Thomas Keller's recently developed gluten-free flour, Cup4Cup, is the key ingredient in his new Ad Hoc Gluten-Free Brownie Mix. At $18.95 a pop the mix is a serious splurge, but could it offer gluten-intolerant people everything they've been dreaming of—luscious chocolaty brownies with a perfect cakey, gooey consistency?
The boxed mix contains four separate packets: two bags of Guittard semisweet chocolate chips (one for melting and one for folding into the batter), a bag of sugar, and a bag of brownie mix, which is a careful blend of cocoa powder, vanilla powder, and Cup4Cup. Cup4Cup was developed in the kitchens at the French Laundry, and is a blend of cornstarch, white and brown rice flours, tapioca flour, potato flour, milk powder, and potato starch. (The New York Times' Florence Fabricant found that Cup4Cup worked "very well" in a poundcake, a chocolate cake, and a piecrust.)
Preparing the mix required a bit more elbow grease than your standard dump-and-stir versions, but it wasn't complicated. The first step is to melt the melting chocolate with 12 tablespoons of butter until smooth. Meanwhile, beat the contents of the sugar packet with 4 eggs. Stir in the melted chocolate, and then fold in the brownie mix. Finally, fold in the other packet of chocolate chips. All told, it took me roughly 10 minutes to prepare, and I only dirtied a pot, a bowl, a whisk, and a spoon.
Once baked, cooled, and cut, my brownies looked like something out of a high-end bakery showcase. The interiors were rich and moist, and the tops were covered with a paper-thin layer of crackly sugar. I'm pleased to report that the flavor was similarly outstanding. These were some of the best brownies I have ever had, let alone from a mix or gluten free. Dense, gooey, and insanely chocolaty, they seemed at once like a gourmet indulgence and like an everyday snack to be eaten with sticky fingers on the couch with a glass of milk. If you're gluten intolerant, this is the day you've been waiting for. I would easily include the Ad Hoc mix in my list of top five all time favorite brownie mixes.
Stay tuned next week when I review the chocolate chip cookie mix!