Friday, June 24, 2011

Fathers Day - Go Ahead Honey it's Gluten Free!

As much as I long to write something chewy for you to relish - I just don't have that much time, and the deadline for Go Ahead Honey is looming! Check out Living Free at the end of the month for the round up of entries.

Aubrée Cherie's theme this month was all about fathers - You Love Him, So Spoil Him! So I'll tell you as briefly as I can a little bit about Finley's father and how we celebrated him on Father's Day.

A couple of weeks ago I badly hurt my back, lifting the long larch cladding planks for our new house. I had been hefting and twisting, rollering on woodstain against the clock - when bending to lift a tub trug, I felt a pang of defeat as my back said, 'no more!'.

Nick ushered me to the car, conveyed me home and tended to my every need as I lay prone on the sofa, wincing. We drove back later from the chiropractor, my seat reclined all the way - clouds passed overhead as I let myself drift into not doing, not trying, willing my back to repair itself as quickly as can be.

Over the next week Nick took on as much as was humanly possible, and then he took on a bit more. Running from office to site, staining cladding until darkness fell and returning to the office again - without even a quinoa salad to sustain him. I felt as grateful as a person can feel that Nick was my husband and Finn's father.

The day before Fathers Day, Finn and I pondered how to possibly reward this incredible man? We thought that brownies would be a good way to say thanks - but we could hardly ask Nick to purchase all the ingredients! I was up to walking a little way and so we wandered slowly to the nearest supermarket and bought what we could - Finley carrying the goodies home in his rucksac.

Brownies made - with substitutions - Finn insisted that we make a paper chain of daddies, all holding hands, on which he wrote, 'Happy Fathers Day Nick!'. In the morning, before anyone was up - Finn hung it across the stairs to greet us.

As I presented the brownies to Nick with a flourish, I heard a wail of disappointment from the office. Finn rushed in brandishing a little white envelope with, 'and A speshell Fathers day Treat' carefully written in purple ink. He stuck it over a skewer, plunged it into the brownies and pushed his bottom lip out as far as it would go - flouncing out of the room with tears in his eyes to sit in a heap at the foot of the stairs.

See, when your dad is about as special as they come and your mum doesn't realise all the little celebratory things you have planned - sometimes things can go awry, and this can be very hard to bear when you're only nine.

Nick gathered Finn up in his arms, the brownies were cut and shared and all was well in the world again.

Below, I give you the proper recipe - without substitutions, for the best coconut brownies ever - gluten free or not!

Toothsome Coconut Brownies 
(makes 8-10)(Gluten and Dairy Free)

Coconut oil brings a wonderful fudgy density to these brownies and the combination of coconut and chocolate is infinitely more than the sum of it's parts! Buckwheat flour gives the crumb a slightly malty chew and ground almonds give structure.

If you don't like coconut and want to make these with butter, I recommend adding 15 ground cardamom pods (just grind the black seeds inside).

150g 70% Chocolate
115g Coconut Oil (or unsalted butter)
2 Large Free Range Eggs
160g Light Muscovado Sugar / Rapadura Sugar
55g Ground Almonds/Almond flour (check that they are gluten free)
40g Buckwheat Flour
½ tsp Fine Sea Salt (grind your own from salt flakes)
¼ tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
2 tsp Bourbon Vanilla Extract

Optional: large handful of walnuts or pecans, dark chocolate chips or chopped dates.

Set the oven to 175C and line an 8” square deep sided tin with baking parchment.

Break chocolate into chunks and place this and the coconut oil in a bowl over a pan of gently simmering water to melt.

Take off the heat when it is almost melted, stir well and set aside to cool a little.

In a mixing bowl whisk eggs, sugar, bicarbonate of soda and vanilla extract until thick and slightly lighter in colour – about 2-3 minutes by hand or 1 minute with a hand held electric whisk.

Add a little melted chocolate to the egg mix and beat with the whisk until it becomes glossy again. Repeat until all the chocolate is used up and beat until the mixture is thick and glossy again.

Add all remaining dry ingredients and beat until smooth. If using nuts or dates, stir them in now.

Pour into the prepared tin and sprinkle the surface with chocolate chips.

Bake for 20-30 minutes until risen and firmish and a cake tester brings out a little gooey crumb with it rather than uncooked mixture. Err on the side of undercooking to get a truffly dense brownie once chilled. If you prefer a very cakey brownie, give it the full 30 minutes, but check in the last 5-10 minutes as all ovens vary.

Cool in the tin and wait at least 3 hours before eating. Best served slightly chilled.