Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Sugar Free Chocolate Brownies for Iota Manhattan (egg free, dairy free, gluten free, sugar free, vegan)

I’ve written before about the addictive nature of blogging and my feelings about my own blog. What I haven’t written about is how I feel about other people’s blogs. The idea of blogging is that it’s a medium for you to express yourself whether in words, pictures, or both. And there are a gazillion blogs out there doing just that. Now if you imagine there were a gazillion people all gathered together, the chances are that not all of them would be your cup of tea. Chances are you might hate some of them. Some wouldn’t bother you either way, some might make you cry, some might make you laugh, some you would want to snuggle up to and kiss. With tongues. You see where I’m going with this don’t you?

Since I started blogging in 2007 (does that makes me a veteran blogger?) I have come across some truly awful blogs. Blogs whose content is so explicit it makes my toes curl. Blogs that are written so incredibly badly I wish I could find the delete button and put everyone out of the misery.

But the beauty of blogging is that some days you come across brilliant blogs. You hear a fresh, talented voice and it makes your heart sing. I can’t get enough of blogs like that. I sometimes turn into a comments box stalker and read all the back posts, leaving a comment on each one. I imagine the poor besieged blogger rolling their eyes and thinking, ‘God it’s Pig in the Kitchen again leaving smiley comments with lots of exclamation marks’. It’s the truly excellent blogs that make me love blogging and keep me coming back for more.

I can’t remember when I stumbled across Iota’s blog. I do remember reading this post about the differences between American and English enthusiasm levels, and chuckling. She’s a Brit living in the States and she blogs about life, like so many bloggers do. Her writing is witty and intelligent and always a joy to read.

Now I’m a fairly rubbish reader of other blogs and weeks can go by before I get around to visiting. I remember vividly the day when I thought,

‘I know, I’ll pop over and visit Iota I haven't been for ages’.

I remember feeling in a bright mood, ready to leave a faintly silly comment on her blog. What I read brought me up short and brought tears to my eyes, because in the weeks when I had been immersed in my own, carefree life, she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. She then went on to take the brave decision to have a double mastectomy to prevent it recurring. And in her unique, Iota Manhattan way, she decided to have a farewell party for her boobs, complete with cake. She has blogged about the whole process, movingly, funnily, breezily, honestly. I think she is remarkable.

I haven’t created this recipe for her in a schmaltzy, feel-the-love, fluffy blogger kind of a way, but because she asked me if I knew of any good, sugar-free recipes. Since her cancer she has revolutionised her diet and in particular is cutting out sugar. She handed me the challenge and after months of not getting around to it (such a good blogging friend), it turned out to be quite easy.

I will leave you with part of what she wrote on December 31st, 2009. I’m hoping 2010 will be 1000% better for her,

‘This year, I’ve faced things I didn’t plan to face just yet. I’ve looked into the jaws of my own mortality, and squared up with two things: how insignificant my life is, and how significant my life is. Both are burdensome truths. I’ve found that the best strategy to deal with them is to look them straight in the eyes, but not for long, and then turn away to get on with the fabulous reality of daily life’.

For you, Iota. Go wild!

Sugar Free Chocolate Brownies for Iota Manhattan

Iota and I both enjoyed this recipe, but alas, only some of our kids did. Well, none of hers liked it and only 2 of mine would eat it. We concluded that they are so completely addicted to refined sugar, this didn't even register on their taste buds as sweet. This would be a good one for toddlers though wouldn't it? Get in there with the healthy stuff for as long as you can before they have their first sugar rush and never look back.

For filling and topping:

90g dried prunes

90g dried apricots

3 medium bananas

100-150ml apple juice

3tbsps rice milk/milk

3 tbsps cocoa powder

For GF with Eggs:
2 eggs
110g dairy free spread
2 tbsps honey/agave nectar/maple syrup (more if you wish)
1 tbsp Ener-g pure rice bran or ground sunflower seeds (optional)
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarb of soda
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ground ginger
1 tsp vanilla essence
3 tbsps cocoa powder
approximately 80ml rice milk
For egg free, dairy free, gluten free:
1 heaped tbsp ground linseeds
10g dairy free spread
¼ tsp xanthan gum
5 tbsps rice milk
110g dairy free spread
2 tbsps honey/agave syrup/maple syrup (more if you wish)
120g brown rice flour
¼ tsp xanthan gum
1 tbsp pure rice bran or ground sunflower seeds (optional)
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarb of soda
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ground ginger
1 tsp vanilla essence
3 tbsps cocoa powder
approximately 80ml rice milk

For wheat flour & egg free 
Use the same ingredients as for egg free, dairy free, gluten free, but replace the rice flour with
120g wholemeal flour
omit the ¼ tsp xanthan gum

  • Heat oven to 160˚celsius and grease and line a brownie tin with baking parchment. My tin was 29x4x23cm, and was almost too big. 24x24 would be ideal or something similar
  • If using 'no egg' put the 'no egg' egg replacer powder into a bowl with the ground linseeds, xanthan gum, 10g of dairy free spread and 5 tbsps rice milk
  • Put the prunes, apricots, banana and apple juice into a pan and heat gently. When everything is squidgy, blend to a paste with a hand-held blender. Add the rice milk and cocoa powder, stir and set aside
  • Put the dairy free spread and honey into a bowl and mix until beaten together. Add either the real eggs or the 'no egg' mix and stir. Add the flour, (&rice bran & xanthan gum if using GF flour), spices, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, rice bran/sunflower seeds if using and cocoa powder and mix. Add the rice milk and stir. You might need more milk, aim for a slow dropping consistency, but not too soft
  • Line the base of your tin with half of the flour mix. Then carefully spread half of the fruit mix over the top, it sticks a little to the flour mix, but don't worry too much. If it's really very thick, add a little more rice milk to loosen it up so that you can spread it
  • Put the rest of the flour mix on top of the paste, and spread it out so it's level
  • Bake for about 20 mins (keep watching) until it's risen and springy
  • Remove from the oven and spread the rest of the fruit paste over the top. it will harden slightly as it cools. Leave to cool completely, then place in the fridge, it's much yummier kept in the fridge
  • Cut into brownie-shaped pieces and tuck in. You could even eat these whilst blogging, they are very healthy after all

© Pig in the Kitchen

All Rights Reserved © Pig in the Kitchen
All Rights Reserved


Pig in the Kitchen said...

ooops, disabled the comments by mistake, they are back on now (clearly). I bet you spent a restless night tossing and turning, just BURNING to leave me a pear of wisdom. Very sorry about that!

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Or even a pearl of wisdom. But you're also very welcome to leave pears of wisdom.

Potty Mummy said...

Oh, can I leave a pear? Mine would be a comice; there should be plenty to go round as I'm the only one who ever eats fruit in our house... (And not sure where I'l find the brown rice flour in Moscow but will give it a shot with the normal stuff if you think that will work?)

Pig in the Kitchen said...

PottyM, your pear is gratefully accepted. These would work with wheat flour, just replace the rice flour with wheat flour rusky-style and you'll be fine!

Iota said...

Thanks so much for this. Don't know what else to say...

I'd like to leave a comment pear of wisdom too, and mine is a conference pear - that seems apt.

Working Mum said...

I love Iota's blog, too. Her approach to her cancer and her postitive attitude were a lesson to all of us. And cancer aside, she writes a damn good blog!

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Sweet Iota, I don't do flattery or falseness, every word was deserved! I am loving the pears of wisdom, my fruit bowl is looking full and healthy.

Working Mum, hear hear!

Mya said...

I am a BIG Iota fan too - her writing is awesome, inspiring and funny in equal measure.Can I leave a King William pear of wisdom for your delectation - pears and chocolate are a classic flavour combo, no?

Mya x

planb said...

My pear will be a lovely non-pear shaped one of delight at your recipe and your blog. Came over from Iota's in delight at a sugar free cake recipe and find even more delight in the form of many more "free" recipes. Thank you for those, and for your lovely piece about Iota, who I too think is fab.

Tattie Weasle said...

Cauhgt me in my solar plexus unsure of what pear to leave as mine are unidentifiable though maybe Worcester so I have been led to believe. Will definitely be trying out this recipe as have copius amounts of dark chocolate to wolf through. Brilliant!

Elsie Button said...

i agree, iota is remarkable, and brilliant and funny xx

Elsie Button said...

a golden pear? (as in the king of spain's daughter?)


Mimi said...

Hello there Pig. You're a doll, you really are, to make this recipe for Iota.
And I'm so, so happy to hear of other people's kids who won't eat sugar-free. My kids are fussy eaters, but they'll try anything that has sugar or chocolate in it! Even Nutella pizza!
Pig, my pear would be Belle Helene, but I would remane it Poire Belle Cochon in your honour.I hope the spelling here is legible- it's a long time since my schoolgirl French!

Mimi said...

Oops, this laptop is driving me nuts...

Meant I'd reNAME it!

Pig in the Kitchen said...

mya, hello dear, I like the consensus about iota`s writing, i hope she is reading this. love your king william pear, it is teetering precariously on top of potty mummy´s comice.

sweet plan b, welcome to my kitchen. now i hope you don't think me rude, but that's looking like a rather enormous pear in your stomach! iota is indeed fab, and glad the recipes will be of help.

tattie weasle, welcome! i have close connections with Worcester, so that is a very apt pear to leave. fruit bowl now in danger of collapse.

lovely elsie B, i'm thrilled with your childlike golden pear, yours is far more valuable than all the rest. i don't think i'll be putting yours in my fruit bowl, just off to pop it in the safe...

Mimi, i share your pain re the no-sugar stuff, i think it is a lost cause. let their teeth rot and fall out, they can't say we didn't warn them. and a pear re-named in my honour! love it, love it. i'm placing the poire belle cochon (should really be beau cochon, but i'm not quibbling)onto a purple velvet cushion. there. it looks marvellous, thank-you!

Bella Foxx said...

I do not want to be responsible for anything. I don't have any pears. I am allergic to them.

Like many here I came over here from Iota and gave your blog an honorable mention on my blog. I don't cook, but my room mate is kicking me out (ok, I am leaving on my own) and she says she is not coming over every day to cook for me. So I will have to start, so I have bookmarked your blog for future reference. I hope you are here for a long time.

My blog is A commuter's journal you can click here.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Sensitive and interesting as always. We men can learn a lot from our female counterparts. Years of practice pretending to be hard I suppose.

notwavingbutironing said...

What a lovely idea, Pig. Cake is just the best gift ever. And I love Iota's blog - she writes fantastically well. Can't think of any pears to offer you. Although I am pear-shaped myself (That's enough with the pear analogy, thinks Pig.) BTW, I used to go out in Worcester every Saturday night - it was the big city!

Bella Foxx said...

Hey, I got an award and am passing it along to you. You can pick it up here.

nixdminx said...

love these will be trying out the recipes ttfn xm

whitehologram said...

I have no pears of wisdom...all our pears fall on the floor before they ripen or are eaten by wasps.

I did want to say that I love this blog and am sooooo happy that you have made all these things for your kids so I can too.

My youngest daughter is gluten intolerant and lactose intolerant. My new baby boy is allergic to eggs, the poor thing wheezes and gets terrible eczema all over his face and head when I eat eggs. he looked terrible and it hurt him which made me so sad.

I am so grateful to you for all these wonderful recipes. I made the breakfast pancakes on Shrove Tuesday (the day after we found out about my sons allergy) and I made the banana and cranberry muffins today because I NEEDED CAKE right now and nothing else will know how it is ;)

Now I have to be really careful what I eat and read everything which is such a PITB. Thats why making my own is much better.

....I just wanted to hug you and say thank you xxxx

Elena said...

may i humbly request a recipe for an easter cake?

Iota said...

Oh, I've just come back and I'm all embarrassed now at these lovely comments. Not only my own personal cake, but also a clutch of kind words. What's not to love? It is nice to know that I am beyond com... com...

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Darlings! Thank-you for all your lovely comments! (not you Japanese writing person or you Tomjay, you are trashy pests, may you forever eat rotten pear)Bella Foxx thank-you for the award, but may I very humbly pass on that one? I don't really 'do' awards, oh god, do I sound ungrateful...? White Hologram, a kiss to you for your kind comment and really sorry to hear about your children's allergies. Elena, I want to make you happy, really I do, but Easter is so very, very close now. A Simnel cake would be good wouldn't it? I cannot promise anything tho...

I'm sorry for not answering every comment, next time I will, promise!

Iota, you DESERVE the comments ;-)

The Curious Baker said...

I recently made a g free brownie and made it g free and dairy free by using olive oil instead of butter but alas I also added sugar to mine, you could try muscovado it's a healthier than white but I guess it's still sugar