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Hacking and snacking: DD Gluten Free Brownie | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #hacker


June 30, 2023 2:00 pm
• Last Updated: June 30, 2023 2:18 pm


The long-lost DD Gluten Free Brownies (Photo by Johnna Wright Perry)

Back in February, when I was writing my first column for The Day, I asked Chat GPT to write me an opening paragraph for a piece about “why you should clean out your chest freezer occasionally.” What it blooped back at me was the most generic, bland paragraph that could have been written by the Frigidaire PR Department. It was the writing style that fills trillions of web pages. Not engaging information, just “content.” Clickbait and time-wasting content. The sort of cellulose filler that Taco Bell uses in their taco meat.

This cured me of any notion that I would ask for AI assistance in actually writing this column. I enjoy the exercise of organizing actual experience into a readable, perhaps engaging and educational format. I’m not a religious man, but the thought of farming that out to a computer program feels like a milestone of sloth. Next stop, Idiocracy. All aboard!

Since then, I’ve been using AI as a thesaurus and for gardening tips, digging for obscure recipes and corporate espionage. Let me explain.

Back in 2018, Dunkin Donuts introduced their Gluten Free Fudge Brownie as a limited time offering in all 8,000 U.S. stores. They were discontinued within six months. I actually liked them more than most brownies because they weren’t bricks of gluey fudge like commercial boxed brownie mix. I’m not especially drawn to gluten free cooking (unless it’s steak, BBQ or bacon). But I do have friends who have celiac or are trying to limit their intake of gluten in the pursuit of a shinier, happier existence. So I jotted down the ingredient list into the notes on my phone and added it to my recipe database, earmarked for future experiments in the kitchen lab.

Cut to April 4, 2020 … I finally got around to it. I researched a bunch of recipes on the Internet in hopes of finding something that was similar and close to the same ingredient list. But the cool thing about the DD recipe was how FEW ingredients there were and the fact it wasn’t loaded with preservatives. So I made a stab at it using some other recipes as a basis for my ingredient ratios. And they came out oooookaaaaay (that’s a shaky ok, denoting that it was edible but forgettable). Shiny, puffy, chocolate cake. But nothing you would call a brownie. And then I dropped the idea for another three years.

Open the pod bay doors, HAL.

Now, you can’t come right out and ask Chat GPT for a trade secret.

Me: “What is the formula for Coca-Cola?”

Chat GPT: “The exact formula for Coca-Cola, known as ‘Merchandise 7X,’ is a closely guarded trade secret. …The secrecy surrounding the formula is part of the brand’s marketing strategy and helps differentiate Coca-Cola from competitors.”

But, using the DD brownie ingredient list, I asked : “I want to use these ingredients to make a brownie: Sugar, Canola Oil, Eggs, Potato Starch, Cocoa , Salt, Xanthan Gum, Vanilla, Chocolate Flavoring. What ratios should I use and how much water should I add to give it a brownie consistency?” And it blooped this recipe back at me in two seconds flat:

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup canola oil

2 large eggs

1/2 cup potato starch (packed tightly into the measuring cup, should be approx 95 g)

1/2 cup cocoa

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum (was originally 1/4 tsp)

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon chocolate flavoring (I bought chocolate extract on Amazon)

1/4 cup water

1. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease an 8×8 inch baking pan.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar and canola oil. Mix until smooth. Add the eggs and beat until well combined.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the potato starch, cocoa, salt, and xanthan gum.

4. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing until the batter is smooth and well combined. Add the vanilla and chocolate flavoring and mix until evenly distributed. Add the water, a little at a time, until the batter has a smooth, pourable consistency.

5. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and smooth out the top. Bake for 25-27 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out clean. (Seriously, no goobers on the dipstick. This isn’t a flour based product and you don’t want liquid batter centers.)

Let the brownies cool in the pan for a few minutes before slicing and serving. (or not… keep reading)

The devil is in the details

The first batch I made off this recipe was very close to the original DD. I was a little stunned, considering my earlier attempt. But they seemed a little too oily, and I consulted GPT again on how to correct the problem. It suggested I reduce the oil OR add more potato starch. But then I asked it how many grams a half cup of potato starch should be, and it replied “64 grams.” When I compared that to the measurement on the back of the Bob’s Red Mill Potato Starch, their weight by measure for the same amount would have been 96 grams. I had to agree with good ole Bob on that one. I also increased the xanthan gum from 1/4 tsp to 1/2 tsp because they were a wee bit crumbly. The subsequent batches were spot on.

The meatloaf effect

As an added bonus, these brownies are even better in the days after the baking. It seems that wrapping them tightly in plastic wrap and letting them sit, allows the oil and moisture to redistribute themselves. Which, true to the shrink-wrapped originals, is the way DD served them.

Now let’s see what Chat GPT has to say about a certain Kentucky Colonel and his 11 herbs and spices…

Thanks for Johnna Wright Perry for permission to use her photo of the DD Brownie display from her blog, In Johnna’s Kitchen. Johnna is the author of the book “Gluten Free Baking For Beginners” which you can find at your local booksellers or through Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Gluten-Free-Baking-Beginners-Essential-Savory/dp/1648769187




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