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Fudgy Flourless Brownies

Fudgy Flourless Brownies

These naturally gluten free flourless brownies are rich and fudgy, with a Paleo option, too. Made simply, with melted chocolate and cocoa powder, for maximum chocolate flavor.

These amazingly simple, naturally gluten free flourless brownies are everything a chocolate-lover could hope for. They’re rich and not too sweet, plus they’re perfectly dense and fudgy.

Why bake without flour?

Let’s first define baking without flour. If you’re going to call something flourless it shouldn’t have even a speck of an alternative flour (like almond flour or oat flour) or powdered starch (like cornstarch or tapioca).

I began developing flourless baking recipes years ago because, when you’re new to baking gluten free, you don’t have my favorite all purpose gluten free flour blends in the pantry. Since I want you to be successful early and often, I’ve developed many recipes that are truly flourless, even by the strictest definition.

Maybe you aren’t gluten free but a beloved friend or family member is, and you want to be able to bake something for them without learning a whole new vocabulary of ingredients. Baking without flour will get you there immediately.

Maybe you’re simply unable to run out to the store or the cupboards are suddenly and unexpectedly bare. You should be able to do some serious baking even with limits.

Glossy and rich batter for fudgy flourless brownies, ready to go in the pan.

How this brownie recipe works, even without flour

Every flourless recipe has something that holds it together, whether it’s a nut butter, cooked quinoa, black beans, or even mostly egg whites. In recipes like these flourless brownies, as in a flourless chocolate cake or flourless white chocolate cake, the heavy-lifting ingredient is the melted chocolate. 

I had been longing for a rich, flourless brownie with a fudgy, chewy texture, and didn’t have a competing flavor like a nut butter brings. And I was determined to use only the simplest, most basic baking ingredients.

Five main ingredients

This recipe had to have nothing more than melted chocolate, butter, sugar, eggs, and cocoa powder. Beating the butter first with the sugar and then the eggs helps give the brownies some lift, and helps create that beautiful crinkly meringue-like top. Don’t be afraid to whip air into the batter. 

A dash of salt helps balance the sweetness and bring out the other flavors. You won’t call out the flavor of the vanilla in these brownies, but it provides depth of flavor. Both could be omitted without affecting the success of the recipe.

These naturally gluten free flourless brownies are rich and fudgy, with a Paleo option, too. Made with melted chocolate and cocoa powder, and topped with a simple chocolate ganache.

Be sure to melt your chocolate very gently so it doesn’t seize and clump in the batter. And your other ingredients must be at room temperature so they combine fully and don’t shock the melted chocolate when it’s added.

These brownies are not be as solid as more cake-like chewy gluten free brownies. But they’re as close to fudge as you can get and still be a brownie!

These naturally gluten free flourless brownies are rich and fudgy, with a Paleo option, too. Made simply, with melted chocolate and cocoa powder, for maximum chocolate flavor.

Ingredients and substitutions

Whenever a recipe is as simple as this, making substitutions is risky. Each ingredient has a very specific function, and the more ingredients you replace, the farther away from the intended result you may find yourself. With that in mind, here are some suggestions. 

Dairy: Making these flourless brownies dairy free is the substitution that I feel most optimistic about. In place of the butter in the brownies, use virgin coconut oil. Be sure you’re using dairy-free dark chocolate in the brownies and the topping.

In the topping, try canned full-fat coconut milk in place of the whipping cream. To help the ganache set up, though, try using 3 fluid ounces instead of 4 fluid ounces.

Eggs: I’m afraid I’m not really optimistic about making this recipe with an egg substitute. There are 3 whole eggs, which is beyond my limit for egg-replacing optimism.

If you try replacing them with a “chia egg” each (1 tablespoon ground white chia seeds + 1 tablespoon lukewarm water, mixed and allowed to gel) you may find that the brownies simply won’t cook through without burning. 

Sugars: To make these brownies sugar-free, make sure your dark chocolate is sugar-free, and try replacing the granulated sugar with Lankato brand monkfruit granulated sugar replacement. It tends to be drying, but that may not matter so much in this recipe and may just result in a firmer brownie.

To make the sugar Paleo without making it sugar-free, replace the granulated sugar 1 for 1 by weight with coconut palm sugar that’s been ground into a somewhat finer consistency. Otherwise, it might not all dissolve in the brownies during baking and leave them a bit gritty.

Cocoa powder: Since there isn’t any baking powder or baking soda in these brownies, I recommend using Dutch-processed cocoa powder, which has been processed to neutralize its acidity. It has a richer, deeper flavor, too, than natural cocoa powder.

If you don’t have Dutch-processed (my favorite brand is Rodelle), just use natural cocoa powder and add a heaping 1/8 teaspoon baking soda to the recipe. That will neutralize the acid in your cocoa powder.

 
These naturally gluten free flourless brownies are rich and fudgy, with a Paleo option, too. Made simply, with melted chocolate and cocoa powder, for maximum chocolate flavor.These naturally gluten free flourless brownies are rich and fudgy, with a Paleo option, too. Made with melted chocolate and cocoa powder, and topped with a simple chocolate ganache.

Like this recipe?

Prep time: Cook time: Yield: 9 to 12 brownies

Ingredients

For the brownies
10 ounces dark chocolate, chopped

4 tablespoons (56 g) unsalted butter, chopped (Paleo option: replace with virgin coconut oil)

3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar (Paleo option: replace with coconut palm sugar)

3 eggs (150 g, weighed out of shell), at room temperature

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 cup (20 g) unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-processed)

2 to 3 ounces dark chocolate chips, for scattering (optional)

For the (optional) chocolate ganache
6 ounces dark chocolate, chopped

1/2 cup (4 fluid ounces) heavy whipping cream (Paleo option: replace with coconut cream)

Directions

  • First, make the brownies. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease and line an 8-inch square baking pan with unbleached parchment paper or nonstick aluminum foil that overhangs the sides of the pan or , and set it aside.

  • In a double boiler or a medium-sized microwave safe bowl, melt the chocolate and until melted and smooth. To melt the chocolate in the microwave, heat in 30-second increments at 70% power, stirring in between intervals, taking care not to burn the chocolate. Set the melted chocolate aside to cool briefly. In a separate, large bowl, place the butter and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add the sugar, and beat on high speed until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating very well in between additions. After the final egg, add the vanilla and salt, and beat on high speed until light and pillowy (about 1 minute). Add the cocoa powder and beat on low speed until the cocoa powder is absorbed (about 30 seconds to a minute). Add the melted chocolate and beat on medium-high speed until the mixture is smooth and glossy (2 to 3 minutes).

  • Pour the mixture into the prepared baking pan, spread it into an even layer and tap the pan on a flat surface to break any large air bubbles. Sprinkle the top evenly with the (optional) chocolate chips and press the chips into the batter to help them adhere. Place the pan in the center of the preheated oven and bake until the brownies are puffed in the center and the center doesn’t jiggle when shaken gently from side to side (22 to 25 minutes). Do not overbake. Remove the pan from the oven, place it on a wire rack to cool completely in the pan. Once the brownies are nearly cool, if you’re not adding the ganache, place the pan in the refrigerator to chill until firm to the touch. This will make slicing much easier, but it’s not essential.

  • If you’re adding the ganache, place the chopped chocolate in a medium-size, heat-safe bowl. Heat the heavy cream or coconut cream in a small, heavy-bottom saucepan just until it begins to simmer. Pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate and allow the mixture to sit for about 30 seconds, or until the chocolate beings to melt. Stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Pour the ganache over the top of the cooled brownies, still in the pan. Scatter with the (optional) chocolate chips, pressing them down gently to adhere. Refrigerate the brownies in the pan until the ganache is set (about an hour).

  • Slice the chilled brownies into 9 or 12 equal pieces and serve. Without the ganache, they freeze amazingly well.

  • Originally published on the blog in 2016. Some photos and text new; method modified to make more stable brownies with a crinkly top.

Love,
Nicole

  • Arshiya Khanna
    July 26, 2020 at 3:46 PM

    This recipe looks perfectly balanced, thank you for all the detail! Was just wondering – the Schharfen Berger 70% bittersweet chocolate – is it a regular chocolate bar from the candy aisle or is it special baking chocolate? Thank you MasterChef for your time !! Would you recommend callebaut cocoa powder or chocolate buttons for this recipe ?

    • Nicole Hunn
      July 26, 2020 at 5:44 PM

      Scharffen Berger baking chocolate is a baking bar, not a bar for eating, Arshiya. You’ll find it in the baking aisle of some grocery stores, not in the candy aisle. The cocoa powder that I use and like best because it’s high quality and reliably gluten free is Rodelle. I’m afraid I don’t know offhand if Callebaut cocoa powder is reliably gluten free, but if it is, sure that would be great.

  • Becky Parker
    May 3, 2020 at 4:55 PM

    These brownies are delicious along with being quick and easy to make! Not being gluten free myself I wasn’t sure how they would be without flour (one of my colleagues is celiac) but am so happy with how they have turned out. Thank you for sharing this recipe with us.

    • Nicole Hunn
      May 3, 2020 at 5:38 PM

      That’s so kind of you to make them for your colleague, Becky. Flourless baking is a great option when you’re just dipping your toe into gluten free baking, since there are no specialized ingredients to buy!

  • Debbie Bergen
    April 30, 2020 at 2:28 PM

    These brownies were awesome. My husband loves these brownies which is quite a compliment to you as he is a picky eater. I used chocolate chunks rather the chips. I will be making more today. Thanks for great recipe.

    • Nicole Hunn
      April 30, 2020 at 2:59 PM

      Picky eaters can be very nerve-wracking to bake and cook for, Debbie! I’m glad we passed the test. 🙂

  • Cassandra E
    April 29, 2020 at 10:03 PM

    I could eat the whole pan! I only had semi sweet chips on hand that hubby bought a few weeks ago. Let’s face it, shopping during COVID, you take what you can get in the baking aisle. I did the paleo version, using only 90g of coconut sugar because of the semi sweet chips, and OMG. These may replace my “famous” Journey Brownies I make for all kinds of dog sport events. Quick and easy, simple ingredients I had in the pantry,

    • Nicole Hunn
      April 30, 2020 at 8:22 AM

      You sure do take what you can get, Cassandra! Sounds like you did great. I’m curious about your Journey Brownies. I mean, since they’re famous and everything… 😉

  • Mia
    April 27, 2020 at 3:39 AM

    These look so ridiculously decadent that I dare not make them til I’ve got a group of people to feed them too or else I’m sure to eat them all myself! Definitely saving the recipe for future baking endeavours!

    Out of curiosity do you think this could work with other chocolate (e.g. white chocolate) and if so what would you substitute for cocoa or is it simply too reliant on the cocoa? I’m a massive dark chocolate fan but I have many friends who are keen on white or caramelized white chocolate.

    • Nicole Hunn
      April 27, 2020 at 11:44 AM

      Hi, Mia, I honestly don’t think this would work the same with white chocolate, no. Most white chocolate isn’t really chocolate, to be honest. I do have a recipe for flourless white chocolate cake that you might prefer.

  • Alan
    April 26, 2020 at 9:42 AM

    These looks great! Any suggestions what to do if you don’t have a mixer?

    Thank you!

    • Nicole Hunn
      April 26, 2020 at 10:01 AM

      I guess you could try beating really really vigorously by hand at each step, but there is no substitute for beating everything very well, especially before you add the melted chocolate.

  • Ivy Aspengren
    April 25, 2020 at 11:34 PM

    Omg 😳 This is the best brownie ever 😋 ! I had to make a triple batch these were so good! I ate the first batch and it was so good I had to make more! I love these brownies I’m going to make more right now and tomorrow and the next day!

    • Nicole Hunn
      April 26, 2020 at 8:49 AM

      Hahaha wow, Ivy, you’re all in. I can’t say I blame you. Thanks so much for the kind note.

  • Sandy
    April 24, 2020 at 1:44 PM

    Does anyone know what the nutrition label/carb count is with these brownies? Thank you.

    • Nicole Hunn
      April 24, 2020 at 1:58 PM

      Hi, Sandy, feel free to plug the ingredients in on an online nutrition calculator site (like Sparkpeople), but I’m afraid you won’t like the results for this recipe as it’s about as devoid of nutritional value as you can get!

  • Lauren Gelfman
    November 25, 2016 at 8:46 PM

    What does “set” in the center mean? I’ve had the brownies in for about a half hour and when I stick a knife in the middle it doesn’t come out clean. Is that ok? Don’t want to overbake!

    • November 26, 2016 at 5:57 PM

      Set in the center means that it doesn’t appear wet, or jiggle when it’s shaken, Lauren. More like a cheesecake than a regular cake, as far as a doneness test.

  • Janis
    October 19, 2016 at 10:35 AM

    I made these last night. Thank you so much for the recipe! I love naturally gluten free recipes! I read a lot of the comments before I made them and I value the insight of others who have made the recipe already, so here are my 2 cents. :)

    First, the recipe tastes pretty much like it looks. Fudgy, rich, dense. I doubled the brownie recipe for a quarter sheet pan (9x13x1) but didn’the double the ganache. It was perfect. I also substituted semi-sweet chips for all of the chocolate (except for cocoa powder). I made a mistake and threw the cocoa powder and salt in with the eggs. (It pays to read and reread the directions.) It worked anyway, although I would love to try it the right way. I think it would be a bit better. I also didn’t read that you are supposed to let it refrigerate for an hour after you put on the ganache. It was good anyway, but even better the next day! Next time I will make these first thing in the morning or the day before I want to serve them.

    My quarter sheet pan will serve my family of seven 4 times. It is very rich and a small piece will satisfy.

    Thanks again for the recipe! I really value all you do here. :)

  • Sharon
    August 7, 2016 at 10:53 PM

    I made these last week. Thought they were a bit under cooked. Ended up putting them in fridge over night and they were perfect and tasty!! Currently have another in oven, unsure how the are goingt ogo. Top is hard but underneath doesn’t seem set. The uncooked mixture was different to first time but I did use different chocolate this time though.

  • Dena S
    August 6, 2016 at 1:02 PM

    Amazing recipe. We just finished eating them. They are very fudge-like! Super simple and easy. I actually totally left out the melted chocolate and just mixed in cocoa powder. Worked like a dream! Thanks!

  • Danielle Schmidt
    August 5, 2016 at 12:11 AM

    Oh my gosh! Just made the paleo version of these (minus the ganache) and they are SO. GOOD. I’m eating a warm one fresh from the oven right now! I don’t think I’ll ever use a different brownie recipe again! Thanks so much!
    I think you could even use half the amount of coconut sugar and they would still be amazing!

  • Jennifer
    July 4, 2016 at 9:18 PM

    I am not much of a blog commenter, but I have to comment on these brownies. Hands down, the best brownies I’ve ever had. I’ve tried 4 other brownie recipes from scratch and each time my husband and I felt like box mixes were better than the from scratch brownies. I decided to try one more recipe from scratch and then give up and stick with a box mix – this recipe was my last attempt. They are delicious – super fudgy and chocolaty. A few notes – I used semi sweet chocolate chips; I did not do the Paleo options. Thanks for the recipe!

    • July 7, 2016 at 7:58 AM

      That’s pretty awesome, Jennifer. So glad you broke out of the box! Thanks for taking the time to comment. I hope you’ll do it again. 😘

  • Hailee
    June 23, 2016 at 5:56 AM

    Can I get some clarification about the type of chocolate you used? Is it unsweetened baking chocolate, semi-sweetened baking chocolate, or just a bar of regular dark chocolate from the candy aisle? Thank you in advance.

    • July 7, 2016 at 8:01 AM

      Hi, Hailee, I used Scharffen Berger brand 70% bittersweet dark chocolate. “Dark chocolate” is lower in sugar and higher in cacao butter than, say, semi-sweet chocolate. It’s richer and more bitter. Unsweetened chocolate has no sugar, and should only be used in a recipe when specifically called for. Hope that helps!

  • KathrineVW
    June 1, 2016 at 3:29 PM

    Any ideas how to make this in a mocha version? I am in charge of birthday treats for a coworker, and she like mocha. These sound yummy! I want to make sure I get the coffee ratio right.

    • June 6, 2016 at 2:48 PM

      You could try replacing the vanilla with very strong coffee.

  • Christina Michelle Jones
    June 1, 2016 at 9:35 AM

    Tried this. Amazing! Drizzled white choc on top. Also substituted cocoa with cacao amd used the coconut oil/sugar options. Very rich! For the tray/pan i used, think I’ll double the brownie recipe but keep ganache as it is or do 3/4 of the recipe 😊 thanks for this!

  • Sarah Lee
    April 25, 2016 at 10:02 PM

    This recipe looks crazing amazing! Definitely trying it. Have you tried it without egg? just wondering if replacement with chia or flax will work. I just tested positive for intolerance to eggs..

    • May 30, 2016 at 9:03 AM

      I’m afraid I don’t think so, Sarah. There are so few ingredients, and in my experience an egg substitute only works if there are, at most, 2 eggs in the regular recipe. Sorry!

  • Mare Masterson
    April 25, 2016 at 12:14 PM

    Okay – 34th wedding anniversary is today. This is now tonight’s dessert.

    • April 25, 2016 at 6:00 PM

      Happy anniversary, Mare! That’s amazing. :)

  • Jennifer S.
    April 25, 2016 at 10:59 AM

    yum. these look super!!

    I’ve done the black bean thing… it tastes like black beans.

    • April 25, 2016 at 11:26 AM

      Oh no, Jennifer! I knew it… But I can’t help myself from trying just a few times. Then I’ll move on to avocado in place of butter. I’m more optimistic about that one.

      • Sebernard
        April 25, 2016 at 6:48 PM

        My kids are them with no issues and loved them. However, I will have to see if I can get the recipe my friend used to make them. However, I do have to say your bread recipes have been a lifesaver for us!!!

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