Almond swirl chocolate brownies

This recipe was created for a very specific reason: to use up a jar of this delicious sweet almond paste, known in Italian as crema di mandorle. If you’ve never tried this kind of sweet Sicilian almond paste before (different brands available here and here and also available here) the best way I can describe it to you is a bit like an almond version of the inside of a Kinder Bueno – sweet, creamy and only mildly nutty, it tastes like melted white chocolate with a hint of natural almond nuttiness. In fact, it’s so good that I usually eat it straight from the jar with a spoon, but I felt it was time to try putting it to even better use by incorporating it into some brownies.

Since I was already using almond paste, I thought it might be nice to use almond in the brownie batter too, so I replaced flour with ground almonds and thus, a delicious gluten-free brownie recipe was born. SO whether you want to add the swirly almond topping or not, this is a great gluten-free brownie recipe, which makes super soft, delicate and rich brownies that taste like a good flourless chocolate cake. The swirly almond stuff just takes them up a notch further, if you so happen to have some knocking around.

Almond swirl chocolate brownies (gluten-free)

Almond swirl chocolate brownies (gluten-free)

Vegetarian, gluten free

Cuts into 9 large or 12 small brownies

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 30 mins

200g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing, roughly chopped
200g dark chocolate (at least 70% and as good quality as poss), roughly chopped
salt
220g caster sugar
3 medium eggs
2 tbsp cocoa powder
100g ground almonds
5 tbsp sweet Sicilian almond paste (such as this or this)

  1. Preheat oven to 180C/160C fan. Grease a 20 x 20cm square brownie tin and line with baking paper.

  2. First melt the chocolate and butter together in a large heatproof bowl. You can either do this either by putting the bowl over a gently simmering pan of water (making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water) until melted, or by heating it in the microwave in 30 second bursts, making sure to stir it in between each burst (v important so it doesn’t burn) until melted. Stir in a pinch or two of fine salt, then leave to cool while you deal with the eggs and sugar.

  3. In another bowl, whisk the eggs with the sugar until pale and foamy (see pic below) – ideally you want to do this with an electric whisk, which takes a few minutes, but it’s also possible with a balloon whisk and some elbow grease, it just could take more like 5-10 mins.

  4. Add the egg mix into the melted chocolate and butter and stir to combine. Sieve in the cocoa powder, then add the ground almonds and fold until combined. Pour the mixture into the tin.

  5. Now for the swirled topping (if you’re doing it): zap the almond cream in the microwave for around 20 seconds until it’s a good drizzling/blobbing consistency. Carefully drop spoonfuls of the almond cream onto the top of the brownie mixture – around 6 large blobs. Then, using a skewer, teaspoon, the thin end of your wooden spoon or just a clean finger, swirl the almond cream or white chocolate in figure eight motions until it looks a bit like the picture below.

  6. Bake in the oven for around 30 mins, until the top has formed a nice crust and the middle still has a very slight wobble. Bear in mind that this is a delicate brownie because there’s no flour, so make sure you leave it to cool completely before attempting to lift it out of the tin or cut into it, or it will crack. Cut into 9 large or 12 small brownies.
foamy egg & sugar after whisking
spooning on the almond cream

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