Decadent Gluten Free Brownies

I have really enjoyed cooking and baking for years. When I have the time, I make all kinds of desserts for my friends and family. However, I know several people who follow a gluten-free diet due to allergies and celiac disease, so they aren’t able to enjoy the desserts I share with others.

I’ve never experimented with making gluten-free desserts because I don’t need to; however, there are many people who cannot allow gluten in their diet. This one’s for all of you.

Last night I decided to experiment. I combined a few different recipes I found online to make gluten-free brownies with salted caramel and a pretzel crust.

Sure, they’re more tedious to make than boxed mixes you can buy at the store, but they’re so good. I don’t think I’ve ever made a better tasting brownie.

After I cut them, I went to do some homework. Meanwhile, a friend ate two of them and told me to “save the recipe.”

I took a few to a friend who cannot eat gluten and he said “These are in the top three brownies I’ve ever had.”

Less than 24 hours later, the entire pan was gone and I was craving one. (I only got a tiny bite.)

If you want some very gooey, sweet and salty brownies, you need to make these. Don’t forget to grab a glass of milk. You’ll need it.

Ingredients for the pretzel crust:

1 cup crushed gluten-free pretzels

2/3 cup of melted butter

2 tbsp packed brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter an 8″x 8″ baking pan.  Mix together the crushed pretzels, melted butter, and brown sugar. Spread evenly and pack in the baking pan. Bake for about six minutes.

Ingredients for the brownies:

6 tbsp unsalted butter

3/4 cup granulated sugar

8 oz. chopped semisweet chocolate

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tbsp cocoa powder

pinch of salt

3 tbsp cornstarch

In a saucepan over low heat, melt the butter, and then stir in sugar until it’s incorporated. Add the chocolate and stir until it’s melted. The mixture won’t be smooth, but rather very gritty. Remove from heat and whisk for two minutes. I like to think the pain in my forearm from whisking helped burn off the calories from the brownie I ate later. Add the eggs and the vanilla extract and beat until the batter is smooth.

Using a sifter, add cornstarch, cocoa powder, and salt. Beat for  two minutes or so. I switched to a hand mixer here. The batter will be smooth and shiny.

Pour the batter over the pretzel crust and bake for about 25-30 minutes. This is the tricky part. There isn’t any flour in the brownies, so the age-old toothpick trick doesn’t work here. I still checked them with a toothpick, but just remember it isn’t going to come out completely clean. Just make sure the center of the brownies are set when you move the pan around.

Ingredients for the caramel topping:

1 cup sugar

6 tbsp unsalted butter

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

sea salt to top (if desired)

This part is a little bit scary if you’ve never made caramel before. I recommend measuring out all of the ingredients so they’re ready to go. The process is pretty fast.

In a medium saucepan over medium to high heat, heat the sugar and stir constantly with a wooden spoon. It will start to form clumps and then melt into an amber colored liquid. If you’ve ever had creme brûlée, we’re aiming for the color of the burnt sugar that tops it.

Once it’s melted, add the butter. Be careful because it will splatter. Whisk until the two are combined.

Slowly pour in the cream and continue to whisk constantly for about a minute. Remove the saucepan from the heat.

Stir in the vanilla and salt. Let the caramel cool for about an hour. Then, pour it over the brownies. You will have extra caramel, most likely.

Put the brownies in the refrigerator for at least an hour to allow the caramel to set.

Then, enjoy the rewarding work you just did.

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