I’m not even sure where I might have first tasted brownie pudding; a dessert that is — in essence — slightly gooey, undercooked brownies, slowly baked in a water bath, in a low-oven, until the top is crackly and the middle super moist and spoon-able. But i’m not sure it matters when I was introduced to the dessert. The point is, I love pudding almost as much as I love just-this-side of underdone brownies and the combo of the two with a drizzle of cream or vanilla ice cream (or both) is basically my ideal sweet treat.
When I was a kid, my mom and I occasionally made a dessert called Muxie’s brownies (I know I’ve made a big deal about not growing up in a home teeming with homemade treats, but Muxie’s was the exception to the rule. Okay, that, and apple brown betty — but I digress). Muxie’s were undercooked brownies without the water bath and they were spectacularly gooey and delicious. My gluten free brownie pudding borrows from Muxie’s, as well as from my own brownie recipe and, of course, baked’s.
I used unsweetened chocolate, cocoa powder, espresso powder (for extra chocolate-y oompf), kind of a lot of eggs, butter, and brown plus white sugar. I embraced the idea of a water bath and an oven with a super low temp, and was all set to go with just the addition of a bit of flour when it hit me: all-purpose flour plays such a small role in the world of the brownie pudding, that why not just substitute something gluten-free? I use just the tiniest bit of potato starch in my flourless chocolate cake and decided to do the same here.
The technique, you ask, for making such gluten-free yumminess? It’s all about the gentle wielding of whisk and rubber spatula a la the baked brownie and all about not over-baking the pudding (I did so the third time I made it (on new year’s eve) and sad doesn’t come close to describe how I felt . . . Catatonic is more like it). The recipe is easy, the ingredients likely in your cupboard, the assembly a snap, the finished product homey and comforting, and deeply chocolate-y, and the absence of all purpose flour leaves me – at least – feeling just the tiniest bit virtuous. Pudding and virtue: all wrapped up together. Doesn’t get much better than that.
Gluten Free Brownie Pudding
- 2 sticks salted butter if using unsalted butter, add 1/2 tsp kosher salt to the dry ingredients
- 2 oz unsweetened chocolate
- 2 tsp espresso powder
- 1/2 cup potato starch or cornstarch
- 1/2 cup Dutch process cocoa powder
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 300°F. Grease an 8x8x2-inch pan with cooking spray or softened butter.
- Place a large heat-proof mixing bowl over a medium sauce pan with a couple of inches of simmering water. The bottom of the mixing bowl should not touch the water. Place the butter, chocolate and espresso powder in the mixing bowl and, over medium to medium-high heat, melt until smooth, stirring often with a whisk.
- Meanwhile, whisk the potato starch, cocoa powder, and — if using — salt in a small bowl.
- Once the chocolate and butter are melted, off the heat, whisk in the sugars. Gently whisk in the eggs and vanilla. Finally, gently fold in the dry ingredients with a flexible spatula.
- Transfer the batter into the prepared pan. Place the pan in a 13x9x2-inch pan and fill that pan about half-way up the sides of the smaller pan with very hot tap water (you can also place the two pans in the oven and fill the larger pan with a kettle while on the oven shelf, so you don't need to move it once filled). Carefully transfer to the oven and bake for about an hour, rotating the pan after about 30 minutes.
- Begin checking the brownie pudding with a toothpick at 50 minutes. Place the toothpick about two inches from the side of the pan and it should have moist, almost wet crumbs on it when the pudding is done. If the toothpick is clean or the crumbs are dry, you've over-baked the pudding and you will hate yourself. You can't test it in the center, as the center will remain underdone-seeming even when you remove it from the oven.
- Let cool slightly and serve while still warm and a bit runny with cream (whipped or dribbled) or ice cream.
- Brownie pudding will keep tightly wrapped on the counter for 3 days. It will not be as pudding-like if not reheated, but still awfully tasty. If reheating, do so gently in a low oven, so as not to bake the pudding, so much as melt it.