Blasphemous Brownies

Sometimes in order to eat clean, you have to do some dirty things.

 

I’ve been craving brownies all week and, naturally, I turned to one of my personal role models, the queen of all things decadent and tasty, Julia Child. Her Best-Ever Brownie recipe is my go-to when I’m craving chocolatey perfection. But then I had a thought: I want to make brownies that I can share with ALL of my friends? I realized this would mean doing the unthinkable. I would have to take this canonical recipe and make it vegan and gluten free. That’s crazy, right? I mean we’re talking Julia Child, the baroness of butter. You can’t do that, it’s blasphemy!

I say a little blasphemy every now and then never hurt anybody. Besides, what Julia doesn’t know won’t hurt her.

The substitutions in this recipe are super easy. Coconut oil is a great stand-in for butter, and that flax seed trick I showed you earlier? That takes care of your eggs. I strayed a little from the original recipe in selecting some vegan chocolate to use. Trader Joe’s has a couple of vegan chocolate bars. Their Pound Plus Bittersweet and Bittersweet with almonds are the two that are vegan. I decided to skip the nuts and go with regular bittersweet. Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All-Purpose flour takes the place of normal all-purpose flour. Simple, right? Here’s the process in full:

Blasphemous Best-Ever Brownies

Brownie Ingredients

Ingredients

1 1/4 cups gluten free all-purpose flour

1 tsp salt

3/4 cup coconut oil

6 ounces bittersweet vegan chocolate, coarsely chopped

2 cups sugar

1 tsp vanilla abstract

4 Tbsp ground flax seed

3/4 cup warm water

Brownie chop

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a double boiler, combine the chocolate and the coconut oil, stirring constantly until melted. Make sure you’re not scorching the chocolate, cook this all on a low simmer. It takes a little longer over low heat, but I’ve burned enough chocolate in my time to know it’s worth the wait.

 

Once the chocolate is melted, add 1 cup of the sugar. Stir for 30 seconds and then add the vanilla. Remove from heat.

Mix together the ground flax seed and the warm water until well combined. Let that sit for about 30 seconds and then stir again until the mixture becomes gelatinous.

Brownie Eggs

In a large bowl, mix the remaining sugar with the flax seed mixture. Once that’s combined, add the chocolate mixture. Stir until fully incorporated.

Next add the salt, and slowly add the flour, making sure to mix well before adding more flour.

Brownie Batter

Pour your batter into an 8×8 or 9×9 baking pan and bake for 30 minutes. You can test how done your brownies are by sliding a knife into the center. Also, you can shake the pan a little to make sure there’s no jiggle.

Please let these puppies cool completely before eating. As they cool, the coconut oil will allow them to set a little more and become a bit firmer. This is super important!

You’ll notice that I skipped a couple of steps from the Julia Child recipe. Those steps were focused on tempering the eggs and making sure they wouldn’t begin to cook upon making contact with the warm chocolate. Since there are no eggs in this recipe, those steps didn’t really seem relevant. Also, I didn’t use the same amount of coconut oil as the recipe calls for butter because I find that having that much oil in the recipe leads to some pretty greasy brownies. They taste just fine, but they’re greasy.

As I’ve said before, I’m fairly new to the land of vegan and gluten free baking so I appreciate any tips or tricks y’all have out there in the blogosphere. Try these out and let me know what you think.

Happy Baking!

 

Peachy Keen Cornbread Muffins

When I think about my Southern roots, I think a lot about food. I’m from Louisiana so things like gumbo, jumbalaya, beignets, and sweet potatoes come to first to mind. But when I think of my family spread out over the rest of the South I think of Georgia peaches, smoked brisket, and cornbread. In short, I think of BBQ and picnic foods.

So when I found myself with an overabundance of peaches in my kitchen, I knew exactly what to do. Macerated peaches make the perfect companion to my favorite gluten free cornbread muffins.

Now, without any further ado, here are my…

Peachy Keen Cornbread Muffins

cornbread prep

For the cornbread

1 3/4 cups Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All-Purpose Flour

1 cup cornmeal (I used Bob’s Red Mill for this as well)

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 cup sugar

3/4 tsp salt

1 1/4 cups milk

1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled

1 large egg

For the topping

2 ripe peaches

1/2cup brown sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

Slice the peaches and combine with brown sugar and cinnamon in a medium bowl, or really just any container that can hold the mixture. Make sure to stir everything so that the peaches are coated in sugar and cinnamon. Put the whole thing in the refrigerator and let it sit for about 30 minutes. The sugar will draw the juices out of the peach slices and make a decadent syrup.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 and prepare your muffin tin. This means either greasing the pan, or preparing your muffin cups. I use silicone baking cups as they require no greasing and muffins never seem to stick to them.

Whisk together all the dry ingredients in a medium bowl (that’s the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt).

Now stir in your wet ingredients one at a time. I usually put the egg in first, then the milk, and then the butter, but the order doesn’t really matter. Stir until everything is combined. It’s ok if your batter is a little bit lumpy, just make sure you work out any major clumps.

cornbread pan

Spoon the batter into your muffin tin, filling each cup about 3/4 of the way. Top with two peach slices and a little drizzle of the peach syrup. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the edges of your muffins turn a nice golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool for at least 5 minutes before serving.

eat da cornbread

These muffins make a great breakfast treat, a wonderful desert, an awesome side dish… Can you tell how much I LOVE these muffins? Hurry up and make them while peaches are still in season!

Happy Baking!

 

Madeleines, Mes Amis!

There are two things I can’t get enough of: good food, and good books. I go to a Great Books college, so chances are if I’m not at work or in the kitchen I’m reading. Every book nerd has a favorite literary recipe. For some it’s Green Eggs & Ham, for others it’s Turkish Delight or a clam chowder worthy of Captain Ahab. Mine, is a bit on the pretentious side. I love madeleines. I have to say, however, that Proust has almost nothing to do with my love of these cookie-cake half-breeds.

Like Proust, biting into a madeleine brings back memories of my childhood. But, unlike Proust, I’ve never launched into an epic, whiney self pity party after eating one of these. Instead, madeleines make me think of one of my best friends (my sister-from-another-mister), Kelsey. We’ve been friends since the sixth grade. We studied French together, went to Paris together, and embarked on more than a few culinary adventures together. We’ve never actually made madeleines together, but they are a staple of every tea party we’ve had together (and yes, we have tea parties. You jealous?).

So, because I miss her so much (and because I can’t wait for her to visit me next month), I present to you…

Madeleine Prep

Madeleines À La Kelsey

1 cup sugar

3 eggs

The grated zest of 1 lemon

2 1/4 cups flour

1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

10 Tbsp butter, softened

1/3 cup milk

Softened butter and flour for madeleine molds

Yeah, you’re gonna need a madeleine mold for this one. There’s kinda no avoiding it, the classic madeleine shape is half of the experience. I bought a silicone mold and on the box it said that you don’t have to butter or flour the cups. I didn’t trust it so I buttered and floured the mold for the first batch I made. I tried baking the second batch without greasing the mold. The box did not lie! So, if you’re using a metal pan, make sure you butter and flour the mold so that your madeleines can pop out easily and beautifully. But if you’re using a silicone mold, you can skip that step.

Combine the sugar and eggs in a bowl and beat with a whisk or electric mixer until pale yellow and creamy. Add the zest and vanilla. Take a big whiff, this is my favorite part of making madeleines. The smell when the lemon and vanilla combine with the eggs and sugar is phenomenal! Add the flour and baking powder and beat until blended. Beat in the softened butter, and then the milk. Set the batter aside and let it rest for about 15 minutes.

maddy batter

While that’s resting, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

If you have a pastry bag, fit a plain  pastry tip onto it and fill the bag with the madeleine batter. If, like me, you don;t have a pastry bag, don’t sweat it. Take a zippy sandwich bag, fill it with madeleine batter, and snip off one of the bottom corners of the bag. Problem solved!

Pipe the batter into the madeleine molds, filling to just under the rim. Bake until golden, somewhere between 12 and 15 minutes.

Maddy in the pan

Unmold the madeleines immediately onto a cooling rack and make sure you let them cool completely. They will smell amazing and you will want to eat them right away. Be patient, they’re worth not burning your mouth.

Madeleines

I love to eat madeleines with a nice hot cup of Harney & Sons Paris tea blend. But they’re great unaccompanied. This recipe makes about 3 dozen madeleines so make sure you’ve got people to share them with. Or not. Treat yo’ self.

Happy baking!

 

 

Filthy Kitchen Confidential

I have a confession to make:

I hate grocery shopping.

You’d think someone who loves to cook and bake as much as I do would love the mere though of an entire store dedicated to food. But grocery stores are the worst. The florescent lights, long lines, crowded aisles, I can’t even with that.

My strong aversion to the supermart halls has led to some interesting days in my kitchen. Case in point, this morning. My internal dialogue went a little something like this:

I AM STARVING!

What can I make for breakfast?

[looks in refrigerator and pantry]

I HAVE NO FOOD!!!!

[thinks for a moment]

I think I have the makings of some pancakes.

Since when do I actually like pancakes? Since never.

Hmmm…

WAIT A MINUTE, I CAN MAKE BISCUITS!!

Katya, you’ve never made biscuits before in your life.

 

Enter Martha Stewart and her brilliantly simple biscuit recipe. Like seriously, these biscuits were the easiest things to make.

At the exact moment I had all the dry ingredients combined with the butter, it hit me– I was out of milk.

There was a brief moment of panic. I couldn’t just throw away the mixture in front of me. Using water instead just seemed wrong; I believe in biscuits having as much butter and fat in them as possible. What’s a girl to do?

Then I remembered my vegan roommate telling me to use up the coconut milk he’d left in our refrigerator while he’s out of town. Coconut milk has a fairly high fat content, it’s tasty, it just might be crazy enough to work in this recipe!

So this morning’s biscuit recipe ended up looking like this:

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour (I used the real stuff with gluten this time but I might try it gluten free next time around)

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

6 Tbsp chilled butter, cut into little pieces

1 1/2 tsp sea salt

3/4 cup coconut milk

 

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Butter or grease a baking sheet.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Using a fork, combine the butter with the dry ingredients until mixture resembles a coarse meal. If you’ve ever made a pie crust from scratch, this is basically the same technique. Slowly add the coconut milk, stirring with a fork until everything looks well combined and you have a somewhat sticky-looking dough.

Drop about 2 Tbsp dough onto the greased baking sheet (I like my biscuits to look like the ones pictured above. If you want more uniform, flaky biscuits you can knead the dough on a lightly floured surface, roll it out to about 3/4″, and then use a biscuit/cookie butter or a sturdy glass to make nice round biscuits). Bake for about 15 minutes, until your biscuits are golden. Let cool for a hot minute and then chow down!

Biscuits in the plate

 

Like I said, this was my first attempt at making biscuits and I learned a couple of things along the way. The flavor of the coconut milk really comes through in these biscuits (I like it a lot, but it’s definitely not your typical biscuit). I found I needed to add a little more salt than was called for in Martha’s recipe to compensate for that. I also took a page out of my mom’s book and added a little pat of butter to the top of each muffin about 5 minutes before removing them from the oven.

Also, I had no idea whether this experiment would work so it didn’t dawn on me to blog it until after the biscuits were done. Please excuse the lack of pictures.

In the spirit of using whatever I could find in my kitchen, I paired these little beauties with some jalapeño jelly I received as a Christmas present this year. SO TASTY!!

Eat dat biscuit

This was quite possibly the easiest breakfast I’ve made for myself in a while. It’s a really fast one to make, too. I’m adding these biscuits to my school-year arsenal. 8:30 classes, you don’t scare me at all!

Anyway, I hope y’all like these biscuits as much as I do. Let me know about any cool variations you come up with, or any tips you have for making them even better.

Happy baking!

Magical Hazelnut Make-It-Better Cookies!!

First of all, welcome to The Filthy Kitchen. I’m so excited you’re here!

Do you ever have those days or weeks where everything is just not very great? You’re burnt out and cranky, and can’t figure out where you left your positive outlook on life? I started this blog because baking is what helps me through those days and weeks (even when they turn into months). Oh, and Nutella. Nutella solves everything. Enter, our recipe of the week:

The fist time I made these cookies was an attempt at cheering up my boyfriend and roommates in the middle of a hard Chicago winter and a grueling semester at school. This week I made them to cheer myself up. I got the original recipe from Ambitious Kitchen and tweaked it so my vegan and gluten free friends could get in on the love.

Here are my Magical Hazelnut Make-It-Better Cookies:

To Make this recipe gluten free, I used Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Flour. It’s really versatile, easy to work with, and a lot easier and cheaper than trying to come up with my own mixture of alternative flours.

To make these cookies vegan, I used Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut butter. It’s vegan and gluten free, whereas Nutella contains milk. I also had to replace the egg in the original recipe. PETA and veganbaking.net have some really great cheat sheets and tips for substituting dairy products in baked goods. I chose to use the ground flaxseed and water method.

IMG_1345

Ingredients

1 cup vegan hazelnut spread

1/2 cup gluten free all-purpose flour

1 Tbsp ground flaxseed (I used Bob’s Red Mill for this, too)

3 Tbsp water

2 Tbsp brown sugar

Sea salt

Instructions

Combine the flaxseed meal with water and stir until the mixture becomes gelatinous. I find it works well to allow the mixture to sit for a couple of 30-45 second intervals in between stirring.

Combine flaxseed mixture, brown sugar, and hazelnut spread in a mixing bowl and beat until all the ingredients are combined.

IMG_1346

Slowly add the flour and mix until the dough begins to cling together. It’ll look something like this:

IMG_1347

Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 while dough is chilling.

Roll dough into small 1″ balls and place on a greased cookie sheet. I like to salt these puppies before and after they go into the oven but that’s more a matter of personal preference.

IMG_1348

Bake for 10 minutes, then press with a fork and continue to bake for another 5-7 minutes. Allow to cool for a couple of minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Generously sprinkle some sea salt on the cookies, and let cool for another 10minutes or so and then you’re ready to find your bliss!

IMG_1349

These cookies are nice and crispy on the outside but super fudgy in the inside. You can make them a little bigger as well but I like this size for dunking.

I’ve also made a batch of these that are thinner and crispier and go great with tea or ice cream. To achieve this, use about 2 Tbsp less flour and skip refrigeration. Depending on the time of year though (or whether or not you have air conditioning), you might want to freeze the dough for 10 minutes before baking. Spoon the dough onto the cookie sheet (it’ll be stickier and a little more difficult to roll into balls). Then just bake at 350 for ten minutes and let them cool on a wire rack. They’ll come out looking a little like this:

cookies.jpg

I hope you enjoy these as much as I do. Hit me up with any questions or comments.

Happy Baking!!!