A Townie is a hybrid dessert, it’s a cross between a tart and a brownie. This was created by Bea Vo from Bea’s of Bloomsbury tea shops in London.
My husband is from the UK originally and he catches up on the news back home all the time. Last year he was reading an article about a new craze for Townies. He called me over and explained to me what they were and then enthusiastically said, “You could make a gluten-free and dairy-free version of these!”
The whole concept of this delicious pastry sounded amazing, but first I needed to do some research to find out what they were all about. After reading some articles and taking some notes, I set to work to recreate this decadent dessert.
There was a bit of trial and error to get the texture and quantity of the brownie mixture just right. With my first couple of batches, the brownie was a little on the dry side. So I kept tweaking the liquid to dry ingredients ratio bit by bit, as I didn’t want to have too much liquid in my brownie, because that would make the pastry become soft and soggy. I finally got the combination right after my 4th batch. The boys and my taste testers were very impressed indeed, so this recipe was a winner!
Although I have only seen pictures, read articles, reviews and gluten-full recipes for Townies, I feel quite confident that my little bite-sized version would be pleasing to everyone gluten free or not. Some of my taste testers (who do not live this lifestyle) said they couldn’t tell that it was gluten free. Now that’s a compliment!
This recipe uses a sweet short crust style pastry, which is then filled with a thick dark chocolate fudgy (not gooey) centre. On the first day of baking, the brownie has a lovely thin crust.
For accurate cup measurements, I sift the icing sugar and potato starch before measuring, so that there are no lumps/clumps. All cup measurements are firmly packed. I broke off small individual pieces from my large block of chocolate and each small piece weighed 5 grams (0.2 ounce). When the pieces were placed into a measuring cup, it was a slightly heaped ½ cup.
128g (4.5 ounces or 1 cup) sweet rice flour
63g (2.2 ounces or ½ cup minus 1 tablespoon) pure icing sugar
21g (0.7 ounce or 3 tablespoons) almond meal/flour
44g (1.6 ounces or ⅓ cup) white rice flour
¾ teaspoon (3.75ml) xanthan gum
¼ teaspoon (1.25ml) salt
125g (4.4 ounces or ½ cup plus 1 scant tablespoon) gluten and dairy free butter
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon (5ml) pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon dairy free milk of choice
78g (2.8 ounces or ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons) coconut oil
100g (3.5 ounces or slightly heaped ½ cup) dark chocolate, min 70%
120g (4.2 ounces or ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons) golden/raw caster sugar
28g (1.0 ounce or ¼ cup) almond meal/flour
24g (0.8 ounce or 3 tablespoons) white rice flour
24g (0.8 ounce or 3 tablespoons) arrowroot starch
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
To make the pastry, sift all the dry ingredients together and then transfer to a food processor. Next, add the butter to the dry ingredients and process until it resembles fine crumbs.
Whisk the egg and vanilla extract into the milk and add it to the mixture, processing again until it comes together to form a thick, but soft dough.
Sprinkle white rice flour on a clean surface and gently work the dough into a smooth ball. The dough will feel soft, yet firm, but not sticky. Then wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.
Grease two tart trays well. The measurements of my tart trays were 7cm across and 2½cm deep. I used a round fluted cutter that was just over 7½cm (measured across the middle at its widest point).
The pastry is a little delicate to work with. However, if you peel off the baking paper/parchment then place it back on and then flip the pasty over and repeat with the other side. This method helps to loosen the pastry and make it easier to remove the cut out piece of dough from the baking paper/parchment.
Divide the dough in half, and then take one half and gently knead it between your hands for 15-20 seconds. Now roll the dough out between 2 pieces of baking paper or parchment. You need it to be approximately 3mm in thickness.
Peel away all the surrounding dough and set aside, before gently peeling the tartlet case off the baking paper/parchment. They should come away quite easily.
Continue with the rest of the dough until you have filled both tart trays. Place the tartlet tins in the refrigerator while you work on the brownie mixture. Preheat the oven to 160C.
To make the brownie mixture, place the coconut oil and chocolate in a bowl. Heat some water in a small saucepan and place a glass bowl over the top (make sure the base of the bowl doesn’t touch the water). Once the water has boiled, turn it off. Stir regularly until the chocolate has melted completely.
Meanwhile in another bowl stir together the caster sugar, almond meal, white rice flour and arrowroot starch. Now pour in the chocolate mixture and stir until well combined.
Next stir through the eggs and vanilla extract and mix until thick and smooth.
Using a spoon, approximately ¾ fill each pastry case with the thick brownie mixture.
Bake for approximately 20 minutes. Allow the tarts to cool in the tin for a couple of minutes before removing them to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Store them in a single layer in an airtight container.
Recipe by: The Gluten & Dairy Free Bakehouse
Note: all recipe oven temperatures shown are for a fan forced electric oven. Please refer to the below guide to help you adjust your oven accordingly. This recipe is shown in bold.
Oven Temperatures Chart
130C = 110C fan = 250F = Gas mark 1
150C = 130C fan = 300F = Gas mark 2
160C = 140C fan = 320F = Gas mark 3
180C = 160C fan = 350F = Gas mark 4
190C = 170C fan = 375F = Gas mark 5
200C = 180C fan = 400F = Gas mark 6
220C = 200C fan = 425F = Gas mark 7
230C = 210C fan = 450F = Gas mark 8