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!