April 25, 2006

The Perfect Gluten Free Brownie: A Bake-Off

A Bake-Off Between the Gluten Free Goddess, Gluten-Free Pantry & Pamela's

I've been searching for a classic brownie recipe (gluten-free) that had a rich chocolate taste. The right recipe whose aroma makes everyone migrate towards the kitchen to ask "Are they done yet?" My contestants in our taste test were a Pamela Brownie Mix, a Brownie Mix from The Gluten-Free Pantry and a recipe from The Gluten-Free Goddess' food blog.

I started with the mix by Pamela's. It had a nice texture that wasn't too grainy as they used a nice variety of flours. It had nice sized chocolate chunks that had a nice smooth dark chocolate flavor. The mix made an 8 x 8 pan. The taste test for these went over quite well. Although my daughter still liked the taste of the uncooked batter rather than the finished brownie. She said it tasted more like the one's we used to eat that had wheat. Plus my son wanted brownies without chunks in them, so my search went on.

Next we tried The Gluten-free Pantry's brownie mix. It made up into a nice 13 x9 inch pan. They recommended lining the pan with foil and coating with vegetable spray before putting the batter in the pan. After they cooled, I put them in the freezer for around an hour to make it easier to remove them from the pan. I still needed to flip the brownies out onto a cutting board upside down to peel the foil off the brownies. As far as the taste tests went the brownies had a medium to light chocolate taste and the chocolate morsels were bitter. They lacked that warm rich moistness that make you want to have just one more. My son (a very tough food critic) said that he really didn't care for them.

The brownie recipe from the Gluten-free Goddess is wonderful. I have now made both the original version by Clare and the Gluten-free Goddess' jazzed up version of this recipe. Made from almond meal, rice flour, dark chocolate bars or cocoa powder this recipe is a winner. The recipe makes a 8 x 8 pan. Also, line the pan with foil to make them easier to remove. The brownie rated tops in our taste tests. It had all the hallmarks of a good brownie -- aroma, moistness, intense chocolate flavor and the desire to have just one more.

Update: I have substituted millet flour for the rice flour. The brownies had a nice flavor, but were difficult to eat by hand since they fell apart. Another time I substituted 1/2 cup Turbinado sugar and 1/2 cup cane sugar instead of 1 cup of brown sugar. The brownies turned out to have a lovely chewy texture. They tasted wonderful.

April 23, 2006

My Start & Inspiration for Blogging Gluten-Free

I am gluten-free - not by choice, but by necessity as I have those little antibodies that don't like gluten. I don't have enough antibodies to be considered a celiac, but enough to be gluten sensitive.

My diagnosis for gluten sensitivity came after I had just had surgery for early stage breast cancer. I went to see an integrative physician in order to get my body healthy after surgery and radiation therapy. Her first step after taking my medical history and looking at all my test results was to send me off to the lab for more blood work. Those additional blood tests discovered my gluten sensitivity and new hypothyroid condition.

Taking up the gluten free challenge, I tackled my first big holiday and made a gluten free meal that was delightful for my entire family. It was auspicious that my first big gluten free event was a success, because I've had many a recipe fail since then. So, I have endeavored to approach the world of gluten-free food and cooking with gusto and an explorer's heart.

After searching the internet and checking out gluten free cook books from our local library, I began my quest for decent tasting food. It has been delightful and challenging, but I will post the best of my experiments and lightly gloss over some of my baking failures. I'm learning how to cook gluten free and it's a grand adventure. My family isn't gluten sensitive, however they are joining me in my quest for better gluten free food. They celebrate with me on my successes and they help me compost my failures.

I have purchased a wide variety of gluten free foods and have been so disappointed in the flavors of these items. Many of the gluten free cook books that I checked out from our library didn't provide me with the food flavors that I longed to eat. In frustration, I decided to turn to my favorite recipes and adapt them into something that was delicious and healthier to eat.

As time has gone on other food allergies have made their way into our lives. My daughter and I are now allergic to tomatoes and peppers. We tend to avoid all the nightshades (tomatoes, peppers, potatoes and eggplant) since potatoes and eggplant can sometimes bother us too. My daughter is allergic to barley and I'm allergic to wheat. Our children have developed an intolerance to gluten, dairy and soy. Over time, I have also developed an intolerance to foods that contain xanthan gum, so all of my recipes use other foods that can act as binders.

I am very thankful for the other gluten free bloggers who were already on the internet. Many of them offered new recipes to try and add some to my list of family favorites. I decided to join the gluten free blogging community and share the results of my gluten free experiments.