17 May 2014

Chocolate Brownies with Amaranth Flour - (nearly) Gluten-Free Recipe

It's been a (long) while since my last post - just got a bit busy with some new writing projects and was felled by a brief illness :( But tomorrow is World Baking Day and I absolutely had to bake. So here I am with a new recipe! This time I have decided to experiment with alternative flours. No, I am not on any gluten-free diet; I just wanted to try baking with something other than the all-purpose flour. 

I decided to work with amaranth flour, what is known as rajgira in India. I love rajgira products such as laddoos and chikkis; sometimes when I have forgotten to make my overnight oats, I just dunk couple of rajgira laddoos in milk and make myself a nutritious breakfast. Because amaranth is sort of a superfood - it's a great source of iron, protein and several essential amino acids (particularly lysine). It cooks quickly and it's gluten-free. It has a delicious nutty and earthy flavour and the grains have a pleasing crunchiness. 

Amaranth has suddenly burst upon the scene, especially in the West; apparently the Aztecs used to worship amaranth the way the Incas (supposedly) worshipped quinoa (and we all know how that's gone 'viral'!). In India of course, we have been using rajgira for years, especially during the 'fasting days' - apart from the grain being used to make laddos and chikkis, rajgira atta can be used to make bhakris & thalipeeth and much more



So for World Baking Day, I have decided to try using amaranth flour to make some decadent brownies. I have mixed it with sorghum (jowar) flour, as amaranth on its own makes for a very dense dough and the baked goodies don't turn out quite right (I have had a baking disaster with that). Jowar is closer in texture to wheat flour and therefore lends itself better to baking. A mix of amaranth and sorghum has produced some really scrumptious brownies, which have more flavour and texture compared to maida brownies (or maybe it's in my head!). 

The only reason I'm not calling these "gluten-free brownies" is that I'm not using gluten-free baking powder. 

For World Baking Day (May 18th), Monika of Sin-A-Mon Tales is doing a bake-along over at her blog and she has some lovely recipe ideas for you to try out. So bake something (maybe these delish brownies?) tomorrow. If you missed World Baking Day, well, every day can be baking day, eh? 

Nearly Gluten-Free Chocolate Brownies with Amaranth Flour

This recipe makes 9 brownies.

You'll need:
  • 150g Dark Chocolate, at least 50% cacao
  • 50 ml Olive Oil
  • 100g Caster Sugar
  • 50g Sorghum Flour
  • 25g Amaranth Flour
  • 2 Eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • A pinch of Salt
  • 1 Vanilla bean, scraped (or 1 tsp vanilla essence)

How to:
  • Preheat oven to 180°C.
  • Mix the chocolate and olive oil and melt over a double boiler or in the microwave. Set aside to cool.
  • Whisk together the sugar, the flours, baking powder and salt.
  • Add the beaten eggs, melted chocolate and vanilla. Beat well till you get a thick batter.
  • Pour the batter into an 8" square baking pan, which has been lined with parchment paper.
  • Bake for 30-40 minutes, or till a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean. 
  • Allow to cool and then cut into brownie squares. Enjoy warm with some milk and your favourite book!
  • Alternatively, you can refrigerate the entire block (before cutting) for an hour. This gives cleaner squares when you cut - but do you really care if your brownie is falling apart?!

I have typed this post while waiting for the brownies to bake, so you're literally getting this "fresh from the oven"! And rest assured, I have tasted the brownies before posting the recipe - they are delicious :) 

Enjoy and happy baking.
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