The blogosphere is well-stocked with food blogs. Mine is one of probably one million. I think one of the best is David Lebovitz’s Living the Sweet Life in Paris.

While many Parisians had taken off for August, Lebovitz kept on blogging, in part from San Francisco, where he was attending the 40th anniversary celebrations of Chez Panisse, where he was a cook and pastry chef from 1986 to 1999.

I haven’t been baking much this summer but these brownies on his blog caught my eye. They’re gluten-free, for one, and looked fudgy and amazing. (He must shoot with a Canon 7D and not an iPhone.) I don’t even really eat brownies anymore—I’m trying to eat less sugar and chocolate—but they were too darn pretty not to try. I figured I wouldn’t have too much trouble pawning them off on friends or my grandmother.

Instead of flour the recipe calls for corn starch and unsweetened cocoa powder which act as binders along with the eggs and provide a brownie-like consistency instead of just fudge. These brownies do get crumbly but are chocolately, dense, and moist. You need to mix these well and apparently that will achieve a less crumbly consistency. One of the keys here is to use the best quality ingredients you can find. Good cocoa powder for example, high-quality chocolate (upgrade from Baker’s, for instance), and good butter. And that’s basically all these brownies are. I used Valrhona cocoa powder, Ghirardelli 60% cocoa bars, and unsalted Kate’s Butter from Maine.

For a twist, I added a pinch of cayenne pepper and two pinches of Maldon sea salt. You could taste the heat just a little bit with each bite to make you wonder what was that flavor. I used a cup of toasted walnuts, but you could also use almonds or pecans.

Next time I make these I might try adding one more egg, to achieve just a little more cake-like consistency and less crumble; maple syrup instead of turbinado sugar (some of the crystals didn’t melt and integrate); cacao nibs for crunch, like Lebovitz does; and instead of lining my pan with wax paper, which just stuck like glue to the bottom of the brownies even though greased, I wouldn’t use any liner and just butter and flour the bottom of the glass pan well.

And the good news: you can serve these to your gluten-free friends! (But sadly, not to vegan friends because of the eggs.) They’ll be an almost universal crowd-pleaser.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Brownies
Adapted from David Lebovitz

Makes 9 brownies

6 tbsp (85 g) butter, salted or unsalted (if unsalted, add a pinch of salt)
8 oz (225 g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 c (150 g) sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tbsp (30 g) corn starch
optional: 1 c (135 g) nuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
optional: pinch of cayenne

Grease an 8-inch (23 cm) square pan then lightly flour. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (180C).

In a double boiler (or on very, very low heat) melt the butter and chocolate (and salt, if using) in a medium saucepan, stirring constantly until smooth. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar, then the eggs, one at a time.

Sift together the cocoa powder and corn starch in a bowl, stir, then add to the chocolate mixture. Beat the batter vigorously for at least one minute (no less!), until the batter is smooth and not grainy. Add the nuts, if using, and pour into your pan.

Bake for approximately 30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Do not overbake. Let the brownies cool completely before cutting or transferring to a plate.