peanut butter chocolate brownies + facts about non-wheat flour
[5 ingredients | simple baking]

peanut butter brownies peanut butter brownies-3

Following on from last weeks facts about wheat flour, I wanted to explore the world of flours that are based on anything but wheat. And what a world it is.

I also wanted to experiment with baking with different flours and have come up with a wonderfully simple 5 ingredient peanut butter brownie. A brownie that totally lives up to its name and delivers on the key brownie strengths of moist, chocolately goodness. Paired with the fact that it’s gluten and dairy free, we’re talking win-win.

facts about non-wheat flours

rice flour
With a protein content of 7.5%, rice flour is probably the closest nutritionally to wheat flour. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the only ‘wheat free’ product in my former employers range was their Rice Cookies – a wonderful plain sweet cookie that are a big hit with my gluten intolerant Dad. Rice flour is often used in shortbread to give that lovely ‘short’ melt in the mouth texture.

corn flour / cornstarch
In Australia, what used to be sold as ‘corn flour or corn starch’ was actually made from wheat. This confusing terminology was a hang over from the days when ‘corn’ was used to describe the staple grain of any country. Thankfully this is changing and it is now possible to buy ‘corn or maize cornflour’ that is gluten free.

With less than 1% protein it’s more of a source of starch and is generally used for thickening sauces or for making light-as-air sponge cakes like my Mums.

rye flour
Rye is low in gluten so is often combined with wheat to make bread with the wonderfully disctinct rye flavour.

chickpea flour
Made from ground dried chickpeas, chickpea flour aka besan or garbanzo bean flour, is used extensively in Indian cooking. The French and Italians also use it to make cakes, flat bread and pancakes.

buckwheat flour
Buckwheat is a gluten free plant that isn’t actually a cereal, but is treated like one. It has a distinct grainy, nutty flavour and a protein content of around 12%, so similar to wheat.

Japanese soba noodles are probably the most famous use of buckwheat, but it is also used to make pancakes like galettes from Brittany in France. Buckwheat can also be used to make gluten free beer.

sorghum flour
Is commonly used as a replacement for wheat in India and Africa. It’s gluten free and has a protein content of around 9%, so not that much lower than wheat.

chestnut flour
I think of italian style cakes when I think of chestnut flour. Apparently it goes rancid very quickly, so best to buy in small quantities.

potato flour
A favourite thickening agent of the Irish, potato flour is great for thickening sauces and stews as is gives a smooth shiny sauce or stew. It can also be used as an ingredient in its own right.

arrowroot powder
Arrowroot is actually a starch based product (so low protein) extracted from the roots of the arrowroot plant. BUT as I noticed in my local supermarket, some commercial arrowroots are actually made from tapioca so should technically be called tapioca starch.

Eitherway, arrowroot is generally used as a thickening agent. It thickens at a lower temperature than corn flour, so is good for egg bases sauces or things that are best if not heated excessively.

tapioca flour
Is an extract from the roots of cassava that is sometimes labelled as arrowroot. It is in the low protein spectrum and can be used as a thickening agent. Interestingly, it is the second ingredient in the commercial ‘gluten free’ flour I purchased recently. It is popular in Brazil.

commercial ‘gluten free’ flour
I had picked up a packet of gluten free flour for my Dad recently but hadn’t really tested it out. On looking at the packet I was surprised to find that the protein content is really low at around 1.5% and that the manufacturer advises that egg and /or skim milk powder may be required to give best results. Given the premium price of this flour, I think I’ll stick to rice flour as my preferred gluten free baking option from here on in.

peanut butter brownies-2

[5 ingredients | simple baking]
peanut butter chocolate brownies

The beautiful thing about these brownies is that they are dairy AND gluten free. Perfect for people with allergies and a sweet tooth, like my dear old dad.

I also love that they’re so simple to make. Just mix everthing together with a spoon then pop it in the oven to bake.

I used a long loaf pan that is 30 x 11cm (12 x 4.5in) to bake these. And I’ve also had success with a shorter loaf pan (24 x 12cm / 9.5 x 4.5in). But you could use a square or even a round one. You might need to adjust the cooking time a little but these brownies are very forgiving so don’t stress about it too much.

If you’re in the mood for making your own peanut butter, there’s a recipe I wrote about here. If you’re using commercial PNB, best to use a natural one that is 100% peanuts or close to it to get maximum peanut flavour.

I’ve used brown sugar here, but regular white sugar would be fine instead.

And the rice flour worked a treat but don’t go out and buy a box just for this recipe. Pretty much any flour will work I would imagine. In this case it’s more of a bulking agent rather than a critical structural ingredient.

150g (5oz) peanut butter, preferably crunchy
225g (8oz) brown sugar
2 eggs
50g (2oz) cocoa powder
75g (3oz) rice flour

1. Preheat oven to 160C (320F). Grease and line the base of a loaf pan (see note above) with baking paper.

2. Mix sugar and eggs with the peanut butter. Gently stir through cocoa powder and flour until just mixed through.

3. Pour into prepared tin and bake for 30 – 45 minutes. Or until the top feels just set and a skewer inserted into the middle emerges slightly moist. You want the middle to still be a little squidgy. Cool in the tin.


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  • Wow. I look forward to baking these when I get back from my vacation. Except, I’ll probably use Buckwheat flour because I don’t like the consistancy of rice flour.

  • Totally agree on chestnut flour – buy it from an Italian grocer and use it quickly or freeze it. I’ve had experience with it going bad.. not very nice.

    On GF flour you are better to make your own mix rather than use a commercial GF flour as you will get more reliable results. Each brand of GF flour has a different formulation of ingredients so you will need to adjust your recipe to achieve the same result. To make your own, use equal parts sorghum flour, corn starch (or tapioca starch), potato starch and millet flour with some xanthan gum (eg 1 cup of each then 1 tbs of xanthan gum). You will ordinarily need to use more liquid and fat in a GF recipe than a normal recipe for it to be palatable.

  • Have just put crunchy peanut butter onto shopping list. I’m really enjoying your “5 minute” recipes and have made most of them – we loved your lemon delicious puds, the quinoa tabbouleh, felafel and hummus. They are super-simple and delicious recipes – thank you!

  • Hi there, just wanting to say how valuable I am finding your blog. I
    like the minimalism concept on many levels, and also really enjoy your
    ‘anatomy’ of cooking tutorials like the non-wheat flour one today. It’s
    quite hard to get such information despite the enormous number of
    cookbooks about. Many thank yous, from Adelaide….

  • I really dislike peanut butter in things, is that an essential ingredient in these brownies? How would they work if I left it out? would I need to substitute some other oil, or dairy or egg? I am OK with those ingredients. Some people are very allergic to peanuts also.
    Thanks! From USA

  • So I had to run out and get fiber supplement for my ferret (long story) and I picked up some rice flour since I was out (I had no flour in my house, I’m not sure how that happened) and came straight home and made this.

    What you should know about me:
    A.) I don’t cook let alone bake.
    B.) I can burn water.

    That said, I used the Ghirardelli’s cocoa powder I was given to make hot chocolate with and this came out *amazingly* well. I may add just a drop of vegetable oil the next time because mine came out a bit more crumbly than I’d like.

    But this is totally going in my ‘comfort food’ collection for those nights when I just *need* warm chocolate!

    Thanks so much for sharing.

  • Any ideas about a canesugar-free version of these? Would they work with honey, for instance? Or maple syrup? Gosh they look yummy! I might have to make them for the rest of the family and enjoy them vicariously.

  • Have you ever heard of mochi flour, by the way? Otherwise known as glutinous rice? It’s responsible for the most amazing, sticky, chewy, lovely, QQ texture ever. I’ve made brownie bites with them and they are SO good! I’ll be blogging about my results with these brownies with mochi flour! :D

  • I love your blog and your posts on flour have been extremely informative. I am trying to learn all I can about baking and generally improve my cooking skills. Thanks so much for providing helpful information and tantalizing recipes!

  • Thank you for sharing this recipe. My brother was recently diagnosed with gluten and dairy allergies, so I’ve been searching for treats I can make for him. These look wonderful!

  • wei-wei
    I haven’t heard of mochi flour – but will keen an eye out for it. look forward to seeing your post about these brownies

    good question nicola
    I’d be a little worried that honey or maple would dominate the flavour. something like agave syrup would probably be Ok though.

    hope these helped with the hurricane!

    so glad the brownies got you baking!

    you could use any other nut butter like almond or cashew. OR just substitute in vegetable oil or even good old fashioned regular butter.

  • I made these brownies over the weekend for a family get together that I had to travel over 5 hours one way. I was limited in time, supplies, and equipment. I brought the rice flour and found the rest at my destination. They turned out great; everyone loved eating them. The best part was two of my nieces (11 and 12 years old) want to know how to make them. I love sharing things that people can take with them the rest of their lives wherever they go. Thanks. PS I added a bit more PB and some flax seed for added fiber. They were still very moist even the next day.

  • I tried these tonight using wheat flour instead of rice flour and keeping the proportions the same–unfortunately, it didn’t work. The batter was way too dry; I added a couple tablespoons of water but it didn’t make enough of a difference and the resulting baked good was rather rock-like. Will try again with rice flour.

  • ayn
    thanks for sharing the results of the wheat flour – so sorry they didn’t work out. You’d probably need to increase the amount of PNB to get the fat level up to counter the extra protein in the wheat flour.

    hope you have more success with the riceflour

  • We made these on the weekend; they come our so well I ended up posting a review over on my blog. I hope you don’t mind! Let me know if you do and I’ll take it down.

    I like the idea of the added flax seed, too – might try that with the next batch!

  • Thanks for the interesting post. I have just started ‘experimenting’ with other flours and this information is really useful.
    I hate to be picky but as an Irish person I have never used potato flour, or even seen it in an Irish shop. We just use potatoes in stew! (Yes it’s that pure a cliche! :) )

  • spelt, wonderful spelt! my girlfriend is gluten-intolerant, and after a couple of years of struggling with crumbly foods we discovered this wonderful grain. spelt is closely related to wheat, and actually has a gluten content similar to wheat, but many people are sensitive to gluten can eat it (though not coeliacs or wheat allergics, as far as i know). the great thing about spelt is that i’ve found that it can be directly subsituted into a lot of recipes. i’ve even managed to make vegan, gluten-free fresh pasta out of it. apparently it’s a lot healthier than wheat too, but i don’t believe everything i read.

  • Jules – these look so good its almost making ME want to get into the kitchen. Almost…… Ciao Jess

  • Thanks for a fabulous – and super easy – dessert that’s also gluten and dairy free! I loved how the peanut bits contrast with the creamy chocolately goodness. You don’t even really get the sense that there’s peanut butter in it. Most GF dessert and bread recipes require strange ingredients like xanthan or guar gum, and I just haven’t been able to find them here (OK, so Ferran AdriĆ” uses them at El Bulli, but no one I’ve talked to in any of the shops here knows what they are).

  • this brownie recipe is fantastic! It’s so easy to make and the three times I’ve used it the brownies have been superb! The first time I made it just like it’s shown but the second time I used bananas instead of peanut butter and the third time I used pumpkin. I’m going to try applesauce next time and someone suggested cream cheese. I think I could use almost anything! Thank you so much for sharing!!

  • hey maggie
    thanks for sharing. glad to hear it works with bananas and pumpkin – I’m keen to try the cream cheese version myself ;)

  • I am finally able to eat sweets and what a treat. I have found a wonderful Bakery/Coffee Shop in Salt Lake City that makes the most incredible gluten free Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookie I have ever tasted. Even those that are not wheat intolerant eat this irresistible delight. I asked one of the bakers what was in it and she said garbanzo flour, rice flour and arrowroot and beyond that I don’t know. It is chewy/goey and so yummy. I have tried to find a recipe that seems like it but have not found one. Your brownie recipe seems a little like it.
    Any ideas what else might be in it and in recipe form? Thank you so much.

  • Just had to tell you (as I look up this recipe again), what a godsend it has been for me.

    I love to bake for my co-workers, and two are gluten free.

    One prefers the peanut butter version, one has asked for Nutella instead (so rich!), and both love you for allowing me to include them in my “treat” rituals.

    These are hoarded and NOT shared with others who can eat whatever they want. They are a special treat.

    THANK YOU for this!

  • Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. I stopped eating all flour products and sugar products with great results. I was able to take your recipe and exchange splenda brown sugar and make it sugarfree as well. Awesome brownies, so easy to make!!!!!

  • i’d sub out garbanzo (chick pea) flour for the rice, cashew butter for the peanut butter, honey for the sugar (let ya know how this works out) and carob powder for the cocoa. peace out to you beautiful people in New Z!!! thanks for the recipe.

    BIG nummy LOVE from USA – casey

  • Literally just made these and eating them as I write and they are sooooo good!!! I was craving chocolate so much and thought I had absolutely nothing in the cupboard but once again Julz, your recipes have pulled all my bits and pieces in my povo cupboard into main meals or in this case a generous dessert!! Thank you!!

  • These were good! I added stevia and used less sugar and the taste was still sweet enough. I love Peanut butter!

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