You know how some people say nothing tastes as good as skinny feels? Clearly, those people have never had red wine fudge brownies. Seriously, once red wine brownies entered my life, I thought: game over. I mean, where can you possibly go from there? (FYI, you can find my recipe for red wine brownies the full-of-gluten way here)
Then Valentine’s Day rolled around this year and I wanted to do something special for my galentines. If you’ve never heard of galentines or Galentine’s Day, it’s one of many gems from one of the best shows ever created (Parks and Recreation). Galentine’s Day is defined, in the words of Leslie Knope, as follows: “Every February 13th, my lady friends and I leave our husbands and our boyfriends at home, and we just come and kick it, breakfast-style. Ladies celebrating ladies. It’s like Lilith Fair, minus the angst. Plus frittatas.”
So basically, you get together with your best gal pals to eat, drink, and generally have tons of fun as is the norm with your girlfriends. This holiday is truly magical and magnificent in so many ways. It doesn’t have to be the Leslie Knope-style breakfast theme; the time of day and venue are irrelevant. You basically just have the most epic, amazing girls get-together ever with great food, booze, girl talk and all the usual fabulous things that only happen with your girlfriends. Plus, it’s a great way to remind your single gal pals how loved they are.
One of my galentines has been obsessed with the original red wine fudge brownies I made ever since she first tasted them, so it was obvious I would be making those to give to her for Galentine’s Day. My other friend, however, has Celiac Disease and basically cannot be in the same room as gluten. It seemed completely unfair for her to be denied the magical wonderment of red wine fudge brownies, though, so I finally decided to take my first dip in the pool of gluten-free baking. The ganache was already gluten-free, but I had to figure out a gluten-free brownie recipe to use for the brownie portion.
Brownies are definitely the way to go for first-time gluten-free bakers, because if you look around enough, eventually you’ll find recipes that are basically identical to regular brownies but without the flour. Don’t even ask me how this works, because I’m not a brownie scientist, but somehow when you beat the eggs more for gluten-free, they still end up like a brownie.
Granted, the completely flourless (and flour-substituteless) brownies are definitely a fudgy brownie and there’s no way around that. I for one am completely and totally fine with fudgy brownies, though, so there are no complaints here! If you want more of a chewy brownie that might more closely resemble your favorite box mix style, then you’d probably want to use a gluten-free brownie recipe that uses gluten free flour(s).
I opted for the completely flourless way for these, though, because I didn’t want to run out and buy all kinds of alternative flour ingredients. And I have absolutely no regrets, because these brownies are a rich, fudgy and silky brownie that is perfect with the red wine ganache. Everything goes together beautifully and literally melts in your mouth.
At this point, since I ate about 3 brownies while cutting them up for the photo, I have thoroughly convinced myself that surely these must also be healthier than the original, gluten-filled kind I made, right? I mean, these don’t have any flour and the rest of the ingredients are essentially the same. 😉 Ok, I know this is absurd and no brownie is healthy except the kind made with beans and other ingredients that have no business being in brownies. But guess what? Once you take a bite of these, you won’t care at all. And you know why? This is why:
Gluten-Free Red Wine Fudge Brownies
For the Brownies:
- 10 oz dark baking chocolate (I used semisweet chocolate chips. You should go with no darker than semisweet and avoid unsweetened chocolate to avoid bitter brownies)
- 1/4 cup (4 Tbsp.) unsalted butter (chopped)
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs (at room temperature)
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tsp. espresso powder **
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 2 Tbsp. dry red wine (I used Mirassou Pinot Noir, but any rich & dry red wine will work)
For the Red Wine Ganache Frosting:
- 12 oz dark baking chocolate (I used semisweet chocolate chips. You should go with no darker than semisweet and avoid unsweetened chocolate to avoid bitter brownies)
- 1 cup whipping cream/heavy cream
- 1+1/2 Tbsp. unsalted butter (chopped into smaller pieces)
- 1/4 cup dry red wine (same kind as used in brownies)
- 1/4 tsp. espresso powder **
For the Brownies:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the inside of a 9" square baking pan, then line with parchment paper that is cut so that it comes up the sides of the pan (yes, the butter goes in between the pan and the parchment, not the parchment and the brownie batter. This helps the parchment form to the shape of the pan so you don't get weirdly shaped brownies).
- Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler or in a medium-sized saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring constantly. (Do not be alarmed if the mixture is very thick and not a smooth, melted chocolate consistency. It all works out in the end)
- Once the chocolate and butter are melted, remove from the heat, add the sugar and mix it in well. Again, your mixture will probably be very thick and it won't seem like the sugar is mixing in all that well. Don't worry, it'll work out. Just mix the sugar in as best as you can.
- Leave the chocolate/butter/sugar mixture sitting to cool down a bit while you mix your other ingredients. Beat the eggs and vanilla in a separate, large mixing bowl on medium-high speed for 1 minute. (The mixture should be nice and frothy after the minute is up)
- Add the cocoa powder, espresso powder and salt to the egg mixture and beat on low speed for ~1 minute until the cocoa powder is thoroughly incorporated/absorbed. Then, add the chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and beat on medium-high speed for ~2-3 minutes. The mixture will have lightened a bit in color and will be smooth, thick and glossy.
- Pour the batter into your prepared baking pan an spread it into an even layer. Then, tap the pan on the counter (or flat surface) several times to eliminate any large air bubbles in the mixture. Bake in the preheated oven for ~18-20 minutes, until the center is set. (avoid over-baking!)
- When the brownies are done, remove the pan from the oven and place on a wire cooling rack. While the brownies are cooling, make the Red Wine Ganache Frosting. (If you notice after the brownies cool that the middle sank in a bit, don't panic! Depending on if you under or over beat the batter this might have happened, but it makes no difference because you're going to cover them up with the delicious red wine ganache so don't worry!)
For the Red Wine Ganache Frosting:
- Place the chocolate, heavy cream and butter in a medium-sized saucepan (nonstick works best) and heat over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a heat-resistant spatula, until chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth.
- Add in the red wine and espresso powder and stir until everything is combined. Remove from heat, pour the ganache into a glass dish and stick in the freezer for ~1 hour or until completely set and a frosting-like consistency.
If it firms up before the brownies have fully cooled, place in the refrigerator until brownies are completely cool.
- When the ganache is a frosting consistency and brownies are cool, spread the ganache evenly over the brownies. Then I recommend placing the pan of frosted brownies in the freezer for ~15 minutes before cutting to make the cutting process easier, but it's not necessary (especially if you're not concerned with having clean cut lines).
- When you're ready to cut the brownies, lift them out of the pan by the parchment paper you lined the pan with (you may have to work at it a bit once the brownies have been chilled/cooled, since there is butter in between the parchment and the pan). Cut into ~16 small squares (or whatever size pieces you desire, but be warned these are extremely rich and a small square goes a long way).
- Store brownies in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.