Pam’s Excellent Baking Adventures

CookingAdventures900Before telling my story, I need to identify myself.

I believe it’s true—you’re either a cook or a baker. It doesn’t mean you can’t do both, but most of us tend to prefer one or the other. I’m more of a cook. I bake just fine. I understand the science of it. I can turn out a pretty mean cookie, brownie or cake. But ask me to do more than frost and sprinkle, and I check out.

So when I asked what I could bring to my friend’s Super Bowl Party last week, she suggested brownies. “Great,” I thought. I’ve actually got the perfect brownie recipe. I couldn’t believe I was getting off the hook so easily. But then she reminded me that one of the guests had wheat and dairy issues.

Since I wasn’t hosting the party, I figured the least I could do was bake something wheat-free, dairy-free, and delicious. Rather than see it as a chore, I decided to turn it into a fun project and purchased a couple of gluten-free, mostly vegan baking books.

As I perused the ingredient lists, I realized this was not a quick shop at the local grocery store. Potato starch and arrowroot were familiar but what about garbanzo and fine brown rice flour, egg replacer, xanthan gum, coconut oil, vegan yogurt, and natural food coloring? This was terra incognita.

I actually got excited about the hunt, and what a hunt it was! Four bags, three hours, and $200 later (OK, I got suckered into a few additional purchases), I emptied the contents onto the kitchen counter. Normally I would have started baking right away, but these new ingredients and I needed a day to get comfortable with one another….

Except that meant I would be baking my Super Bowl dessert a couple of hours before kick-off. Confident all would be well, I measured the ingredients, made the batter, and divvied it among the mini-muffin cups. All looked as it should, so I popped them into the oven to bake at the suggested temp and time. At the minimum time the batter, still soft, had overflowed their cups onto the rim.

So they weren’t going to be lookers. Who cares? It’s a Super Bowl party, not a ladies luncheon. At the maximum suggested baking time, however, the brownies still looked soft. The recipe said to let them sit in the pan for ten minutes, so I figured the residual heat would help them continue to cook and firm.

TrufflesBut even after 30 minutes of sitting in the pan there was no way these gummy chocolate mounds were ever coming out of their cups in one piece. Clearly the recipe yield or timing was off. I decided to scrape the par-cooked batter onto the countertop and start over, but I couldn’t resist playing with the soft cake. I rolled them into little balls, which looked and tasted like truffles! So I dredged some in cocoa powder, some in coconut, and some in toasted walnuts.

And that’s story of how my vegan brownies became vegan truffles. Along with the Frosted Italian Rum cake someone else brought, no one seemed to notice they were vegan, gluten-free.

Rather than offer a recipe for vegan truffles, which means par-baking brownie batter, I offer my cakey-fudgy-chewy brownie recipe instead. It’s full of eggs and butter and flour and chocolate, but hey—the recipe works!

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  1. says

    Wow – you are SO much more pleasant than I would be after all that running around. I’d be a screamin’ mess, but there are lots of recipes I’ll never try again…

  2. says

    A few things to be mentioned here. No, baking isn’t your area of expertise- but after 20+ years in the food industry, I’m pretty confident that you know how to follow a recipe. So, I was really surprised that those brownies were a flop. But then I’m not complaining, the brownie truffles were incredible! With all the people who eat wheat/gluten/dairy-free out there, there has to be scores of foolproof recipes, that just wasn’t one of them.

    There’s a vegan pumpkin bread I make – the liquid is coconut milk – it’s to die for! So moist. And it doesn’t taste like coconut, which seems like it might be a bad thing…but don’t you think pumpkin and coconut would go together as flavors? I digress.

    I love your spirit, mom. It didn’t work so you just dumped it out on the counter to see if you could do something else with it. The end product was not only delicious, but ingenious! Kudos to you.

  3. susan says

    I’m with Maggy here. Pam, I love your spirit – you are resourceful and flops are turned into delectable show stoppers! Love love love threemanycooks!

  4. says

    Maggy, I’m surprised you didn’t mention Nancy’s vegan chocolate cinnamon cake (and her blog) to your mom. Remember I brought the spare pieces to our big English Breakfast. I loved them! But I’d also really like to try these truffles. Yumm-o!

  5. Pam says

    Someone else has asked for the “recipe” too, so even though it’s a mistake, I’m gonna run it. I’m out of town now, but when I get home next week, I’ll post it.

  6. Caroline says

    Yes, I’d love to see the not-brownies-but-hey-why-not-truffles recipe. When I read of your baking adventure, Pam, I thought it is so like you to just break out the cocoa, crushed nuts and coconut and start rolling! Many thanks….We are loving 3ManyCooks. :)

  7. says

    Pam, I tried the cakey-fudgy-chewy brownie recipe and they were THE BEST! Seriously, I have been trying for months to find the perfect brownie and now I have found it. The best part was that I didn’t have to buy anything and had everything in my cabinets! Thanks so much for the recipe.

  8. says

    I have a friend that is a junior pastor at my church who has celiac (sp) and eats gluten free. I always bake for church, well as often as I can, and have found lots of amazing recipes that just seemed way too expensive in the long run or too complicated. Then one day I figured I would look at and there were tons of easy recipes with out all the crazy extra stuff! Check it out next time! Elena’s pantry has some gorgeous stuff as well on there! Love you guys

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