Emma Laperruque's Nutella Buckwheat Brownies

Buckwheat Nutella Brownies

I have been feeling a little...fragile as of late. For example, this obituary made me cry. This book that I finished last night left me with the most sickening case of existential dread. I went into the boys' room this morning for a morning snuggle, but one boy was happily reading in his top bunk and the other was far too busy setting up Playmobil knights for something as silly as snuggling, so I had to start my day snuggle-less. Who cares, right? Reader, the heartache, I tell you. Sometimes I don't think I'll ever be prepared for the heartbreak of them growing up.

The sun has come out in full force this week, despite freezing temperatures at night. We're having the kind of blindingly bright, blue-skied days, still bundled up in warm coats and sweaters, that I normally associate with New England in early fall. Today, driving Hugo to school, I stopped at an intersection and the haze from the sun was so bright, I momentarily thought I was in Vermont.

What to do when one feels exceedingly wobbly? Besides going out into the sunshine for a long walk, I mean. I was thinking about that today as I cooked our lunch: an onion in hot olive oil, slivered canned plum tomatoes dropped in one after the other, the salting of pasta water, the reducing of the sauce. Laying out the plates and forks, digging out the parmigiano from the depths of the fridge. Cooking pasta with tomato sauce does seem to be one of my most foolproof therapies. The mellowing onion, the starchy fug, it all ends up being self-parenting alchemy.

Nutella Buckwheat Brownies

But! I am not actually here to tell you about the healing powers of tomato sauce! I am here to tell you about these 3-ingredient brownies, which—if the world is a just place—should be the next viral recipe to sweep the planet, like that baked feta situation earlier this year. The brownies are made with Nutella, eggs and buckwheat flour. That's it if you don't count salt, but flaky salt is essential to their success, so make sure you have some when you make these.

The Nutella and eggs are whisked together until smooth, then you stir in the buckwheat flour. You scrape this rather stiff mixture into your prepared pan, then sprinkle with flaky salt. The brownies emerge from the oven with that gorgeous crinkly top and the perfectly fudgy consistency. Now I have to make one thing clear: if you know buckwheat flour, you're familiar with its assertive flavor. Hugo and I love it and the combination of the chocolate-hazelnut spread and the earthy, grassy buckwheat turns the brownies into something truly unique. Hugo couldn't stop raving. "These are the best brownies ever," he eventually said (after brownie #5 or 6). They're pretty great. The other two members of our family, who are decidedly less enamored of buckwheat, didn't quite love them as much.

You don't have to use buckwheat flour. You could use teff flour, if you wanted to stay gluten-free, or regular flour, though I suspect they could end up a bit too cloying. The buckwheat adds a hearty, almost savory note. And the consistency! I didn't believe it could be possible with just those three ingredients, but it was perfect.

Gluten-Free Nutella Buckwheat Brownies

What do you do when you're feeling wobbly, dear readers? In case it's making brownies, well, here you go and hugs to you.

Note: This post includes affiliate links and I may earn a commission if you purchase through them, at no cost to you. I use affiliate links only for products I love and companies I trust. Thank you.

Emma Perruque's Nutella Buckwheat Brownies
Makes 12-16 brownies

1 1/4 cups (370 grams) Nutella
2 large eggs
1/2 cup
(60 grams) buckwheat flour
Flaky salt (optional)

1. Heat the oven to 350°F/180°C. Line an 8-inch/20-cm square baking pan with parchment, with overhang on two sides.

2. Combine the Nutella and eggs in a bowl and stir until smooth. Add the flour and stir again until smooth. Spread into the prepared pan. Sprinkle with salt if you’re using it.

3. Bake for about 20 minutes until puffy, crackly, and a cake tester inserted near the corner comes out clean.


Genevieve Ko's Whole-Grain Banana Yogurt Muffins

Genevieve Ko's Whole-Grain Banana Yogurt Muffins

I would like to paint a quick picture for you. I am sitting at my computer which is set up on our dining table in our dining room. I call it our dining room because there's a big table that seats many people in it and if we host a party or special dinner or have people over for tea, that's where we go. But it's also my work space. And obviously, we haven't hosted anyone in quite a long time, so the dining table has turned into a repository of my work, the ubiquitous tangle of tech wires and bills overlapping with Hugo's loose leaf papers and school folders, since this is also where he ends up when school is online. Today, in this second week of Easter vacation, Hugo has a friend over and while the three boys dutifully played in the boys' room all morning, they migrated here sometime around lunch. Now, as I sit here, the sounds of fierce battles of the lionhearted knights in their carefully constructed forts reverberating all around me, I am trying to compose this post.

I often think about what I'll miss when the children are grown. I anticipate the heartache I'll feel about not having their soft, floppy limbs and sweet milky cheeks and their delicate voices around anymore, but I also find myself wondering about which things I won't miss. Will there be things I won't miss? It's hard to imagine. (Actually, wait, cleaning bottoms, that I will not miss.) Even now, when I'm trying to work and I can barely think straight, it thrills me to hear them playing, so engrossed in their world, the little snippets of phrase that are directly lifted from our own conversations. It makes me happy to listen to them, to think that they chose this room in order to be close to me, that they still are so unselfconscious and free to lose themselves in their role playing, the way their manners, that we spend so much time drilling into them and often despair over, do reliably rise to the surface when a friend is there and they suddenly know how to be generous and kind and polite without any prodding.

But, just to be clear, writing these two paragraphs has taken me over almost two hours. Every time a thought comes to me, it competes with the noise and the noise usually wins. It's all fine and good to wax poetic about the joys of small children, but when it comes to writing and finding the space and silence I need to write things more involved than a blog post, I am usually at the end of my rope. Yesterday, Max took the children to his parents' for the day and I spent hours (hours!) working on my novel and it felt so good, so deeply, satisfyingly good. Will I, one day, when they are grown, miss the way they kept me from the work I wanted so desperately to do? I like to think I won't, but I am a sentimental goon and I can very much see myself weeping over precisely this one day in the far-off future. Motherhood is a kick in the pants, isn't it.

But enough about me. Let's get to the muffins before any more time goes by. These muffins! I love them so. They are so very...muffin-y. You know how most muffins are basically just cupcakes? These muffins are muffins. They're wholesome and not too sweet (well, the way I make them, at least) and they use up overripe bananas and they're very nice made with regular whole-wheat flour and they're very nice made with a GF blend. The yogurt, honey and oil make them incredibly moist and tender, with only a faint tanginess. The recipe comes from Genevieve Ko, talented recipe developer, my old Forest Hills neighbor, and newly made senior editor at the New York Times Food section. Hooray!

In the photo above, I used only coconut to sprinkle them with, but usually I'll do a mix of black sesame seeds on some, pumpkin seeds on others, and coconut on the remaining ones and the combination of variously topped muffins on the serving platter at breakfast is so very pretty. I've been making these muffins for a few years now and they never fail to deliver. The original recipe calls for twice as much sugar as I use. With less sugar, the flavors of the other ingredients come through more and I think it makes the muffins taste better.

The two older boys have left for the playground now, and the little one is left behind. He's working on the castle they abandoned and he is very focused, his lower lip pushed out in concentration, sitting in the pool of sunlight that is cast over the sprawl of toys. It is quiet once again, for a moment or two. I can feel the détente within myself. How long will it last? It's not a question to ask or answer now, when every second counts.

Whole-Grain Banana Yogurt Muffins
Makes 12 muffins
Note: To make these gluten-free, replace the whole-wheat flour with 75 grams oat flour, 50 grams of sorghum flour and 25 grams of all-purpose gluten-free flour.
Print this recipe!

1 1/4 cups/150 grams whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (from about 2 large bananas)
1/2 cup/120 milliliters plain whole-milk yogurt
1 large egg
1/3 cup/65 grams light brown sugar
1/4 cup/60 milliliters neutral oil, like sunflower or canola
1/4 cup/60 milliliters honey
Rolled oats, seeds, chopped nuts or grated coconut, for sprinkling (optional)

1. Heat oven to 375°F/190°C. Line a 12-cup standard muffin tin with paper liners or generously grease (with nonstick cooking spray or butter).

2. In a large bowl, whisk the flour(s), baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk the bananas, yogurt, egg, brown sugar, oil and honey until just smooth.

3. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and gently stir just until no streaks of flour remain. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups. Sprinkle on toppings if you’d like.

4. Bake until a toothpick inserted into a center muffin comes out clean, 20 to 23 minutes.

5. Cool in the tin on a rack for 5 minutes, unmold and cool completely or serve warm.


The Bojon Gourmet's Gluten-Free Teff Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies with Walnuts and Cranberries

Teff Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies with Walnuts and Cranberries

Let's talk about good things today.

  1. Call My Agent. A television show (4 seasons) set in a Paris film agency called ASK (Agence Samuel Kerr) that includes real-like movie stars (think Isabelle Huppert, Monica Bellucci, Juliette Binoche) playing themselves as clients of the agency. We just finished watching last night and oh, how we enjoyed it! It felt like a little trip to Paris every night. My favorite characters were Noémie and Hervé, two quirky assistants who both undergo a transformation during their time at ASK. It was the best kind of escapist television, funny, interesting, fashionable and a little bit sexy. Also, PARIS.

  2. This Must Be the Place by Maggie O'Farrell. Like so many others, I'm having a hard time concentrating on novels these days. I have a pretty strict rule about not forcing myself to finish books that I'm not enjoying. There's too much good stuff to get through and I figure that those books' readers are somewhere out there and they don't always have to be me. But then came This Must Be the Place. It took me a long time to get into it. I thought about giving up multiple times. And I don't know why I didn't. Something made me keep going. Then about halfway through the book, one of the chapters just...resonated. Right in my heart. I reread it three times. It made me rethink my own novel (yes, it still exists! sob!) and gave me a whole new perspective on an integral relationship that was stumping me completely. Just thinking about the chapter now gives me goosebumps! This is all to say that I'm so glad I listened to the little cosmic voice that told me to keep going.

  3. Everything is Fine. A podcast that was started by Kim France and Tally Abecassis for women over 40. (Tally recently left the show and has been replaced by Jennifer Romolini.) I've enjoyed every episode that Kim and Tally hosted, but there are a few standouts you definitely shouldn't miss. The episode with Emily Flake was hilarious, the episode with Stacy London was unexpectedly enlightening, I'm still thinking about the episode with Claire Dederer, I have mentioned Ann Kreamer's episode on going gray before, but it is just so good, and an early one with Andrea Linett, about getting dressed, is also a delight. Basically, listen to them all. They're a burst of joy - wise, funny, smart, interesting, occasionally wrenching joy - and listening to them makes me feel less alone.

  4. Willow Crossley. Willow's an English florist with a lovely Instagram account. She has given me more confidence with flowers and bulbs than anyone/anything else. She's adorable and bubbly and talks about flowers as if they were people. She demystifies flower arranging and bulb planting so effortlessly. (For those of us with black thumbs especially!) Her IG Lives are a highlight of my week and I currently have no less than three pots of Willow-inspired bulbs in terrines and planters going in my house right now.

  5. Cody Rigsby's rides.

  6. These brilliant cookies from Alanna Tobin-Taylor, the blogger at The Bojon Gourmet and the author of Alternative Baker, which won an IACP award in the Health and Special Diet category a few years ago. Their base is teff flour and tapioca starch, then you pack in rolled oats, toasted walnuts (hello lovers!) and chocolate chunks. You could leave them like this, but I added dried cranberries (sour cherries would work, too) because I love those kitchen sink cookies that are just packed full of all kinds of chewy delights. Oatmeal cookies just need a little fruity burst to balance out the buttery toastiness of the oats, don't you think? Anyway, Alanna's gluten-free cookie recipes are marvelous. They taste and feel, texture-wise, just like regular cookies. No grittiness, no weird textures. Just a chewy, crunchy, toasty, malty, delicious cookie that everyone can enjoy.

What's bringing you joy and comfort this week? Please, please share in the comments!

Teff Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Note: This post includes affiliate links and I may earn a commission if you purchase through them, at no cost to you. I use affiliate links only for products I love and companies I trust. Thank you.

The Bojon Gourmet's Teff Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies with Walnuts and Cranberries
Adapted from Alternative Baker
Makes 20 cookies
Note: For extra dense, chewy cookies, give the pan a few firm raps on the counter when you pull them from the oven.
Print this recipe!

8 tbsp (113 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (80 g) packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup (50 g) organic granulated cane sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4
cup (100 g) teff flour
1/4 cup (27 g) tapioca flour/starch
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup (90 g) old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
6 ounces (170 g) coarsely chopped bittersweet chocolate (60-70%)
3/4 cup (90 g) walnuts, toasted, cooled, coarsely chopped
Handful dried cranberries

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a baking mat.

2. Place the cooled butter in a large bowl. Whisk in the two sugars. Then whisk in the egg and vanilla.

3. Sift the teff flour, tapioca flour and sea salt over the sugar mixture. Stir vigorously to combine thoroughly. Stir in the oats, chopped chocolate, walnuts and cranberries. (If you need the time, you can let this mixture stand for 2 hours before baking.)

4. Scoop the dough (about 2 tablespoons per cookie) onto the prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Bake the cookies until the edges are golden and the tops are set, about 10-15 minutes. 

5. Remove the sheet and place on a cooling rack. Repeat with the second sheet and remaining batch of cookie dough. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.


Ovenly's Flourless Salted Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Gluten-Free Salted Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

As you may know from following me on Instagram, I am now the proud mother of a gluten-free brown rice sourdough starter. The recipe comes from Aran Goyoaga's truly incredible cookbook Cannelle et Vanille, which she so kindly sent to me a few weeks ago. I've used it to make my first loaves of delicious gluten-free sourdough bread and a batch of gluten-free sourdough waffles. It's total gold. As soon as I get my hands on some metal rings, I'm making sourdough English muffins from this book, which I'm also enjoying immensely. What this means, though, is that I've been up to my eyeballs in gluten-free flours and cookbooks and have had my hands full with very project-y baking lately. I haven't had much time leftover for the random batch of cookies-for-when-the-mood-strikes-you.

And sometimes you need to make a random batch of cookies just because the mood strikes you, you know?

I had one of those moods yesterday and these cookies made with just one handful of ingredients (peanut butter, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, salt) very much fit the bill. They're whipped up in minutes, bake up in no time and manage to scratch that very particular itch for something chewy, sweet-salty and delicious. They're best made with commercial peanut butter, not natural. They're flourless, making them perfect for that gluten-avoidant person in your life, but also just as delicious if you're not avoiding gluten. I added chocolate chips because I saw Chika do it and while I rarely attain any level of Chika-ness in my baked goods, this was one triumphant moment where I could. And the sprinkle of flaky salt on top is a must must must because without the salt, they veer too much into peanut butter cup territory, whereas the salt sort of slaps them into a slightly more grown-up posture. (Slightly.)

Flourless Salted Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

I made a half-batch and I made pretty small cookies, just two inches, really, and I'm very glad I did so - these cookies pack a punch and I think they're best enjoyed in small amounts. But the recipe is easily doubled if you need a larger quantity or larger cookies. This recipe is hugely popular online, so maybe most of you already know about it! If so, forgive me! This is for the ten people out there who haven't yet. Much gratitude goes to Deb, who did the arduous work of converting the original recipe to grams. Eagle-eyed readers among you will notice that in the recipe below there are only gram measurements and not cups. This is because it is a hassle and a half to measure out peanut butter and I would like to encourage you to use your scale more often! This is the perfect example of a recipe in which a scale is far preferable to other forms of measurement.

Also! If you have an ice cream scoop for scooping cookies, this is a good time to use it! It will make your cookies look prettier than my misshapen little lumps up there. 

Finally! One final note! Before you go! Of course, these cookies are lovely when still eaten warm, and it is hard to resist, I know. The whole point of the recipe is to make cookies quickly so you can have them in your belly quickly, right? But believe me when I tell you that the completely cooled cookies are MORE DELICIOUS than the warm ones! I don't know why! They get caramelly and fudgy and the chew is more irresistible and the salt notes hit differently and I'm telling you, if you can, WAIT to eat these. Or eat them warm, fine, but save some for the next day because you'll be so happy you did.

Note: This post includes affiliate links and I may earn a commission if you purchase through them, at no cost to you. I use affiliate links only for products I love and companies I trust. Thank you.

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Ovenly's Flourless Salted Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Yield: About 18 small cookies
Note: These can be made with different nut butters, but won't hold their shape as well. The recipe is easily doubled.
Print this recipe!

170 grams light brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
225 grams smooth peanut butter (processed, not natural)
Handful semisweet chocolate chips (optional)
Coarse-grained sea salt, to finish

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the light brown sugar and egg until smooth. Whisk in the vanilla extract, then the peanut butter until smooth and completely incorporated. The dough will thicken up as you whisk. Stir in the chocolate chips.

3. Scoop or spoon the dough into mounds and place on prepared sheet. Sprinkle the cookies lightly with coarse-grained sea salt. Bake cookies for 14 to 15 minutes or until the edges are just golden. Remove from the oven and place the sheet on a cooling rack for 10 minutes to let them firm up. Then transfer the cookies directly onto the rack. The cookies will keep in an airtight container for a few days.


Yossy Arefi's Simple Sesame Cake

Gluten-Free Simple Sesame Cake

I've been baking my way through Yossy Arefi's Snacking Cakes, a cookbook which came out last year. It's an excellent book, the kind that should just take up residence on your kitchen counter because it'll get used so much. The cakes are modest, one-bowl, one-pan affairs, but they're drop-dead delicious. Buckwheat Banana Cake. Pumpkin Olive Oil Cake. Buttermilk Spice Cake. Seeded Zucchini Cake. Minty Chocolate Malt Cake. You'll want to make every single one.

To qualify as a snacking cake, I believe it must be easy to make, with ingredients you mostly already have in your pantry, and requiring only one bowl. Maybe two. You want the making of the cake to soothe you as much as the eating of the cake. Nothing to mess up. No fussy preparation. Just the best kind of mindless baking where you're guaranteed something delicious in an hour or two.

I love this book's extremely narrow focus paired with its impressive breadth of offerings. There's a cake for every mood, every season, every occasion. (I was going to say short of a wedding, but the truth is I would happily eat one of these as a wedding cake, especially if it was a chic City Hall wedding or a crazy Vegas one. Case in point: Grapefruit White Chocolate Cake? Strawberry-Glazed Passion Fruit Cake? Sticky Whiskey Date Cake? I mean.)

Seeing as very few of us have "occasions" to bake for at the moment, I would like to underline the fact that I believe that it is very, very important to have cakes like this in your house at all times right now. They are for breakfast, they are for tea, they stand in for breakfast or as a special dessert—when dessert is usually fruit—they are good eaten standing up and they are good eaten sitting down. The Germans have a word for the food you eat when you're stressed and that word is Nervenfutter (nerve chow) (it's pronounced NAIR-fenn-foot-er). Snacking cakes are the quintessence of Nervenfutter.

Simple Sesame Cake

Now to this particular cake, the Simple Sesame Cake. It's made with tahini and two kinds of sesame seeds (which I had in my pantry anyway; if you only have regular sesame, not black, just do the cake with those). I substituted 1/4 cup oat flour and 1 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour blend for the all-purpose flour (in fact, have done so in every recipe from this book that I've tried) and the results were velvety and perfect. Max can't stop marveling over the crumb. There's the faintest hint of bitterness from the tahini, and it's so lovely against the almost creamy crumb punctuated with all those tiny little sesame seeds.

If you're a cake pan butterer, then you can strew some of the sesame seeds onto the sides of the pan to truly encrust the entire cake in sesame, but I am an avowed non-butterer of pans, so I just scattered them thickly on top. I love the effect of the black and white sesame together and the gorgeous little crunch from the raw sugar on top. Up until now, the children have competed with us for pieces of each snacking cake I've made. For whatever reason, this one is a little too grown-up for them (it's like a grown-up peanut butter flavor), so we get to eat all of it ourselves.

All hail the snacking cake!

Gluten-Free Sesame Snacking Cake

Note: This post includes affiliate links and I may earn a commission if you purchase through them, at no cost to you. I use affiliate links only for products I love and companies I trust. Thank you.

Yossy Arefi's Simple Sesame Cake
Adapted from Snacking Cakes
Makes
one 9-inch loaf cake
To make this cake gluten-free, replace the all-purpose flour with 1/4 cup oat flour and 1 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour blend.
Print this recipe!

6 tablespoons (50 grams) sesame seeds (white, black or mixed), divided
3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup (120 milliliters) whole milk
1/2 cup (120 milliliters) well-stirred tahini
1/4 cup (60 milliliters) neutral vegetable oil, such as canola or grapeseed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/4 cups (160 grams) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon raw sugar, optional

1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Line a standard-sized loaf pan with parchment paper, letting the sides hang over to create a sling.

2. In a large bowl, whisk the granulated sugar and the egg until pale and foamy, about 1 minute. Add the milk, tahini, oil, vanilla and salt. Whisk until smooth. Add the flour(s), 3 tablespoons of the sesame seeds, the baking powder and baking soda. Whisk until well combined.

3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, tap the pan gently on the counter to release any air bubbles, and smooth the top with a spatula. Sprinkle the remaining 3 tablespoons of sesame seeds on top of the cake and, if using, the raw sugar.

4. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the cake is puffed and golden, and a cake tester or skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.

5. Transfer the cake to a wire rack and let cool for about 15 minutes. Use the parchment overhang to lift the cake out of the pan and let cool completely before slicing and serving.


David Lebovitz's Gluten-Free Chocolate Tahini Brownies

Gluten-Free Tahini Brownies
 
Beep. Boop. Hello. I thought maybe you could use a panful of brownies today. Couldn't we all?
 
I have been looking forward to telling you about these brownies. For a very long time, I am more than chagrined to admit, I couldn't quite grasp the concept of tahini in baked goods. Tahini, in my limited mind, just wouldn't budge from its savory pedestal, where I associated with falafel or grain salads or maybe a nice little yogurt sauce, but nothing more. How terribly basic, I know!
 
Luckily, one day this past fall, a friend brought me a tahini chocolate chip cookie and who knows why this particular cookie flipped the switch, but it did. I ate it, the nutty richness flooded my mouth, the heavens opened, angels sang, etc etc. Oh, it was a wonderful moment. (2020 was also the year I finally learned to love halva, so who knows, I guess I'm a late sesame bloomer.)

In case you are still looking for a gateway into the world of baking with tahini, you must start with these brownies, which are a combination of these two recipes: David Lebovitz's and Bon Appétit's. They are gluten-free, yes, made with cornstarch instead of flour, which makes them fudgy and chewy as can be, and you will love them even if you're not avoiding gluten, pinky promise. A tablespoon of tahini is beaten into the batter, bolstering the texture a bit, and then the remaining tahini is mixed with syrup and marbled throughout.
 
I am usually agnostic when it comes to nuts in brownies, but I feel quite strongly that they are non-negotiable here. You can use walnuts, pecans or almonds, but they must be toasted. Must! The recipe below calls for 1/2 cup of nuts, for those who are just dipping their toes into nutty brownie territory, but if you like nuts in your brownies, you can bump it up to a full cup.
 
Once baked, the sandy tahini swirl, the warm crunch of the toasted nuts and the deliciously fudgy crumb of the brownie all add up to create a spectacular treat that is surprisingly sophisticated for something as crowd-pleasing as a brownie. I never cut these babies larger than 16 little squares, because they pack quite a punch. Even Hugo, who is a purist and a traditionalist when it comes to brownies, loves them. I hope you do too.
 
Next up, miso cookies?
 
Gluten-Free Chocolate Tahini Brownies
Makes 16 brownies
 
6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter
8 ounces (225 grams) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup (150 grams) sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons tahini, divided
3 tablespoons (30 grams) cornstarch
1/2 cup (70 grams) almonds or walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon brown rice syrup or agave syrup
1. Line an 8-inch (23 cm) square pan with parchment paper and let the paper come up to the rim of the pan to function as a sling after baking. Preheat the oven to 350º (180ºC).
2. Melt the butter and chocolate in a small saucepan over very low heat on the stove top, stirring constantly until smooth.
3. In a medium-sized bowl, beat together the sugar, eggs and salt. Whisk in 1 tablespoon of tahini and the cornstarch.
4. Scrape the chocolate mixture into the bowl and whisk vigorously until completely smooth, for about a minute.
5. Fold in the nuts, if using, then scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
6. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 3 tablespoons tahini with the brown rice or agave syrup. Dollop this mixture over the top of the brownie batter, then swirl through the batter with a knife or skewer.
7. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until the brownies feel just set in the center. Do not overbake. Remove from oven and let cool completely before removing from the pan and cutting into squares. The brownies will keep in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

Erin Jeanne McDowell's Gluten-Free Apple Butter Loaf Cake

Gluten-Free Apple Butter Loaf Cake

I know that there is nothing more tedious than reading about other people's special diets, but I'm going to be posting about gluten-free baking more frequently here and I would like to explain the shift. I'll try to keep things brief, but obviously, if you have questions about any of it, please feel free to ask away below.

I recently stopped eating gluten for good. It was a long time coming. Several years ago, after the fog of my second pregnancy lifted, I noticed lots of persistent and painful digestive symptoms. On my doctor's advice, I tried eliminating various foods out of my diet. The most noticeable difference happened when I stopped eating gluten, but, I mean, I love gluten. I LOVE IT. I love eating it and baking with it, bread and pies and pasta and toast and cakes and cookies and and and...I really just didn't want it to be true. Plus, some pesky and particularly worrying symptoms remained regardless of what I ate or didn't eat.

I ended up having a colonoscopy, during which a pretty large precancerous polyp was discovered and removed. It was a scary experience. The handsome gastroenterologist, who'd been a little scornful about why I was showing up for a colonoscopy at the age of 40, turned white as a sheet after the procedure and told me that my GP, who had insisted on the colonoscopy despite my young age, had saved my life. Uh, yay? Around the same time, I was diagnosed with stress-related gastritis. During the endoscopy for that, I was tested for celiac disease, which turned out to be negative, thankfully.

I took a course of antibiotics for the gastritis and tried to reduce my stress (ha ha haaaa) and things slowly calmed down. Still, even when all the scary stuff was out of the way, I still dealt regularly with pain and bloating and other unpleasant things. I tried the FODMAP diet for a while, which sort of helped. I tried replacing all regular bread with sourdough, which also sort of helped. But eventually, I cut gluten out entirely, and it has made a world of difference. In fact, it made me realize for just how long I'd been dealing with digestive pain, anxiety and distress. It long predates having children, that's for sure.

So that's that. I don't have celiac, but I do have gluten intolerance. I've stopped eating gluten, but luckily, I don't have to worry too much about cross-contamination. For example, when we have pasta for dinner, I make regular pasta for my family and gluten-free pasta for me, but when I have to test the pasta, I know that half a wheat noodle isn't going to hurt me. But I recently ate a piece of regular birthday cake at Bruno's birthday (how bad could it be to have just one piece?) and I was in so much pain and discomfort the next day that I really regretted it (damn, it was a good piece of cake, though).

Going gluten-free without celiac disease isn't a terrible hardship. Good-quality gluten-free pasta and bread isn't that hard to find anymore (and I'm lucky enough to live sort of close to the most amazing gluten-free sourdough bakery called Aera) and I have loved the challenge of discovering the huge variety of Asian noodles that are naturally gluten-free, as well as cooking more with rice and other gluten-free grains. But gluten-free baking really is a whole other ball of wax.

As I wrote on Instagram the other day, after a lifetime of home baking, it's been humbling, to say the least, to dip my toes into the waters of gluten-free baking. So much trial and error. So many failed experiments. What I have realized is that my only goal, really, is to learn to make gluten-free things that are delicious in their own right and that people will want to eat even if they aren't gluten-intolerant.

Gluten-Free Apple Butter Sweet Bread

Which means that now I can finally get to the thing I really wanted to tell you about! This cake!

The recipe originally comes from the self-titled baking fairy godmother herself, Erin Jeanne McDowell, and isn't gluten-free to start with, but I fiddled with the ingredients a little bit (after an ill-fated experiment with a different applesauce cake that was so sandy as to be rather repulsive) and ended up with a cake so tender and lovely that we couldn't stop eating it. It was my tea break cake and Hugo's breakfast cake for nearly a week! It's the kind of cake that you want living on your counter permanently, with a velvety crumb, a wonderfully chewy-crunchy top and a whole lot of cozy flavor.

You'll need apple butter, which I make every fall after we go apple picking, using this brilliant recipe. This year I made the apple butter in the Instant Pot, which made things go so much quicker, so I very much recommend that little shortcut. You'll also need an all-purpose gluten-free flour blend. I use one from Schär, because it's what I can get at my local grocery store here. Two things I've learned from kind commenters and some reading is that adding a little bit of oat flour to a gluten-free cake or cookie can help provide a better, less gritty crumb and that it's essential to let gluten-free cake batter (and other baking mixtures, I assume) sit a bit to hydrate the flours properly. I reduced the amount of sugar from the original and I think it's the perfect amount of sweet.

Below you'll find the recipe as I made it (the original is here). I hope you like it as much as we did. Next time, I'll try folding in a handful of walnuts and the time after that, a handful of fresh cranberries. (If you stick to the original recipe, I still think you can leave out the brown sugar entirely.)

And if you have any tips or tricks or favorite gluten-free recipes or sites or books to recommend, have at it in the comments! I'd be so grateful.

Gluten-Free Apple Butter Loaf Cake
Makes one 9-inch loaf cake
Print the recipe!

1 cup/130 grams all-purpose gluten-free flour blend
½ cup/60 grams oat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
½ cup/120 milliliters vegetable oil
½ cup/100 grams granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
¾ cup/180 milliliters apple butter
¼ cup/60 milliliters plain yogurt
1 1/2 tablespoons turbinado sugar, or to taste

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 Celsius) and line a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, oat flour, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and salt to combine. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, whisk the oil and sugar until well combined. Add the eggs one at a time and whisk well after each addition to incorporate. Whisk in the vanilla extract.

3. Add the flour mixture and stir just to combine. Add the apple butter and yogurt and mix well to incorporate. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top. Set aside to rest for 8-10 minutes.

4. Sprinkle the surface of the loaf generously with turbinado sugar. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 45 to 55 minutes. Let cool for 20 minutes in the pan, then, using the parchment paper as a sling, pull the cake out onto a rack to cool completely before slicing and serving. The cake, loosely wrapped with plastic wrap, will last at room temperature for five days.