Episode 1: Welcome to my world — have some brownies!

Hello, Dear Readers!

Today we will cover a few topics which are sure to titillate your imaginations:

  • Who I am.
  • Why I’m here.
  • What I hope to accomplish.
  • And, if you make it through all of that, a recipe for the best brownies I have ever tasted.

So, who am I?  You can call me Liza.  I’m a 30-something writer, blogger, and all around creative person who is returning to the world of public blogging after a lengthy absence (though that might be for the better — the musings of my teenage self left something to be desired, and my 20-something self hadn’t found a blogging niche yet so the things she talked about probably weren’t that interesting to anyone other than her).

Why am I here?  I want to share information on living without dairy or soy, and maybe share some information and pictures of the kiddos with friends and family — wait, did I forget to mention that? Not only do I have a collection of furkids (and a tortoise!), I also have two completely human children to call my own.

What do I hope to accomplish?  I hope to make the transition to the dairy- and soy-free lifestyle easier for other people who have discovered food sensitivities.  I also plan to share random other tips and tricks that I run across or come up with myself.

And finally, the brownies.  I know this is the part you were waiting for.

Dairy-free, Soy-free Brownies (can also be made nut-free by excluding the nuts).  Recipe adapted from Carroll Pellegrinelli’s Ultimate Brownies.

Ingredients:

  • 8 ozs chocolate (For a non-dairy, non-soy brownie, I suggest using Bakers 100% Cocoa Baking Chocolate or other comparable 100% cocoa mass chocolate, but be sure to check the ingredients list!)
  • 3/4 c coconut oil (Surprisingly, coconut oil is solid at room temperature and so it’s usually sold in glass jars in the healthfood/natural foods section of the store. I used Spectrum Organic Coconut Oil, refined for Medium High Heat.  This type has less of a coconut flavor and you can’t even tell it’s there in the finished recipe, which will be a relief if you have family members who aren’t so fond of anything labeled “coconut”.)
  • 5 eggs
  • 3 c granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla (Be sure to use actual vanilla extract, as the artificial flavoring called vanillin doesn’t add nearly the same pizzaz to your recipes.)
  • 1.5 c flour (The first batch of these brownies I made using unbleached all-purpose flour and they turned out very nicely; the second and third batches I used a “white whole wheat” flour and they turned out almost just as nicely, so if you are looking to sneak a little extra fiber into your diet, sneak away.)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2.5 c chopped walnuts.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F, or 325°F for glass or dark metal pans.  Grease a 9″x13″ pan.  (Here is a place to be very careful if you are just entering the no-soy world — most vegetable shortenings, vegetable oils, and non-stick cooking sprays have soy in them, and for the cooking sprays you have to be extra careful as they will often have some sort of soy propellant even if they are labeled as “canola” or another type of oil!)
  2. Chop your walnuts and put them in a shallow baking pan or a cookie sheet with edges.  Bake (during the preheat is ok) for about 5 minutes — use your nose!  If they smell done before the 5 minutes are up, go a head and take them out early.  Remember, these will cook later on in the recipe so they do not need to be all the way toasted, but if you feel they are not toasted enough it is ok to bake them for a little bit longer.
  3. Melt your chocolate and coconut oil in a saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently.
  4. Beat your eggs, sugar, and vanilla at high-speed for 10 minutes.  If you have a stand mixer, this is a nice place to use it (so I hear, but as I do not have one I can only imagine the luxury that would provide!).  You can also do this part of your mixing in a food processor, but unless you have a professional grade processor you will need to pour the egg mixture back into a mixing bowl for the next part.  If you’re using a regular old hand mixer, be smart and set it up next to the stove so you can beat away and still stir your chocolate mixture at the same time!
  5. Add in your chocolate mixture, flour, and salt and blend until just mixed.
  6. Stir in your nuts.
  7. Pour into prepared pan.
  8. Bake for 35-40 minutes, being careful not to over bake.
  9. Cool completely before cutting — these brownies are super rich, so I would suggest cutting them into 1″ or 1.5″ squares max.  (And this is coming from a life-long baked-good-aholic, so consider yourself forewarned.)

You can frost these if you want to, but you honestly do not need to.  These will be the richest, most delicious brownies you have ever tasted — and if not, I want the recipe for the even better brownies you’ve had because I won’t believe it until I bake and taste those!!!

If you don’t plan to (or don’t want to!) eat all of these right away, they freeze very well.  Just cut them up and place them in an airtight bag or container, then freeze.  When you’re ready to defrost them either leave them out for an hour or so, place them in a lunchbox and they’ll be ready to eat by lunchtime, or pop into the microwave for 20-30 seconds on high for instant chocolately-gooey goodness!

I don’t have a picture of these brownies currently as I hadn’t been planning to turn them into a blog post the last time I baked them, but I took them to one of my son’s events and had lots of requests for second helpings and a request for the recipe (one request is pretty good when there are only three adults outside of your own family there, right?).  I may come back and add a picture in the future if I remember to do so, but for now you’ll just have to believe me when I tell you that these brownies look as good as they taste!

Stay tuned for The Next Exciting Episode!  I have no idea what we will discuss, so at the moment it’s just as exciting for me as it is for you.

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