Flax seed: it’s something you know you should eat more of, but you find to hard to fit it into your diet. You know, along with the bajillion other healthy foods you are supposed to eat. How can you possibly find time for it all, you’d be eating all day long! Nuts, berries, acai, chia, flax seed, coconut oil, pomegranate, spinach, kale. All these miracle foods that promise to deliver big health benefits, and every time you read about them or hear about them, it simply makes you feel guilty that you aren’t eating more of them. Let’s face it, really all you would rather do is eat brownies. Who wouldn’t rather eat brownies, after all? Mmmm, chocolatey sweet brownies. Whether you like yours cakey or fudgey, brownies are the baker’s answer to ambrosia. Food of the baking gods. So when offered the choice between a big pile of kale and flax seed versus a chocolatey brownie, what are you going to choose? Yeah, I thought so…
Well, what if you didn’t have to choose? Okay, okay, so I didn’t manage to invent kale brownies. I didn’t even invent flax seed brownies, they were already invented. It just suddenly occurred to me to make my own version of flax seed brownies, in an effort to get more flax seed into my kids. I know I’ve lamented on this problem before, but I am trying to cut down on gluten in my kids’ diets, without using nut flours because all of their schools are entirely nut-free. As a low carb, gluten free baker, this presents me with a significant challenge. Most of the low carb, gluten free “flours” I use are of the nut-based variety, and I’d really rather not send my kids to school with something that might poison one of their classmates. So when kicking around ideas for gluten free sweet treats, I thought about using the combination of flax seed and oat flour that I’d used in my Banana Flax Chocolate Chip Muffins.
I knew I’d heard of flax seed brownies before, but after a little research into the matter, I decided to go it alone and use my gluten-free baker’s intuition. In fact, I used a recipe from America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook as a base recipe, swapping out the 3/4 cup wheat flour for my combination of flax and oat flour. I went heavy on the flax seed meal, thinking that the chocolate would mask the flavour somewhat and make it more acceptable to my kids. I also decided to skip the sugar altogether and go with erythritol and stevia. Except for whatever sugar is in the chocolate chips, these were entirely sugar-free.
The Results: This was a real gamble here, because I took a conventional brownie recipe, one made for flour, and adjusted it for gluten free ingredients. That’s not really how gluten free baking normally works, but I’d say for the most part, the gamble paid off. I found these on the cakey side, and a bit crumbly, but my kids ADORED them! My middle child said they were the best brownies ever and my oldest asked when I could make them again. I had a bite or two, even though they aren’t truly low carb (the oat flour and chocolate chips add a bit too much for my system) and the flavour was really good. I’d call these a win.
Now, you can use sugar or honey in place of my sweeteners and that may help you end up with a moister brownie. Erythritol is non-hygroscopic, meaning it doesn’t attract moisture the way sugar does. But sugar obviously would make these a lot less healthy and much more of a treat. Or do half and half, to keep the sugar down and still get the health benefits from the flax seed. It’s up to you.
Chocolate Chip Flax Seed Brownies
1/2 cup butter
3 oz unsweetened chocolate (GF), coarsely chopped
3/4 cup flax seed meal
1/2 cup oat flour(GF)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated erythritol (or sugar) – I used Swerve
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
20 drops stevia extract (omit if using sugar)
1/2 cup chocolate chips(GF)
Preheat oven to 325F and grease an 8×8 inch pan
In small saucepan over low heat, melt butter and chocolate together until smooth. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flax seed meal, oat flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, granulated erythritol or sugar, vanilla extract and stevia extract, if using. Whisk in melted chocolate mixture until smooth. Stir in the flax seed meal mixture until well-combined. Stir in chocolate chips (I like to save a few for sprinkling on top).
Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until top is just barely firm to the touch. Remove from oven and let cool, then cut into bars.