Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

Comfort Food: Better-for-you brownies

Brownies that are a little kinder to the waistline. (Nancy Baggett)

Say “Valentine’s sweets,” and most people instantly think chocolate. We can probably thank the Spanish explorer Cortez’s 1519 visit to Mexico for this.

When Cortez and his troops arrived at Montezuma’s court, they discovered the Emperor drinking a bitter, spiced chocolate beverage. The Aztecs associated the brew with Xochiquetzal, a goddess of earth, moon, fertility and love. This may be why Montezuma guzzled up to 50 goblets daily, especially before visiting his harem.

The conquistadors returned home with cocoa beans, recipes -- and tales that the frothy brew had special powers. The Spanish royals tried to keep the stimulating drink to themselves, but eventually the secret leaked out (so to speak!). Gradually, as sweeter potables, then chocolate confections and baked goods appeared, the whole world swooned for the stuff.

Our passion for it lives on, particularly on Valentine’s Day. Which is a problem for folks like me, who begin every New Year resolving to eat better and/or trim down. Since I’m not about to just skip celebrating Valentine’s Day with my honey, I’ve devised a chocolate treat that let’s us indulge without going hog wild.

Recipe Included

I can’t claim these brownies are healthful. But they are less than half as fatty and calorie-laden as typical versions. Yet, they are plenty chocolatey and satisfying.

On Valentine’s Day I like to serve them in brownie sundaes, with a scoop of reduced-fat ice cream and a drizzling of a very quick and easy, low-fat chocolate sauce over top. Check out the sauce recipe and pic here.

-- Nancy Baggett

Better-For-You One-Bowl Brownies
Makes twelve 2- by 2 2/3-inch bars

Fear not, these brownies are moist, fudgy and just plain good even though, without the optional nuts, the brownies are lower-calorie than usual. The secret is in combining naturally low-fat cocoa powder with a modest amount of cocoa-butter-rich unsweetened chocolate. Corn syrup helps keep these brownies moist, so don't leave it out. Another plus: These mix up quickly in one bowl, with one spoon.

MAKE AHEAD: Store airtight for up to 3 days; or freeze, airtight, for up to 1 month.

1 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely broken or chopped
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, or 1 1/2 tablespoons corn or other low-saturated fat-oil
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Generous pinch of salt
3 tablespoons light or dark corn syrup
1 1/4 teaspoons instant coffee powder or granules dissolved in 2 tablespoons hot water
Generous 1/4 cup unsweetened American-style or Dutch-process cocoa powder
2/3 cup flour
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (about 2 ounces), optional
1/4 cup liquid egg substiute (such as Egg Beaters) or 2 large egg whites

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil, overlapping it at two opposing ends. (To fit foil, invert pan and mold foil around bottom.) Turn pan right side up and insert foil, folding out overlapping edges.) Grease the foil or spray with nonstick spray coating.

In a large microwave-safe bowl, microwave the chocolate and butter or oil on high for 1 minute. Stir well, then microwave on 50 percent power, stopping and stirring every 30 seconds until mostly melted. Stir until completely melted. Vigorously mix in the sugar, baking powder, salt, corn syrup, and coffee mixture until they are evenly incorporated. Stir in the cocoa powder until smoothly incorporated and free of lumps. Add the flour, walnuts, if using, and liquid egg substitute or egg whites and mix until the batter is well blended. Turn it out into the prepared pan, spreading evenly to the edges.

Bake on the middle rack for 17 to 22 minutes or until center top is almost firm when tapped and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with 1/4 inch of moist batter on the end. For the moistest brownies, be careful not to over-bake. Transfer the pan to a rack and let stand until cooled, then refrigerate until well chilled.

Using the overhanging foil as handles, carefully lift the brownie slab from pan. Peel off the foil. Set the brownie slab right-side up on a cutting board. Trim off the dry edges all around, if desired. Mark and then cut into 12 bars using a large sharp knife. Wipe the blade clean between cuts, as needed.

Per brownie: 119 calories, 2g protein, 20g carbohydrates, 4g fat, 3g saturated fat, 6mg cholesterol, 56mg sodium, 1g dietary fiber, 12g sugar

Recipe tested by Nancy Baggett; e-mail questions to

By Joe Yonan  |  February 11, 2010; 10:00 AM ET
Categories:  Comfort Food , Recipes  | Tags: Comfort Food, Nancy Baggett, chocolate, recipes  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Flour Girl: A blondie that meets the bar
Next: Cooking with what's on hand during Snowverit

No comments have been posted to this entry.

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company