Shh! Brownies with a Secret Ingredient - Grain and Gluten Free

All this running has provided the perfect excuse to pop something chocolaty in my mouth without worrying too much about the widening effect of all the extra honey, butter and almonds. I've been experimenting with grain free brownie recipes for some time now - some made with cacao, others with cocoa powder, a blend of almonds and pecans, butter, no butter, fresh dates, date syrup - shall I go on?

So when I saw a recipe that included avocado on Cara's Cravings, I had to try smooshing some of that into the batter to see how it tasted. I already know that avocado, cocoa and honey makes a deliciously creamy frosting (or dessert, depending on how greedy you are...), so why not include it in a brownie?

I have stealthfully snuck avocado into a few dishes recently without Finley (a confirmed avocado hater) even smelling a rat. Judiciously added to pea and basil soup right at the end, it simply makes it creamier and a smallish amount renders my dairy free ice-cream lollies, even more lusciously velvety.

However - a word of warning for avocado-phobes. It is possible to overdo the avocado if you're too enthusiastic, and end up with avocado flavoured lollies - rather than merely imparting a soothing texture. Finley's face said it all as he drew a fairly bright eau-de-nil lolly from the mold after school one day. 'Is it pistachio?' he asked hopefully, before taking a tentative lick and moaning loudly with disappointment as he discovered only avocadoness, where there should have been pistachio.

There's not a huge amount of avocado in these brownies - add too much and the batter takes on a sort of quiche quality, not bad - but not decadent enough for my tastes. Using a small amount of avocado does allow you to use less butter and still get the same fudgy texture. Because there's no raising agent and no flour, they're dense and shallow - a little more like a slab of truffle. Due to the high cocoa content, they're very, very dark and only to be eaten in small quantities. Eat one before bed and you're likely to be up into the wee small hours on a caffeine high!

I always make a small batch of anything this moreish - be warned...

Secret Ingredient Chocolate Brownies

(Makes 8 small ones)

3/4 cup (3oz/85g) fair trade cocoa powder

2 large organic eggs - separated

1/2 cup (2oz/55g) ground almonds

2oz organic butter melted and cooled

1/2 ripe medium hass avocado, well mashed

1/2 cup (120ml) honey

2 teaspoons of bourbon vanilla extract (or homemade)

1/2 tsp cider vinegar

Preheat the oven to 160C (fan assisted) and line a small baking tray with baking parchment. Mine measures 9" x 5"

In a squeaky clean bowl, beat egg whites with vinegar until stiff peaks form (an electric beater helps)

In another largish bowl, beat together egg yolks, honey, cooled butter, vanilla and avocado, until thick, pale and mousse-like.

Into the honey mix, fold ground almonds and sifted cocoa powder until thoroughly combined.

With a metal spoon or spatula, fold half the egg white into the mix to loosen and then the rest until just combined.

Ease into the lined baking tray, gently smoothing the top, as little as possible to preserve the air in the mix.

Bake for 25 minutes or until just firm to the touch. It's always better to undercook a brownie, so you get some real sticky bits in the middle. This one will fall as there's nothing really holding it up, so don't be alarmed if it puffs a little and then falls.

Chill overnight in the tin and then slice the next day. Store for up to three days in an airtight box, in a cool place. Put waxed paper or parchment between any layers.