The Wall Street Journal ran an interesting story last Saturday on using white (shiro) miso as a secret ingredient in desserts. The piece was akin to the story I wrote for them on fish sauce as a stealth component in food. This time, Elizabeth Gunnison Dunn referenced Kyotofu, a New York based maker of Japanese-inflected sweets that informed and inspired her to employ miso in unconventional ways. The results were desserts with a wonderful savory-sweet edge, she said.
There was a fudgy miso brownie recipe that looked terrific, and I wondered what it would be like if I substituted tofu for the bit of flour in the recipe. My logic in doing so is that in Japan, there are bakeries as well as restaurants that use tofu and soy in nearly every dish. Sometimes you’d know it, other times not. That kind of seemless but very smart swapping of ingredients was based on knowing the possibilities of the little soybean.
Since the miso brownie idea was Japanese in origin, I thought what the heck, I’d give it a try. If it succeeded then it would be like using soybeans two ways, family members reunited in a brownie.
My other motivation was that yesterday my husband gave his final exam to that class of apathetic students. He was relieved and due for a sweet treat. This was it. His addition was a glass of Elijah Craig bourbon on ice (inspired by this book on the Old Fashioned cocktail) to make a “B&B” dessert.
The original recipe called for 5 tablespoons of flour and 4 eggs (in addition to other stuff, of course) and I instead used 4 ounces (120 g) of firm tofu and 3 eggs. I didn’t drain the tofu. For safety, I added a bit of baking powder but it didn’t make a difference in the end because the brownie batter rose and then softly deflated during cooling to create a fudgy, rich result.
I could have used fancy chocolate and cocoa powder but I wanted to see what would happen with regular ingredients. The tofu, chocolate and cocoa came from Trader Joe’s. Nothing fancy, though someone once told me that Valrhona made TJ’s Pound Plus chocolate bars. I don’t know but the brownies turned out fabulously well. They’re very moist, but not dense or heavy on your palate.
For the miso, I used what I have in the fridge. It’s made by Hikari and isn’t overly pricey. Plus it’s organic, non-GMO and gluten-free. I think I bought the tub of shiro miso at Lion Foods (a Chinese market in San Jose) but I’ve seen it elsewhere too, perhaps Ranch 99.
Our neighbor’s son is gluten-free and I suggested to Rory that we gift the young man some of the leftovers. Rory said, “No, I think I can eat it up over the next few days.”
Gluten-Free Miso Tofu Brownies Recipe
Yield: An 8-in (20 cm) pan's worth of brownies
- 14 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more as needed
- 7 ounces (210 g) dark chocolate, such as 64%
- 3 1/2 tablespoons white (shiro) miso
- 4 ounces (120 g) firm tofu
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder (optional)
- 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 3 large eggs, cracked into a measuring cup
- Preheat the oven to 350F degrees (180 C / gas mark 4) and position a rack in the center. Lightly butter an 8-inch (20 cm) square pan. Set aside.
- Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Make sure the water is touches the bottom of the bowl.
- In a food processor, whirl together the miso, tofu, cocoa powder, and sugar. Add the melted chocolate and butter. Run the machine to get a smooth mixture. Pause to taste and add extra cocoa or confectioners’ sugar, if needed. Remove the plunger and add the eggs via the feed tube (they’ll plop one by one), about 15 seconds total. Aim for a smooth mixture.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Give it a shake and tap to distribute well. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick tester comes out clean. Cool completely on a rack before cutting and eating.
Adapted from Elizabeth Dunn’s “Miso in Desserts: A Secret Weapon in Sweet Recipes” (Wall Street Journal, 5/16/14)
Related post: Belinda's Amazing Almond Cookies (imagine pairing the brownies with these in a dessert spread!)