Sunday, January 26, 2014

Fudgy No-Butter Brownies (gluten-free, dairy-free)

There are two things in life that scare me the most:

1. Sharks.

2. Baking without butter.

The name of this post makes me very uncomfortable. It's bold. It rattles every bone in my body. It goes against my senses and disturbs my taste buds. 

But it works.

This time, it actually works.

Gluten-free AND dairy-free brownies.

Not only no butter, but no added fat - no margarine (that would be worse than baking without butter!), no oil, no lard - just sugar, almonds, eggs, cocoa and chocolate. Oh.. and SALT.

Salt is a very important ingredient in here, otherwise they won't really taste all that chocolatey. Salt enhances sweets - don't be scared to add it to your baking!

These are moist, fudgy and dense like a proper brownie.

Having doubts? I don't blame you. I'd be sceptical. You should be sceptical. Then again, this is ME. Would I disgrace the brownie? Not a chance.

I have proof. Check these photos. It's legitimate - you can't fake fudgy.

Although they deliver on texture, the difference is that these brownies don't have that rich back-note without the fat to carry the flavour. BUT, that's where a heap of bittersweet chocolate chips come in. The batter has a mild sweet chocolatey almond flavour and the studs of extra dark chocolate lift it right up (and relieve my anxiety from the no butter situation). The salt is essential to enhance the cocoa, otherwise these would just taste sweet.

Whenever making cocoa brownies, here's what you need to know: use natural cocoa, not Dutch-processed. Natural cocoa has a more intense chocolate flavour that is true to real chocolate: bitter, fruity and well-rounded. Contrary to what you might think, cocoa brownies made with Dutched cocoa are very one dimensional and a bit bland if I may be so bold. It is often praised for its rich attractive colour, but like anything in life, looks aren't everything and don't judge a book by its cover. Now that's a life lesson brought to you by chocolate if I ever heard one!

So how does a brownie get fudgy with no butter and no melted chocolate? Seems impossible.

The tricks:

Icing sugar.

Extra egg white.

Heaps of almond meal.

Icing sugar dissolves instantly into the batter to create a syrup that keeps it moist.

An extra egg white boosts the protein to create a chewy texture and also adds moisture.

Almonds are a source of carbohydrate, protein and fat (good-for-you monounsaturated oils). They add structure in a way that cement does, but it does not add height or stiffness in the way that wheat flour would. Almonds are also a great source of dietary fiber, vitamin E, B vitamins and loads of minerals.

These No-Butter Brownies are a one-bowl job.

First icing sugar, cocoa, almonds and salt are combined in a large bowl. Eggs, white, water and vanilla go in and get a stir. This batter is thick! A couple of tablespoons of water help to dissolve the sugar and bring it together. Don't think of using a whisk for this - a wooden spoon will do.

Gorgeous bittersweet chocolate buttons want in on this too. Stir them in and then bake for 25 minutes - like any good 8-inch brownie does.

I usually advocate cooling brownies completely before serving to get the most of their fudgyness, but I break that rule here. Eating these a bit warm while the dark chocolate is melty is top notch. Dig in, burn your fingers, make a mess - it's OK.

If no butter means you can eat three times more (which it probably doesn't), I support that. Let's just let it happen.

Fudgy No-Butter Brownies (gluten-free, dairy-free)
Makes 16 brownies

2 cups (300 g) icing/confectioner’s sugar
2/3 cup (56 g) unsweetened natural cocoa powder
200 g (about 2 cups) ground almonds/almond meal
½ tsp salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 large egg white
2 tbsp water
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
5 oz (about 2/3 cup) best quality dark chocolate chips or chopped bittersweet chocolate, plus extra for topping

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom and sides of an 8×8-inch pan with parchment paper, letting it hang over the edges of pan.

Sift icing sugar and cocoa into a large mixing bowl. Add almond meal and salt and stir to combine. Add whole eggs, egg white, water and vanilla extract and stir until smooth. The batter will be thick. Stir through bittersweet chocolate.

Scrape batter into your prepared pan, smooth the top and scatter extra chocolate over top. Bake until a shiny crust forms and a skewer inserted into the center comes out with a few moist sticky bits, about 25-30 minutes.

Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cool slightly. For neat slices, let cool completely before slicing.

Pin It


  1. They do still look very good!

  2. I am gluten free and grain free. I follow your blog because the science behind the baking is fascinating to me (thanks, Biology degree/Med School). I bake your treats for my husband - who eats all things grains, gluten and taco bell. I could not be more excited to try this one, as I am sure it will impress the picky hubs. I do find that brownies are the easiest thing to make gluten/grain free, as they traditionally use less flour. Good thing brownies are my second favorite dessert, the first being creme brulee :) I will report back!

  3. well...I like that it is gluten free, I am not afraid of butter and don't think it is harmful .. all that sugar on the other hand is much much worse for you than the butter would be. How about a recipe with almond flour, butter, and stevia ?? :-)

    1. You can't really say that sugar is much worse for you than butter - some people cannot live if they don't consume enough sugar. Every individual is different. Remember that 2 cups of icing sugar is equal to 1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar in weight, so it is on par with the amount of sugar in most great brownie recipes. More importantly, sugar is required as a functional ingredient in this recipe to contribute the moist, chewy texture. Stevia would not work in this case.

  4. I love butter. But I love brownies more! These look perfect!

  5. Love the use of almond flour - adds protein too!

  6. agreed with another commenter - sugar really is not at all good for you, not worth compromising on fat our body needs, as you put it.

    1. HI, thanks for your comment. Again, sugar is required for function here - it's Science baby!

  7. To preface: I never really comment on blogs; rather, I usually just steal the recipes and then post them to my Pinterest (which acts as a surprisingly beautiful and functional recipe catalog).

    And yet, here I find myself, woozy on sugar and blissfully typing away on your comment section. These, ma'am, are deeply chocolatey with a wonderful--and surprising!--texture. You were entirely correct in hypothesizing that the salt would be a key ingredient to counteract all the sugar and round out the chocolate notes. Cut into heart shapes, these brownies will be the perfect Act 1 for my Valentine's Day plans. I'll definitely report back with tasting notes and reactions from my boyfriend! :]

    1. I had no doubt these would deliver. I hope these help you score some points with the boyfriend! xo

  8. Hi.. I tried your recipe and really pleased with the result .. got fudgy chewy brownies :) I would like to post these in my blog ( ) with due credits given to you.. Hope it is ok with you... Thanks..

  9. ahhhhhh noooo! I just ran out of almonds [making almond meal for a recipe ironically] -- I cannot wait to buy more so I can try these! You're brilliant! These will be perfect for my GF DF little brother! Thanks!

    1. That's lovely! I'm sure he'll appreciate that very much.

  10. These were amazing! My son has a severe dairy allergy, and I'm so pleased to be able to replicate a "brownie experience" for him. Thank you for the great recipe.


You might also want to check out...

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...