After living in the suburbs for so many years, it’s hard not to be enticed and a little overwhelmed with the endless events and opportunities in the city; Out doing errands the other weekend I walked right into a Dance Parade down Broadway and a Street Fair up 3rd Ave. Sunday morning, my sister and I woke up with a laundry list (literally) of things we wanted to do. We knew we had to do grocery shopping, some food prep, and many loads of laundry, but we also wanted to fit in a little more fun before the start of the work week. When we looked at our list of things to do we know it was ambitious, and in hindsight trying to pack so much into a Sunday was just too much. By the time I got into bed Sunday night I needed another weekend to recover. I want to take advantage of all that New York has to offer, but I also realize how important is it to pick and choose, making sure to build in rest time to both recover and “fill up” so I have energy for my week. It’s definitely going to take some time and trial and error to learn the best way to plan my weekends.
I recently gained access to the New York Times digital subscription, the only problem being that it’s definitely not helping with my feeling of having too little time. I’m not naturally drawn to political articles, but I’m making an effort to stay up to date with election news. The Monday morning following that busy weekend, I came across this article about Hilary Clinton. The article wasn’t at all what I expected, and it reinforced exactly what I needed to hear about creating time for myself. In the article, the author discusses the importance of creating “sanctuaries” outside of work- in play, solitude, family, faith, hobbies and leisure. He goes on to quote Abraham Joshua Heschel who wrote that the Sabbath is, ““a palace in time which we build.” This was the perfect reminder of the importance of this time, that it’s not just there, and that we can make the effort the “build” it.
Even though I spend a lot of time in the kitchen for my daily meals, the article prompted me to create some new space and time in the kitchen, to enjoy some leisurely baking separate from my “chores”. I knew I wanted something indulgent, and chocolate had to be involved. Perhaps I chose too intensive of a recipe, but I wanted to make a treat that promised the process of baking, something that would allow to to whisk, stir, melt, and chop! Scrolling through my Pinterest board of recipes to make, I came across a brownie recipe that was convincingly indulgent for even gluten eaters.
This activity ended up being spread out over a couple of days. I started putting together the dry ingredients on Monday night and after grinding and measuring out the different flours I was ready to take a break. The best part was that there was no necessity to keep baking, because I could transfer the dry ingredients to a plastic bag and resume when I was in the mood again.
I didn’t have time to enter my “space” again until home for the Memorial Day weekend. I had packed my bag of “brownies-to-be” and since I was up before anyone else on Sunday morning, I joyfully took advantage of the quiet kitchen. The aroma and sight of the oil and silky chocolate melting together induced a feeling of relaxation and deep satisfaction as I enjoyed this sacredness usually only found in “stolen” early morning time.
The brownies took longer to cook than expected since I used a smaller pan than the recipe suggested. I checked every couple minutes, surprised by how long they stayed in the oven and by the time they were ready to come out, the kitchen was crowded with bodies and sounds as each family member embarked on their personal mission making eggs, smoothies, tea, and coffee.
My morning sacred time had ended coupled with the disappointment that my baking results were not what I had expected. After letting them cool, first cut in just didn’t seem right. Very crispy on the top and almost unbaked on the inside; my slices didn’t produce the traditional squares I expected. I thought maybe they weren’t fully cooled. Disappointed and a little frustrated, I didn’t even finish taking pictures, I just covered them and put them aside.
When I later heard we were having family over for dinner that evening, I was excited I had made the brownies we could serve, but my excitement quickly dissipated when I remembered what they looked like. After we finished eating, I hesitantly placed the brownies on the table with the warning that they weren’t my best. Not really expecting any responses, I was shocked to get the reactions I did. The brownies were an absolute hit- even with my picky uncle! My youngest sister, the one with the sweetest of sweet tooth’s went for seconds and thirds. Another cousin even declared these better than traditional (gluten filled) brownies! Everyone commented on the unique combination of chewy outside and soft “fudgy” inside. So while these brownies weren’t what I expected I think it’s safe to say they turned out better, proving that sometimes things just taste that much better than they look. Even though I didn’t plan on posting these brownies when I saw how they turned out after cutting them, I couldn’t wait to share them since they have definitely been added to my collection of recipes.
Crispy and Chewy Gluten Free Brownies
1 cup Pure Cane Sugar
1 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons Gluten-Free Oat Flour (or Gluten Free Rolled Oats)
3/4 cup Almond Meal
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons unrefined coconut oil, soft not melted*
4 1/2 ounces dark chocolate chips, about 3/4 cup standard sized chocolate chips
1 tablespoon Instant Espresso Powder
2 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract
Maldon Sea Salt
1-2 Tablespoons Mini Chocolate Chips
Use coconut oil to lightly grease the bottom and sides of an 8×8 pan and preheat the oven to 325’F.
If making your own oat flour, grind gluten free rolled oats in a food processor until it becomes a flour. Transfer oat flour to a large bowl, and place sugar in the food processor and turn on for 10-20 seconds until powdery in texture. Add to bowl with oat flour, along with almond meal, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir until fully combined and set aside.
Melt the coconut oil and chocolate together gently on the stove with a double broiler (or in the microwave using 30 second increments, stirring between.) Stir until completely melted. Add the eggs, sugar, espresso, and vanilla to the chocolate and stir to combine.
Pour the dry ingredients into the wet and stir with a large spoon until the it becomes a thick but soft dough, it will take about 30 seconds, with all the dry ingredients incorporated into the wet to make a consistent batter.
Spoon the batter (which will be one large heap) into the greased pan and evenly spread using a spatula or your fingers. The batter will be soft enough to easily spread and press.
Place in the center of the preheated oven, and bake for 45-50 minutes- the sides will rise slightly higher than the center. Allow to cool for 30 minutes, sprinkle with flaked sea salt and mini chocolate chips, and place on a cooling rack to fully cool before slicing brownies.
Brownies can be stored in a sealed container for 3-4 days, or frozen in a sealed bag.
*My coconut oil was melted (a sign of the season) so I put it in the fridge to slightly firm before using.
Recipe Adapted from EdiblePerspective.com