- it won’t be completely smooth. As for the brownies being burnt, I think you might be over-baking them. As stated in the recipe- cake testers or toothpicks won’t tell you that the brownies are done- the middle being set and the top being lighter in color than it was as a batter are two signs. The brownies aren’t cakey, which is a reason why cake testers will serve you no purpose with this recipe. 25-30 minutes is how long they should be baked until; Around 20 minutes is when I’d start checking the brownies to see if they look done. If they’re not, at 25 minutes check again. I wouldn’t bake these longer than 30 minutes, though.

    Because I don’t know what changes you made to the recipe, I can’t really tell you exactly what went wrong, but from the likes of it, I think you might be over-baking them. If you can, please shoot me an email to: with what you changed while making the recipe, and I’ll be glad to help you figure out why your brownies keep turning the way they do.

  • Madeleines and Marathons
    August 18th, 2011

    My boyfriend shares and apartment with his brother and his brother’s girlfriend. She has celiac disease and I always feel guilty when I bring over delicious baked goods and she can’t have any, so this recipe was the perfect solution! Everyone (even gluten tolerant people) loved them.

    They came out fantastic, (although I felt they needed a touch more chocolate so I folded in a chopped chocolate bar into the batter.)

    Thanks for the recipe! So glad I found it.

    kamran replied:

    Hi Madeleines and Marathons- I’m so glad that everyone loved them! :)

  • Alyce
    August 27th, 2011

    These were soooo delicious and so easy to make!
    Thanks heaps they went down well.

    kamran replied:

    thanks for the feedback, alyce! so glad they worked out for you! :)

  • Chandni
    March 20th, 2012

    Hi! can u make it without eggs ? if yes how?

  • Joan
    October 3rd, 2012

    As an Aussie from down-under, googling for something GF and chocolatey- like a Brownie, I stumbled on this! Shoebox full? Wish! Extra dark brown sugar will have to do for now! Have everything else! Off to shell the pistachios before my son gets them! Hey Kamran, you really give them away by the shoeboxful? :)

  • Bianca
    March 2nd, 2013

    I came across your recipe this evening and just had to try it. I didn’t have any pistachios or macadamia nuts so I used dried cranberries instead. I must say, these are the most amazing, fudgy brownies I have ever made/eaten! I will definitely be making them again! Thank you so much for the fantastic recipe! Bianca Durban South Africa

  • Caroline
    March 16th, 2013

    Made these last night -my first venture into gluten-free baking. I used Cadbury dark chocolate (not sure the cocoa %). Absolutely delicious!! Slightly crisp on the top, yet super moist (not runny) in the middle. My new favorite brownie recipe. Thank you!

  • Kate
    April 11th, 2013

    My mum is a ceoliac and nowhere, either shop or restraunt has ever served such amazing brownies. I now make them for the rest of the family aswell and have started adding different ingredients like caramalised ginger or cranberries (escpecially at christmas this went down a treat) for special occasions. I even make care packages for my brothers at university with loads in that can be stored in the freezer. Brill recipe, recomend to everyone (gluten free or not)

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