• Perfect chocolate brownies, naturally gluten free

The Perfect Chocolate Brownie

Oooops! Who ate that side of the pan of brownies? Come on now – who cut a slither off one corner whilst still warm then went back as they chomped it down to cut a second piece and then thought “oh to hell with it, I may as well slice off the whole of this side!”? Hehehe, that would be *me* then ;).

You see, the 24 hours running up to this shameful act was consumed with one thought and one thought alone. I must bake. And eat. I must bake something I really want a piece of and eat it with pleasure in my soul and joy in my heart! I think there is only so long a person who loves to bake can hold out not eating some of their wares, even when she’s trying so desperately hard to lose the weight she packed on after her wedding to Hungry Hubby.

I’ve really cracked this exercise milarky now – I do some form of proper, drenched in sweat evoking form of exercise almost everyday and I have completely overhauled how I eat beyond recognition. I’m slightly proud of these facts. So far, be it painfully slowly, I have been rewarded with a 9.5lbs weight loss which other people are starting to see. Me? Happy much! :D. But back to these brownies…


I’ve been fantasising about these brownies, adapted from the first of a series of books written by the founders of the healthy fast food chain Leon, for months and months. I’d even bought myself some fructose sugar to make them with. Sadly I learnt after this act and certainly way after the publication of this book fructose might not be the “kinder to your health” form of refined sugar the Leon creators thought it might be. Turns out, it probably turns to fat just as quick if not quicker than bog standard sucrose. Rats. Oh well, it was pricey and I only had enough for one recipe so I decided to use it up just this once! I’m sure the turning on of fat burning genes supplied by the almonds in the recipe counteracts this design flaw nicely! ;)

You see, brownies are somewhat of a contentious issue in themselves. By that I mean – folk in the home baking camp are forever arguing (if from a passionate place rather than an angry one!) about what makes The Perfect Brownie. It’s something my foodie friends come back to time and time again. We even have a document in our Facebook group “Cooking Friends” which is dedicated as space to transcribe the some 200 plus members favourite brownie recipes into. Whether you like your brownies gooey, cakey, chewy or fudgey (or perhaps a combination of all four) chances are once you’ve found your Ne Plus Ultra brownie, you’re going to fight to the death to promote it to the world! Such is the power of the humble cacao pod and the fruits of its refinement.


Once I tasted (three pieces) of this smouldering rich chocolate brown pan of goodness I knew I’d found The One (for me). You may disagree with me but like selecting a mate, a life partner, a Hungry Hubby or Wifey of your own, a recipe for sheer brownie perfection is not merely about matching up exact, predefined criteria of desirable characteristics but more about finding The One which makes your insides melt and your heart pound with all its might.

For me, I’m all about the addition of nuts to make the perfect brownie – here we go for ground almonds as well as toasted then roughly chopped whole almonds and pecans. I just love how even a small quantity of ground almonds provides a fudge-like consistency with also a hint of cakey-ness that combine to produce the most toothsome texture of all known baked delights.

I love the “set” the ground nuts give once at room temp and the addition of chopped dark and milk chocolate just skyrockets this recipe to the top of the brownie charts for me. You’ll know exactly why when you sink your teeth into one, still with the breath of warmth from the oven on them and a chunk of molten chocolate is unleashed into your salivating mouth. Wow. There are no words to fully describe that sensation!


My version of the original recipe has both a streamlined method (as I found the method in the book unnatural to follow – I guess we all get into a personal rhythm in our own kitchens so feel free to do as you please also) and I’ve played around with the ingredients. I left out the orange zest, bumped up the espresso, reduced the chocolate amount and changed the nuts.

This was due to my baking supplies cupboard running on empty but can I tell you – I will never make them any differently from now on as these were chocolate perfection to me. So not only have I found a soul mate in Hungry Hubby (whom is a lifelong lover of a good brownie served warm with vanilla ice cream) but I’ve found my brownie soul mate too. The search is over :)

The Perfect Chocolate Brownie
Servings: 16
: 377 kcal
Author: Just Jo
  • 180 g butter
  • 200 g dark chocolate
  • 2 tbsp espresso coffee
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs
  • 180 g caster sugar light or dark muscavado sugars are also delicious here
  • 100 g ground almonds
  • Generous pinch sea salt
  • 50 g whole almonds
  • 50 g whole pecans
  • 125 g dark chocolate chopped not too finely
  • 125 g milk chocolate chopped not too finely
  1. Pop the whole nuts on a baking tray and pop in the oven for 10 mins on 180°C until toasted and fragrant – chop roughly when cool.
  2. Leave oven on as prepare the batter.
  3. Melt the butter and 200g dark chocolate together then take off the heat and beat in the coffee and vanilla.
  4. When cooled down for 5 or 10 minutes whisk in the eggs, sugar, ground almonds and salt.
  5. Stir in the chopped nuts and chocolate.
  6. Pour into a 20x30cm baking tin lined with grease proof paper or buttered foil.
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the middle just has a hint of inner thigh wibble, as Nigella would say.
  8. Cool only as long as you can bare to wait for and portion up as generously as your greedy soul can bare!
Recipe Notes

Adapted from Emma Goss Custard, when she worked for the Leon group

Nutrition Facts
The Perfect Chocolate Brownie
Amount Per Serving
Calories 377 Calories from Fat 252
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 28g 43%
Saturated Fat 13g 65%
Cholesterol 65mg 22%
Sodium 101mg 4%
Potassium 220mg 6%
Total Carbohydrates 27g 9%
Dietary Fiber 3g 12%
Sugars 20g
Protein 5g 10%
Vitamin A 6.9%
Calcium 4.9%
Iron 18.1%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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  1. frugalfeeding 29/06/2012 at 09:59 - Reply

    That’s what I do too, it’s really difficult not to… Those look rather good. My favourite are the gluten free ones I made a while ago. making them in that way ensures that they are dense, moist and taste really intensely of chocolate.

  2. Meenakshi 29/06/2012 at 12:47 - Reply

    I completely understand…I prefer my brownies gooey but not too gooey…but definitely not cake-like. Brownies against a blue background are pretty darn beautiful! I like the way you stacked them between a napkin in the picture below. I just baked a chocolate pound cake (really- I am not saying it for effect!) and I also added ground and crushed almonds. You are right- they add an element of delight and awesomeness and flavour that cannot be matched by any other nut. Almonds are the Top Nut. Will check out that FB page! xoxo

    • Jo Blogs 29/06/2012 at 13:32 - Reply

      Excellently well out there Meena! I do think ground almonds are the secret key to the perfect gooey but not cakey brownie, as you say. That pound caked sounds delicious – I think almonds are my favourite nut :D

  3. The spicy saffron 29/06/2012 at 14:41 - Reply

    Mouth watering…the brownies as well as your write up! The pic are beautiful too!!

    • Jo Blogs 29/06/2012 at 14:48 - Reply

      Thank you! The leftovers are staring at me, trying to tempt me to bite ;)

  4. NickkiT 30/06/2012 at 19:36 - Reply

    They do indeed look like the perfect brownie Jo – so moist and fudgy! It’s a great feeling when you find “that”recipe!

    • Jo Blogs 02/07/2012 at 10:08 - Reply

      It’s a keeper Nic. I’m very impressed with the Leon baking book ice read this weekend, though I wouldn’t call any of them healthy really lol. The lemon squares have peaked my interest alright…

      • NickkiT 02/07/2012 at 13:35 - Reply

        I’ve borrowed a few of the Leon books from the Library (I’m too poor atm to buy any more cookbooks!) and I’m really impressed with them. The baking one is definitely on my wish list ;-) And I do agree that the lemon squares look rather scrumptious! x

  5. […] Before I embarked on my baking expedition, I used to make brownies from a box- Betty Crocker, mostly. I attempted brownies from scratch once, quite long ago, and they came out rather cakey. And well…I don’t like a cakey brownie all that much. Ask Jo, I told her the same, and she makes a mean brownie. In fact, I have been planning a brownie post since I saw her perfect brownie recipe. […]

  6. Jill 07/09/2012 at 01:34 - Reply

    Awesome Recipe :)
    These are great… here is another recipe you might like to try.
    Thanks for sharing,

    • Jo Blogs 07/09/2012 at 17:03 - Reply

      Thanks Jill I’ll take a look now! There is no such thing as too many brownie recipes ;)

  7. Lucy 25/11/2014 at 19:37 - Reply

    Jo, When you say 2 tbs Espresso, could I use instant coffee instead please? If so what quantity coffee and water please? Thank you very much for your help. This is perfect timing, as I have been asked to make Brownies, for next week. Can I just leave the chopped nuts out, or do I need to subsitute for something? Thank you, Lucy

    • Jo Blogs 26/11/2014 at 11:29 - Reply

      You can just use instant coffee instead and carry on with the recipe as it stands Lucy, same amount of water. And just leave the nuts out – you could replace them with chocolate chips if you :)

      • Lucy Tullett 26/11/2014 at 11:51 - Reply


        Thank you

  8. Bianka 07/02/2017 at 02:25 - Reply

    I must STOP reading your blog!!! Been at it since 2am and now it’s almost sunrise, and I am ravenous! Need brownies now!!!

    Cannot wait to try all these delectable recipes, thank you for sharing!!!

    • Just Jo 07/02/2017 at 11:18 - Reply

      Aw Bianka, this makes me smile so much! I am sorry for the sleep deprivation torture but thankful that you enjoyed the blof so much, lol x

      • Bianka 08/02/2017 at 06:54 - Reply

        I am planning my weekend so that I can prep everything! Making pastry, butterscotch, creme pat etc. For my moms opening of her clinic. And can I tell you how excited I am to make your creme brûlèe macaroons! Hope I will do them justice…! Will send pics

        Warm Regards

        • Just Jo 08/02/2017 at 07:49 - Reply

          Ooo you’ve got a lovely weekend planned :D I can’t wait to see what you end up making – happy baking! :D

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