October 10, 2012

Gluten-free Walnut Brownies

It seems the "great pumpkin" has arrived. Although it is almost time to pick out your own orange friend, I'm not talking about the pumpkin that Linus longed to appear on Halloween night.

I mean the "great pumpkin" of the food blogging world: the endless recipes of pumpkin and fall-inspired desserts, my vast amount of bookmarks and "favourites" of pumpkin bread, cakes, desserts and even pastas (like this recipe) and the bursting to the brim of Google Readers, Pinterest boards and Delicious accounts everywhere with pumpkin everything. Check out these pumpkin spice donut holes dipped in white and milk chocolate I picked up from the Cupcake Diner the other weekend:

Cupcake Diner pumpkin spice donut holes

I made my own version as well. Apparently the trick to these donut holes was baking them in a mini-muffin pan. I tried making baked donuts awhile back and they did not turn out like this at all. The trick might have also been the buttery, brown sugar coating.

Pumpkin donut holes

Because I needed a pumpkin dessert detox after all that, I decided on a healthy (healthier) treat for dessert the other night. There's nothing better than taking a solid baking recipe and substituting healthier ingredients to make it better for you. I admit, sometimes it doesn't work out. Sometimes you're expecting cake or cheesecake and your "healthy alternative" doesn't resemble the real thing in any way and it's downright disappointing. But sometimes you can surprise yourself...

The California Walnut Commission sent me a sample of their California walnuts and some recipes for "edible gifts" this holiday season. Although it's not quite time to stock up on holiday baking supplies, it's never to early to start thinking about gifts. And I'm always looking for an excuse to bake and pass on the goods to fellow "taste tasters," or gift them to myself I suppose.

Gluten-free Walnut Brownies

This brownie recipe is easy on the stomach with no gluten or refined sugars. The walnuts are a nutritious addition and provide those good-for-you, heart-healthy omega-3 and omega-6 fats. According to the recipe, these brownies only have 194 calories per serving.

Fudgy Walnut Brownies (Gluten-free)
"Guaranteed to please any sweet tooth, this gluten-free brownie packs a nutritious punch in every tasty bite. The addition of dates and quinoa flour add the fudgy texture while significantly raising the bar for a scrumptious treat that's full of goodness."

Gluten-free walnut brownies

Gluten-free Fudgy Walnut Brownies (Recipe by California Walnut Commission, walnutinfo.com)

1 cup dates, pitted
2 tsbp water
7 oz dark chocolate (good quality) chopped
6 tbsp butter, salted
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tbsp quinoa flour
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
2 tbsp icing sugar


1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line the inside of a 9-inch square pan with foil and set aside.
2. In a food processor, place dates and and 2 tbsp of water and blend into a paste. Set aside.
3. In a medium sauce pan over low heat, melt butter and chocolate, stirring until smooth. Remove butter and chocolate from heat and mix in the date paste followed by one egg at a time until fully incorporated.
4. In a separate bowl, sift together the cocoa powder and quinoa flour and stir in the chocolate mixture. Mix in the walnuts and pour the mixture into prepared baking pan.
5. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the brownies feel set in the centre. When ready, remove the brownies from the oven and allow to cool completely. Sift icing sugar over the top of the brownies.

This was my first time using quinoa flour. I decided to buy a small bag instead of grinding some quinoa in the food processor and making my own. Although I didn't necessarily need the brownies gluten-free, I wanted to test the exact recipe. I have tried gluten-free brownies from a boxed mix and these were just as good.

The chocolate I was using wasn't high quality dark--only melting milk chocolate chips--so they weren't as chocolate-y as they could have been. The brownies were a little on the crumbly side, but it might depend on how long you bake them. Next time I think I would only put 1/2 cup of walnuts in because I personally like brownies chewy rather than crunchy. For a break from the month of pumpkin craziness try these chocolate treats for some sweet crunch.

Disclosure: I received samples from the California Walnut Commission for review purposes. The opinions expressed are completely my own.

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